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Bill Gates on software patents

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Bill Gates is a pro-software-patent executive of Microsoft.

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[edit] The confidential 1991 memo

The following is from an internal Microsoft memo, published by a court during an unrelated trial:

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. If we assume this company has no need of any of our patents then the have a 17-year right to take as much of our profits as they want. The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can. Amazingly we havn't done any patent exchanges tha I am aware of. Amazingly we havn't found a way to use our licensing position to avoid having our own customers cause patent problems for us. I know these aren't simply problems but they deserve more effort by both Legal and other groups. For example we need to do a patent exchange with HP as part of our new relationship. In many application categories straighforward thinking ahead allows you to come up with patentable ideas. A recent paper from the League for Programming Freedom (available from the Legal department) explains some problems with the way patents are applied to software.[1][2][3]

Given the date, the League for Programming Freedom document he references seems to be this one: Against Software Patents

[edit] Using patents to block interoperability

In an email,[4] Microsoft's Bill Gates suggests using patents to make make interoperability difficult for GNU/Linux:

One thing I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn't try and make the "ACPI" extensions somehow Windows specific.

It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work.

Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me.

Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open.

Or maybe we could patent something related to this.

[edit] Threatening Denmark in 2005

In February 2005, a few months before the European Parliament's second vote on the EU software patents directive, Bill Gates met with the Prime Minister of Denmark plus two government Ministers. At the meeting, Gates threatened to fire 800 Danish software developers: "I must have clarity on the rights issue. Otherwise I will move to the US, where I can protect my rights".[5]

[edit] Related pages on en.swpat.org

[edit] References

  1. http://antitrust.slated.org/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/0000/PX00738.pdf
  2. http://groklaw.net/pdf/iowa/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/0000/PX00738.pdf
  3. http://world.std.com/obi/Bill.Gates/Challenges.and.Strategy
  4. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2010011422570951
  5. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050215071109231


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