Saturday, July 16, 2011

Banning software patents....

I have been fighting against software patents for years.   It's upsetting to see things like this happening:

http://www.widgetpress.com/defense

And this:

http://developers.slashdot.org/story/11/07/16/1152252/UK-Developers-Quit-US-App-Store-Over-Patent-Fears

Doesn't the US realize that we are killing our software industry by doing this?   You can't even say that big business believes in software patents anymore since large companies in the US are now also turning against  them.

The EU and the UK both rejected software patents for a very good reason.  Because they realized that abstract ideas should not be patentable.   Software is fundamentally reducible to mathematical algorithms.   It is incremental in it's nature and, many times, there is only one way to do things.  For all of these reasons and many more.

Most companies today, especially small ones, are forced to patent certain things they do because they need to maintain a patent portfolio.   They do this to defend themselves.   So, like nuclear weapons, patents proliferate in a sort of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) approach.

As an incentive to reform I would like to see the USPTO take a dose of what it is creating.  The USPTO should be required to pay a fine for every patent which is found invalid with the money going towards a fund to pay restitution to those who've lost money due to the USPTO's negligence.  In addition, it should be an option to sue the USPTO for issuance of a bad patent by either the party holding the patent or the party which was sued due to the issuance of the patent or both.

Ultimately, it is the USPTO putting these weapons of mass destruction in everyone's hands.  They should be forced to reap what they've sown.

10 comments:

David Sugar said...

Certainly the future of software development will be dead in the United States unless this changes. This is also part of why GNU Free Call is forming an entity in Norway rather than in the United States.

Erez said...

"The US" is a collection of lawgivers that, for a large part, has either no interest or knowledge regarding software, or has an interest, in the large corporation. In both cases, there's a strong lobbying for patents, and to the average American, this probably sounds right, i.e. "Why shouldn't I be able to defend and make money off something I created".

They look at Microsoft, Google, IBM, Apple, Oracle and see companies that (apprently) thrive on software patents, and lobby for software patents. Only when those large bodies (such as Wall Street) lobby against software patents, then will the US lawmakers start to move away from the current status.

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zooplah said...

Erez is completely right. The US government is completely bought by the corporations who want software patents to stay. Ah, how I'd love to move to Europe.

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