Today's delightful revelation is that Microsoft has been granted US Patent 20040145602: "a technique… for organizing and displaying digital photographs based on time." After a research programme spanning years and consuming many billions of dollars, the Microsoft R&D ultrabrain has noticed that people like organising photographs -- and that grouping them by time can be a good way of doing this. I'm upset that I didn't think of patenting this: I already have a few thousand digital pictures and they're mostly arranged by date and time, but it never occurred to me to secure this valuable piece of intellectual property. Now, I guess, I'll have to get a licence from Bill.
However, I think I may be in with a chance with "a technique… for obtaining control of most of the IT industry through aggressive patent acquisition and a billion-dollar legal fund". As far as I can tell, nobody's tried to patent this before -- I could be wrong, but on the evidence of the sort of thing the US Patent Office grants that must be the only reason it's not there already. Some naysayers might claim that there's plenty of prior art --- after all, IBM got the whole gig rolling last century -- but I doubt very much that anyone cares about that sort of thing any more.
Of course, I'll license it to Microsoft -- and anyone else who wants it -- at a very reasonable, non-discriminatory rate. But of course I need the money to protect my freedom to innovate: already, I have a large laboratory of engineers, scientists and lawyers dedicated to pushing back the boundaries of high quality scams with legal protection. Already, I hear that "a technique… for illuminating a room by applying pressure on a switching mechanism connected to a light bulb by means of electrical cabling" and "cleansing of the posterior sphincter through application of paper" are in preparation. Think what would happen to the industry if just anyone could use this sort of thinking willy-nilly -- it would be anarchy.