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Microsoft Patents

Top Microsoft Execs Moonlighting For a Patent Bully 130

Posted by kdawson
from the standing-around-a-whiteboard-patenting-stuff dept.
theodp writes "TechFlash reports that Microsoft bigwigs like Craig Mundie and Bill Gates (when he still worked there) have been secretly moonlighting at Intellectual Ventures (IV), the 'patent extortion fund' run by Bill's pal Nathan Myhrvold. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed that its technologists have been sitting in on IV-sponsored 'innovation sessions,' where their pearls of wisdom were captured and turned into patent applications for Searete, an IV shadow corporate entity. And if all goes well, Searete will soon enjoy exclusive rights to the fruit of the brainstorming, which includes processes ranging from determining and rewarding 'influencers' to treating malaria, HIV, TB, hepatitis, smallpox, and cancer."
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Top Microsoft Execs Moonlighting For a Patent Bully

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  • by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:34PM (#25726189)

    If I were a Microsoft investor I might be a little bit annoyed by high ranking employees contributing valuable IP to another company.

    Microsoft is not doing its job as looking after its investors interests if it does not pursue the employees involved for this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by qoncept (599709)
      "Microsoft is not doing its job as looking after its investors interests if it does not pursue the employees involved for this."

      BRAIN GAMES! Unscramble the prepositions to discover what Microsoft is doing wrong!
      Solution: Microsoft is not doing its job of looking after its investors' interests if it does not pursue the employees involved in doing this.

      Seriously, though.. Who is investing in Microsoft?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)

        Anybody who owns an S&P 500 index fund or etf, and probably millions of other people who own various mutual funds. Also, there are probably lots of individual stockholders.

    • You mean the "same company", just far enough removed to play 3 card monte.

      Anyone know if there's a conflict of interest here big enough to merit a SlapWithSpaghettiNoodle (SWSN)?

    • Oh please... It's a free market. If you don't like it, leave. Or, umm...that's what I'd say, you know... If I was a heartless corporate executive. But more seriously, how many investors care about anything other than positive revenue flow? As long as that's happening, there's no moral questions anyone's going to raise. I mean, that's what the government is for, riiiiight? O_o

    • ... if it wasn't for the fact that one of the two employees mentioned happens to be the single majority stockholder of Microsoft.

    • Call Jerry (Score:4, Funny)

      by mfh (56) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:49PM (#25726397) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft is not doing its job as looking after its investors interests if it does not pursue the employees involved for this.

      This will be addressed in the next advertisement, as rumored all over the internet (starting here).

      Jerry Seinfeld: "Bill -- what were you thinking?! You can't give away that secret to the OTHER GUY -- YOU GOTTA KEEP THAT FOR MSFT. What will the shareholders say?? They'll say that wasn't very fair of you, that what they'll say!"

      Bill Gates: "They promised no one would find out."

      Jerry Seinfeld: "This reminds me of when my Mom used to make me eat chicken soup. She'd say that it's an honest thing to eat chicken soup you paid for with your own money -- AND that's true, today, you know."

      Bill Gates: "What?"

      Jerry Seinfeld: "You gotta eat chicken soup, Bill. I know a guy who ... here is the spot right here, let's go inside and we can eat, but you gotta do it simple, Bill -- just hand over the money and say the name of the soup. But that's all you can do. So, you hold out your money, speak your soup in a loud, clear voice, step to the left and receive...It's very important not embellish on your order. No extraneous comments. No questions. No compliments."

      Bill Gates: "Okay."

      Soup Nazi: "YES."

      Bill Gates: "Uh... what's good today?"

      Soup Nazi: "WAT!"

      Bill Gates: "What do you recommend for someone who is having a bad day?"

      Soup Nazi: "WAT! THIS NO 20 QUESTIONS. NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

    • by pclminion (145572)

      If I were a Microsoft investor I might be a little bit annoyed by high ranking employees contributing valuable IP to another company.

