08 February 2011

Microsoft is Run by Fascist Idiots


Despite a potentially crippling patent injunction against selling Word that Microsoft is battling on appeal, Microsoft, via a senior lawyer, is nevertheless calling for a global patent system “to make it easier and faster for corporations to enforce their intellectual property rights around the world”. Yep–despite the big hit they just took due to i4i’s patent, Microsoft is concerned about the “unmanageable backlogs and interminable pendency periods” of national patent systems, which have 3.5 million patents pending. You hear that right–Microsoft things more is “needed to be done to allow corporations to protect their intellectual property.” What, do they want i4i to be able to get sextuple, instead of just triple, damages? To jail Microsoft board members? [Emphasis mine.]

One of the oft-neglected aspects of IP law is how the whole system of IP was justified, in the constitution, on utilitarian grounds.  Not only that, the IP system was expected to be to the benefit of individuals, not corporations.  In essence, the founders wanted IP law to exist in order to encourage “small-time” inventors and scientists to pursue their interests, with the expectation that they could do so profitably.

This means, then, that the founders never intended for IP laws to benefit corporations.  They certainly never expected IP to turn into a redistributive nightmare where mega-corporations rob other mega-corporations.  The whole point of IP, as envisioned by the founders, was to encourage grassroots innovation.  It wasn’t intended to be a weapon for bickering companies to use to rob each other.

And yet, Microsoft wants to go beyond the original intent, and wants to do so in the most short-sighted way.  As Stephan Kinsella accurately points out, there is a strong possibility that this action will prove detrimental to Microsoft.  As such, it is incredibly foolish to suggest something that could thoroughly bankrupt you.  Of course, no one has ever accused Microsoft of being run by geniuses.

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