Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marco Arment on software patents

Referencing two Marco posts in 24 hours? Well, he's good. His latest entry explains "why software patents are not fixable."

If you've ever developed software, you know he's spot-on when he writes, "like every software developer, I've probably unknowingly infringed upon hundreds of patents while routinely doing my job." It's practically impossible to develop without infringing, because the whole point of writing software is to solve somebody's problem, and the patent system is built on registering people's solutions to problems. The trouble, as Arment notes, is that the Patent Office grants patents when it shouldn't, when the "innovation" represents what most practitioners of ordinary skill in the field would consider logical and obvious applications of existing knowledge.

It's time for a serious call to end the practice of patenting software. Arment's blog post is a good place at which to point your local Congresscritter, especially if he or she is under the deluded belief that software patents somehow foster innovation and creativity.
The patent system is a good idea, in theory.

The patent rules are sensible and should prevent highly damaging patents from being issued, in theory.

The patent office should make every reasonable effort to ensure that they enforce the rules, in theory.

But in practice, this isn’t what happens. It’s not even close.

Good public policy isn’t based on what should be, but what is.

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