Fighting silly patents.

September 21, 2004 on 5:14 pm | In General | No Comments

The battle has started between those interested in software innovation and those interested in lining their pockets to the detriment of everything else. The battlefield is the patenting of non specific ideas.

To give you an idea of the problem, say for example I had patented the idea of burning a flammable substance and using the resultant released energy to “do stuff”. Do you have any idea how many people would have to pay me money? Even if I had never actually researched the process, or created a product, anyone using energy derived from fire for heat, cooking, power generation or to power a car would owe me cash.

That is what’s happening today in the software industry. Big companies are patenting the building blocks of applications and using them to build or ensure market share dominance. It needs to stop.

To that end, the guys at the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) have filed a brief to the US court of appeals to have ambiguous patents declared invalid. If a patent isn’t totally explicit about an “idea” then it should not be valid.

The other question is the validity of software patents at all. Is it acceptable to allow someone to patent double clicking a mouse button? or an online to-do list? Well guess what? Microsoft already have both of those “ideas” wrapped up. Here is another way of looking at it, nobody in their right mind would try to patent selling stuff, but if you do it online, there is a risk you will be sued for patent infringement because online shopping has been the target of a patent or two as well.

Read about the first salvo in this war at TheRegister.

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