[ILUG] Enda Kenny and Patents
kevin+dated+1090004921.0550d9 at ie.suberic.net
Sun Jul 11 20:08:33 IST 2004
On Sun, Jul 11, 2004 at 06:25:32PM +0100, Paul Jakma wrote:
> On Sun, 11 Jul 2004, kevin lyda wrote:
> > the concept of a patent is to give inventors a short-term monopoly to
> > recoup their research and development efforts.
> Right, and why shouldn't that apply to software "innovations" too?
i was defining patents to a person who claimed he was not an expert in
the field. it would seem wise when talking to a "layman" to define the
terms being discussed.
> > none of those are patented.
> Which says nothing of the argument against software patents.
actually, yes it does. my point is that the software industry has
progressed quite well w/o patents.
> > therefore, the most compelling argument against software patents is
> > that they are not required.
> not really.
um, yes it is.
patents exist as a tool for governments to encourage innovation. if
innovation is already occuring in a field w/o patents, then the tool
is not required.
the argument that pro-software patent people make is that software
patents are required for innovation. that argument is demostrably
> Preventing competition is fundamental to the concept of patents,
> hence that property of itself is not an argument against them.
uh, you're not getting the point. yes, a patent is a gov't granted
monopoly. however it is granted with the goal of encouraging innovation.
however the software field was already generating a huge amount of
innovation before software patents even existed.
> But the innovations you have cited were all developed in the public
> sector and hence not subject to competitive pressure anyway, or not
> exactly patentable (word processor would be hard to patent) or
> actually *were* patented (ie the spreadsheet, see
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spreadsheet, indeed that helped set
> precedent for software patents).
uh, no. the link you point out has a few flaws. first, the credited
inventor of the spreadsheet is not the person who got the patent - all
the way back in 1961. second, visicalc came a while after that patent
expired. i doubt visicalc's creator even knew about the patent.
> > patents are a useful tool in other industries.
> Why wouldnt they be useful in the software industry then?
they demonstrably have not been. we coulf go into long, technical
discussions as to why, however the request was for a letter describing
the issue for a layman. the links already presented go into much
further detail - and i suspect a few minutes into those links enda
kenny's eyes would glaze over and he'd move onto more important issues.
> That's an argument for state funding of innovation in software. Never
> going to fly in the 1st world :). The whole point of patents is to
> make investment in R&D attractive to the /private/ sector, and not
> have to have state funding.
first all that funding WAS from the 1st world. second i was describing
the ways gov't has benefited the software industry in a positive way. i
wasn't saying it should continue, i was merely pointing out that not all
government interaction with the software industry is unwelcome - just
> Universities, especially in US, make a lot of money by way of the
> patent system, either by direct patent licensing or by spinning off
> successful research into commercial entities or by acting as "R&D for
> hire" for private sector interests (who then reap the rewards of
> patent licencing if the R&D is successful).
again, that's a recent phenomenon.
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