I thought I was giving them a shield, but turns out I gave them a
missile with my name permanently engraved on it.
I was naive. Even if the original intention was truly defensive, a
patent portfolio can easily change hands, and a company can even
more easily change its mind. Since I left in 2007, Yahoo has had
three CEOs and a board overhaul.
The scary part is that even the most innocuous patent can be used
to crush another’s creativity. One of the patents I
co-invented is so abstract, it could not only cover Facebook’s
News Feed, but virtually any activity feed. It puts into very
sharp focus the trouble with software patents: Purposefully vague
wording invites broad interpretation.
Some software patent suits are spiteful, some are just shitty, but some reek of desperation. Yahoo’s gambit feels desperate to me.