I have to laugh whenever I hear Microsoft refer to themselves as "innovators." They are not.

What makes their claims so laughable is that Gates & Co. combine their lack of original thinking with incredulously sleazy business practices.

Case in point: The iPod.

Months after Apple designed, created and started selling the iPod, Microsoft filed a patent application for a similar interface. Thats Microsoft innovation at its finest.

A Microsoft employee said:  "Our policy is to allow others to license our patents so they can use our innovative methods in their products."

Seriously, they said that — you can look it up.

Apple, in its own lovably disfunctional way, failed to file their patent prior to selling the product. Steve Jobs is going to lop someone’s head off.

Of course, given that several 100,000 iPods were sold when Microsoft filed their patent, they obviously had to include the iPod as prior art, right? Otherwise, the MSFT patent is laughably incomplete. (I’ll bet MSFT somehow omitted that).

What a pair of buffoons: The corrupt, and the incompetant.

>

Sources:

Microsoft beats Apple to technology patent
Earlier application may mean royalties on every iPod sale
Bloomberg News, August 12, 2005
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0508120097aug12,1,4655042.story?coll=chi-business-hed

Apple loses bid on patent
Microsoft wins first round in struggle over iPod system
Matthew Yi
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Page C – 1 Friday, August 12, 2005 
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/08/12/BUGF9E6NM71.DTL

Category: Finance, Intellectual Property, Music

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

16 Responses to “Microsoft: The “Innovator”

  1. tt says:

    Apple was also not the first to make these kinds of products and certainly not one of the best. What they are good at is marketing and somehow convince people they make good products. In fact the only thing they can sell products with is innovative design. Their hardware usually stinks and costs a lot.

  2. I disagree — the iPod was a very clever creation, a combination of off the shelf parts and a brilliant interface.

    But none of that belkies that absurdity of Microsoft the innovator filing the patent 6 months after ther iPod was released.

    Apple innovates.

  3. Lord says:

    There was a time when patents were used to protect innovation, but now they are only used as clubs for companies to sue each other and prevent being sued by each other.

  4. That’s a gross oversimplification:

    There are patent trolls who buy up otherwise worthless IP for opennies, and then use them as club.

    Then there are the anti-competitive firms, who litigiously use their own patents as a bludgeon to prevent legitimate competition. Think of Intel’s constant litigation against AMD over the years. Read Inside Intel for a terrific case study of this.

    Edision perfected this strategy, ands its one of the reasons why the Studios moved to Hollywood — to get away from his NJ based litigation machine.

    Then there are legitimate innovative small firms, who’s creativity and IP are ripped off by bigger deeper pocketed firms. This has been going on for a long long time.

    Microsoft is notoriously one of the latter. They have a long and storied history of ripping off small firms.

  5. I’m a fan of this blog, but, umm, when you label a company incompetent, you really should spell incompetent correctly…

    just fwiw…

  6. I disagree.

    Microsoft is where it is today precisely because it innovates.

    It’s just that MSFT innovates in un-traditional and cutthroat ways, namely through Darwinian appropriations of intellectual property.

    Gates and Co realize that the winners of the Information Age are not necessarily the creators, but the owners.

    With almost offensive and obscene ammounts of cash on hand, Microsoft feels secure in knowing that whatever it doesn’t create, it’ll just buy.

    Capitalism isn’t driven by innovation; the motor of the Capitalistic Age is ownership, plain and simple.

    The Software (mind-blowing economies of scale followed by domineering market share) and Drug Industries (characterized by patent wars and lavish margins), for example.

    Hence, as De Soto — in his magnificent and underappreciated gem “The Mystery of Capital” — notes, capitalism succeeds vis-a-vis titles, deeds, and myriad other manifestations of ownership.

    Daniel Andres Jacome
    Managing Director
    Catablast! Media LLC

  7. Marc Brazeau says:

    Microsoft is where it is today precisely because it innovates.

    It’s just that MSFT innovates in un-traditional and cutthroat ways, namely through Darwinian appropriations of intellectual property.

    Gates and Co realize that the winners of the Information Age are not necessarily the creators, but the owners.

    The story of Capitalism is a story of broke ass inventors and rich owners. One of the flaws in Capitalism is Ayn Rand notwithstanding, the Howard Roark’s of the world tend to end up screwed.

    In the “science” of economics we judge that as good as it tends to be the most efficient way of bringing the most benefit to the most people.

    In our “Moral” Economy we explore these things better through literature than through economics and find the victors wanting in character.

    That is why Smith is judged a better economist than Marx and Dickens a better novelist than Rand.

    Gates and Co. are no innovators, they never have been. Popularizing the innovations of Jobs and Co. for greater profit is built into the company’s DNA.

