Patents = government-created monopoly
Posted Apr 10, 2008 16:18 UTC (Thu) by dwheeler
In reply to: An opportunity to End Software Patents: ESP briefs Court in Bilski case rehearing
Parent article: An opportunity to End Software Patents: ESP briefs Court in Bilski case rehearing
Huh? Patents are not a requirement for a free market; they inhibit the creation of a free market. In a free market, everyone would be developing the best products and services they could. Instead, patents are a government-created monopoly, preventing most market players from deploying the best products and services that they can. What's more, there is nothing in nature "requiring" the existence of patents. Without patents, we would actually have a freer market. Patents are yet another government bureaucracy, in this case a very expensive one.
Now, that's not to say that patents are always a bad idea; patents are essentially a bargain created by governments, granting temporary monopolies in exchange for the development of products and documentation of ideas that would not happen otherwise.
In short, patents are a solution for a market failure - if you cannot get new ideas in a area without patents, then patents can help create a market where one did not exist before.
But there was no market failure for software. Software was developed for decades without software patents. So instead, software patents have actually retarded innovation, inhibited the free market, and caused massive harm to the economy. Study after study is showing that software patents have harmed, not helped, the industry.
I think the jury is out on medical patents - they may very well be worth the cost. But software patents are absolute lunacy. If the pharma industry wants to keep patents on medicine, they should work to eliminate software patents... or people will eventually throw out the whole patent system as being unjust and unworkable.
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