Linked by Christian Schaller on Tue 19th Apr 2005 18:26 UTC
Legal We today face the risk of software patents being approved in the EU because not enough parliamentary members will be showing up to vote. Due to this it is important for those of us who oppose software patents to make sure EU parliament members see the damage software patents cause, so they realize it is important to be there to vote providing the needed absolute majority. But sending out a clear message is also important for the process of patent reform in the US and other places who have fallen into the trap of introducing them.
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by I'm not telling... on Tue 19th Apr 2005 19:32 UTC

The author states The goal of a functioning market economy is to generate as much wealth as possible for as many people as possible.. I don't agree with this, the function of any economy is the allocation of scarce resources. As long as air is universally breathable, there was not need to make access to clean air an economic consideration. When we find that breathing bad air causes diseases, we need to allocate scarce resources to fight the disease. Suddenly, air quality is an economic issue.

In this light, we need to ask what is the scarce resource that we need to allocate? The economic justification for software copyright is it takes effort (a programmer's scarce time and tallent) to make good code, so we introduce copyright to grant the developer (or his employer) a way to profit. This encourages professional software development. The volume and quality of open source software must make us reexamine our underlying ecomonic assumpitions that lead to copyright. But, the copyright law can also be used by open source developers to ensure that open source software remains open.

But what is the economic justification for software patents? I must be that certain software designs and certain applications of software are novel and that the creators of these new ideas need protection. However, if I look at ths crap that is being submitted and patented, I cannot help but think that we are strangling an entire generation of software developers. Patent law prohibits mathematics and 'algorithms' from being patented on the grounds that they are 'discovered' rather than 'invented'. Patents are also to be rejected if they are 'obvious to a practitioner of the arts.' In my opinion, this means that software that can be produced in a shell script by combining standard Unix command utilities should (almost certianly) fail the 'non-obvious' test. If patent offices would to a better job of rejecting patents that fail either of these conditions, we would a much smaller number of software patents.

Until patent offices understand the software development process, ther needs to be a moritorim on patents. There also needs to be documents that define what consititutes the current 'state of the art'. It almost seems that the patent offices are incapable of any literature search that doesn't involve a search of the patent database. That may be excusible in many fields where patents have been the norm, but it is a disaster in software patents. Since the patent offices in the US and Europe have proven themselves incapable of rejecting crap patents, I feel that software patents are harmful and should be rejected.