Thursday July 24, 2003

Microsoft's Patent Problem

I don't personally approve of software patents; I think they are bogus almost by definition. I've seen too many "inventions" that are nothing more than implementations of ideas that any reasonably bright programmer could have come up with. That said, this article causes me certain bemusement. On the one hand, I think s/w patents are wrong. On the other hand, they exist and, on the third hand, I tend to be in favor of just about anything that keeps Micro$oft from taking over more of the world, Borg-style.

Last month, when Microsoft announced its bellwether decision to award employees restricted stock instead of options, it also made news in a federal courtroom—the kind of news you keep quiet about.

Microsoft suffered utter defeat at a crucial pretrial hearing in what appears to be the highest-stakes patent litigation ever—one in which a tiny company called InterTrust Technologies claims that 85% of Microsoft's entire product line infringes its digital security patents.
As agreed before the hearing, the parties now enter a round of settlement talks. Though InterTrust declines to place a pricetag on the suit, it's hard to imagine the company settling now for any sum that does not have a "B" in it.

Read the complete Fortune Magazine article, posted July 23 on (or on paper, published in the August issue, Vol. 148, No. 3, of the print magazine).

Microsoft's Patent Problem ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Thu, 24 Jul, 09:26 Pacific | «e»