Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thinking about software patents and stupid things like that

Despite the fact that I love open source and that I love the idea of sharing knowledge, I worked 18 months for Microsoft in Redmond. I cannot say that I had a terribly bad time, I enjoyed working there and I enjoyed living in the small town of Issaquah.

However when I left (actually when I accepted the job offer), one of the points in my contract was to never divulgate or talk about what I learned about Microsoft technology. That means that after leaving Microsoft I cannot tell anybody what I know about how they do things on their products.

At some point that seemed kinda ok, after all I accepted the terms. However last weekend, it happened to me that I found a way to improve one part of a product very drastically. The irony is that I cannot tell anybody, nor can I tell to Microsoft people..... so that made me wonder, what the hell is wrong here?

I've been all these days trying to find an answer for that, but the only one that comes to mind is that preventing people from sharing knowledge in any way is the MOST STUPID idea ever!

I mean, our civilization came to this point precisely because people shared knowledge. Can you imagine somebody like Newton being requested not to express his ideas? (DISCLAIMER: I'm not comparing myself with Newton in any way, it's just to show the point). Or imagine Descartes being forced to shut up, or Voltaire, Pascal, Einstein..... it simply does not make sense.....

So to summarize, patents are very stupid specially if the patent system is broken and you give patents to everybody. Or if you are allowed to patent something, throw it into the basement and come up some years later complaining that people has "stolen" your precious intellectual property.... (if it was so precious, why the hell you didn't use it before?). Or even worst, if the system allows you to shut up people and generates ironies like not being able to tell anybody about your ideas not even the ones that showed you the idea in the first place.....
Please legislators of this lonely blue planet, don't listen to the "intellectual property" lies that you hear, just ask yourselves the same question that I've been asking me these past days: "How can I accept a system where I cannot tell what I think not even to the same person that told me the idea in the first place?"

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