Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Microsoft's patent applications onslaught!

Here it comes!

The reaction to Microsoft applying for, and being awarded oodles of patents is becoming vitriolic. Anytime MSFT is sued, they deserve it.

However, when they apply for, or are awarded a patent, these same people start moaning, and look for prior art.

In a blog on Fast Company, the writer references an article in yeaterday's New York Times complaining of the patent system in general, and the volume of Microsoft's patent applications and awards in particular. Nowhere (in the NYTimes article) did I see any references to the volume of awards to other companies.

And the NYT article contained glaring omissions. All these by a 'Silison Valley historian'.

As usual, the fangs came out, with errors everywhere.

The following is my reply to such a post:

gg, Stop!

If you have no idea what you're talking about, and clearly, you don't, do not regurgitate what you read in the blogosphere as fact.

  1. Microsoft bought the code for DOS from Seattle (Micro) Computer Products, and modified it.
  2. Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) developed the original graphical user interface. They did not develop the Microsoft Windows GUI.
  3. What Microsoft is doing is lawful. Using the law for competitive advantage is not only OK, it is the right thing to do.
  4. Whatever is done in other countries is fine for them. However, I don't see as much innovation coming from their copycat ideas. Heck, I don't see ANY innovation at all.
If Microsoft spends $680m USD on forward-thinking innovation yearly, that is still a lot of cash.

Upper management at MSFT has a fiduciary duty to shareholders to improve the business. If spending $6.12b USD on gradual improvements in current software systems is what improves the lot of shareholders, then do that.

Rather that than some esoteric research that will never bear fruit in this reality.

If the research brings in small, useful innovations, then, by all means, patent them.

Where are all these contrarians when Microsoft is sued for software patent infringement? Where?

If Microsoft can use its own patents as a club to stop patent hawks from suing, then all is well.

Furthermore, if this is history as seen by 'Silicon Valley historian' Randall Stross, I cringe at what history he is seeing, and writing about.

A waste of valuable trees.

To wit:
"That is not what the framers of the Constitution wanted." And you know this, how??? Did you channel the Constitutional Drafting Committee?

The EU rejected uniform software patent standards accross its territory. It did not reject software patents; all software patent legislation is individual countries are still valid. Sheeez!

I'm not a historian or journalist, but I read everywhere that journalists always check their facts. That must not apply to Silicon Valley historians.

The Facts.

Just The Facts!