On Jul 8, 2005, at 11:23 PM, R. Tyler Ballance wrote:
> Doesn't the fact that the patent office is unable to check for
> prior art make software patents inherently evil? There is almost no
> plausible way, given the nature of the internet, to check for prior
> art in software. Especially if companies are trying to patent
> computing concepts, like email, or a web server, etc.
The fact that its implemented in software doesn't change anything.
There is no way any patent claim can cover all possible prior art,
nobody ever claimed it could. A patent is not an absolute grant of
license from the government, but a registration of claim of
invention. That on initial investigation the government agrees that
its likely one invented the claimed and a patent is issued. Then one
must defend their patent against claimed infringement and in doing so
puts the patent at risk. If the infringer demonstrates prior art then
the patent becomes unenforceable.
A patent grants the right to sue for 20 years in exchange for public
disclosure as to the details of the invention. In exchange for that
exclusivity after 20 years the disclosed claims of the invention is
public domain and remains an easy reference of prior art. If one
believes "software patents" are a problem then the solution is to
amass a searchable library of documented prior art to nip the not-new-
invention patent applications in the bud. Search a bit online, there
are several projects doing exactly that.
Software is nothing new to the patent process, its simply a different
angle. There have always been those who claim patents are bad, that
"everything has already been invented." On the other hand the only
countries who grow their economies with innovation have strong patent
laws. Nothing of significance is invented in the absence of patent
David Kelly N4HHE, dkelly@HiWAAY.net
Whom computers would destroy, they must first drive mad.