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   Re: [xml-dev] Another Microsoft XML patent

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* Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com> [2005-06-06 03:16]:
> >  From what I recall, and from what I came up with in some quick
> > Googling, there are far, far more lawsuits by little companies (often
> > those whose only asset is some IP they have purchased) against the big
> > companies than actual examples of big companies using dodgy patents to
> > crush the competition.
> It's certainly true at present that when a company starts exploiting its
> patents, you can be pretty sure it's failing to sell its products. It's
> true, but it's irrelevant.
> Every company is going to hit hard times some day. The point is that you
> can't write a line of code any more without violating umpteen patents that
> should never have been granted, and that's making the software business
> unreasonably risky. If you don't believe that, try to find a UK insurer
> who's prepared to cover a small company selling software into the US market.
> (They exist, but they take some finding.)

    I often hear the software patent issues characterized as a
    merely matter of self-defense by larger firms, or worse petty
    anti-corpratism on the part of those who are concerned.
    It is another missed point.
    That the software patent pipelines are a defense measure on the
    part of the larger firms, I don't disgree. It is a defensive
    measure. It is a defensive measure with offensive capabilities.
    The defensive nature of a software patents doesn't take away
    from the fact that these patents can be used to shut down start
    ups and stifle innovation.

    When you create opporutities for profitable litigation, you
    create litigation. It has little to do with the character of
    this or that individual, or the culture of a corporation.
    Software changes hands, the facts on the ground change minds,
    and the legal options are pursued.

    It seems like the most egregous use of patents these days is by
    small firms extorting larger firms. (A big guy versus little guy
    thread always sprouts from this discussion.) 
    Those "little guys" that are taking on the "big guys" are not so
    little. They find backing and press a patent violation suit for
    fun and profit. It isn't the size of the firm, but the size of
    the jackpot that fuels these things.
    Every patent issued is a liability. These liablities create risk.
    The risks are going to make the start ups that fueled innovation
    the last thirty years less and less viable.

Alan Gutierrez - alan@engrm.com
    - http://engrm.com/blogometer/index.html
    - http://engrm.com/blogometer/rss.2.0.xml


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