Linux Magazine: The Scourge of Software Patents

“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


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