Friday, July 30, 2004

Microsoft's IP strategy

The NYT reports that Microsoft is more aggressively pursuing patents:
    Microsoft said on Thursday that it planned to increase its storehouse of intellectual property by filing 50 percent more patent applications over the next year than in the previous 12 months.
Some are concerned about how these patents might be used. From the NYT article:
    Microsoft, the world's largest software company, increasingly regards the legal protection of its programming ideas as essential to safeguarding its growth opportunities ... Microsoft's stepped-up patent program, analysts say, will be watched closely in the industry to see if the company uses it mainly as a defensive tactic or as an offensive weapon to try to slow the spread of open source products.
And from a CNet article:
    Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday sought to distance itself from a June 2002 memo in which an HP executive said Microsoft planned to use patents as the basis for a legal attack on open-source software.

    "Basically, Microsoft is going to use the legal system to shut down open-source software," said Gary Campbell, then vice president of strategic architecture in HP's office of the chief technology officer, in a memo to several HP executives. "Microsoft could attack open-source software for patent infringements against (computer makers), Linux distributors, and, least likely, open-source developers."

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