      I wouldn't be, necessarily. More likely, this is attempt by MS to shmooze around with IV to try to get special consideration. Further down the road, when MS wants to license IP from IV, they might get a better deal since they've been cooperating up-front. So it's a gamble but I wouldn't say a direct violation of the investor's trust, or fiduciary responsibility.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      although for Gates it is no surprise.

      More articles:

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081108/1744562771.shtml

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/10/gates_myhrvold_patents/print.html

      http://www.patentfools.com/2008/09/intellectual-ventures-independence-day-take-ii/#more-19

      http://www.techflash.com/microsoft/Gates_top_Microsoft_executives_do_some_inventing_on_the_side34192179.html

    • The ...er...thing... that the lead text referred to had a reference to smallpox (variola) deep inside it. A vaccine or vaccine delivery system, I believe. And don't tell me that I didn't read it. It was 'written' in a way that made it impossible to read sensibly. Look at it and tell me that I'm wrong.

      Anyway, smallpox is supposed to be a dead disease. Vanquished from the earth through the work of the WHO and Dr. Lawrence Brilliant in the 1970s.

      So, what's Bill and his Bozo boys talking abo

    • by AJWM (19027)

      "A little bit annoyed"? I'd be thinking shareholder lawsuit, especially since this seems to have been done with the knowledge and even complicity of higher management.

  • Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh (56) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:37PM (#25726221) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't surprise me that smart, greed oriented, affluent people will make use of their talent for some extra money, at whatever the cost to the public (who are largely now all have-nots).

    But what happens when pressure exceeds tolerance? When the have-nots have had the last straw? We throw down the yoke and fight for what is ours, which is that right to evolve, either technologically or financially without interruption from outside constraints.

    This is a sticky situation with patents. Patents are really only relevant if you are intending to profit from your invention, which is why I like Open Source. If something is released to the public freely, and is allowed to grow and expand on its own merit, no patent can stop it. If no money is gained, no patent holder can sue for money gained. No patent holder can sue to prevent Open Source, because their act of downloading the software to examine it constitutes agreement with the license.

    Even worse case scenario, if some asshat managed to convince a judge that their patent was valid and that an Open Source project was in violation, there really is no recourse.

    Now if you find that after years of extensive work, that some asshat is suing you for patent violation, you can contact the EFF and fight it. They will help.

    With all the ideas floating around, it only goes so far that someone would argue they had an original thought. I mean that really is a tough sell to any judge. Good luck with that.

    • by TaoPhoenix (980487) *

      Ridiculously off topic, but I am not sure which is scarier, your UID or that Sig. (Where's it from?)

      P.S. Mod him up.

    • Patents are really only relevant if you are intending to profit from your invention, which is why I like Open Source. If something is released to the public freely, and is allowed to grow and expand on its own merit, no patent can stop it. If no money is gained, no patent holder can sue for money gained.

      But that's not the only thing having a patent lets them do, there are other things they can sue you for.

      No patent holder can sue to prevent Open Source, because their act of downloading the software to examine it constitutes agreement with the license.

      BS. Uploading it (ie, engaging in distribution) would require that they agreed with the license. Downloading it and even using it doesn't, since those don't require permission from the copyright holder.

      Even worse case scenario, if some asshat managed to convince a judge that their patent was valid and that an Open Source project was in violation, there really is no recourse.

      Maybe, that really depends on where the main contributors are. If a court said that Linux (the kernel) violated some patent and was talked into granting an injunction I imagine that having Linus and Red Hat

    • I've got a funny feeling that we are about to see an unholy alliance between two corporate giants [slashdot.org].
    • The purpose if Intellectual Ventures is to harass and intimidate Microsoft competitors, but to do so in a way that Microsoft can keep its hands clean.

      Bill Gates and Paul Allen have contributed knowledge and expertise to many 'think tanks' for fee and for free. Why the secrecy here?

      Microsoft is a ruthless competitor with a long history of dirty tricks. They didn't invent FUD (Check w/ IBM for that), but they are masters of FUD-foo.

