Last week, we wrote about Microsoft's intense, and somewhat dishonest, lobbying to try to remove one aspect of proposed patent reform: the covered business methods program, which would have allowed approved technology patents to get reviewed by the Patent Office much more quickly. It was based on Senator Chuck Schumer's plan, which enabled the same feature for patents related to financial services. Many have seen that Schumer's effort was somewhat successful in stopping bad financial services patents, and so it makes sense to do the same thing for software as well. In fact, it makes more sense, since so many patent lawsuits and patent troll shakedowns involve software-related patents.
There's simply no legitimate reason to be against covered business method reviews unless you have a lot of really bad patents. Microsoft, along with Qualcomm, IBM, Apple and a few others, really lobbied hard against allowing this expansion -- while tons of startups and entrepreneurs (the people who actually are hit with bogus patent lawsuits all the time -- lobbied hard for it. Guess who won? Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who introduced the patent reform bill in the House, is now about to strip this provision from his bill.
So, if you're an entrepreneur killed by bogus patent lawsuits from giant legacy players, thank Microsoft.
Oh, and to the PR guy from Microsoft who sent me a laughable email trying to argue that Microsoft is supportive of patent reform and that my post was unfair because I didn't mention that: next time stay on topic. Yes, Microsoft supports some forms of patent reform. Just the kind that stops trolls from hitting it directly. What it doesn't support is the kind of patent reform that would stop Microsoft's all too common practice of shaking down all sorts of innovators and entrepreneurs with crazy patent licensing demands from its bundle of patents. No, Microsoft isn't a patent troll, but it is a patent bully with a lot of bad patents, which apparently it's scared that real innovators might invalidate a lot of those patents under a covered business method review.