Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Spreads Intellectual Monopolies as Business Model

Nathan Myhrvold



"Intellectual property is the next software."

--Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll



Microsoft views its future direction as one that's centralised around software patents, probably with moneyflows that are based on "compensation" (welfare), not sales. As indication of it, watch this Google results page for the search phrase "cross licensing patents". 6 out of 10 top results are about Microsoft. No kidding.



A news report from Heise indicates that Microsoft is the one single entity which is hoarding lots of (and the most) software patents, according to IEEE figures.

For the third year running the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has ranked companies in different sectors to estimate the power that these companies have, based upon their patent portfolio. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft came top in the "Computer Software" category and IBM tops the "Computer Systems" chart.


Given that "Computer Software" is not patentable in the vast majority of the world, Microsoft may own just a bubble, whose value it will try to actualise using interest-sharing allies like IDC, BSA, ACT, and CompTIA.

Microsoft also suffered this setback very recently. Mondaq has a new article about it:

United States: JFTC Issued Microsoft Ruling On Its NAP Clause Practice



On September 16, 2008, Japan Fair Trade Commission (the "JFTC") issued a ruling against Microsoft Corporation ("MS") regarding its use of a so-called "NAP" clause in its software licenses. The MS NAP clause prevented licensees from asserting certain intellectual property rights against MS and its customers.


Pay-per-use PCs or Pay-per-use Patents?



As pointed out last week, Microsoft wanted competitors to pay 'innovation tax' for just daring to devise the idea of renting PCs (with software) to people. Why else pursue this patent? Patent trolls? Fortunately, their patent application was rejected.

Microsoft's patent application for a usage-based PC model has already been rebuffed by the US Patent Office, according to a letter disclosed today. Given to Microsoft a few days before the requested patent became public, the notice rejects Microsoft's submission for being at once too broad and too familiar. The tendency to use vague terms and the existence of already patented, relevant technology are cited as the core reasons behind the rejection.


This rejection is also covered here and here. Novell is mentioned in this article:

Five Reasons Microsoft Wants A Pay As You Go Model



[...]

Make no mistake about it. Microsoft wants to put itself at the center of the internet universe. It wants to control the applications experience of each and every user on the planet. And this is a way to do that. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have never been comfortable playing second banana to anyone. Remember these are the guys that started the PC revolution. Do you really think they are going to ride off into the sunset and watch their bring computing to the masses revolution spoiled by a one time CEO of Novell. Not in a long shot. Gates and Ballmer still want to make history. This pay as you go model may be their biggest play yet.


It Seemed Like a Bad Idea at the Time...



Apple, as we routinely emphasise, has its share of silly patents that sometimes obstruct GNU/Linux development. Here is another bizarre 'invention' from this company:

The US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday released Apple's most recent application, in which the company files for patent protection for ... wait for it ... a glove.


This race to patent everything under the sun is akin to the Gold Rush and MIT seems to have caught the fever as well.

Unfortunately, MIT liked it so much they decided to patent it. Seeking permission to use his own idea for his iShoe startup, which develops products like insoles to address the problems of seniors, Lieberman was told no problem — as long as he promised a hefty royalty and forked over a $75,000 upfront payment. Whether or not students are aware of it, the NYTimes reports that most universities own inventions created by students that were developed using a 'significant' amount of schools resources.


Later on, people like Microsoft's own patent troll come to collect those patents from universities [1, 2], essentially sweeping them away from creative minds. They build an arsenal where no substantial inventions are really made; they are just bought. Here is a nice new cartoon about patent trolling and... "NCSoft".

Speaking of the article above, Slated writes: "Whilst reading the Slashdot article about the inventor who was not allowed to implement his own invention, because his university claimed "ownership", I came across this highly illuminating comment:"

Re:Encouraging innovation (Score:4, Interesting) by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza[AT]gmail.com> on Sunday January 04, @07:49AM (#26319371)

...

This is what the Gates Foundation is about - they are not there to cure disease. It's easy to see that not every country is going to let them in to vaccinate, because you have to basically adopt US IP law (esp. regarding patents - this is about big pharma) to get the vaccinations.


"So Gates is basically using his Fundation[sic] to spread the disease of Intellectual Monopolies with medical blackmail," writes Slated. "This way, he not only gets a mechanism by which to launder his bribe money (and pull a nice little tax break), whilst "investing" in Oil companies, but he also eventually gets to capitalise on third-world royalty payments for his assimilated Innovation€®. Only a gangster like Gates could neatly tie up the world's three most morally corrupt industries (Oil, Pharmaceutical and Software) together into one neat little package like this, then mask it as "charity"."

We already wrote about Bill Gates' passing of money to governments through his charitable foundation, which protects him from state tax and enables him to invest, literally, in very harmful companies. Charitable donations are, in comparison, slush funds that keep this organisation going. Such a moral issue is hardly televised due to media ownerships and peer pressure.

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