      Intellectual Ventures needs to have a large enough portfolio to bring p

    • This is on a bit of a tangent, but I think Microsoft steals ideas from people they interview for jobs. When I graduated and interviewed with MS, my interviewer asked me what my chief complaints about Windows were and/or what I would suggest they could do to improve it. I suggested they could load windows on a flash based drive to speed up access and reliability. Lo and behold, a year later, I hear announcements about solid state drives. I don't know whether or not the drive makers were already working o
    • by lorenlal (164133)

      This is a sticky situation with patents. Patents are really only relevant if you are intending to profit from your invention...

      True - in the sense that the patent is protecting an inventor from some scammer who tried to rip them off and make caesh on the inventor's work.

      But in the cases here - These are a bunch of asshats that are trying to think up ways that something *could* be done. Alone, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. But to then turn around and patent it with no intention of creating a product would seemingly make the patent irrelevant... BUT..

      Suppose you have this patent, and someone does some valuable research, and

    • by Z34107 (925136)

      It doesn't surprise me that smart, greed oriented, affluent people will make use of their talent for some extra money, at whatever the cost to the public (who are largely now all have-nots).

      When you have more money than $deity, why work through some shadowy patent illuminati? Especially when you could keep the money through your own shadowy corporation?

      And since when are the public mostly "have-nots"? America's GNI per capita is $46k. The poorest 20% earn $20k a year, not counting the value of food sta

    • by Conficio (832978)

      May be open source is bigger than GPL?

  • by goffster (1104287) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:38PM (#25726247)

    by giving them free meds, and then charging
    them via patent royalties ?

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:39PM (#25726267)

    I gotta hand it to you, Mr. Gates... Tell everyone you retired from Microsoft so you could free up time to monopolize biotech and a dozen other infrastructure-critical industries in this country... That's pretty clever. Seriously, are you mad because nobody invited you to prom? Is this some kind of Stepford Wives remix? I'm not saying this because I'm trying to be funny or sarcastic (well, mostly not sarcastic)... I really want to know why some people feel a compulsive need to consume or control every resource in the world. These people are like viruses... An ideological cancer, and it's disgusting to watch people who scream "But... MY INNOVATION!!! NOoooooooo!" Whenever someone asks why they're holding all the cards, but once they've got 'em, boy, outsource everything to a bunch of people who still use their hand to wipe their asses with, reduce the research budget to zilch, and then call yourselves innovators. Innovators of what... Slavery? Mass exploitation? Please. Have some originality... Try doing good for a change. If nothing else, it'll confuse the hell out of your detractors.

    • by 2Bits (167227)

      Praying For Time lyrics of George Michael:

      ...
      These are the days of the empty hand
      Oh you hold on to what you can
      And charity is a coat you wear
      Twice a year


      This is the year of the guilty man
      Your television takes a stand
      And you find that what was over there
      Is over here

      So you scream from behind your door
      Say whats mine is mine and not yours
      I may have too much
      But Ill take my chances
      Because God stopped keeping score

      And you cling to the things
      They sold you
      Did you cover your eyes when
      They tol

  • There was a long article in some magazine (Harper's? Atlantic? Can't remember...) many months ago, explaining the whole situation. It sounded really cool, actually. That'd be a neat place to hang out for a while.
  • Not secret (Score:5, Informative)

    by m000 (187652) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:40PM (#25726279)
    The New Yorker had an article [newyorker.com] about this six months ago.
    • Re:Not secret (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@ g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:51PM (#25726419) Journal

      The article makes it sound a lot more benign than it actually is. "We'll come up with great ideas, and let people use 'em for a fee!"

      The problem is, as Edison is famous for saying, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Having a good idea is the easy part. Making it work in the real world is where all the problems crop up.

      Making someone pay for the privilege of solving all the problems that you're too lazy/incompetent to solve? That just sucks.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        No, the real secret is having someone else do all the hard work and then stealing it from them.

        Ha ha. They thought they were going to get rich. Instead, they got to involantary contribute to the betterment of the society as a whole.

