Monday, June 11, 2012

There's a great article at Groklaw on software patents. What's different this time is that the author, Professor Michael Risch, suggests ways to improve the existing system while preserving the patentability of software.

I like the suggestions, but I'm still worried about the economics. Here are my thoughts that I posted in the comments:

There's a large community of software developers that invents and distributes software at extremely low cost: Open Source software is usually free and mobile apps cost less than a coffee. This community creates enormous social value.

These developers do not benefit from the patent system incentivizing disclosure of inventions, but they are harmed by patent suits because they do not have the resources to defend. Software patents form an existential threat to them.

Professor Risch, if there was a way to remove or protect this community from the rich man's game of patents, I think your suggestions would fix software patents. Otherwise, your suggestions still form an existential threat. Are software patents worth the social cost?

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