When I started at Microsoft, my job was originally to work with other companies in standards groups to figure out what should and shouldn't be standardized. This was where I got up close and personal with two things that scared me: the standards process and intellectual property law. On the former, I am sure I'll have opinions to share later. On the latter, Michael Crichton has a fun essay in the NY Times. It applies gentle irony to the issue of what should be and shouldn't be patented.