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2004-11-20

Scobleizer: Defending Ballmer

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger

Hmmm.

Fundamentally, I think Scoble gets it. It's certainly heartening that he's ambivalent about the issue. There's an space between patents and no patents that we should all strive to achieve. No investors means no money, no money means no inovation, no jobs, no new gadgets or software, and that's bad. No openness means you can only get any specific function from one vendor, and that's bad. It's one thing to protect the code that you've paid people to write, and I don't really have a problem with that - I'm tremendously glad that not every one does it, but it's OK if you feel you need to do it. But patenting clicking a button in a web page or asking for help from another application or other functional ideas is patently (ha ha) ridiculous.

If I see a cool function in a piece of software and I spend the time to parse out a way to do it with my own code then I ought to be able to do so. To say otherwise would be like saying that since Farenheit 451 is largely about book burning no one else can write a book about book burning without being sued. Fewer functional patents benefit both open and closed models, and there's still plenty of money to be made by doing it earlier, or better, or offering more support or integration.

It's Steve Ballmer that doesn't get it. Threats and FUD will lose you customers - even his source for the statements he made apparently disagrees with him (Author of Linux Patent Study Says Ballmer Got It Wrong). C'mon, Steve, get with the program. Microsoft doesn't need to threaten customers, it needs to win them over by proving it can do things better, faster, and more securly than it's open source rivals. And it needs to realize that having the competitors out there will make Microsoft do better work in the long run. Accept the competition, respect it, and it will make you better over all. Belittle it and you end up looking little yourself. Microsoft has problems in its own closet, and a case like the Kodak vs. Java case could be on Microsoft's horizon as well.

Excerpts from Steve Ballmer's statements can be seen here. Additionally, I do believe that this is all a little overblown...

More resources:
Software Patents Gone Bad
The Public Patent Foundation
Smalltalk Tidbits, Industry Rants: Protecting investment???
Software patents
KasLog » Scoble Replaced by Lawyer?

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