Ubuntu's Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator For Life: 'Whole Patent System Is A Sham'
from the and-he-should-know dept
Mark Shuttleworth is probably best known for three things. Selling the certificate authority Thawte Consulting to VeriSign for about $575 million in 1999; using some of that money to become the second self-funded space tourist; and using some more of it to found and sustain the Ubuntu version of GNU/Linux.
Given that history, perhaps it’s only fair that his title in the Ubuntu community is “Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life“. It was using the equivalent acronym “sabdfl” that Shuttleworth took part recently in a Google+ chat organized by Muktware, where he had some scathing things to say about Microsoft’s use of patents:
the biggest mistake Microsoft made was to decide that patents would be an effective defence against new competitors because that stops you from really innovating yourself
And about the patent system in general:
The whole patent system is a sham, unfortunately. Patents were invented to encourage inventors to publish their trade secrets, because society would benefit from the disclosure. But we now allow patents on things you could never keep secret in the first place, like software and business methods and medicines. That’s insanity. Innovation happens because people solve problems, not because they might get a monopoly on it.
Shuttleworth’s successful record in business means that his words ought to carry more weight with supporters of patent monopolies than they might if he were just a free software project leader. After all, in a world where money talks, half a billion dollars just dismissed the patent system as a “sham.”