      • Good thing you can't patent an idea, only an innovation.
      • I took at look at the "Injectable controlled release fluid delivery system". If this patent is granted it would be as if Henry Ford had patented "Device for transportation using four wheels powered by internal combustion engine" I do not see how anyone "other than the patent holder" can think this would be a god thing.
      • Making someone pay for the privilege of solving all the problems that you're too lazy/incompetent to solve? That just sucks.

        Bah, fuck'em. How are they going to know what method you're using for your new product anyway? It's called a trade secret, use it, and sue them under the DMCA if they're stupid enough to claim to have reverse engineered your product.

    • "The New Yorker had an article [newyorker.com] about this six months ago", m000

      Did the article also mention that Bill Gates of Microsoft also has a financial interest in Searete [freshpatents.com]?
  • This isn't the first time they've done IP trolling [sco.com].

  • The Crime of Reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:48PM (#25726371)
    Nobel laureate and Physics Professor Robert B. Laughlin discussed the impact of knowledge increasingly being sequestering from the public. While a certain amount of information is kept secret for legitimate military or security purposes (such as how to build an atomic bomb), more and more knowledge is being restricted for economic reasons, he explained. Many companies (and people) consider ideas to be their intellectual property.

    http://www.amazon.com/Crime-Reason-Closing-Scientific-Mind/dp/0465005071 [amazon.com]
  • by argoff (142580) * on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:48PM (#25726383)

    I think its important to understand that as society enters into the coming replication age, that the phony property right they call "patent" will become genocidal.

    As things like nanotech and 3d printing take off, production will shift away from the factory and back into the home. The market will start to center around production and creation services instead of production goods.

    The people and industries on the losing side of this model will almost certainly try to turn to a patent royalty model, and will almost certainly use extremely coercive measures to impose their control. Just look at Monsanto and ADM and their heavy handed patent strategies used against farmers. Just look at the RIAA and how they cling to their royalty control model under the guise of "intellectual" property and attacked everyone. Just look at the slave plantations, how the plantation masters envisioned that the future of the industrial revolution was to leverage inventions like the cotton-gin and their "ownership" of slaves to vastly expand the size and production capabilities of their plantations. Just look at how pharmaceutical companies sued African nations in the world court to ban them from buying generic AIDS drugs from India. Just look at how patents in the USA slowed anti-lock brakes and air-bags development by decades as millions died.

    Mark my words, if we let them push the lie that patent is a "property" or an "incentive" or "protection", genocidal consequences will not be far away.

    • by nycguy (892403)
      How exactly are patents more "phony" than any other property? All property has its status by common consent or force (legal, physical or otherwise): Without that consent or force you don't actually "own" anything. True, patents are not physical property, but neither are copyrights, trademarks, etc. For that matter, neither is "your data" or "your money", since both are mostly represented in bits and bytes today rather than as physical commodities.

      I am not saying there is not a problem with the patent sys
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by argoff (142580) *

        Well, the whole philosophy behind natural law (used by the founding fathers) is that individuals have inherent rights (like property) even if no government exists at all, but people (being social, but imperfect creatures) typically organize in the form of government to secure their rights.

        So by that measure, property is not created by common consent or force.

        Also, some of the other examples you pointed to, are not about property, but fraud or an intrusion of peoples privacy. Copyrights are not property eit

        • unfortunately, the value of property is often is proportional to it's scarcity.

          so if you make an exact copy of someone else's corn farm, you are directly changing value of their farm ( you are increasing supply of corn)

          maybe you could work something out so that you're increasing the value of your neighbor's corn, if you and they work together and share some costs associated with running, harvesting, selling, shipping, etc the twin farms but more likely you're decreasing the value of the other farm's y

          • by rohan972 (880586)

            unfortunately, the value of property is often is proportional to it's scarcity.

            Always proportional to it's scarcity.

            so if you make an exact copy of someone else's corn farm, you are directly changing value of their farm ( you are increasing supply of corn)

            We call that "competition". It isn't unfortunate, it is the method by which people have incentive to produce higher {quality,quantity} products at lower price. The whole benefit of a competitive market system derives from the fact that any individuals produce can be devalued by others increasing the supply of that product or an alternative.

