by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
patent reform, patents

Clear & Concise Explanation Of The Problem With Patents

from the more-voices dept

More and more people are adding their voices to the growing consensus around the massive harm that the patent system is doing to innovation within the tech industry. PC World's Katherine Noyes has a great article that lays out a clear argument for why the patent system is making things worse for consumers. Here's just a snippet, though the whole thing is worth reading:
5. Innovation Is Being Squelched

Software innovation depends heavily on the exchange and iterative development of new ideas, but such exchange is precisely what software patents are designed to prevent. Numerous patents have been granted that are excessively broad, too, making it virtually impossible to develop original software without fear of infringing.

6. Small Companies Are Being Shut Out

For all of the above reasons, you could be the most brilliant and creative software developer ever, but if you don't have pockets deep enough to pay hefty licensing fees and start a patent war chest of your own the way Google is being forced to do, you are simply out of luck. End of story.

7. Consumers Pay the Price

Small businesses suffer as a result, but ultimately the even bigger loser--as always--is the consumer. Under this system, control of ideas is falling into the hands of the companies that are big, fat and unable to innovate, simply because they have the money and no other easy way to earn more. That, in turn, means the little guys--the innovative ones--can't bring to market the next big thing that could change consumers' lives, at least not without a heavily inflated price.
It's nice to see that more and more people are making it clear that this isn't just some "fringe" opinion, but such feelings are extremely common among folks throughout the tech industry -- supposedly the people patents are supposed to protect most. When those people hate and/or fear the patent system, clearly something's wrong. So why is Congress' only move to make the system worse?

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  1. icon
    fogbugzd (profile), 19 Aug 2011 @ 5:38am

    Re: Hard Math

    >>I was reading with interest on Ars Technica how the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has gotten into the fray and said if an algorithm can be done with paper and pencil, it is not patentable

    Yes, that has been covered here at TechDirt extensively over the last week or so. My opinion is that it is definitely a step in the right direction, but there are still a lot of bad patents, including some software patents, that would be going through even with this ruling in place.

    I think the most important thing going on with the CAFC decision is that it has started a lot of people thinking about the downside of patents. Way too many influential people have been assuming that more patents means more innovation, and more innovation means more jobs. Some of them are finally starting to realize that patents, at least in their current form, are holding back innovation and cutting job creation.

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