Summary: Examples from the press of anger directed at patents and a face-saving attempt from the USPTO to avert criticism
Web sites across the world challenge the idea that ideas can be ‘stolen’ as more and more people feel personally affected. “As the Apple vs. Samsung dispute wages on,” writes TuxRadar, “with both sides arguing about rounded corners and rectangles; for this week’s podcast, we want to know what can Linux really take from Apple?”
Apple wants billions in so-called ‘damages’ and unrest against patent law grows as even the New York Times calls for change, especially “When Patents Become Weapons”. There is an article titled “Smartphone wars: Patents are the new weapons” in Times of India and it is increasingly important when Microsoft partners like Infosys arm themselves. “How patents slow down the pace of technological innovation” is another noteworthy article from the Asian press.
“The premise that monopolies are beneficial for innovation is utterly flawed…”The legal press plays along with the broken patent system which is ignoring the actual source of the problem (patents are inherently problematic, not just the review process). Articles say that the USPTO is trying to patch up a broken system with help from Google. This latter article says that “Stack Exchange and Google are teaming up to make it easy for geeks to shoot down overbroad and ridiculous patents,” but this is not an effective approach as it helps further legitimise all those patents which cannot be shot down.
The USPTO has inherently philosophical problems. The premise that monopolies are beneficial for innovation is utterly flawed, so asking the public to participate is just adding insult to injury. This is not the first time that Google helps patent offices whilst also applying for more software patents. As one writer put it, “I don’t mean to come down on Google. Their patent policies are much better than those of most tech companies. But I bet most Google engineers — along with the overwhelming majority of software engineers in general — would agree with the following statement in a heartbeat: most software patents are total bullshit.”
People are getting broad patents on abstract ideas and Google does not do much about it except participate in this whole mess. Google is schizophrenic about it because lawyers join the engineers there. Google did this in the EPO too. This is where crucial debates carries on with software patents at stake. We will cover that in the next post. █