            Patents and copyrights are to prevent that competition temporarily, increasing the incentive to produce innovation by the grantin

        • by nycguy (892403)
          The founding fathers also believed that people could be property--and indeed, people were property at the time, by the decree of those who were considered free and the threat and use of force against those who were considered property. So, the idea of "inherent rights" can change over time, meaning that they aren't really inherent/natural, but rather man-made.

          Property is just a man-made concept, and it has no meaning as such unless the concept is respected or defended. Even physical property is not such
          • by argoff (142580) *

            Uhh, your argument proves the point. The slaves were not a valid nor just property even though the law and many people believed they were. Many Native Americans had their rights violated even though the law at the time didn't recognize it. Rights and property are not created by law, they exist above it. Just because people call patent a property doesn't mean that it is.

            • by Weedlekin (836313)

              "Uhh, your argument proves the point"

              It proves his point, not yours.

              "The slaves were not a valid nor just property even though the law and many people believed they were."

              Everybody who argues that there is such a thing as natural law (which is inevitably completely different from anything that actually happens in nature) ends up using wooly terms like "valid" that boil down to "what I prefer things to be like". Slavery was an integral part of humanity as a whole that nobody really questioned in moral and et

            • by nycguy (892403)
              Rights don't exist "above" anything. They exist only because we believe they exist--and they stop existing as soon as we cease to believe they exist. When slavery was ended, a particular right to property ceased and a particular right to liberty began.

              Moreover, you make reference to the "founding fathers." Well, thank them for the patent system, which was initially created in 1790, with the Patent Office being created in 1802. So, apparently the expects in "natural rights" think that patents are one of t
              • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Well maybe in your world if you believe in something hard enough it will come true, but the founding fathers knew that copyright and patent were not natural rights, and they expressed that in their writings. That's also why the constitution does not call call them a property right. In fact, the law doesn't even treat them like a property right, that's a propaganda term used to justify them. They were justified for the purpose of incentive, and that's why they have an expiration date too. No natural righ

                • by nycguy (892403)
                  I didn't say that merely believing something (where that something could be anything) makes it come true. In the specific case of a right, which is a concept and not a physical entity, believing in a right and acting on that belief is what brings the right into existance. If no one but you believes you have a particular right ("natural" or otherwise) and everyone regularly acts so as to violate that supposed right without consequence, then you don't actually have that right in any meaningful way.

                  By the w
      • Assume for a second I live in a colony on Mars. A company in the US patents something. We build the devices anyway (for whatever reason). Legally, US patents can't be enforced off-world of course (I make assumptions; crazy lawyers would have other ideas I'm sure). All of a suddent the US says patents apply off-planet. Does that mean I'm now violating the law?

        A silly example to be sure, but the idea of property rights is hard to reconcile when talking about ideas.

        • by nycguy (892403)
          Yes, you are violating US law in that case. Whether or not you should be concerned about that violation depends on the consequences the US government would be able to impose upon you. That was the point of my original post: Any property is defined only by the consent of others in defining it as such, or by the ability of the "owner" to defend that property through various means (legal, military, etc.). The fact that the property is an intangible idea is irrelevant if the consequences are sufficient to make
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      There are human cultures which never had any sort of property rights at all. Everything was either communal or owned by "Mother Earth". Private ownership wasn't ever considered.

      Sounds pretty good, right? Until you realize that none of these cultures developed much past the writing stage and some not even that far. They never produced anything of any lasting importance either culturally or intellectually. Sure, the people living in these societies might have been pretty happy, until a disease came and w

  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:50PM (#25726403)

    These guys think that they're helping... but the people who do the work (I'm thinking of some poor grad student in a lab somewhere) to make a working device go to the patent office and discover that they don't have rights to their own work. It's wonderful.

    If you don't (or can't) use a patent, at least make it free. A couple hours "brainstorming" should not trump a few years of hard work.

