In July of 2004, Chairman Bill Gates said that "over the next year, Microsoft will file for more than 3,000 patents- up very dramatically -and make us one of the top companies in the world in terms of innovative activities." Microsoft Applies for Language Technology Patent
As Humpty Dumpty said, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." When Bill conflates patents with innovation, he only does so out of necessity: having nothing else to work with, but desiring to be innovative, patents must fill the void.
That some, perhaps many, of these patents strain credulity is a given. That the patent office nevertheless seems to rubber stamp them begs for a round of IQ tests at those offices. As noted before, there is perhaps potential good some years in the future: as companies like Microsoft spare no expense in writing their patents to be as broad as possible, the eventual expiration of these will open up equally broad areas of free rein. It's a long wait, though.
In the meantime, we can look forward to patent holders exercising the rights the patents grant. In the case of Microsoft, that means employing them against Linux and Apple where possible. Apple pretty much has to stand on its own, but Linux can hope for some help from IBM threatening tit for tat ("You call that puny thing a patent? That's not a patent - THIS is a patent!").
I do have to wonder: does (ex?) Chairman Bill really think Microsoft is an innovative company? Yes, yes, I understand the the great unwashed think Microsoft invented everything, but Bill doesn't have the protection of ignorance and innocence. Bill knows what was stolen, borrowed, coerced, bought and copied: heck, he started it all! Does he give great weight to Clippy and Microsoft Bob?
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-03-20 Anthony Lawrence