Bonum Certa Men Certa

Assorted New Articles About Software Patents Suffocating Progress

Striving to avoid the use of the word "innovation", which is somewhat of a propaganda term used to justify ownership and deviation from standards, let's talk about "progress". Progress is typically increased when multiple parties compete with one another and develop better products. Better products sell better not owing to exclusion merits. They deliver more value in the form of function that complies with standards, not 'extends' them unilaterally.

The first article worth highlighting in this context is from Mercury News. Its headline is "Tech leader assesses state of innovation in valley". Is this innovation? See for yourself:

The presumption is that, OK, we've got patent trolls, and we need to go and stop these guys from asserting weak patents against companies (to) gum up the works. In any ecosystem, there's always going to be parasites, and I consider patent trolls to be parasites.


Those so-called "parasites" are the small guys, but these are not the same small guys that the patent system was intended to protect. If large companies more rarely assert their rights, then who is truly being served? Where is the 'innovation' being protected and how? Techdirt published a short item which calls for people to reject what it calls "The Myth That More Patents Means More Innovation".

Patents don't help with that. In fact, patents quite often can often do a lot more damage by slowing the pace of innovation -- limiting the ability for companies to improve upon a technology or even a business model concept.


In line with the same logic, Ars Technica bemoans the existence of game (software) patents.

At first blush, patents on gameplay mechanics are a good idea; they allow the creators of these ideas to profit from them. The issue is that the patents are so becoming so broad, and so prohibitive to fight in court, that very basic ideas are being locked down by a few companies.


Lastly, consider this reminder [via Glyn Moody] that every company is at risk provided it uses software in-house. This means that software patents have a chilling effect on progress not just in the software industry. Not only software companies can find themselves sued and distracted by the need for lawyers. We saw that in the SCO case, for instance.

An enormous number of programmers are employed in organizations we don't think of as software firms, developing custom applications for the internal use of their employers. In a sense, every company of non-trivial size is a software company.


Not only software developers should be concerned about software patents. Protests against such patents ought to attract a wider audience and thus greater resistance.

More Patents = Slower Progress

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