Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Oct 2012 09:24 UTC
Legal The failing US patent system is getting ever more mainstream - The New York Times is running a long and details piece on the failings of the system, especially in relation to the technology industry most of us hold so dearly. Most of the stuff in there isn't new to us - but there's two things in the article I want to highlight.
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This is a minor aside but, you are an author. You see this is half the problem with software engineering today. Software is a low-level specification that it just so happens that, when compiled, the hardware can directly act upon. Software is not analogous to hardware. It never has been and it is tiresome that it continues to be taught adn communicated as such. The correct analogy for software is a requirements document in which ideas are expressed about the way the system should operate.

Does a great deal of engineering work go into capturing the ideas for a requirements document? Sure it does. Are you entitled to ownership of ideas expressed in that document? No. Unlike physical items, you cannot naturally maintain exclusive possession of an idea once it is communicated.

We the people decided that it is, on the whole, beneficial for our progress to encourage invention and creativity. To support that we grant a temporary monopoly on the sale of products based on idea or the specific expression of an idea. For the latter, copyright was created and enforced by the people. For the former, patents were created and enforced by the people. Without them you have no natural right or capacity to maintain exclusive possession of either an idea or the expression of an idea.

You want a monopoly on an idea despite the fact that, at least in the case of software, such a monopoly is demonstrably counterproductive to the ends for which they're created? No. This isn't about treating software engineers differently. This is about ensuring that the patent and copyright system - a system that effectively deprives others of their natural right and capacity to assimilate and act on new ideas - serves its intended purpose.

Whine all you want about being treated differently. You'd be treated differently because what you produce - software - is different.

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