Patents are good. They encourage innovation. Software patents are bad. They encourage trolling. The Electronic Frontier Foundation keeps an eye on these things. They monitor the complex and usually boring details of our electronic existence, and try to warn us when it threatens to go awry. An example of their awareness-raising is their Stupid Patent of the Month award, which goes to Microsoft for December 2015. Microsoft filed a design patent for a slider, as in the picture above, and now they’re suing Corel for patent infringement.
For the first time ever, this month’s Stupid Patent of the Month is being awarded to a design patent. Microsoft recently sued Corel for, among other things, infringing its patent on a slider …
Microsoft’s patent claims against Corel are unsurprising in light of how much money is potentially at stake. If Corel is found to infringe even one of Microsoft’s design patents through even the smallest part of Corel Home Office, current Federal Circuit law entitles Microsoft to all of Corel’s profits for the entire product. Not the profits that can be attributed to the design. Not the value that the design adds to a product. All of the profit from Corel Home Office.
All of their profits for their Corel Home Office product would be forfeit for the use of one stupid, obvious design feature. The current patent system is, rather than encouraging innovation, rewarding parasitical laziness. That is the opposite of what the system was created for. To me, this shows that the public institutions in charge of the system are just as bankrupt as the system itself.
In addition to the article on the EFF site, here is some good coverage at Ars Technica.