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Crosspost - Gates attempts to patent everything software
Gates attempts to patent everything software
March 30, 2001
Web posted at: 11:53 a.m. EST (1653 GMT) CNN
At a press conference beamed live to Microsoft shareholders around
the globe, Bill Gates announces the company's patenting of the binary
REDMOND, WA--In what CEO Bill Gates called "an unfortunate but
necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft and
exploitation by competitors," the Microsoft Corporation patented the
numbers one and zero.
With the patent, Microsoft's rivals are prohibited from manufacturing
or selling products containing zeroes and ones--the mathematical
building blocks of all computer languages and programs--unless a royalty
of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant.
"Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever
its inception in 1975," Gates told reporters. "For years, in the
of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free
and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing
marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of
competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the
use of our numerals."
A number of major Silicon Valley players, including Apple Computer,
Netscape and Sun Microsystems, said they will challenge the Microsoft
patent as monopolistic and anti-competitive, claiming that the
10-cent-per-digit licensing fee would bankrupt them instantly.
"While, technically, Java is a complex system of algorithms used to
create a platform-independent programming environment, it is, at its
just a string of trillions of ones and zeroes," said Sun Microsystems
Scott McNealy, whose company created the Java programming environment
in many Internet applications. "The licensing fees we'd have to pay
Microsoft every day would be approximately 327,000 times the total net
of this company."
"If this patent holds up in federal court, Apple will have no choice but
to convert to analog," said Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs, "and I have
serious doubts whether this company would be able to remain competitive
selling pedal-operated computers running software off vinyl LPs."
As a result of the Microsoft patent, many other companies have begun
radically revising their product lines: Database manufacturer Oracle
has embarked on a crash program to develop "an abacus for the next
millennium." Novell, whose communications and networking systems are
subject to Microsoft licensing fees, is working with top chemists on a
chemical-based message-transmission system. Hewlett-Packard is
a revolutionary new hydrogen-powered printer.
Despite the swarm of protest, Gates is standing his ground, maintaining
that ones and zeroes are the undisputed property of Microsoft.
"We will vigorously enforce our patents of these numbers, as they are
legally ours," Gates said. "Among Microsoft's vast historical archives
are Sanskrit cuneiform tablets from 1800 B.C. clearly showing ones and a
symbol known as 'sunya,' or nothing. We also own: papyrus scrolls
by Pythagoras himself in which he explains the idea of singular
or 'one'; early tracts by Mohammed ibn Musa al Kwarizimi explaining the
concept of al-sifr, or 'the cipher'; original mathematical manuscripts
Heisenberg, Einstein and Planck; and a signed first-edition copy of
Jean-Paul Sartre's Being And Nothingness. Should the need arise,
will have no difficulty proving to the Justice Department or anyone else
that we own the rights to these numbers."
Overheard: "Gates' salary also has lots of zeroes. He's the richest man
the world, and is about to get a lot richer."
According to experts, the full ramifications of Microsoft's patenting
of one and zero have yet to be realized.
"Because all integers and natural numbers derive from one and zero,
Microsoft may, by extension, lay claim to ownership of all mathematics
and logic systems, including Euclidean geometry, pulleys and levers,
gravity, and the basic Newtonian principles of motion, as well as the
concepts of existence and nonexistence," Yale University theoretical
professor J. Edmund Lattimore said. "In other words, pretty much
Lattimore said that the only mathematical constructs of which Microsoft
may not be able to claim ownership are infinity and transcendental
like pi. Microsoft lawyers are expected to file liens on infinity and pi
Microsoft has not yet announced whether it will charge a user fee to
individuals who wish to program using such mathematically rooted
as addition and subtraction.
In an address beamed live to billions of people around the globe
Monday, Gates expressed confidence that his company's latest move will,
ultimately, benefit all humankind.
"Think of this as a partnership," Gates said. "Like the ones and zeroes
the binary code itself, we must all work together to make the promise
of the computer revolution a reality. As the world's largest software
company, Microsoft is the zeros. And you, the millions of consumers who
use our products, are the ones."
Peace, Force & Joy! Sudhir Gandotra
Humanist news & plans at http://humanistmovement.org/jan2001
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