by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 11th 2011 8:59am
People talk about patent laws as if they're about "protecting property." If only that were true. In most cases, they seem to be about the exact opposite. They're about getting paid for things that don't belong to you and which you had absolutely nothing to do with. Take, for example, Google's Android operating system. Microsoft has been using its patents to demand a cut of every Android phone. In fact, people have pointed out that Microsoft is likely going to make more money from Android than it makes from its own competing mobile operating system. Now add to that Oracle's decision to demand $15 to $20 for every Android device, and what you get seems like highway robbery. You have two companies -- Oracle and Microsoft -- who have done absolutely nothing to contribute to Android in any way, but who are both using large questionable patent portfolios to demand a cut. That's not protecting or encouraging innovation. That seems like the exact opposite. It seems to be shaking down people for cash that they have no right to. I'd argue that's much more like "theft" than anyone who infringes on a patent by building something the market wants.
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