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by Franki

According to Reuters, Apple and Microsoft (among others) are pushing for extended patent protection. They argue that they need broader protection to stop Open Source companies that make their money from services instead of software sales from stealing their “innovations”. The ironic thing is that Apple didn’t mind taking from the Open Source community when it based OSX on FreeBSD, and they also didn’t mind when they based their Safari web browser on KDE’s (One of Linux’s most popular graphical user interfaces) KHTML rendering engine. Now they want protection from Open Source companies? I’m not overly fond of Microsoft, but at least they never claimed they like and support Open Source in business.

Let us look at some facts here, neither Apple or Microsoft invented the Graphical User Interface, neither invented TCP/IP (the protocol used by the Internet and most networks), in fact Microsoft’s early TCP/IP implementation was said to be pulled out of BSD as well. Neither invented E-mail, Instant Messaging, web browsing, digital music and movies, spreadsheets, databases and all manner of other things we take for granted on our PC’s (In fact neither invented PC’s either). That’s right folks all of those REAL innovations were created by other people and companies and copied by Apple, Microsoft and pretty much everyone else. Fortunately the creators of these innovations were not as money grabbing as these two or there is a good chance that the modern PC would look very different from what you are reading this on. I’m saddened and disgusted at how our early pioneers have been replaced with money grabbing opportunists who appropriate the best ideas from others, but patent ever decent idea of their own (and from what I’ve seen they patent a good many bad ideas as well). The older I get, the more I think Richard Stallman might really be onto something.

If you find yourself wondering how software patents favour the big companies, consider that both Apple and Microsoft were very small companies once. Had they been told they had to pay millions in license fee’s to use a Graphical User Interface, or any of the other innovations mentioned above, would either of those companies be as big as they are now? In fact I’d go so far as to say that if GUI’s (for example) had huge patents attached to them, IBM would own most of the software industry as they were one of the very few that were already big enough to have paid big patent licence fees when the GUI was invented by a Xerox research lab.

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