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:58PM (#25726471) Homepage Journal

    the idea of ip law is to reward those who innovate. the supposition being, that were there no legal protection, innovators would see the fruits of their intellectual pursuits go to established financial entities instead of themselves

    and it is therefore the greatest irony that ip law is now used to suppress true innovation and protect entrenched financial entities. only the rich can afford the legal bully pulpit that ip law enables

    ip law needs to disappear

    but at best, we can ignore it, and route around it, like the damage it is

    death to ip law

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      Unfortunately, the other side of that is whoever has the biggest distribution channel wins. You remove all barriers to distribution of something - no more licensing, royalties, patents, trademarks and copyrights - and now you have the big players out-distributing the small guys.

      Think what happens when a song becomes "popular" and there are no barriers to distribution. Sony (or WalMart) just produces a CD. Maybe it is the original vocal talent, maybe not. Who cares? They win, the originator becomes a no

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      i wish i had mod points i would mod your comment up + eleventy million :)
    • So what you're trying to say is something like this:

      ip law add route null

  • Malcolm Gladwell (of Tipping Point fame) write a glowing article [newyorker.com] about this venture.
    Bill Gates, whose company, Microsoft, is one of the major investors in Intellectual Ventures, says, "I can give you fifty examples of ideas they've had where, if you take just one of them, you'd have a startup company right there."
    • "I can give you fifty examples of ideas they've had where, if you take just one of them, you'd have a startup company right there."

      He forgot to add, "Well, not anymore, of course, few startups will be able to afford the ridiculous fees we'll be charging. I just wish we had thought of this during the dot.com boom! Think of all the companies that would be paying us royalties today. Mmmm.... royalties...."

  • by rs232 (849320) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @06:03PM (#25726551)
    This the kind of innovation they are on about. Can any of these patents be turned into real working devices, without spending thousands of man-hours and huge wads of money. I'm thinking of the NTP v Blackberry litigation. NTP basically bought up some old wireless, paging and email patents, sat on them and them and then waited until Blackberry did all the work ...

    'NTP is a holding company [computerworld.com] created in 1992 to manage certain patents belonging to Thomas Campana'

    'on 20 May 1991. Campana filed a patent application for his idea to merge existing e-mail systems with radio-frequency wireless [ieee.org] communication networks'
    • by lennier (44736)

      "I'm thinking of the NTP v Blackberry litigation. "

      And let's not forget the Xerox vs Palm Graffiti 1 patent war.

      I've lost track of who sued who - Wikipedia says that Palm appealed, lost the appeal but won a right to reevaluate whether the patent was valid in the first place (!), won that case, then Xerox counter-appealed and won.

      Meanwhile, the best writing system ever devised for handheld devices got dropped for the ugly and finger-crippling Graffiti 2, and the customers lost.

      Hooray for the smoking crater.

  • They could fix patent trolls like this in one swoop if they change the law to be use it or loose it. And if you loose it, it should be come open to the public for someone else to pick up and use ... for free. Think of the stimulus to the economy.
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      That plan ensures that nobody other tham large corporations will ever receive a patent again.

      The "garage inventor" would be quickly displaced by a company that could exploit the invention. All they have to do is wait. Licensing a patent would be a thing of the past.

      If the objective is to move all sources of revenue to major companies, well, I think you have hit on a real winner.

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        I do not think that you understand the intent. I think it would be better to kneecap the entire patent system than to let patent trolls to continue to stifle everything. Trade secrets do not require you to disclose your invention to anyone.
      • All the "garage inventor" needs is a working prototype; not an entire production line.
      • by rohan972 (880586)

        The "garage inventor" would be quickly displaced by a company that could exploit the invention. All they have to do is wait. Licensing a patent would be a thing of the past.

        No, the company would want exclusive rights, so would license the patent rather than let it go into the public domain for their competitors.

  • This kind of bullshit would stop if the patent office required working implementations again.

    The hard part of most inventions is making them work, not having the original idea. Granting patents on ideas that haven't been implemented harms innovation because it discourages people from investing the money to make inventions work.

