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Speaking of Mouse Trap Economics, What About that Yarn that Patents Stimulate Invention

Aug 24, 2010, 13:05 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Les Earnest)

"Based on my 40 years of experience in the computer system development, much of it before software patents were introduced, I believe that the alleged connection between such patents and the stimulation of innovation is tenuous at best and probably negative. Let me confess that even though I oppose the continuation of software patents, as a defensive measure I've applied for some that have been granted.

"When I entered the field as a programmer in 1954 there were only about a hundred of us in the whole world, and each of us was turning out thousands of inventions each year, or maybe it was hundreds depending on your standards, but a lot. Software was given the same kinds of protection as other documentation, namely copyright and trade secret.

"It was certainly a good thing that there were no software patents because my colleagues and I could have papered over the field and retired for 17 years or so to collect royalties. Since patents didn't exist, we kept working and had quite a good time doing it, sharing ideas and standing on each other's shoulders to see how high we could reach."

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