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I'm a wee bit tired by patent FUD and other substitutes for real competition from Microsoft. Microsoft has built a great business on comparatively good products. Yet in its old age, it seems incapable of competing on customer value and instead keeps fetishing its patent portfolio, as if anyone but its lawyers care about those.
Every company is in the software business, which means that every company has software liability. We estimate $11.4 billion a year is spent on software patent litigation (see our resources for economists page), and not just by Microsoft and IBM—The Green Bay Packers, Kraft Foods, and Ford Motor are facing software patent infringement lawsuits for their use of the standard software necessary for running a modern business.
Procession plc, the developer of original and innovative People & Task Driven and Goal Directed software in its Task Orientated Applications (TOA), has hit out at Microsoft for not playing fair in trying to copy and patent Procession's innovative business software. Moreover, Procession criticises IT vendors whose systems do not have the best interests of their business users at heart.
Who doesn't like patent litigation? I know I do. What could be more fun than reading newspapers articles about companies suing the pants out of each other for infringing on ideas the suing party are theirs. It doesn't matter that the defendant might never even have heard of the patent in question, as patent law nevertheless applies and gives the claimant a chance to make a windfall in damages for patent infringement.
So, this is what we have been leveled to: patent wars. Earlier this week, I learned that the Linux Foundation has a portfolio of patents they own themselves and are quite willing to take Microsoft on in a patent war. And while I support the Linux Foundation fighting the good fight, I believe there are some issues that had better be considered.
Let's conclude our series of articles on In Re Bilski by looking at what the ruling may mean for Microsoft's threats against Linux. We can start by figuring out what kinds of patents Microsoft might think it owns.
"When Microsoft announced the first of its patent interoperability agreements with Novell in November 2006, one of the major claims made in favor of the patent covenant agreement was that it would give customers peace of mind and ensure that they didn’t have to worry about issues such as intellectual property infringement."