Telling the Truth About Software Patents and Innovation

“How often have you heard it said that ‘patents foster
innovation?’ That phrase rings true in pharmaceuticals, where
investment requirements are enormous and failure common. But does
it also apply in areas such as software? Does it really take the
promise of a legal monopoly to motivate a typical founder or CTO to
innovate? And what about the advantages patents give big companies
over emerging ones, simply because the former can credibly threaten
expensive patent litigation while the latter cannot?

“I’ll talk about the negative impacts of software patents
another time. But today I’d like to make the case that patents are
irrelevant to software innovation, based on my 25 years of
representing hundreds of startups, the largest number of which have
been either pure software companies or other ventures whose value
lay in the software at the heart of their businesses. That history
tells me that if patents were to disappear tomorrow, the process of
innovation wouldn’t skip a beat…”

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