Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 19th Jun 2014 23:59 UTC
Legal

The US Supreme Court has made it ever so slightly harder to patent software.

The patent claimed a method of hedging against counter-party risk, which is a fancy word for the risk that you make a deal with someone and later he doesn't uphold his end of the bargain. The Supreme Court unanimously held that you can't patent an abstract concept like this merely by stating that the hedging should be done on a computer. This kind of abstract patent is depressingly common in the software industry, and the CLS ruling will cause lower courts to take a harder look at them.

It's a small victory, but hey, I take whatever I can. Sadly, the SCOTUS also states that "many computer-implemented claims" are still eligible for patent protection, without actually explaining which claims. So, while appending "on a computer" to an obvious abstract concept does not make it patentable, the actual concept of patenting software is still very much allowed.

Even if the SCOTUS had completely abolished software patents, however, we still would have to deal with them for more than a decade - existing software patents would not magically vanish, and would still require lengthy and expensive court cases to be invalidated. Something bullies like Microsoft and Apple can afford easily, while many others cannot.

Sorry for not putting a smile on your face, but reality is reality. Sadly.

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RE[8]: Well ...
by WorknMan on Fri 20th Jun 2014 20:50 UTC in reply to "RE[7]: Well ..."
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

How would you reconcile one developer's right to independently develop something with another developer's right to own a monopoly on it? I don't believe this is fixable, but I'm curious to hear what you have to say.


I'm not sure I completely understand the question, but I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't be allowed to develop something with the same functionality as what I developed. I mean, if you make something that's better than mine, and my customers end up becoming your customers because of it, then GREAT!
I'm simply saying that if you're going to do so by reverse engineering my shit, incorporating that into your own project, and marketing it based on the fact that it's compatible with mine, then you should at least be paying me a little off the top. THAT is what I mean by 'piggybacking'. Hell, I might even be willing to sell you a license to the source code, and save you the cost and aggravation of reverse engineering it yourself.

Edited 2014-06-20 20:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[9]: Well ...
by Alfman on Fri 20th Jun 2014 22:26 in reply to "RE[8]: Well ..."
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,

I'm simply saying that if you're going to do so by reverse engineering my shit, incorporating that into your own project, and marketing it based on the fact that it's compatible with mine, then you should at least be paying me a little off the top. THAT is what I mean by 'piggybacking'.


Well if the third party actually did their own work and implemented their own software, then it should be fair game even if it's designed to be "compatible". Without source code they still have to implement everything by the sweat of their brow. You speak as though compatibility is stealing, but they are not being compatible to save themselves work as you are implying, they're doing it to give users a means to escape vender-lock.

Hell, I might even be willing to sell you a license to the source code, and save you the cost and aggravation of reverse engineering it yourself.


Actually this is exactly how it *should* work! Developers should have the choice to license software (aka outsourcing), or implement it themselves. If licensing is a better value proposition (time to market, cheaper, expertise, maintenance, etc), then one shouldn't need the patent system at all to make a sale. Alternatively if the offering isn't compelling enough, then one should be free to implement it oneself.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[10]: Well ...
by WorknMan on Sat 21st Jun 2014 02:14 in reply to "RE[9]: Well ..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Alternatively if the offering isn't compelling enough, then one should be free to implement it oneself.


To me, that's like saying 'if the price of this piece of software isn't compelling enough, then one should be free to pirate it.'

I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this. Some crackers work hard to disassemble the copy protection of a software and distribute pirated versions; that doesn't make it right.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[9]: Well ...
by kwan_e on Tue 24th Jun 2014 03:00 in reply to "RE[8]: Well ..."
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

I'm simply saying that if you're going to do so by reverse engineering my shit, incorporating that into your own project, and marketing it based on the fact that it's compatible with mine, then you should at least be paying me a little off the top. THAT is what I mean by 'piggybacking'. Hell, I might even be willing to sell you a license to the source code, and save you the cost and aggravation of reverse engineering it yourself.


Reverse engineering should be a legally protected practice. If we're going to use the weird SCOTUS logic that the ends justifies the means, then reverse engineering is justified.

We need to remember the modern computing-for-the-masses age was possible because Compaq reverse engineered IBM's PC BIOS and made a clean room implementation.

Reverse engineering is not the same as just copying and pasting code. Anything that is easy to reverse engineer is not worth protecting and you should not force society to keep your monopoly just because you think you deserved to be repaid merely for yourefforts.

Reply Parent Score: 2