We've shifted into a new zone in the world of software patent stupidity. A few weeks ago, Oracle sued Google over a series of Java-related patents they got when they acquired Sun. Last week, Paul Allen sued 11 major software companies, including Google, over four patents that were granted to his now defunct Interval Research think tank.
Much of the early commentary has already been said. And, from what I've read, it's not very generous to either Oracle or Paul Allen. One of the best lines is from James Gosling, the authors of RE38.104 (Method and apparatus for resolving data references in generated code) in his post "The shit finally hits the fan." There has been plenty of speculation about the motivation of the Oracle patents and the speculation as to Paul Allen's motivation is just beginning. Regardless, there are lots of lawyers in the mix advising their clients and devising strategies around these patents.
My own opinion will be no surprise to regular readers of this blog. I think this behavior is an absurd abuse of the patent system. I think it's a massive tax on innovation. I think it's an insult to anyone who is a real innovator.
As I was reading through some of the Paul Allen commentary this morning, it occurred to me that this might finally be a tipping point. Last week, Microsoft asked the supreme court to hear their appeal of the I4i patent suit. I hope Google steps up and really takes a stand here given that they are on the receiving end of both the Oracle and Allen suits.
Reprinted from Feld Thoughts
Brad Feld is a managing director at Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. He invests in software and Internet companies around the U.S., runs marathons, and reads a lot. Follow him at twitter.com/bfeld.