05-19-11 - Nathan Myhrvold

I was reading about the new cookbook "Modernist Cuisine" (which sounds pretty interesting, but DON'T BUY IT) and I was like hhrrmm why does this name sound familiar. And then I remembered ...

Myrhvold back in the day was one of the "gunslingers" at the top of Microsoft who was responsible for their highly immoral and sometimes illegal practices, which consisted of vaporware announcements, exclusivity deals, and general bullying to sabotage any attempts at free market competition in computers. (see here for example). It's hard for me to get back in that mindset now, Microsoft seems so inept these days, but let's not forget it was built on threats, lies, bullying, and stealing (I assume this was mostly Bill's doing).

Nowadays, Nathan Myhrvold is basically enemy #1 if you believe that most patents are evil.

His "Intellectual Ventures" is basically buying up every patent they think they can make money on, and then extracting license fees. He talks a lot of shit about funding invention, but that is an irrelevant facade to hide what they're really doing, which is buying up patents and then forcing people to license under threat of suit.

Even if you support patents you must see that innovation is being stifled because tech startups have to live in fear that the completely obvious algorithm they implemented was patented by some someone, and was then bought by some fund that has a team of lawyers hunting for infringers.

For more info see : 1 , 2 , 3

The Coalition for Patent Fairness has been doing some decent work at making small steps towards reform. The CPF is big business and certainly not revolutionary anti-patentites, they just want it to be a bit harder for someone to patent something absurd like "one click ordering" and then to extract huge damages for it. And of course Myhrvold is against them.

1 comment:

Joe Duarte said...

What is happening with patents in America is deeply depressing, especially software patents. I feel like our patent system is a gaping moral loophole in our civilization. Normally, we make pure predation illegal – obvious forms of predation are criminalized. But our patent system legitimizes and empowers naked predation like nothing else I can think of in the present era. It allows human beings to prey – to feast on innocent, random people engaged in nominally virtuous activity (work, commerce, entrepreneurship, job-creation, innovation, wealth-creation, etc.)

What plaintiff software patent lawyers do for a living would be understood as extortion and racketeering in an appropriately advanced civilization. It's amazing that we let these people run free and do what they do. A massive loophole.

old rants