Now that's innovation.
What would Microsoft do with such a patent? Here are some of their options:
- Prevent all competitors from implementing this feature, including word processors, web browsers, spreadsheets, email, etc. Only Microsoft's products would have this feature. Taken by itself, that doesn't seem like much of an advantage to Microsoft, but combine it with other pending patents, and we start to see a nice chunk of this idea space being owned by Microsoft alone.
- Collect royalties from all competitors that want to implement this feature. Note that Microsoft's main office suite competitor currently appears to be OpenOffice, which, since it is free software, would not be able to afford even a small royalty. A royalty of $1 per copy would be enough to shut down virtually any open source software project.
- Do nothing. Hold the patent defensively.
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