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Stop talking about "Software Patents" as being special

Stop talking about "Software Patents" as being special

Posted Nov 8, 2012 13:11 UTC (Thu) by pboddie (guest, #50784)
In reply to: Stop talking about "Software Patents" as being special by dlang
Parent article: Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

The lost knowledge argument is a potent one, and one we really have to address in any effort to advocate the elimination of patents in some fields or in general. There are alternatives to patents as rewards, of course, such as prizes where the government (or society, if you hate the g-word!) effectively pays for the knowledge to be freely available to all, which I seem to recall being the case for things like photography and other work done in the nineteenth century and earlier.

One interesting recent case of the use of trade secrets instead of patents was brought up by Elon Musk in an interview about SpaceX:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/ff-elon-musk-qa...

In effect, SpaceX sees no merit in patents because they would supposedly allow competitors in places where patents are unenforceable to "use them as a recipe book" and thus undermine SpaceX's cost advantage. Advocates of widespread patenting and universally enforced patents might argue that this could give SpaceX an effective monopoly, too, if the company became a dominant actor in commercial spaceflight.

But even a patent system that is "ideal" according to the expectations of patent advocates might not persuade SpaceX to participate or produce the kind of licensing that would be most beneficial to society - a phenomenon we are all now familiar with in our own field, of course. And as soon as one gets into compulsory licensing, one might as well start considering doing away with patents altogether and implementing some of the alternatives.


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Stop talking about "Software Patents" as being special

Posted Nov 8, 2012 19:39 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

There are always going to be some companies that choose secrecy over patents. Coca-Cola has built quite a company around a trade secret formula.

The existance of a few such companies is not a problem, but you are right, where a large percentage of companies cling to secrecy, there is a problem.

A good example of this is the current GPU market, just about everyone is keeping the details of what they are doing secret, in spite of a large number of patents being filed.

Stop talking about "Software Patents" as being special

Posted Nov 8, 2012 21:19 UTC (Thu) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Coca-Cola is a bad example. A good lab can easily reverse-engineer Coca-Cola's formula, with moderate expenses.

It just makes no sense to do this. Nobody would buy your drink if you market it as: "Tastes exactly like Coca-Cola!"


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