Patents != innovation
Posted Oct 15, 2007 19:44 UTC (Mon) by dwheeler
In reply to: respectful naming of your opponent
Parent article: A visit from the trolls
That's the theory, but not the practice.
In practice, all a patent troll does is purchase a patent from someone ELSE who didn't invent anything either. In practically all cases, the actual INNOVATION occurred many years before the patent application, and/or was obvious to anyone in the art (and thus should never have been granted a patent). Both the original person applying for the patent, as well as the person who bought the patent, have nothing to do with innovation.
All algorithms and software were originally barred from patent protection. We have an existing legal system for protecting software (copyright), and there is no evidence that there was a lack of innovation requiring the addition of software patents to the set of legal patents. Sure, the idea behind patents is that we have to pay people to innovate or they wouldn't innovate, but the whole thing is upside-down. But it's "patently" untrue; people innovated in software for years before the patent system was enforced on software. The patent system is just another unnecessary government intrusion into the marketplace.
As with most software developers, I think software patents are an egregiously bad idea; they reward people for NOT working (file patents instead of producing useful products). Patents may work in other fields, but they're simply inappropriate for software. Problem is, they'll keep going until a group works to CHANGE THE LAW and GET RID of software patents. There isn't a live group that's working to do that, to my knowledge; much of the anti-patent work recently has been in Europe, not the U.S. The "patent reform" work in the U.S. is primarily funded by large organizations who want to tweak the system, not eliminate it... they tend to be organizations who make money overall from the status quo.
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