Posted Nov 6, 2006 16:10 UTC (Mon) by dbreakey
In reply to: whatever
Parent article: Various responses to Microsoft/Novell
A lot of people seem to forget what the problems with patents really are. To summarize, as far as I know, the essential problem is as follows:
- A specific implementation (eg: the precise code used to actually implement something) can be copyrighted.
- A patent, on the other hand, protects the idea—regardless of implmentation.
With a copyright, all you need to do is figure out a new way of accomplishing the same end result. A patent removes that option because the concept rather than the implementation is protected.
Another part of the problem is that patents are granted in much the same way as copyrights—namely, far too easily. There are hundreds, probably thousands of examples that were granted that fail the non-obviousness requirement of a typical patent (generally accepted to mean that a patentable invention must be non-obvious to an experienced member—ie: of typical expertise—of the relevant field).
Part of the issue here is simply the fact that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is both woefully understaffed and are now expected to have expertise in a range of fields that are far outside of their experience. Hence patents are often granted, that shouldn't be, simply because they don't have the time or expertise necessary to evaluate them properly.
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