Microsoft Hoarding Patents Like They're Going Out Of Fashion

from the 200-here,-200-there...-soon-you're-talking-about-real-innovation dept

A few years back, Microsoft decided to shift its strategy on software patents. The contrast in what Microsoft was saying publicly about patents was stark:
Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, 2007: "Protection for software patents and other intellectual property is essential to maintaining the incentives that encourage and underwrite technological breakthroughs. In every industry, patents provide the legal foundation for innovation. The ensuing legal disputes may be messy, but protection is no less necessary, even so."

Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO, 1991: "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today... A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose."
If you needed any proof that Microsoft has shifted from a "young company innovates" to an "old company litigates" stance, just take a look at the massive ramp up in patents awarded to Microsoft over the last decade and a half. It's been steady growth, with a massive leap in the past two years.

Every week, if you follow patents granted to Microsoft you see huge numbers. In the past four weeks alone, Microsoft has been granted 49 patents (June 24), 44 patents (June 17), 42 patents (June 10) and 76 patents (June 3). That's 211 patents this month alone. Compare that to a company like Google, who was granted a grand total of 7 patents in June.

The patent system was designed to award incentives in the rarest of circumstances -- when the free market alone wouldn't provide the incentives necessary to bring a technology forward. When a single company is getting over 200 patents a month, the system isn't functioning as intended. It's not an incentive to innovation. It's a tax on innovation.

Filed Under: hoarding, patents
Companies: microsoft

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Pro, 27 Jun 2008 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Wonder

    Let me try to explain to you all one more time what I believe to understand...

    I recently bought a blu ray player and got lent a series called "Planet Earth". It's truly amazing, and when you watch it you figure out that the creatures that inhabit this planet are mostly products of their environment. More precisely, over millions of years of evolution, creatures adapt themselves to best survive given the environment that they happen to be subjected to. Some creatures actually adapt to the point that minor changes lead to the end of the species. This is natural selection and nature at work. If you understand that much, then what I'll lead to next might make sense.

    Im my youth, at some point I came to understand the above. I further gained a sense of understanding that the United States was truly the best country in the world because our system - that of free enterprise - most closely imitated that of nature, and over time it would always create the best, brightest, and most athletic of people. I believe this to be the original intent of the founding fathers.

    If you realize that, you have to understand that the environment - creates the creatures. The environment in the US is suppposed to create the toughest and smartest people - and it did, until recently.

    Recently the rules have been subtly changed by smart people that make a lot of money. Over time, small changes can lead to big money for the right people. I submit to you that the fundamentals and ideals of this country have been perverted to the point that the original intents no longer have effect. The reality is, that people are getting rich by stealing from the future. While Joe and Mary American are worried about Republican versus Democrat, we're having our livelyhood ripped out by both.

    The patent system is only a small example of the real problem. Argueing whether or not MS is right or wrong for their patent practices is downright foolish. It's the environment that defines the behavior of the successful.

    If we want to get back to the United States that I was proud of as a child, we need to come to an understanding and get rid of all the bullshit.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.