Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why and How Microsoft Turned from a Software Company Into a Patent Aggressor/Taxman

Summary: Timeline of Microsoft's patent plotting

WE KINDLY ask readers to weigh in and fill the gaps (missing milestone events). Here is what we already know.

1991: Bill Gates explicitly says that he dislikes patents.

1998: Microsoft is said to have lost $18 billion (source: The Economist) because the business model did not scale well. The company had some savings, but the company's direction was not clear (still isn't) and it may already be in debt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. More recently, the company pressured the American government to print more money and pass it over to private hands, namely corporations in distress [1, 2, 3].

1999: The Gates Foundation is created to serve as a tax haven and bank account for investments of interest. Like many other charities of its kind, it is conveniently disguised as philanthropy while acting as a vehicle that advances personal agenda. Gates personally invests in patents trolls too (see below).

2000: Gates speaks/spoke to his colleague -- Nathan Myhrvold -- about addressing the problems with software profitability and related conundrums. Patents came up as a solution. Myhrvold told the press last year that he had come up with Intellectual Ventures (IV) after negotiations with Gates and it's clear that this founder dislikes GNU/Linux. Gates personally invests in IV, which already extracts revenue from patents (so does Microsoft).

2004 Asian governments decide to move to GNU/Linux, so Microsoft threatens to sue them over patents.

2005: A software patents directive in Europe gets tossed despite heavy lobbying from Microsoft, which continues that lobbying effort to this date.

2006: Microsoft signs a comprehensive patent deal that directly aligns itself against GNU/Linux. Novell is the first company to subscribe to this.

2007: Microsoft threatens to sue Linux vendors and already blackmails some (without disclosures made), based on admissions in the press.

2008: Gates turns out to have its own patent harvesting/trolling firm [1, 2]. There is more than one participant in this.

2009: After a long period of betting on patents, Microsoft brags about receiving its 10,000th patent.

2009: Microsoft sues a company over patents in Linux and admits to 'taxing' other companies using the same patents.

That's just the short story about patents at Microsoft -- a story which needs a lot of work before competition, so readers' help is needed. There are worse patterns of behaviour which some people would characterise as organised crime by a "political movement".

"Sadly, many of these brilliant people have been blinded by the stock price and unable to see that Microsoft is also the key architect of the greatest financial pyramid scheme this century.

--Bill Parish

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