Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Oct 2010 18:02 UTC, submitted by viator
Legal If you can't compete, litigate. This train of thought has been quite prevalent among major technology companies as of late, most notably by Apple and Microsoft, who both cannot compete with Android on merit, so they have to resort to patent lawsuits and FUD. Both Asustek and Acer have revealed that Microsoft plans to impose royalty fees upon the two Taiwanese hardware makers to prevent them from shipping Android and/or Chrome OS devices.
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Purpose of Patents
by imthefrizzlefry on Thu 28th Oct 2010 23:35 UTC
imthefrizzlefry
Member since:
2010-10-28

The US Constitution allows patents "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" The real question is:

Do these patents promote progress, or do these patents hold us back as a society?

If a courtroom can prove that these patents are holding us back, as I feel most of them do, then the patents can be declared invalid. This is the fate of almost all software patent claims that were not settled out of court; the point being that it is very rare that a software patent ever promotes the progress of science or useful arts.

The problem here is that it takes years and millions of dollars to prove such a thing in a civil court. Microsoft can afford to throw millions of dollars toward protecting a single patent, and even if you defeat one, then they almost always can find something else that they can sue you for (like a scroll bar, progress bar, file system, icon, ect.) Most people would rather just pay Microsoft to hold back society. This is why software patents have been considered so controversial.

Some other food for thought is the whole Microsoft Surface thing; the project is clearly based off of the Open Source Cubit project (also see NUI Group), but because Microsoft has a bunch of patents, Cubit will never see the light of day. Not because Microsoft came up with the idea, but because Microsoft applied for patents on features from a publicly available project. We all could have cheap massive multi-touch tables in our homes, but instead Microsoft will only sell it to businesses for $10,000+.

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