  • MS wouldn't do this for free. Myhrvold probably offered them some insanely great deal whereby MS benefits from the patent trolling and Myhrvold operates with the understanding that industry majors (MS, Apple, Sony, etc.) won't be on his back about it.

    Myhrvold is going in the direction he sees most defensible and profitable: We're just following what the law says and protecting our ideas.

    The way I see it, Myhrvold is going to launch the attack before the public at large start realizing how dangerous the co
  • The good thing about current patent law is that they'll only put the US and Europe 20 years behind places that don't give a hoot about patent infringement. After that, the field's open.

    In a way, this is a good thing -- if they patent *everything* right now, and 99% of those things don't get addressed for lack of technology or resources, until the patents have expired, then all those research directions are an open field, for anyone to explore. You could look at this as a retarded version of open source (w

    • by argoff (142580) *

      Slavery started out as short term indentured servitude that could not be inherited.

      Copyright started out as 14 years max.

      Is not a coincidence that slavery was maxed out just before industrial revolution forces killed it, and not a coincidence that copyright imposition has maxed out just before the information age is killing it. The more society advances, the more money stands to be gained by imposing these controls till it eventually reaches a point where society can't take it anymore and is forced to remo

      • Slavery started out as short term indentured servitude that could not be inherited.

        Citation?

        Hereditary slavery was established a *long* time ago (look up the story of a guy named Moses for an example).

        The concept of time-limited slavery such as indentured servitude is a relatively recent development, dating from around the 17th century.

  • It's no surprise that Gates and company are primarily interested in thinking up general ideas, grabbing patents on them and then beating people over the head to pay them for the ideas. This has been Gates' MO since day one - pick the pockets of every single human being on the planet with a pocket. Gates is greedier than a member of the Russian-Jewish Mafia.

    "Gary Flake, one of Microsoft's top Internet gurus" - there's an appropriate name for a Microsoft employee. They're all "flakes".

    Microsoft basically is a

  • "which includes processes ranging from determining and rewarding 'influencers' to treating malaria, HIV, TB, hepatitis, smallpox, and cancer."

    This flies in the face of the Bill and Linda foundation. Perhaps the reasoning is to make it so the drug companies get trumped and then the drug patents will be made available to third world. God only knows Bill does not need the money! Yet.

  • THe reason is that Gates is building up ideas based on other ppl. By patenting them in a different company, they will be able to keep them quiet until the patent time.

    What is interesting is that just last week I was suggesting that yahoo needed desperately to put out a call for ideas. Sadly, the only response was from a guy who thinks that an OSS fest is the same thing. It is not, and it is NOT what yahoo needs. Yahoo had good guys working there, but most have left. They DESPERATELY need new ideas that ca
  • The patent on 'Injectable controlled release fluid delivery system' sounds like an insulin pump. I'm sure if I looked I could find more examples.

    The other patent sounds like its trying to patent advertising and statistics.

    Of course when I read patents I generally quickly reach a point where I'm ready to start hanging lawyers. It would be nice if they made a law that said a patent had to be understood and approved by 2 seperate 2nd grade classes. The language currently used seems designed for ambiguity r

  • is that a lot of tech companies will go belly up shortly and their patents will be up for auction in fire sales... My problem with patents is that they are treated like property and can be bought and sold... Things would be a lot easier if the patent died when the company/person that took it out went bust/died or were non-transferable when companies got bought out...
  • Malcolm Gladwell's admiring article from The New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/12/080512fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all [newyorker.com] about IV has an interesting point of confusion. In it, he makes repeated argument that great ideas aren't really all that rare, and that history has seen big inventions some from simultaneous sources on many occasions.

    In order to get one of the greatest inventions of the modern age, in other words, we thought we needed the solitary genius. But if Alexander Graham Bell had fallen into the Grand River and drowned that day back in Brantford, the world would still have had the telephone, the only difference being that the telephone company would have been nicknamed Ma Gray, not Ma Bell.

    If that's the case, Mr. Gladwell, then why do we need a patent system to incent inventors at all? It sounds like we would see just as much innovation

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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