Software Patents Violate The Patent Bargain, Since There Is No Disclosure To Trade-Off
from the trade-away dept
Reader brad points us to an interesting blog post by Lukas Mathis, who points out that, at least in the software world, disclosure is useless anyway, because any competent programmer can understand how to do something without needing to look at any patent:
This trade-off does not apply to many software patents. I only need to spend five minutes on Amazon's site to figure out how one-click shopping works. There is nothing useful I can learn from reading the patent. Likewise, I only need to turn on an iPhone once to figure out how to unlock it. This means that Amazon or Apple don't give up anything when they patent these ideas. There is no trade-off involved; the state grants these patents «for free», because nobody gains anything from the publication of these ideas. They are already public.This is a really good point, and a great way of highlighting the ridiculousness of most software patents. The deal is supposed to be "we give you a monopoly, you tell us how to do this hard thing that we wouldn't figure out otherwise." But the latter half of the bargain isn't done because it's not necessary. And thus, those software patents are given away "for free," without the other half of the bargain. That would, you might think, bring their entire validity into question.