Why Won't Microsoft Explain Its Patent Discrepancy?

from the just-wondering dept

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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Brad, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 4:19pm

    I think a renowned modern day lyricist said it best "Don't hate the playa hate the game."

    Ice T.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Ice T., Jun 11th, 2007 @ 4:50pm

    Infringement...

    Brad,

    That is my quote. I wrote it a long time ago, and now I own you! Nobody gets to say that but me, or there might be confusion. forty years hard labor for you, buddy!

    Da Ice Man

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 6:17pm

    turnabout

    Microsoft has been on the receiving end of so many doubtful patent claims, including Eolas, that it is hardly surprising that they have turned to patents out of self preservation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 6:52pm

    Re: turnabout

    Microsoft has been on the receiving end of so many doubtful patent claims, including Eolas, that it is hardly surprising that they have turned to patents out of self preservation.
    It would seem that the logical thing for them to do in that case would be to fight against the evils of doubtful patent claims instead of embracing and extending the evils of doubtful patent claims.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Joshua C. Davey, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 6:58pm

    Linux could make IP non-infringing in a matter of

    My thought is that MS knows that the linux community has incredible resources to re-engineer infringing IP so it's not infringing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Joshua C. Davey, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 7:00pm

    Linux could make IP non-infringing in a matter of

    My thought is that MS knows that the linux community has incredible resources to re-engineer infringing IP so it's not infringing in a matter of weeks...

    If it doesn't infringe, no lawsuit. No lawsuit, no settlements. Pretty simple...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Re: turnabout

    It would seem that the logical thing for them to do in that case would be to fight against the evils of doubtful patent claims instead of embracing and extending the evils of doubtful patent claims.

    It is probably faster, cheaper and more certain to simply patent everything is sight themselves. They are lobbying for reform and supporting attempts at reform through the courts: http://patentlaw.typepad.com/patent/2005/06/case_on_obvious.html

    Finally, I do not remember ever reading about Microsoft suing anyone for patent infringement. (OMG, I never thought I would be defending Microsoft).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 8:43pm

    *SOFTWARE* patent

    What is *software patent* ?

    I suggest that before you talk you ignorant nonsense you should really really try to come up with some workable definition...

    (And pleeeze, remember the Turing, my little clueless tech-ignorant friends...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 8:52pm

    For you, idiots

    OK, I spent 10 seconds of my valuable time to find something you idiots should read. You see, Mike, I am actually contributig something to your shitty blog

    http://www.ipjur.com/01.php3

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jun 11th, 2007 @ 11:05pm

    Re: For you, idiots

    OK, I spent 10 seconds of my valuable time to find something you idiots should read.

    You point us to a FAQ that explains what everyone knows already? How useful is that? The point is that software patents, whether legal or not (and we know that they're legal) are clearly harming innovation -- and even Microsoft knew that 15 years ago. Your link didn't add to the discussion, it simply repeats what everyone knows and doesn't add anything useful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 5:56am

    Simple

    It's simple, Gates doesn't run Microsoft, Ballmer does and has for ages. Oh sure, in theory Gates has minority stake and could likely overrule Ballmer, but I rarely see that happening. Gates is a tech dude who's key strength is his salesmanship and PR skills at "selling" Windows (for which he gets a really, really big check) and not a hadcore nuts and bolts businessman.

    And unfortunately, Ballmer has drastically different ideas than Gates has (in fact if Ballmer ever did get the boot or leave Mircosoft I bet he'd be working for Sony inside a week, their philosophies are so similar).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    SailorRipley, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: Re: turnabout

    No, Microsoft pays others to do that for them...remember SCO?
    guess not, maybe you should have, it would have saved you the shock of discovering you were defending Microsoft ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Philipp Gaertner, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: turnabout

    No, Microsoft pays others to do that for them...remember SCO?

    MS and SCO know each other from deals long before the recent SCO vs. Linux lawsuits. Many folks forget a little endevour called Xenix. That was "embrace and extend" in the 80s based on IP licensed from SCO.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 9:28pm

    Embrace...Extend...Extinguish

    M$ has managed the first two step in destroying the patent system, unfortunately, the fourth step is to replace it with a mess of M$'s own design which cannot be looked at without you getting sued, so that it would be illegal for any competitor to even try to get patent protection.

    Seriously, though, software should not be protected by both patents and copyright. Either patent law should be applied, sot hat the code used has to be spelled out in the patent, and anyone can use the patented idea for a liscene fee, or copyright law applied to the code, so that the same idea could be implemented in a different way. (Some would also argue that it would be best to completly abolish all forms of IP, but that is not likely to be implemented anytime soon, and can be discounted as a possible solution to the problem of the abuse of the IP system by software companies.)

    In my opinion, it would be best to remove patent protection from software, while maintaning copyright protection. Thus I cannot copy your program, either by copying and pasting your code or simply copying your program, just as with a book I may not eitehr plaigiarise your book or simply duplicate it without a liscence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This