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Microsoft's Internal Advice About Patents

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| "Eric Brechner writes a best practices blog called Hard Code for Microsoft
| under the name I.M. Wright. His most recent post sounds like an endorsement
| of open source development (and does end with a call for Microsoft developers
| to participate in the shared source community). But even better is his advice
| regarding patents: 'When using existing libraries, services, tools, and
| methods from outside Microsoft, we must be respectful of licenses,
| copyrights, and patents. Generally, you want to carefully research licenses
| and copyrights (your contact in Legal and Corporate Affairs can help), and
| never search, view, or speculate about patents. I was confused by this
| guidance till I wrote and reviewed one of my own patents. The legal claims
| section--the only section that counts--was indecipherable by anyone but a
| patent attorney. Ignorance is bliss and strongly recommended when it comes to
| patents.' Interesting advice from inside Microsoft. I wonder if Ballmer would
| agree that ignorance should be 'strongly recommended when it comes to
| patents'?"



Microsoft denies theft charges

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| Symantec filed the complaint last week in Washington state federal court.
| It claims Microsoft misappropriated data storage software for use in
| technology such as its new Vista operating system.
| "Over the course of nearly a decade, Microsoft has deliberately and
| surreptitiously misappropriated Symantec's valuable storage technologies,
| misled and thereby convinced the US government to issue patents to Microsoft
| based on technologies invented by Symantec," the complaint says. Microsoft
| countered that the suit was a result of "a very narrow disagreement" on the
| terms of a 1996 licensing deal Microsoft had with software security company
| Veritas, which Symantec acquired last year.



Microsoft settles Sendo 'tech theft' lawsuit

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| UK mobile phone maker and erstwhile Microsoft partner Sendo today said they
| had settled their long-running legal dispute.
| The terms and conditions of the out-of-court deal were not disclosed, but it
| is known that Microsoft will hand back its four per cent stake in the
| privately held Sendo.
| Sendo was Microsoft's original smart phone partner, but the two fell out in
| 2002 when the manufacturer accused the software giant of nicking its
| technology and customers.



Latha Jishnu: The mouse that bit Microsoft

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| Here’s what Gates wrote in an office memorandum in 1991. “If people had
| understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were
| invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete
| standstill today. . . I feel certain that some large company will patent some
| obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm,
| application extension or other crucial technique.”
| This was the year after Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, the first of its new
| operating systems that would become hugely popular across the world. Yet,
| three years down the line, Microsoft had changed from a kitten that was
| content with copyright protection to an aggressive patents tiger. In 1991,
| Microsoft had filed fewer than 50 patent applications whereas last year it
| was awarded 1,637 patents, almost a 12 per cent increase in the number of
| patents it received in 2006. According to IFI Patent Intelligence, the rise
| in Microsoft’s patents portfolio bucked the general trend in 2007 when the
| number of patents issued by the US Patents and Trademark Office dipped by 10
| per cent. Apparently several thousand of the company’s filings are still
| pending.
| All this may prompt the reader to conclude that there is indeed a direct
| correlation between IPR and growth — and wealth — as the company claims. Not
| true, says Mark H Webbink, a US Supreme Court lawyer who is a recognised
| voice on IT issues. Charting the company’s revenues, R&D spending and patent
| filings from 1985 onwards, he shows that the spike in patent filings occurred
| long after the Microsoft “had become well established and was being
| investigated for its monopolistic practices”. Webbink contends that patents
| did not spur the launch and rapid growth of the mass market software
| industry. On the other hand, patents have become a threat to software
| innovation, he warns.


Intellectual Property Regime Stifles Science and Innovation, Nobel Laureates

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| Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede
| the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent
| thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued
| for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure
| to encourage innovation, he said.
| Another problem is that the social returns from innovation do not accord with
| the private returns associated with the patent system, Stiglitz said. The
| marginal benefit from innovation is that an idea may become available sooner
| than it might have. But the person who secures the patent on it wins a
| long-term monopoly, creating a gap between private and social returns.

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