A weak case for software patents
Aug 13, 2010, 04:36 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rob Tiller)
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"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."