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The Economist: Patent wars - Better get yourself armed. Everybody else is

Apr 11, 2000, 20:11 (4 Talkback[s])

"The pace of patenting is accelerating. Business is heading for the courts again. And criticism of the recent award of patents on wide areas of Internet business is growing. Academics and Internet activists are concerned that the government is turning the Internet over to private monopolies. Patents are becoming political once more...."

"Landmark court decisions have made new areas of technology patentable. A 1980 case opened up biotechnology and genes for patenting; a 1981 case allowed the patenting of software, and a 1998 case has spawned more business-method patents...."

"Nasty letters from lawyers have a powerful galvanising effect. Business started to wake up to the importance of these pieces of paper-particularly after Microsoft had to pay IBM $30m in a patent-infringement suit. Bill Gates sent a memo round to employees saying that the solution was "patenting as much as we can."

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