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The Problem with Software Patents

May 10, 2010, 18:34 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bob Warfield)

[ Thanks to Nicholas Chase for this link. ]

"Software patents are a disaster for innovation. The system is asymmetrical, in the sense that it is very expensive to defend against a patent suit. At the same time, it is very easy to get a patent on almost anything, including things people have no business getting patents on. I have a friend who was given a patent on a number, for example. Fred Wilson called my attention to a video that is a great documentary on what's wrong from the side of granting bad patents. My friend's number patent came about because he followed the letter of the law as described by the video and described some particularly complex mathematics that defined the number.

"The asymmetrical nature of the expenses is such that there is a huge disparity in cost to defend versus cost to prosecute. The last time I was involved in a patent suit with patent trolls (companies whose sole purpose is to use overly broad patents to extort payments from anyone they can, trolls don't make anything except law suits), our counsel advised us that it would cost us $1M just to get to trial, so any settlement short of that was reasonable."

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