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05.07.08

If Even the Drug Industry Collaborates, Why Software Patents?

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 10:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The strongest arguments for patents (R&D in medicine) is further weakened

Back in March we provided a long list of examples where, for the sake of people’s lives and for faster research, companies decided to share their discoveries and collaborate. Withholding information means a/n (competitive) advantage to whom? What about the ethics of patents on surgical procedures? Patents can kill if they are permitted to be used broadly enough to cover stem cells and life-saving operations. In the case of mathematics they can also forbid programming, unless you’re affluent.

Here is some more new evidence of the adoption of open-source philosophy in the drug industry. [via Glyn Moody]

The Johns Hopkins Clinical Compound Screening Initiative is an open-source effort to collect and index more than 10,000 known medications and determine which of them are also effective against hundreds of low-profile, Third World killers, such as Chagas disease, cholera and leprosy. The library will function something like a Wikipedia of drug discovery, where scientists around the world can contribute to the database and even provide samples or screen drugs themselves, thereby saving millions of dollars on R&D.

Speaking of life and death situations, the coming death of software patents is said to be exaggerated. [via Digital Majority]

What with all the paranoia surrounding In re Bilski (on patentable subject matter) and In re Nujiten (on signal claims) and the demands of certain groups for an end to software patents (see http://endsoftpatents.org), one might think we were on the verge of software patent mortality.

[...]

Rather than try to solve these issues en masse, we settled for a good conversation with a friend from across the Atlantic, Paul Cole, a chartered patent agent, patent litigator, and law professor from the UK who has written and spoken widely on issues of software patents.

Here is a good new comment about it.

Software patents are good because they are a cheap weapon to get rid of small players.

As always, denial of this simple fact will rely on spin that contains words like “inventor” and “protection” (Microsoft does this too). This was debunked very nicely in this talk about software patents.

There are some other notable patent confrontations at the moments, but they address patents that are not related to software. Here’s the tiff of Ruckus Wireless and Netgear.

Ruckus Wireless has sued Netgear, alleging the networking vendor infringed its patents on technology for improving Wi-Fi performance and reliability.

[...]

Ruckus has a system for using antenna arrays to form and direct Wi-Fi signals over the best path at any given time. Ruckus said the technology is unique in the industry and the company has more than 70 patents granted or pending worldwide. Wi-Fi, a highly competitive field, has been a particularly litigious area of high-tech.

We will later give some more examples of the push against software patents. It’s a hot topic these days because merely all companies use software (and therefore suffer).

Software patent on rise

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