Sunday, May 8, 2005

Software Patents

Could Patents Ever Be Beneficial?

Clearly software patents are not urgently needed by anyone except patent lawyers. The pre-patent software industry had no problem that was solved by patents; there was no shortage of invention, and no shortage of investment.

I have to disagree with this. Some software patents represent considerable investment. Consider compression or encryption algorithms. A great deal of research goes into creating a highly efficient compression algorithm like MP3. If there were no patent protection and no opportunity for licensing revenues, we might not have things like portable music players.

You can read more about The Case Against Software Patents from Jason V. Morgan but I still can't agree with the basic premise that all software patents should be abolished. Patents and the promise of licensing revenue drive basic research into complex algorithms and protocols.


  1. That is to say that since a colossal movie like, say, Jurassic Park, requires a lot of work and huge investments, it should be patented.

  2. Patent Jurassic Park? No, it's protected by copywrite. I'm not sure I understand this comment. It's not like you could take a handycam to your backyard and film a story similar yet slightly different from Jurassic Park which would have any impact on Steven Spielberg's revenues. Unlike compression algorithms, people aren't stumped by the enigma of making dinosaur movies. The major costs for Jurassic Park are in the production and distribution rather than the research. Converserly, inventing a protocol requires considerable research and practically zero production and distribution costs.