Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I claim this land for... Microsoft

The quick summary

It used to be, in the bad old days, that "undiscovered" lands were sometimes "claimed" by the first western explorer. Queen Victoria was fortunate enough to have quite a bit of the world claimed on her behalf.

Today we don't call it Empire, but we do talk about invention, innovation, and defending intellectual property - and it has gone out of control, and threatens to become as oppressive as any empire of old.

Software patents are increasingly used to keep out the competition in the US and Japan, where patent law has been stretched almost to breaking point. Microsoft and a few other multinationals are lobbying to have the system extended to the EU. Then the predators who have been holding off to avoid frightening the legislators can really get stuck in. It will become part of the globalisation project, and nowhere will be safe for innovation.

As the developing world catches up in computing, they will find that all the best ideas have been "claimed" by western commercial empires.

They won't be allowed to use these ideas without paying tolls.

And we'll call it free trade!

Beware - I have a longer version of this lying around somewhere!

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