Wednesday March 22, 2006

Patently Ridiculous

Those of us who work in the technology industries know that the US Patent and Trademark Office has been in trouble for years. The PTO seems willing to grant just about every patent application they receive — for algorithms, genetic sequences, and ideas, as well as "real" inventions.

It used to be the case that an inventor had to submit a working model before an invention could be patented. It used to be the case that "prior art" would prevent a patent from being issued. These days, anything seems to be fair game (and the bigger the company, the more patents they file).

In today's editorial, the NY Times takes on the question of what is wrong with the patent system. I'm happy to see this essay. I'm happier still to read of the current Supreme Court case that may have sweeping repercussions on patents granted). I can only ask one question:

What took "them" so long to notice the problem?


April 10, 2006

Another Point of View

I recently came across an essay derived from a talk given at Google. The title is "Are Software Patents Evil?" I especially liked thiese two paragraphs:
Patents are a hard problem. I've had to advise most of the startups we've funded about them, and despite years of experience I'm still not always sure I'm giving the right advice.

One thing I do feel pretty certain of is that if you're against software patents, you're against patents in general. Gradually our machines consist more and more of software. Things that used to be done with levers and cams and gears are now done with loops and trees and closures. There's nothing special about physical embodiments of control systems that should make them patentable, and the software equivalent not.

I am beginning to come to the conclusion that I am, personally, against patents in genral.

Patently Ridiculous ( in category In The News , Random Thoughts ) - posted at Wed, 22 Mar, 12:34 Pacific | «e»