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Linux Magazine: The Scourge of Software Patents

Dec 17, 2004, 01:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nicholas Wells)

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"Software patents--more than copyright laws, commercial software companies, and uninformed legislators--are the biggest threat to the future of free software. While software patents have only been issued regularly in the United States since about 1982 (after Diamond v. Diehr), and guidelines for granting software patents weren't established by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) until 1996, software patents are now granted by the USPTO at the rate of nearly 30,000 per year, or over 15 percent of all patents issued.

"It's easy to understand why a programmer or company that writes code for financial gain would want to patent code: where copyright law protects only the expression of an idea--that is, the source code itself--a patent protects the idea behind the source code..."

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