A Simple Explanation For Why Software Patents Are Dangerous
from the thank-you-Tim dept
Tim highlights the obviousness problem in software patents -- noting that "prior art" isn't the right way to look at things, since many programmers faced with similar problems will come up with similar solutions. It's not because they're "stealing" each others' "inventions," but because they're figuring out the best way to solve the specific problem at hand: "Is this really how we want to run our software industry? Do we really want to require lawyers to inspect every line of computer code to make sure a programmer didn't accidentally "invent" something that some other company previously patented?... In effect, patents create a legal minefield for software developers simply trying to go about their business. Because the patent office gives out patents so promiscuously, the developer has no way of predicting when code he writes might run afoul of a somebody's patent. That means that even if he developed every line of code himself, without looking at anyone else's code, he still can't be sure that somebody won't come along and sue him for patent infringement." Tim expresses hope that the impending shutdown of our politicians' beloved Blackberries will cause them to rethink the patent system, but he's probably giving them too much credit. While they may ignore the court order to keep their Blackberries running, it's unlikely they'll think about the larger issues at all.