[Editor's note: This is total bullsh*t, the US Patent office should not be granting Microsoft patents for basic concepts that are already out in the market place as prior art and in fact invented / popularized by someone else, namely Edward Tufte. Shame on Microsoft and boo on lazy patent clerks! Thanks Melissa.]
In an absurd twist, on their own Microsof blog, Tufte is credited as inventor:
For Excel 2010 we’ve implemented sparklines, “intense, simple, word-sized graphics”, as their inventor Edward Tufte describes them in his book Beautiful Evidence.
Another way to read their patent application is regarding not just placement of a sparkline in an Excel spreadsheet but any digital document. Also a bizarre claim since other tools already do that as add ins, and you can even hack this work now in Google Docs with the charting API.
Someone should start a free the sparkline petition