[Linux-aus] Re: Fwd: Software patents

Andrew Donnellan ajdlinux at gmail.com
Fri Dec 23 08:37:02 UTC 2005

On 12/23/05, Matthew Palmer <mpalmer at hezmatt.org> wrote:
> Oh, absolutely.  "We might market this later", "the more patents we have,
> the more 'value' we have", and "they'll be good defensively" would be common
> reasons, I'd imagine.  None of them are particularly helpful to society,
> though, and the general concept of patents is that they're a bargain --
> society grants a limited-time monopoly because it's in the general interest
> to do so.  So if society isn't getting an overall gain, then the patent
> system isn't working.

There are very stupid patents out there (like the baseball game
patent) that don't have any relation whatsoever to the company's
business. From what I know about Australia's system, software patents
are fully legal and they last the full 20 years for the normal patent
and 8 years for the innovation patent.

The reason for the patent system was to benefit society by allowing
people to get a time-limited monopoly. But when people are patenting
things they haven't yet implemented and patenting useless things, then
the system isn't working.

> > > > > For example, we would generally say source code itself is not patentable (it
> > > > > properly belongs under copyright) because there is no demonstration of
> > > > > economic utility in source code itself.
> > >
> > > Uhm... WTF?  I'd say that the economic utility of a concrete expression of
> > > an idea (source code) is far greater than an abstract expression of that
> > > same idea (a patent).
> >
> > Yes, except that source code is kept secret (proprietary source, that
> > is), where as patents require full disclosure.
> If the source code has no economic utility, then there would be no reason to
> keep it secret...

Yes it has economic utility, but it's still not patentable.


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