Sun Feb 3, 2013, 10:56 AM
phantom power (25,966 posts)
How software patents are delaying the future
There were many interesting points in the debate, though, as you might imagine, consensus was in short supply. The argument that I made was that we need to encourage innovation; that patents are only one of many possible tools to encourage innovation; and that in the case of software, they’re horribly counterproductive. That’s why we need to get rid of software patents, and bring the patent system under the control of political institutions, so that we can design an evidence-based innovation policy as required by the circumstances. (See here for FSFE's work on software patents.)
The argument against software patents
...A patent is basically a social contract. The inventor gives us a new idea, we as a society give her a limited monopoly to use that idea. As with any contract, we need to check whether we’re actually getting a good deal.
This contract is just a means towards a more important end: promoting innovation and, ultimately, progress.
So we need to ask:
* Do patents on software lead to innovation that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise?
* Is granting a monopoly the only way to obtain this innovation?
* By granting a monopoly, what follow-on innovation are we passing up?
Looking at the classic Bill Gates quote about how "the industry would be at a standstill today" if programmers had started patenting their software earlier, I pointed out that that’s pretty much where the smartphone industry is today. Every day seems to bring a new patent lawsuit in the area. Patents have degraded into just another stick to beat competitors with. The captains of the mobile industry can only keep their ships steaming ahead through the patent tangles by burning piles of cash in the kettles of litigation.
5 replies, 1320 views
How software patents are delaying the future (Original post)
|phantom power||Feb 2013||OP|
|Phillip McCleod||Feb 2013||#2|
Response to phantom power (Original post)
Sun Feb 3, 2013, 05:07 PM
drm604 (16,000 posts)
1. If anything, software patents hinder innovation.
Imagine if Newton had to do a patent search for every calculus technique he invented.
Programmers simply don't bother. We can't possibly do a patent search on everything we do that might be novel. Not being patent attorneys, we don't have the expertise to even know what things are or are not potentially patentable. Is an especially complex regular expression patentable? If so, can I patent it or has someone else already done so?
Software development would come to a grinding halt if we stopped to worry about such things.
Response to drm604 (Reply #1)
Sat Feb 23, 2013, 06:55 AM
Phillip McCleod (1,837 posts)
i think the fact that so many codemonkeys are on the same page about this issue is really driving the open source/lib tech movement.. and the corresponding open source academic journal 'free info' movement. i'm reminded of the tortuous history of litigation and government meddling that held crypto back for decades.
Response to drm604 (Reply #1)
Sat Feb 22, 2014, 02:52 AM
RayCampbell (2 posts)
3. "Patent" should stopped or not?
I am totally agree with you.An inventor can't think anything else except his invention.He does inventions only and don't search about its existence.He just feels the absence of that idea around him and creates it.