Let us take a moment to discuss issues that are associated with patent-based racketeering. This will not be reiteration of the old same (and tired) story.
We are often reminded that the purpose of patents is to spur advancement in science and technology by offering incentives. What happens, however, when these incentives are being collected not through funds, but from peers? What happens when a party earns exclusive rights to do something very basic? Surely, rather than following the Newtonian path and standing on the shoulders of giants, we just look for other small shoulders to stand on (that’s a Newton’s Cradle in the photo by the way; computer-generated and royalty-free). We do not collaborate; instead, ownership of knowledge (that’s the equivalent of culture) is being gained. From a scientist’s perspective, this may seem absurd, unless of course that scientist puts personal (not collective) benefit at the top of all priorities. Therein lies the conflict between the betterment of humanity and greed.
Another perspective worth mentioning here comes from an InfoWorld blog. The writer labels the situation that Microsoft has created a state of intellectual dishonesty.
The intellectual property racket must end. Intellectual property laws were designed to promote innovation, not to allow monopolists to stifle it. We have an entire generation that has been taught that new ideas have to be “protectable” to be worthy of consideration. Whatever happened to being faster and better than the competition? Do these companies really need a seventeen year head-start? Does Microsoft really need a government-sanctioned sledge-hammer with which to intimidate smaller companies?
It sometimes seems like Microsoft, which once truly engineered and produced some software (acquisitions increasingly replace homebred program), has turned to marketing, then lawyers, and then bullying. To give credit to them, the company saw some days when there was passion for software, not just anything that might produce money. Later on, engineers were replaced by businessmen. This probably happened when Gates and others gave place to some new leadership. That was also when patent applications began to be filed rather than be denounced, as Gates once suggested.
Even years ago, Richard Stallman highlighted the sheer hypocrisy and the transformation from science to greed. Look at some think tanks and panels every day and be disgusted by the manipulation of the system. Large businesses are in the business of destroying the smaller businesses. The patent system, rather than encourage diversity in the market, achieves the very opposite thing. It is not surprising, however, as those that write the law (frequently by proxy) are the large companies. A reform is needed or else we will continue to observe a world that combats sanity.