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Doug's Mailbag: Patent Predicament, Windows 95

A regular to Doug's Mailbag discusses Paul Allen's patent actions:

Let's be fair, Doug!

Paul Allen wasn't just a Microsoft employee, he was its CO-FOUNDER! However, he acquired these patents. They are his to grant to his own company -- whether he works for them now or not!

As for these patents being overly broad, your beef is with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I want to know if these patents are registered or are they still patent pending?

If they are registered, then the USPTO has declared them valid and, therefore, protected. It will be up to a jury to decide if they were violated. If they are still pending, the USPTO could deny them at any time.

There is no doubt that US patent law needs some serious revision for the reasons you state, but it is within Paul's legal rights to protect the patents that the U.S. government has granted him (rightly or wrongly).

Congress has repeatedly extended the lifetime of copyrights, patents and trademarks well beyond the lifetime of the inventor so, considering that Paul Allen still lives, his rights are intact. Whether or not he should ever have been granted these patents is a different question entirely -- and extends far beyond the scope of Paul Allen's rights.
-Marc

Here's one reader's thoughts on Window's 15-year-old OS:

I was in college, and thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread, Windows 95 gave me my first (and last, I swear) practice in hacking.
Friends and I would use 95 to put odd screensavers onto the office manager's computer. And you have given me a question I can't remember the answer to: Was 95 the first version you could have more than one application window open at a time?
-Vicke

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).  

Posted by Doug Barney on 09/10/2010 at 1:18 PM


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