Sunday, July 03, 2005

I changed my mind

Couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation about software patenting. It is good to hear another point of view. I actually changed my mind about the matter. From being totally anti, I believe that software patents should exist, but not in the form that they are today.
Software patents were made to protect and uphold healthy competition, not to choke it. Unfortunately current legislation (in US) is often abused, mostly by big corporations in order to establish monopoly, or as a mean to blackmail those corporations. Therefore, as is, software patenting causes more damage that good, and shouldn't be used. On the other hand, ideas should be protected, that's patents are for.


Yury Puzis said...

So what is that argument that made you change your mind?

Woland said...

People must have a way to protect their ideas. Idea is very easy to steal. Say yo have found a new revolutionary way to compress data/video/audio. Say you have copyrighted the program you wrote. What can you do if someone writes a program that uses the same idea but different algorithm and integrates it in it's other already popular software or operating system?

Yury Puzis said...

Don't be so fast to change your mind. Hear my objections first:

1) Ideas are patentable already.
Here you are talking about patenting an idea because someone might steal it. This has nothing to do with patenting software (code).

2) Software is a combination of math and art. Can you imagine Malevich patenting the square? Archimedes patenting the triange?

3) You are not going to patent anything, even if legaly you could. It costs too much money. Way too much.

4) Because proprietary code is closed you can never know if they infringe on your patent.

5) You need other people's patents to make money out of your's. Big corporations are trading patents. An independent inventor has no patent portfolio to get the pattents he needs. The result? You will have to sell or shelf the patent.

6) FUD
Bunkrupting a rival is very easy. Simply announce that they might be infringing on your patents. Maybe even sue. They will loose enough scared customers to go out of business before the court makes a decision.

And there are more...

Woland said...

That's why I said, that patent law as is, is a bad idea. The whole patent law must be rewritten, so you couldn't patent code, just ideas. There is copyright for code.

Yury Puzis said...

That's my point. Ideas are patentable as it is, an it is not use anyways.

Woland said...

The problem of spotting and proving that someone is stealing you patent, is universal, not specific to the world of software.
I wonder, what our new future lawyer friend has to say about this subject :)