Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Jul 2012 23:08 UTC
Google Apparently, this is a major victory of the patent system. This, this right here, this is what the patent system has come to. This is the destructive effect it's having on this once beautiful industry. Thanks to trolls like Apple and Microsoft, basic, elemental functionality is being removed from devices people already own.
Thread beginning with comment 525794
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
lilsim89
Member since:
2009-11-30

Patents on software haven't held the industry back, which is extremely obvious given the enormous amount of new technology from both large and small tech. companies coming out every day.

Also, I can hardly think of any patents on software that most developers have to deal with, of which I'm also a Java developer. Because enforcing a patent on nearly any scale except for larger companies is greatly unpractical.

If software patents didn't exist, we would be undeniably looking at a large stagnation of innovation.

For instance, some extremely useful software apparatuses are codecs. We both know how patent encombered they are, but they're so vital to growth in computing today that the investments required to make them better absolutely dictates the need for patents.

Should we expect the great number of mathematicians and developers who create these products work for free, since they would essentially make zero dollars in your software patent-free world?

Reply Parent Score: 1

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

"Patents on software haven't held the industry back, which is extremely obvious given the enormous amount of new technology from both large and small tech. companies coming out every day."

And why should you assume that companies wouldn't produce new technology as a matter of competing with one another in a free market to attract the attention of customers? Even today the vast majority of small software companies don't bother with patents, because they're a source of overhead we cannot afford. Yet they continue to exist. Larger companies are pretty much forced to get involved to acquire ammunition in court.

To play the patent game seriously an employer needs very expensive lawyers, he needs to divert engineering resources to execute dragnets over thousands upon thousands of patent filing claims to compare whether an idea that his engineers already came up with has already been filed by someone else. Then they have to permutate ideas and try come up with one that's marginally different from issued patents (ignoring all pending patents). This process will probably take more time and money than coming up with the idea itself. And after all that we have to get into the business of threatening and suing other companies over patent royalties, effectively adopting the business model of a leach... of course we could outsource some of this dirty work, but it's no wonder the majority of software developers view this is a horrible waste of human effort. We're rightfully peeved that software patents prevent us from implementing our own ideas on a computer just because someone else had the same idea, even if they didn't have a working implementation and we do!



"...enforcing a patent on nearly any scale except for larger companies is greatly unpractical."

Justifying a system on the basis that it's unenforceable...it's not so great for companies to have to exist in a perpetual state of infringement limbo. But you've raised up another failure for the patent system; it doesn't scale. Consider that each new patent in a domain needs to be compared to all the pre-existing patents in the same domain (not to mention research papers, articles, books, and other public works). This is n-factorial growth, combined with the fact that developers and patent applications themselves are growing exponentially, we're faced with the mathematical reality that it takes exponentially more resources to maintain a set quality in our patent system.

And what about the benefits? The more developers there are in the same field (don't forget globalization), the more likely many parties are to come up with the same ideas, the less good is done by granting a patent monopoly in return for publishing it's "secrets". And lets be honest, overwhelmingly these software "secrets" are hardly worth the paper they're written on.

The patent system is clearly a case of diminishing returns over time, the only question is *when* will it stop being beneficial? For software developers, we're well past that point. Nobody can deny that software patents have dragged the entire industry down a litigious path which serves nether the developers interested in competing in the open market, nor the consumers.

Edited 2012-07-09 00:59 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2