Want To Create A Simple App To Tell You Where Someone Is Calling From? You Can't, It's Patented
from the promoting-the-progress-yet-again dept
Someone who prefers to remain anonymous, sent me a story that I hear all the time these days. He was getting annoyed with not knowing who was calling his Blackberry, so he figured he’d write a simple app to do a standard database lookup in order to pull up the info that would at least let you know where the caller was from, based on area code. It’s the sort of thing that software programmers do all the time: see a need, write a simple program to solve it.
Except for the patents.
As he started to write the app, he figured he should take a quick look around to see if anyone else had done so… when he came across the fact that someone had written that app, but thanks to a patent threat, it had been shut down. In fact, the patent holder, Cequent, has sued a few others who dared to create such a simple database lookup app themselves. The patent itself describes an incredibly simple database lookup… yet, now no one else is allowed to create such an app.
The purpose of the patent system was to create the incentives for inventors to invent products that likely would not have been created otherwise, in order to help “promote the progress.” Yet, when it’s being used to prevent an engineer from writing a simple app that could have occurred to anyone, based on a simple database lookup, doesn’t it seem like there’s a pretty big problem?