Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 13th May 2007 22:24 UTC, submitted by Havin_it
Legal "Free software is great, and corporate America loves it. It's often high-quality stuff that can be downloaded free off the Internet and then copied at will. It's versatile - it can be customized to perform almost any large-scale computing task - and it's blessedly crash-resistant. A broad community of developers, from individuals to large companies like IBM, is constantly working to improve it and introduce new features. No wonder the business world has embraced it so enthusiastically: More than half the companies in the Fortune 500 are thought to be using the free operating system Linux in their data centers. But now there's a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and it's being cast by Microsoft. The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents."
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RE[4]: Software patents
by thebin on Mon 14th May 2007 16:24 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Software patents"
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if one unknowingly infringes...

Exactly. The point being that when people can patent trivial ideas (standardization of user interface, mouse gestures, or for that matter, certain types of structures offered by languages), it becomes impossible for developers to develop. So much for sitting down and banging something out in an afternoon. For every hour spent coding, you or your lawyers (if you can afford them) will be spending many times that amount looking for patents that your code might run afoul of. This is ridiculous and leads to a lack of productivity.

An analogy to the art world was once made by someone much smarter than I. It basically compared patenting software to patenting art. Imagine patenting "a composition comprised of varying shades of blue sky, dark colored mountain scenery, a reflecting lake, and a sunset." Then anyone who used any remote derivation of such a composition would need pay licensing fees to the "original" artist. So much for the art world.

Add to this the actual broken patent process. First, it costs more money than most independent developers I know have to patent ideas. Then there is the question of the qualifications of the patent examiners. Then, presuming that you have the money and are awarded the patent, you have to defend the patent for it to hold. This is such a costly process that only big corporations can play. Now, consider that such big corporations take advantage of the weaknesses in the system to create a hedge of patents for any idea their employees have, no matter how trivial, and you see the big picture.

The patent process is no longer about giving people credit and letting them develop their ideas in peace. That's the fiction big business would like for us to believe. Rather, the patent process has become an offensive business method (patent trolling) that is legitimate only in the eyes of those with great power.

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