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Software Patents

Necessary IP protection or a system designed for abuse?
What are your experiences and opinions with regards to software patents?

Kenshi
Friday, November 08, 2002

One only has to look at this site:

http://www.youmaybenext.com/

to understand the inherit dangers and abuse of software patents. PanIP has a patent on basically any system that performs e-commerce on computers with CRT's.

They are in now in the process of suing dozens of companies for patent infringement. Obviously, they aren't going after companies like Amazon because they know they would get crushed. Rather, they are attacking "low hanging fruit"by suing small companies that don't have the resources to fight a lengthy legal battle.

I'm more supportive of patents of algorithms and such things, but the fact that you can patent a concept in software is just nuts.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, November 08, 2002

Part of a global conspiracy to ensure that the rich get richer and the poor stay poorer.

Still illegal in the EU but the Americans are pushing and using the usual dirty tricks to try and change things.

A superb way of protecting the IP of lawyers however, by allowing them to gouge chunks out of the intellectual patrimony of engineers and software developers.

Stephen Jones
Friday, November 08, 2002

"Part of a global conspiracy to ensure that the rich get richer and the poor stay poorer."

Heheheh..No, I doubt that. Rather, it's yet another chapter in the endless schemes that people come up with to make money without expending much effort.

No conspiracy, just lazy people trying to make a fast buck.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, November 08, 2002

If you follow the link to youmaybenext, and then follow their link to the appropriate patent, you will notice that the Patent Office has a shopping cart allowing you to order documents from them. Doesn't this mean that the Patent Office is violating patent 5,576,951?

David Clayworth
Friday, November 08, 2002

> Part of a global conspiracy to ensure that the rich get richer and the poor stay poorer.

Stephen Jones is correct. The patenting exercises going on in software are yet another way to transfer money from those who create it to lazy bums who want to steal it. The patent system originally hada  good intent, but that's not how it's used now.

BH
Friday, November 08, 2002

I thought Divine made similar claims to a shopping cart patent.

http://news.com.com/2010-1071-962485.html

Brian
Saturday, November 09, 2002

There are patents people in general agree with... even Slashdotters tend to support Google's patents.  So there's two issues: philosophical and implementation.

Reduce the number of years and stop handing out patents like candy.  But it's hard to do the latter; it requires a good team.  And the US patent office seems to think the burden should fall on the courts to decide if any particular patent is valid.  Of course, that heavily favors those armed with lawyers...  Legal nitpicking has become a profit center and competitive crowbar in its own right.

Tj
Monday, November 11, 2002

Just a point... An example like the one you mentioned (some company patenting "online sales" or whatever) is not a problem with software patents.  It is a problem with the patent approval process.

Such a patent is not valid because of prior art and other restrictions, but because the patent approval process is not perfect (or even acceptable, when it comes to software), this one gets by until it is challenged.

This is not a "software patent" problem, it could happen with any kind of patent.

Mike McNertney
Monday, November 11, 2002

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