EU Ability To Patent Software On Shaky Ground

from the pushed-off dept

As expected, folks in the EU are realizing that there just isn’t enough support to approve a measure that would all for software patents. So, in order to try to change some minds, a vote has been put off until sometime next year. Hopefully, the growing number of politicians deciding against such a plan is a trend, and not a temporary blip. Of course, for those of us in the US (where software patents are legal), it will be interesting to see how the software development community in both places change over time. If things stay as they are now, then we should see more interesting developments coming out of the EU, while US developers are bogged down in patent lawsuits or don’t develop certain applications due to the chilling effects of software patent litigation threats. Hopefully, realizing that the US software industry is hindered by this setup will drive more to push for patent reform that recognizes that software patents are bad news.

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Comments on “EU Ability To Patent Software On Shaky Ground”

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obstuse squirrel says:

patents have become bad news in general

The original intent of patents was to allow a limited time of protection for any novel invention for an inventor to profit from it, before either he disclosed it (or someone reverse engineered it), and any co discoveries were bared if he got there first.

The whole idea of submarine patents is totally against this, as are most patents allowed today. The Constitution specifically allowed for this, so the US should never have surrendered it’s sovereign rights when adapting to “international” norms, read this doing patents in a way that maximizes profits for large entities, not for the advancment of knowledge and science.

I see no way the US or the world gets any benefit from the current system, as it tends to freeze all the research in the hands of a few huge corporations who can chill individual initiative with patent litigation, or just ignore small patents when they are in their way.

The fact that the world went from ox cart to flying to the moon in the 20th century will be followed by maybe some trips to the moon in the 21st and little else. Advanced state of affairs, but no where the explosion of the last 100 years. Some due to other factors, but a major part of the problem will be this mess with IP and patents and litigation of all types chilling business.

Seth Noble (user link) says:

Bad System != Bad Idea

Don’t confuse problems in the patent system with the idea of patents itself.

The reason innovation is being stiffled and everyone is sue happy has nothing to do with how patents are supposed to work according to the law. The problem is that the law is being routinely ignored by the USPTO. When you have companies like Microsoft ramping up to 6,000 patent filings per year, congress stealing patent fee money out of the PTO’s budget, and PTO practices that encourage companies to flood them with meaningless drivel, it is to be expected that there will be problems.

Many ideas need heavy financial backing in order to be developed, tested, and proven before they can start benefiting people and making money. If someone can walk in at the 11th hour an steal an idea away from the people who spent years and dollars developing it, then those years and dollars just won’t be there in the first place. The idea of rewarding innovation through a short term monopoloy is a good one that worked very well for centuries.

But the US patent system is no longer doing this. Instead, what is being rewarded is flooding the system with applications for things that should not be patentable, but which get through anyway because the PTO lacks the means and will to scrutinize the massive pile of dung that gets heaped on them. Software and Business Method patents are particularly bad, in part, because they are so new. Much of the prior art that would exclude the vast majority of such patents from being allowable is not well documented, the examiners lack meaningful experience, and the rules requiring applicants to disclose prior art are not enforced.

So, yes, a lot of grief is being caused by the patent system, but its the system, not the underyling idea, that is at fault.

obstuse squirrel says:

Re: Bad System != Bad Idea

I agree with what you up to the point you go. I totally disagree with the “submarine” patents, where someone writes down some silly idea he has no real idea of how to make go and then emerges after hundreds of secret revisions to his application after an industry has developed and matches up with the current text in the patent.

Read the guy who sued over microprocessors. I wont go look his name up since I am not trying to piss him off, nor do I want to be sued, but only use it as a good example of one broken aspect. If he was required to patent and stick with what he had, he would not have “invented” the microprocessor any more than I could have years before he did. I worked on systems in the early 70’s and could have spent the $$ to send in a vague description of putting a processor on a piece of silicon, but didn’t think that you could patent imaginary ideas.

I saw things that lead up to this even earlier in tours when I was in elementry school, when we were given factor tours of western electric plants in the area where I grew up. They patented what they had then, not imagination.

other than that you stated what I was refering to in different terms, and I don’t disagree with it.

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