The owners of all patents ever issued have each been served with a court order today, informing them that they face legal action unless they agree to compensate Microsoft, who claim to have patented the 'patent' in 1620.
A Microsoft spokesman said: "Quite how we were able to patent something before the concept existed, we're not quite sure, but since Microsoft are the rightful owners of all patents anyway, we must be right".
Rumors of a time machine being built under Bill Gate's mansion in an attempt to change the past have been rubbished my Microsoft who said:"If we did have a time machine, why would we have left so many bugs in Windows? The original Microsoft 'patent' patent has a clear, un-arguable place in history."
The Microsoft patent traces its routes back to the point in 1620 when a group of Microsoft representatives on board the Mayflower actually founded what is now America. Microsoft claims that even older 'prior art' would be available from the 16th century had Microsoft's Access Database software been available at the time to record the events more accurately.
Bill Gates was quoted as saying :"Everyone knows that Microsoft developed the first user friendly graphics driven working environment for the PC, just as everyone knows we invented sliced bread, the wheel, electricity, the combustion engine...(list continues for 3 more hours)"
The law suits could have a potentially deadly affect on the American economy, as virtually every company in existence uses something which has been patented at some point or another.
One potential outcome is that the US government simply hands over control to Bill Gates, and foregoes the whole 'presidential election drama' in an attempt to stabilize the economy. This, say analysts, would have dire consequences. Without a religious fundamentalist or a war veteran in charge, the country could prosper through warmer international relations and greater software compatibility.
While it will take years, probably decades to sort through the patents and figure out who owes what, Microsoft say that they expect to have the matter all wrapped up well before the planned shipping date of Longhorn, the next Windows operating system.