A few months back, we highlighted Tim Lee's excellent comparison of Microsoft's views on software patents today, and back in 1991 when Bill Gates talked about how stifling software patents could be. Over the weekend, the NY Times let Tim write an opinion piece digging into the subject, also bringing up how the Verizon/Vonage patent lawsuit is a perfect example of the problems software patents bring about. While Tim concludes his article by noting that Bill Gates "won't admit" that patents are stifling to innovation (as he said in 1991), isn't it about time someone asks Gates why? Gates would likely dance around the answer. The truth, though, is that history shows that patents tend to be used by incumbents to stamp out innovation, rather than to help promote it. The difference now is that Microsoft isn't a young upstart. It's an incumbent that wants to make life difficult for upstarts. That's not about promoting innovation at all.
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