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Say for example Microsoft are allowed patent the structure of their .doc files for MS Word. Now, any company that want to use the file format has to get explicit permission from Microsoft, and quite possibly pay them a fee. So the next time (eg) Adobe release a new version of Acrobat featuring an export to/from Word feature, they have to pay a chunk of money to Microsoft, or not provide the feature and severely dent the market value of their product.[/quote:0b6238927f]

I can’t readily see anything wrong with the above example, both in a business and a legal context. From an ‘equity’ point-of-view, I can appreciate your argument, but hey… Business is business, not charity – sorry to sound the baby-eating capitalist here :wink:

The real problem is the global omnipresence of Microsoft software, which makes any example situation based on Microsoft enforcing its rights immediately ‘extreme’, and makes envisioning the above situation for a start-up (which has also patented its proprietary file format) more difficult.

Take the above context, and apply it to a start-up who has (say) come up with a really clever way of implementing networkability in games, through some proprietary data-processing technology that automatically makes any game asset networkable at compile. The data file corresponding to an asset, after compile, incorporates some components that couldn’t be there without their invention, SO – patent the structure of any file which incorporate their new components. Looks exactly like the same situation to me, as the one you depicted with Microsoft.

This is why the open source movement is really up in arms about it – Microsoft can simply completely refuse to allow and 3rd party software running on Linux (Star Office for example) to be allowed to read their Word files. Bye bye competitors, hello even easier market monopolies for Microsoft.[/quote:0b6238927f]

Yup, that’s one particular application of patents. But M$ hasn’t got any exclusivity on obtaining patents, you know :wink: – and there have already been plenty of occasions when Microsoft itself has been on the receiving end of one or more.

Have a look at what IBM is doing to JBOSS (for example), and you’ll see why the Open Source business model is (i) idiotic and (ii) non-perpetuating.

Obviously this is just one example, and Microsoft have already stated that they plan to use XML for forthcoming Office releases, but by making file contents proprietary to a single application, all market competition becomes much easier to extinguish.[/quote:0b6238927f]

I would contend that “all market competition” then has to come up with something a bit more special to warrant consumer interest and purchases, rather then whinge because Microsoft would not let them release a ‘me-too’ product riding on the back of a market which Microsoft’s R&D and marketing $$$ has developed for them. :twisted: