EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.14.11

What Software Patents Bring to Society

Posted in Patents at 11:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Match ball

Summary: How patents on software algorithms smash progress in the field

SOFTWARE PATENTS are nothing but trouble to everyone but patent lawyers/trolls and monopolists. What is it that such patents actually bring to an industry? What about the fabric of society? Let’s look at a preliminary list:

  • Patent trolls abundance
  • Incentive to non-practising entities including patent hoarders
  • Researchers being fenced out or faced with barriers of appropriation
  • EU patent (unitary patent), which increases damages and scale of the patent menace
  • Distrust among public figures (e.g. due to software patents in the USPTO)
  • Patent deals with Android/Linux royalties
  • Removal of features from Linux-based devices, using patents
  • Suppression of inclusion or development of features, e.g. ZFS
  • Reducing the speed of software development (patent reviews, surveys, licensing, etc.)
  • Increasing uncertainty and doubt among software developers, discouraging the occupation
  • FUD campaigns based on software patents (claiming Linux to be disrespectful or prone to litigation)
  • Suppression of GPLv3 adoption (which impedes TiVoisation)
  • Reduced trust in politics and politicians, who are subjected to heavy lobbying and disinformation
  • Increased cost of products that the public buys
  • Excessive preoccupation/overburdening of public courts, which deal with petty patent feuds rather than real offences
  • Encouragement of software cartels that pool patents to make up a thicket
  • Discouragement of standards that have patents applying to them (including submarine patents)
  • Derivative works de-emphasised
  • Misuse of taxpayers’ money (e.g. NASA auctioning of patents)
  • Distraction from technical skills due to bureaucracy and unavoidable complexity associated with otherwise-unnecessary skills
  • Wasted effort due to reimplementation and patent workarounds
  • Reduced staffing of developers and increased staffing of lawyers (and patent applications-geared professionals), thus less market for programmers
  • Decrease in the number of programming languages and frameworks (duplicity and inspiration as a violation)
  • Syntax plurality, which puts more learning burden on developers
  • Increased tension and distrust between companies and respective developers
  • Degraded access to multimedia (codec patents for the most part), impeding information access especially in developing nations
  • Reduced interoperability and resultant inefficiency
  • Code and pseudo-code turned to legalese/text, harming the teaching of technical skills

Any more? Any biases noted? How can it be objectivity improved to overcome bias?

Disclosure: from a professional point of view, I have no vested interests in patents except that they impede my work. I work in algorithms research, software development, Web development, systems administration/monitoring, and also media and fitness on the side.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

A Single Comment

  1. slave5tom said,

    June 14, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Gravatar

    Excellent article to add some perspective on software patents. Monopolists try to use patents to create a scarcity where one does not exist. The best explanation I have read on this subject is from a book called “Against Intellectual Monopoly” by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm. The authors articulately outline the barriers to innovation that patents cause–much to the detriment of society. They go on to debunk all of the Monopolist’s arguments (without an incentive or exclusive right, innovation will not occur – incorrect because innovation tends to occur most rapidly in unregulated industries, where knowledge is shared and rapid improvements can occur – such as with open source software). Basically, patents reward a lucky few, who have the means and influence to acquire more patents and enact favorable legislation to the detriment of everyone else, who must pay monopoly rents (inflated prices) for substandard products or services. Many alternative models to generate innovative ideas are possible once we can look beyond the rhetoric and propaganda of the Monopolist hollow arguments. Consider, for instance, the X-prize to stimulate the space race and the development of the Linux system, created in a free and shared environment, where ideas build upon other ideas in a continuous improvement process.

What Else is New


  1. Red Hat's Freedom Reduced to Just Online Partner Enablement Network (OPEN) and Microsoft as a Close Partner; Canonical's Ubuntu Just an 'App' for Windows?

    Free software is being snapped up by proprietary software giants and patent bullies that treat it as little more than an 'add-on' for their proprietary offerings



  2. Linux Foundation Apparently Celebrates Sysadmin Day With a Microsoft Windows Site!

    The Linux Foundation shows ‘love’ to actual GNU/Linux (the real thing) by apparently rejecting it and badmouthing it



  3. EPO Looney Tunes – Part 3: The Legal Line-up for G 2/19

    The deck appears to have already been stacked for G 2/19, a decision on EPO judges' exile to Haar (veiled disciplinary action/collective punishment by those whom the judges are supposed to 'oversee')



  4. Links 17/7/2019: VirtualBox 6.0.10 and Mageia 7.1 Releases, Mint Betas

    Links for the day



  5. Links 16/7/2019: Btrfs Gets 'Cleaned Up', Clonezilla Live 2.6.2-15

    Links for the day



  6. EPO Looney Tunes - Part 2: The “Difficult Legacy” and Its Dark Historical Shadow

    Assuming that he was informed, then it seems fair to say that Battistell’s little “joke” at the expense of the Boards was in very bad taste



  7. EPO Noise Machine Turned On as Haar Hearing Kicks Off, Patrick Corcoran Defamed Again

    The EPO does not want people to hear about Haar; it just wants people to hear about how wonderful the EPO is and there are some who have just decided to slander Patrick Corcoran again



  8. Microsoft is 'Doing Kamikaze' (神風) on Linux

    An analogy for what the Linux (only in name!) Foundation and Microsoft mean to Linux — or by extension to GNU/Linux and Free software whose largest repository Microsoft took control of



  9. The 'New' Linux.com Sometimes Feels Like a Microsoft Promotion Site

    Anything that the ‘Linux’ Foundation touches seems to turn into its proprietors’ agenda; one of those proprietors is Microsoft, which has a "Jihad" against Linux



  10. IBM is a Threat to the Internet, Not Just to Software Development (Due to Software Patents Aggression)

    IBM continues its aggression against technology — a fact that’s even more distressing now that IBM calls the shots at Red Hat



  11. EPO Looney Tunes - Part 1: Is D-Day Approaching for Battistelli’s “Difficult Legacy”?

    European patent justice isn’t working within the premises of EPOnia; a bunch of ‘show trials’ may in fact turn out to be just that — a show



  12. Links 16/7/2019: LXD 3.15, Q4OS 3.8 and D9VK 0.13f

    Links for the day



  13. Links 15/7/2019: Vulkan 1.1.115 and Facebook Openwashing

    Links for the day



  14. Microsoft Office 360 Banned

    OpenDocument Format (ODF, a real standard everyone can implement) and Free/libre software should be taught in schools; it's not supposed to be just a matter of privacy



  15. Microsoft, in Its Own Words...

    Sociopathy, incompetence and intolerance of the rule of law, as demonstrated by Microsoft's top managers



  16. Microsoft's WSL is Designed to Weaken GNU/Linux (on the Desktop/Laptop) and Strengthen Vista 10

    What Microsoft does to GNU/Linux on the desktop (and/or laptop) bears much resemblance to what Microsoft did to Java a couple of decades ago



  17. Links 14/7/2019: Linux 5.2.1, Unreal Engine 4.23 Preview, Linux Mint 19.2 Beta

    Links for the day



  18. 25,500 Blog Posts and Pages

    With our thirteenth anniversary just a few months away we're at a pace of about 2,000 posts per year



  19. With WSL Microsoft is Doing to GNU/Linux What It Did to Netscape

    Embrace, extend, extinguish. Some things never really change even if they become an old and repetitive accusation.



  20. Allowing Bad Guests to Become the Hosts

    Why the so-called 'Linux Foundation', a nonprofit that acts more like a PAC controlled by proprietary software companies and people who don't even use Linux, is increasingly becoming a Linux-hostile front group



  21. Honesty and Collaboration Make Free Software Stronger, Microsoft is Inherently a Misfit

    In spite of all the lies Microsoft and its Web sites spew out on a daily basis, nothing has really changed and Microsoft is still attacking Software Freedom (mostly from the inside nowadays, helped by FUD proxies such as WhiteSource and Snyk)



  22. Patent Certainty Waning, But That's Still OK for Patent Trolls

    Patent maximalism remains a threat to everyone but patent lawyers (and patent office chiefs who measure their own performance only by the number of patents granted); best served are the patent trolls who extrajudicially attack already-impoverished parties behind closed doors



  23. GitHub is Microsoft's Proprietary Software and Centralised (Monopoly) Platform, But When Canonical's Account There Gets Compromised Suddenly It's Ubuntu's Fault?

    Typical media distortions and signs that Microsoft already uses GitHub for censorship of Free/Open Source software that does not fit Microsoft's interests



  24. Canonical is Turning Ubuntu Into a More Proprietary Deviant of GNU/Linux

    Ubuntu is becoming more 'Ubinary'; binaries without their source code available are packed up and cooked up for (or baked into) the ISO; this may be good for widespread adoption, but it's not an advancement of freedom, a capitulation rather



  25. Links 13/7/2019: Librem 5 July Update, Project Trident 19.07, KDE Frameworks 5.60.0

    Links for the day



  26. The Problem Isn't Women or Minorities in Free Software But Particular Corporations That Exploit or Steer or Hijack Their Agenda

    If technical issues are being disguised using colours and genders (among other things), then it's important to highlight who's behind it (what company/ies) rather than fling back insults at people because it makes things worse



  27. There's No Such Thing as Cloud Computing, Serverless and All That Other Nonsense

    Buzzwords. Confronted.



  28. Linux is Doing 'Well' Only for Those Who Dislike Software Freedom and Love Control Over Users

    Linux, the kernel, has become a corporate playground or a sandbox that's used to upsell proprietary software, including surveillance; freedom in Linux is gradually being diminished if not completely obliterated and it does not worry the foundations entrusted to guard against it



  29. Consultation About Direction and Future Focus for Techrights

    We invite ideas and recommendations for the future of the site, notably which topics and aspects are worth covering as a matter of higher priority



  30. European Media Continues to Ignore the EPO Crisis While Law Firms and EPO Management Cover Things Up

    The EPO crisis silently deepens because serious problems are lied about, not acknowledged, and the legitimacy of European Patents is greatly diminished, not to mention the EPO's ability to attract talent


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts