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A weak case for software patents

Aug 13, 2010, 04:36 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rob Tiller)

"For all the debate and litigation around software patents, I thought that there was at least one point on which all sides could agree: the objective of the U.S. patent system is to stimulate innovation. A recent IP blog takes issue with that premise, and proposes an alternative objective: making money. The blog gives a distorted view of Red Hat's patent portfolio program in support of this argument. The argument is interesting, and suggests that there's still a steep hill to climb to get to a rational patent policy for software.

"First off, let me say that I don't see the software patent debate as a matter of good versus evil. It's about establishing and achieving reasonable public policy objectives. Patent policy relates to commerce, markets, and encouraging material improvement. When the government grants a patent, it grants a type of monopoly, and monopolies entail costs. A patent entitles the holder to exclude others from using the invention, and so that holder may use a patent to prevent competition and hinder innovation. But the widely accepted policy justification for patents is that on balance they encourage innovation and progress."

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