I'm not sure why, but there's a lot of patent hysteria lately. The other day it was Apple's patent application for a way for venues to disable recording of live events, and today it's Microsoft's patent application that would allow for a legal intercept of VoIP communications ... such as Skype.
The patent clearly addresses the need of governments and law enforcement to record Internet calls. There is also a certain sense that especially closed networks are targeted with this technology, yet the clear notion that VoIP applications targeted by this patent "may include audio messages transmitted via gaming systems, instant messaging protocols that transmit audio, Skype and Skype-like applications, meeting software, video conferencing software, and the like" may raise privacy concerns and surely the question of how Microsoft intends to use such a patent now that it owns Skype.
OK, a lesson on patents. Bit companies patent a LOT of stuff. A LOT. And the bigger the company, the more they patent. Multibillion dollar corporations like Apple and Microsoft patent (and apply for patent applications) for a ton of stuff. Just look through a site like Patently Apple that covers Apple patents and you'll see just how many patents and patent applications the company goes through. But then think about how many of these patents see light of day in shipping products. I'd go as far as to suggest that some 99% of patent applications a big corporation makes doesn't end up in a product.
And that's my guess as to what will happen with this intercepting VoIP patent (which is currently in the application stage). Sure, we need to be keeping an eye on what big corporations like Microsoft and Apple and Google and so on are up to, and sure this is timely in light of Microsoft purchasing Skype, but we need to calm down on covering every single patent applications and then extrapolating this into a finished product. Most of this stuff never sees the light of day, and never will ...
Sites that cover patents and patent applications really are doing their readers a huge disservice by not making it clear how things work in the industry. So get a grip and reign in the wild speculation.
Note: Oh, and while we're on the subject of intercepts, anyone here believe for one moment that Skype doesn't have an intercept mechanism built into it already? Most VoIP PBXs have a similar feature baked in.