FileTitle: Prose2216.html
Category: Humor
Type: Prose
Description: Patenting 1s and 0s.
REDMOND, WA--In what CEO Bill Gates called "an unfortunate but necessary
step to protect our intellectual property from theft and exploitation by
competitors," the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero

With the patent, Microsoft's rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or
selling products containing zeroes and ones--the mathematical building blocks
of all computer languages and programs--unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per
digit used is paid to the software giant.

"Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its
inception in 1975," Gates told reporters. "For years, in the interest of the
overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered
use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace
conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now
leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals."

A number of major Silicon Valley players, including Apple Computer, Netscape and
Sun Microsystems, said they will challenge the Microsoft patent as monopolistic
and anti-competitive, claiming that the 10-cent-per-digit licensing fee would
bankrupt them instantly.

"While, technically, Java is a complex system of algorithms used to create a
platform-independent programming environment, it is, at its core, just a
string of trillions of ones and zeroes," said Sun Microsystems CEO Scott
McNealy, whose company created the Java programming environment used in many
Internet applications. "The licensing fees we'd have to pay Microsoft every
day would be approximately 327,000 times the total net worth of this company."

"If this patent holds up in federal court, Apple will have no choice but to
convert to analog," said Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs, "and I have serious
doubts whether this company would be able to remain competitive selling
pedal-operated computers running software off vinyl LPs."

As a result of the Microsoft patent, many other companies have begun radically
revising their product lines: Database manufacturer Oracle has embarked on a
crash program to develop "an abacus for the next millennium." Novell, whose
communications and networking systems are also subject to Microsoft licensing
fees, is working with top animal trainers on a chimpanzee-based
message-transmission system. Hewlett-Packard is developing a revolutionary new
steam-powered printer.

Despite the swarm of protest, Gates is standing his ground, maintaining that
ones and zeroes are the undisputed property of Microsoft.

"We will vigorously enforce our patents of these numbers, as they are legally
ours," Gates said. "Among Microsoft's vast historical archives are Sanskrit
cuneiform tablets from 1800 B.C. clearly showing ones and a symbol known as
'sunya,' or nothing. We also own: papyrus scrolls written by Pythagoras himself
in which he explains the idea of singular notation, or 'one'; early tracts by
Mohammed ibn Musa al Kwarizimi explaining the Heisenberg, Einstein and Planck;
and a signed first-edition copy of Jean-Paul Sartre's Being And Nothingness.
Should the need arise, Microsoft will have no difficulty proving to the
Justice Department or anyone else that we own the rights to these numbers."

Added Gates: "My salary also has lots of zeroes. I'm the richest man in
the world."