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

“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

“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

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