Software is The Glass Bead Game
Posted Jan 20, 2012 1:14 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata
In reply to: Software is The Glass Bead Game
Parent article: LCA: Addressing the failure of open source
I find that most of what people call hardware and software is for the purposes of that discussion indistinguishable. I try to use those two words sparingly. I think maybe a lot of people don't understand what "hardware" engineering is like. You don't tinker with matter; you work at a keyboard. For the purposes of testing your invention, you use an existing, not very interesting, process to convert your software to something physical.
Drugs were mentioned above as patent-worthy because they are hardware. They're software. The part where you express a drug as a pill and put it in someone's mouth is a fairly small part of the invention process; if we could download a drug into a test subject through the retina, the drug wouldn't be much less costly to invent.
There are two fundamental functions of patents: 1) provide a way for an inventor to recover the costs of invention; and 2) provide an incentive for an inventor to disclose his invention. I don't see that hardware vs software or algorithm vs machine has any bearing on those purposes.
There already exists an obviousness test for patentability which ought to cover most of the objectionable software patents. It just doesn't seem to be implemented very well.
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