Software patents



  • I've just been listening to a news item on the BBC about software patents and mobile apps ("see the article":http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14682700). Have any of you guys had issues with this or is it just a BBC slow news day story? I hadn't even considered this kind of thing when looking to develop new apps.

    Steve


  • Moderators

    It's an interesting situation, to be sure. I haven't considered such things, but then again, I work for a company which has a legal department (and decision-making management) who buffers us lowly developers from such things.



  • I just heard a broadcast by NPR on this topic. From what I get, so many of these patents overlap because they are having a hard time classifying them, or something to that affect. The broadcast was talking about lots of big companies creating extremely vague pattens to encompass lots of different things they could sue for and generate money. Snakes. Total mess, little scary.



  • I think it is time to overhaul the system. They way patents are used now is just hampering innovation, not supporting it anymore as the system was supposed to do. The scope and length of patents should be limited, and it should be obligatory to show a working prototype. And yes, software patents should be declared null and void.



  • Agree. I believe software patents are a cancer to the developer community. But this is probably the whole thing: a community, not an industry.



  • It is an interesting topic indeed. Honestly I am a bit frightened. Several years ago as a student I attended academic course about patents in IT but by that time I did not expected such legal issues as the thing happening with Google and Android at the moment. The patent wars might be something usual for the US but in this scale it is something new for European developers.

    I totally agree with Andre that at the moment patents are hampering innovation and in my opinion this is a problem for both developers community and industry.



  • I agree with Andre too. I have patented several inventions during last 20 years and the scenario is changed so much that not only patents today are slowing and stopping innovation, but there are many other good ways that move thorugh the concept od sharing , condivision and publishing more reliable, protective and flexible than the patent obsolete concepts.

    Indeed there is a important consideration about patents: these are not worldwide and only big corporates can really protect (unsueful and unactual as I think) a invention worldwide. Then costs are so high that a shared knowledge will be more protective. Ths last is not my opionion but a consideration based on facts. And personal experience too.



  • [quote author="fluca1978" date="1316513608"]Agree. I believe software patents are a cancer to the developer community. But this is probably the whole thing: a community, not an industry.[/quote]
    The Boston University "recently published":http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/21/technology/patent_troll_cost/index.htm a study that NPEs ran up bills of half a trillion dollars from 1990 to 2010.
    [quote]"There are a lot of big losers from NPE litigation, while hardly anyone benefits much."[/quote]
    The BU also disproves the "patents are the basis of all innovation" myth.
    [quote]As a result, the study concludes that patent trolls create a very large disincentive to innovate. In fact, a previous BU study found that the more a company spends on research and development, the more likely it is to be sued. The vast majority of defendants in patent lawsuits are companies that invest heavily in R&D.[/quote]



  • Also consider that a lot of big industries have to pay for legal support to not break other patents!



  • Note: I split off a discussion on open source as a business model (and a book on that) to a "separate":http://developer.qt.nokia.com/forums/viewthread/10073/ topic.



  • [quote author="fluca1978" date="1317020288"]Also consider that a lot of big industries have to pay for legal support to not break other patents![/quote]

    In fact, I think that that is about the only group that has real benefits from this (and from some other practices, like the extreme damage-claim practices in the US).



  • @Andre: thank you. The best solution to start from somewhere with this project :)



  • [quote author="fluca1978" date="1317020288"]Also consider that a lot of big industries have to pay for legal support to not break other patents![/quote]

    That's actually another huge problem for independent developers and startups. And if you take a look at history that's where innovations usually come from.

    As an independent developer I do not have the funds nor the time to check hundreds of thousands of patents I could possibly break. On the other hand I should sign contracts where i obligate myself that the resulting product does not infringe any patents. When taking a look at the number of patents granted I assume that's nearly impossible by now to create an application which does not infringe any patent.

    The US patent law is completely broken (more specifically the decisions by the FC combined with case law) and the constraint to publish applications through stores subject to US law (for example Apples AppStore) makes this de-facto a worldwide problem.


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