Sunday, November 12, 2006

software patents stink

After an incredibly useful review of software innovations, David Wheeler critiques software patents:
  • most of the important software innovations were never patented
  • many software innovators oppose software patents
  • the majority of professional programmers (10:1 ratio) believe that software patents impede software development
  • the majority of professional programmers (2:1) believe that software patents should be abolished
  • statistical evidence shows that as patents increase innovations decrease
  • patents cause serious problems in creating and implementing standards
  • all W3C standards are royalty free
  • patents are often awarded for non innovative ideas
  • there are no incentives for anyone in the patent process to reject bogus patents
  • patents increase customer costs
  • patent examiners have a poor database of prior art
  • the reason the internet protocols took hold so quickly is because Cerf and Kahn made no intellectual property claim
  • research shows that companies which are increasingly patenting software are also decreasing their R&D
  • the vast majority of software patents are obtained by firms outside of the software industry
  • software patents prevent new ideas from becoming available to end users
  • the only group that is unambiguously aided by software patents are patent lawyers
  • software patents have nothing to do with software innovation

Links:
League of Programming Freedom
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure
Patently absurd
Patent nonsense

3 comments:

Artichoke said...

Interesting points Bill,I am looking at the new contracts developed for the ict_pd clusters and how they have been altered from last year.

You have given me some pointers in how to interpret the changes in how the MoE wants ownership of all materials developed by schools and lumps responsibility for getting these rights with the school boards

I guess the trick will be to ensure that nothing new is developed otherwise the MoE will claim it

For example
Copyright

Explanatory note: The Ministry wishes to be able to share materials developed under this agreement with other schools and where possible to be able to utilise new ideas and systems without any new consents or payments being required. The Ministry recognises that some work may involve the use of material or software owned by others or may be an “add on” to such materials/programmes. Therefore it is critical that relevant warnings accompany the materials so that the Ministry and other school boards are aware of restrictions that may apply to the use of material developed under this agreement.


6.1 All intellectual property rights (including copyright) in all works and material produced under this agreement (“new works”) shall remain the property of the Ministry.

6.2 Both parties shall continue to own all intellectual property rights that they held prior to the commencement of this Agreement.

6.3 The Ministry agrees that the Boards of all schools involved in the programme may continue to use material developed under this agreement.

6.4 The School Board will gain all consents (including consents from third parties) as may be necessary to enable the Ministry and any other party approved by the Ministry, to unconditionally use the works developed under this Agreement at no additional charge

(Refer to Te Kete Ipurangi www.tki.org.nz for more details regarding copyright and privacy issues).

Anonymous said...

http://righttocreate.blogspot.com/
This might be worth subscribing to Bill.
Wara

Bill Kerr said...

thnks for link to right to create , wara.

some interesting material there, however, there has been nothing new posted there since June, 2006, so I think they might have folded

I like their attempt to outline the historical origin of patent law:
"Sometime during the last 600 years, governments realized that revenue could be earned by granting exclusive monopolies for specific goods to single individuals -- taking away the right to create these goods from everyone else. No one knows exactly when or where this insidious idea first arose, but it appears to have taken an early foothold in England in the 15th century. It worked like this: a monopoly on a particular good was granted for a sum of money or as a favor. In exchange, the Crown agreed to exclude, by force, all others but the grantee from participating in creating that good. These were called patents. In many respects, they were an extension of other unjust monopolies granted by the Crown, such as exclusive monopolies to fish certain waterways, to hunt in certain forests, or to kill and eat certain animals -- monopolies that were almost universally only granted to nobility or well-heeled benefactors. In the case of 16th century England, patents were granted on manufacturing salt, soap, glass, knives, sailcloth -- things that people had first created many centuries (or even millenia) before, and that until the time of grant, could be made by anyone with the resources and knowledge to make them."