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( Read 7 comments — Leave a comment )
southernbeatnik
Jan. 25th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC)
While I'm all about sticking it to The Man, wouldn't some semblance of patents allow people to get some kind of credit and protection of their work?
brentdax
Jan. 25th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC)
Software is already protected by copyright.

First of all, realize that patents are expensive. The application fee is high and you absolutely need an expensive specialist lawyer to write your application. Individuals and small companies don't get software patents; only large companies like IBM, Microsoft, Sun, SCO, Apple, etc. have them.

Actually, there are some small companies that get software patents. They aren't software companies, though--they're patent litigation companies. They patent something, then wait for somebody to infringe on the patent and sue.

In countries that have software parents (like the US), large companies stockpile them; they mainly use them to intimidate small competitors into paying ridiculous licensing fees and keep other large companies from suing them. Microsoft, for example, is going around telling everybody that Linux is infringing on patents, so they'd better stay away.

A lot of these patents are for obvious things. Microsoft had a patent on the FAT filesystem format, despite the fact that there was nothing innovative whatsoever about it. (Anti-patent activists got the USPTO to revoke that one.) There are patents on the concept--not the specific technology, but the basic technique--of streaming video; the company owning that patent is now suing schools with distance-learning programs. Amazon.com has a patent on a one-click buy-and-check-out button. I assume you get the idea.

See this Wikipedia article for more information.
meagenimage
Jan. 25th, 2005 08:02 am (UTC)
Hey, you're welcome.

We're all about sticking it to The Man.
brentdax
Jan. 25th, 2005 08:26 am (UTC)
Brent Dax: ...I'm really starting to not like the EU.
Mayoi Kitsuko: Because of their thing with Microsoft and letting them appeal in the future, or...?
Brent Dax: No, the software patents thing.
Brent Dax: They tried to get it rubber-stamped at an Agriculture and Fisheries council meeting, or something like that. Poland had to block them again.
Mayoi Kitsuko: Ah, sou ka. Yay, Poland.
Mayoi Kitsuko: (Must be Meagen's influence.)
meagenimage
Jan. 25th, 2005 03:02 pm (UTC)
I wish there was a better, more informative web site, though. The one I found on the subject (linked off the PHP main site) has very little facts and a lot of "Software patents will EAT YOUR SOUL!!!" propaganda.
brentdax
Jan. 25th, 2005 06:49 pm (UTC)
This site's pretty good: www.nosoftwarepatents.com.
meagenimage
Jan. 25th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
That's the one I was talking about, unfortunately.

You'll know when you get the bill. When someone breaks into your computer, reads your E-mails, and steals the password of your bank account. When your computer crashes every day. When spam doesn't stop. When prices go up and companies shut down. When people lose their jobs.

Dire warnings like that don't really help your case.
( Read 7 comments — Leave a comment )