The real question is: are they an incentive to invent?
Posted Oct 12, 2004 3:31 UTC (Tue) by stevenj
Parent article: Patents - An Alternative View (Groklaw)
People arguing about whether software is "idea" or "invention", or whether it "deserves" to be patented miss the whole point of the US patent system — the issue (for the founders) was not that anyone has a right to a patent (they don't, in the US), but rather whether a patent will encourage people to create and publish inventions that they would otherwise not.
So, the question for software-patent proponents is: show that, without software patents, many patented software "inventions" would not exist or be available.
This is a hard sell, I think, because in software there really isn't much shortage of good ideas, there's mostly only a shortage of good implementations. And the fact that so many software-patent infringements seem to come from independent invention is another reason to suspect that the patent wasn't the spur to the invention...
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