Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Patently incomprehensible (the Charvat-Letson patent)

As more and more information ends up online, it's easier and easier to find things. Recently I had to research some information on deceased family members, and I found it easier to use a very popular search engine (which doesn't rhyme with "zing") to get the information.

So I figured I'd look up a college classmate via the same search engine. I hadn't had any contact with this particular classmate since we graduated in 1983.

The first thing that I found online was his undergraduate thesis. Well, I already knew about THAT.

The second thing that I found was one of his patents. I didn't know about that. It turns out that he ended up working for Intel, along with another college classmate of mine. And apparently they worked closely together - both of their names, as well as the names of some others, appear on U.S. Patent 5,470,790.

Now I occasionally have to look at patents as part of my day job, but I don't really make a habit of it. The patents that I look at are those from our company and competitors; while I may not understand all of the...um, minutiae that are associated with the patents, I at least have a general idea about what they were talking about.

This is not the case with this patent. Back when I was an undergraduate, I would have said that Thomas A. Letson and Peter K. Charvat live in space. Here's the abstract:

Via hole profile and method of fabrication

A novel high performance and reliable interconnection structure for preventing via delamination. The interconnection structure of the present invention comprises a via connection which extends into and undercuts an underlying interconnection line to lock the via connection into the interconnection line.

I should mention that Charvat and Letson worked for Intel - I don't know if they still do, although Letson was apparently still with Intel a couple of years ago. And if you know anything about me, you know that I'm a [CORRECTED 10:40 AM] software person, not a hardware person. And when I do work with hardware, I usually don't get down to the chip level.

But my former classmate Tom has continued to patent things - here's a 2008 patent.

Or, as the oilworkers in Froid, Montana would say, "If you ain't an Intel patentholder..." - well, I don't think I'm going to finish that sentence.

P.S. I have written about Peter Charvat back in 2004, telling about a time when he was an innocent bystander to my Devo addiction. Five years after that post, Charvat was quoted in an Oregonian article; he had since become a vice president at Intel.
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