Opinion » Cybernaut


Rethinking patents in high tech



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You’ll need a shell company in the U.S. if you really want to cash in, but you’ll need to start at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office at http://patents1.ic.gc.ca <. First things first, check the database to make sure your great idea isn’t infringing on another patent – you don’t want to be the one who gets sued.

And then, when you win your patent case against big tech I’ll turn around and sue you – after all, filing a patent and suing the first company that makes your idea a reality was my idea. Patent pending.

Google puts out a spread

Last week the Internet was abuzz with the revelation that Google was about to launch an online spreadsheet application, seemingly in competition with Microsoft’s ubiquitous Excel.

When you include Google’s recent acquisition of Writely.com into the equation, an online word processing program, you end up with a lot of conjecture that Google is getting ready to go head to head with Microsoft Office.

While there may be some merit to that line of thinking, there’s also the possibility that Google is merely trying secure its niche within the Web 2.0 framework. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Web 2.0, there’s a basic explanation at www.webopedia.com/, and it’s discussed in infinitely more detail at www.oreilly.net.

There are a lot of different aspects to Web 2.0, but one of the more compelling aspects is the gradual move from disk-based software to web-based software programs accessible through the Internet.

You’ll need a Gmail account to access the beta version of the spreadsheet, located at http://spreadsheets.google.com/

Gates stepping down

This week ago Microsoft Chair Bill Gates announced he was stepping back from the company’s day to day operations in 2008 to work full time with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He will remain the chair of the board, but other executives will be calling the shots.

Two weeks I wrote about the cult of celebrity and how being in the public eye was a drain on Gates. I also mentioned that he could never step down because the value of Microsoft stock, and the majority of Gates’ own net worth, would drop because Gates’ golden aura is what gives investors confidence.