    Brilliant, yes. Innovators, no.

  8. Marc Brazeau says:

    whoops. I missed a slash out of blockquote mode.

  9. Harry Ahn says:

    As a patent attorney, I am not sure whether I can conclude as you did that Microsoft copied Apple’s invention and called it its own just based on that article. Although I didn’t review the file history at the patent office, it seems to me that all Apple has to do is file something called a rule 131 affidavit with the US Patent Office to show that it invented the Ipod user interface before Microsoft filed its application. This is assuming that whatever Apple is trying to protect does not overlap those of Microsoft. If it does, then both parties might become entangled in an ugly process called interference to try and determine who invented the user interface first.

    P.S. Years ago, I used to handle many Microsoft patent applications and personally, I really do not think it would copy someone else’s invention and call it its own. Microsoft is too big of a company to try and pull something like that. I find it incredible that you would even accuse Microsoft like that especially based on what I think is a poorly written article without too much knowledge of U.S. patent law.

    — Harry

  10. Ed says:

    I think it is interesting to hear from a patent lawyer the details above. I think what he means to say is that Microsoft would not copy a technology from a smaller competitor, patent it, and then sue the company they copied. I agree that it seems unlikely that MSFT will sue AAPL for copying the software, and that AAPL has recourse if MSFT did.

    I suppose it would also take a patent lawyer’s insight to understand the nuance of a comment like this:

    “I used to handle many Microsoft patent applications and personally, I really do not think it would copy someone else’s invention and call it its own. Microsoft is too big of a company to try and pull something like that.”

    What about Apple Macintosh / Microsoft Windows? What was the nuance here that makes this not an instance of “copy[ing] someone else’s invention and call[ing] it its own” ?

  11. Ed says:

    Finally, if you want a history of how Microsoft really came into being way back when, check out this:

    Link to About.com

    Key Quotes:

    The “Microsoft Disk Operating System” or MS-DOS was based on QDOS, the “Quick and Dirty Operating System” written by Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products, for their prototype Intel 8086 based computer.

    QDOS was based on Gary Kildall’s CP/M, Paterson had bought a CP/M manual and used it as the basis to write his operating system in six weeks, QDOS was different enough from CP/M to be considered legal.

    Microsoft bought the rights to QDOS for $50,000, keeping the IBM deal a secret from Seattle Computer Products.

    Gates then talked IBM into letting Microsoft retain the rights, to market MS DOS separate from the IBM PC project, Gates proceeded to make a fortune from the licensing of MS-DOS.

    In 1981, Tim Paterson quit Seattle Computer Products and found employment at Microsoft.

  12. Ed says:

    One other response:

    “Capitalism isn’t driven by innovation; the motor of the Capitalistic Age is ownership, plain and simple.”

    This is silly.

    A more correct statement:

    “Capitalism is all about innovation protected by the rule of law, plain and simple.”

    If Microsoft did anything illegal in their path to greatness, then the courts are available to rectify that. If they did tons of stuff that seems unethical but is actually legal or unproveable, well, fault may lie with innovators, not Microsoft.

    Face it, innovators make poor business decisions, like:
    - developing a great GUI and then tying it to a particular type of computer instead of trying to be multi-platform
    - selling a promising technology before exploring the means to capitalize on it

    …etcetera. So, Microsoft has made a lot of smart business decisions, many of which appear unethical. Microsoft doesn’t innovate per se, but does acquire or legally copy (call it “emulate”) innovative technologies.

    The reference to De Soto as proof that capitalism is “all about ownership”…

    Let’s be honest: De Soto’s idea is too simple to be useful.

    If a society lacks enforceable property rights, the problem is much deeper than just “ownership” – it is caused by the absence of an enforced, fair set of laws (and the legislature, educated citizenry, courts and a free press that create them), which is no small thing for a poor country to develop.

  13. Microsoft = Innovation?

    Some people think not.I have to laugh whenever I hear Microsoft refer to themselves as “innovators.” They are not. What makes their claims so laughable is that Gates & Co. combine their lack of original thinking with incredulously sleazy business…

  14. Johnny Ca$h says:

    “Microsoft doesn’t innovate per se, but does acquire or legally copy (call it “emulate”) innovative technologies.”

    It wouldn’t be so bad if the MS version was actually better or at least equal in quality as the original version developed by company X. The thing is quality and profits don’t seem to go together real well, mostly due to “time and budget constraints” and a general lack of vision.

  15. Atticus Finch says:

    I have a blue iPod.

  16. Dos 4.0 Stacker says:

    “Capitalism is all about innovation protected by the rule of law, plain and simple.”

    “If Microsoft did anything illegal in their path to greatness, then the courts are available to rectify that.”

    And you’re calling someone ELSE silly???