Software patents only protects ideas and one program uses hundreds different ideas. Making software today is a gamble for small businesses. You have no way of knowing if your program does something that is patented because there's many hundred thousands patents out there and there's no other way to check for infrigement than to read every single one of them.
If anyone sues it will be expensive whether you win or not. It doesn't help you if you have one patent yourself for a part of your program unless the one who sues happens to use that idea in his program (then you can cross licence). Paying licenses might be a solution but if two or three patent holders wants say 3% each of your income for the program that will probably be enough to make it impossible to make a profit at all. Software patents is only good for trolls who doesn't make products themselves and perhaps slightly for big companies (the biggest use they have of the patents is cross-licening, which wouldn't be needed if there was no software patents).
In other fields one patent might equal one product. That's when patents makes sense.
The DockbarX developer, at your service.
Open-source relies on some concepts of Intellectual Property for instance GPLs copyleft is dependent on copyright; i.e if you write code, it is your code and you have permission to say how it is used. It may not be copied without your consent - same as if you right a book. Copyright is reasonable, its purpose to protect the interests of the creators of content thus encouraging creativity which will be for the benefit of all.
The purpose of patents is similar - it is to reasonably protect the interests of inventors so that they have a temporary monopoly on their invention and can have the chance to recoup their investment, thus encouraging innovation and again working in the interests of the greater good. Patents have, however, always been problematic and striking the balance difficult. Nevertheless it is obvious patents were allowed to protect and encourage innovation.
Software patents have been even more problematic, the patenting of vague ideas, maths let alone some of the non-sense that Apple pretends is innovation is ridicules and it purpose is to stifle innovation. The length of patents reasonable in the pharmaceutical industry are inappropriate in software imagine if no one had been allowed to use the GUI for 20 years. Patents are also inappropriate in this field which is inherently cumulative with development based on the foundation of previous ideas.
The question that needs to be asked is do software patents encourage innovation and development? If not they should go. The purpose of patents is not to allow large and powerful corporations to create monopolies and cartels where they can protect themselves from competition by stifling innovation. The reverse is true, the abuse of the patent system is a disgrace.
Last edited by Gone fishing; December 3rd, 2012 at 11:07 AM.
USA has a backward patent system. But what can you expect, USA is the home of lawyers and suing.
It is possible to buy patents and then claim what is covered by the patents is your Intellectual Property. But is it their ideas, their work, their innovation? And yet those who buy these patents claim a right to be rewarded for their innovation.
Judges ought to know that case law is built upon previous judgements regarding the application of laws. So Judges, of all people, should know that one person's ideas are most likely based upon some one else's ideas. The same applies to the practical application of ideas.
It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530
I'm sure many judges are aware of the problems in patent law. Unfortunately, they don't have the power to overturn laws (unless they turn out to be contradicted by more important stuff, like the Constitution in the US' case, and even then you'd have to appeal a decision all the way up to the supreme court).