Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Jul 2011 21:16 UTC
Legal I've been sitting on this item all day. Technically, it's about patents and the like, and even I understand I've been beating this dead horse so often it almost looks like it's alive. However, this is an interesting opinion piece by Craig Hockenberry, long-time employee at The Iconfactory, one of my favourite software development houses - these guys breath software and beautiful design, and employ one of my favourite artists, David Lanham. The gist of his story? Software patents are killing the independent developer scene.
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Several Possible Solutions ...
by MacTO on Fri 15th Jul 2011 02:32 UTC
Member since:

1) Software developers can patent-mine, basing their products entirely upon expired patents. Of course that has the negative effect that the software industry will be held back 20 years, but it will be an ample demonstration of how patents encourage innovation.

2) Reform the legal system so that the jurisdiction is mutually agreeable to both parties. My understanding is that jurors can be excluded for possible sources of bias, well why not judges?

3) Reform the patent system. Of course some people want radical reforms (e.g. forbidding software patents), but I think that simple measures will cut down on malicious lawsuits.

3a) require a functional implementation be submitted with the patent application as source code in a real programming language. The patent trolls will disappear because there will be no ambiguity to base legal arguments on. Real patent suits can continue because it becomes possible to compare implementations.

3b) There also needs to be some responsibility placed on patent holders to maintain their patents. It can take many forms: actually producing products that implement the patent, actively licensing the patents to other vendors, or perhaps limiting damages to within one year of filing suit (so that they don't conveniently notice the patent violation 10 years later).

I think most people here agree that things have to change. But instead of bitching and moaning, maybe we should be swapping ideas (and preferably ideas that legislators may accept).

Reply Score: 3

Alfman Member since:


Certainly, including a working source implementation in software patent applications is a huge improvement over today's patent document mess. All patents (software or not) should be written using well established jargon and legalize should be expressly prohibited. This would bring back one of the original justifications for patents - advancing public knowledge through publication. It is a tragedy that this was lost in the first place.

I assume you'll agree with everything said so far.

However we're at a point in modern times where we have vast quantities of public knowledge in the form of the web which works better than the patent system ever did, or ever could hope to do.

Your proposal seeks to mitigate some of the harms caused by patents today, that's nice, but it does not (yet) seem to address why we should need software patents in the first place. The majority of small devs have never benefited from software patents. We don't need them, we don't want them, we cannot afford them.

Anyway I thank for contributing without resorting to inflammatory remarks. For some reason may of the other patent discussions as of late attract too much fire.

Edited 2011-07-15 03:49 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2