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Microsoft Looks at Patents from Both Sides Now

Microsoft has two views of patents: When it holds them and can sue, they are like bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air. When Microsoft gets sued, patents only block the sun -- they rain and snow on everyone.

So it's hard to tell exactly how Microsoft feels. According to a recent blog from two high ranking Microsoft attorneys, the company is looking at patents from both sides now, including up and down.

Redmond is now lobbying Congress to tweak (but not fundamentally change) patent law by reducing the number of junk cases and advising for a little more give and take. For instance, if a company sues Microsoft, but Microsoft actually invented the technology before its adversary filed a patent, Redmond should be let off the hook -- leaving it with a dizzy, dancing feeling.

One item in particular to help kill off junk cases is the notion of prior art, or the ability to show you were working on this stuff before any patent was filed. At the same time, Microsoft wants to award patents on who filed first, rather than who invented first. These two items to me seem contradictory.

Microsoft also wants more money to fund the patent office, even as it seems to want to somewhat neglect the laws this office enforces. Some of this fundage could go to spiking bogus patents -- another Microsoft goal.

Finally, Microsoft wants to limit awards to actual damages and get rid of excessive judgments.

I'm not a huge fan of software patents, probably because I don't have any.

In this item I was clearly biting the rhymes (stealing lyrics) of a famous songwriter. Who was it? And should we modify or just kill off software patents? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 02/04/2011 at 1:18 PM


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