Another Software Practitioner Against Software Patents

Dave Roberts – the VP Strategy and Marketing at Vyatta – has written a solid post on Open Source Juicer that tears apart Steve Tobak’s CNet article titled The Patent Reform Act will harm the US technology industryThere is a ton of meat in Dave’s post – which is (unfortunately) also titled "The Patent Reform Act will harm the U.S. technology industry".

Dave has 10 patents to his name, so he’s speaking from a position of someone who has spent plenty of time on the "inside of the patent game."  Two telling paragraphs:

"What’s all the more infuriating about the current patent situation is that many of today’s patents go against the original social contract surrounding patents. The original goal of the patent system was to get inventors to share their innovations for the common good. In return for a limited monopoly, you, Mr. Inventor, share your invention so that We, the public, can understand how you did it and can then innovate on top of it. Rather than stifling innovation, patents were supposed to drive it forward.

Unfortunately, many patents, even the ones that are legit, would have been created independently anyway. It’s obviously a balance, but at least in the world I live in, I see patents getting in the way rather than helping me. I have never gone and looked at old patents to get new ideas for products. The only time an independent patent, one that I’m not working on filing myself, comes to my attention, it’s because somebody is getting sued for infringing it. This tells me that we have lost the original goal that patents were supposed to foster."

Great stuff Dave.  Thanks for speaking out.

  • http://SoftwareSweatshop.com Raza Imam

    Wow, I'm really amazed at how much support there is for loosening the stranglehold of patents. I've always been against them but never knew that so many other people felt the same way. The way I see it, inventors deserve credit for their innovation, but once they sell it, it enters the public domain. As long as other people give credit to the original inventor, I see no problem in adding to it, modifying it, etc.

    Thanks for sharing this post.

    Raza Imam
    http://SoftwareSweatshops.com

  • Josh

    I know you are anti-patents, but the reality is they exist, so if you don't protect your idea then your competitors will go ahead and patent it for you.

    Without some broad changes in the issuance of patents, it is unrealistic to think that entrepreneurs will abandon pursuing them even if they agree with your view, out of fear of someone else securing rights to the idea.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      No argument here. I'm not suggesting that entrepreneurs shouldn't continue to pursue patents. As long as we are living with a fucked up system, we have to function in the context of it.

      I'm just trying to play my little part in changing the system!

    • Brian

      Your competitors wouldn't be permitted to patent your idea out from under you. 35 U.S.C. 102 states “A person shall be entitled to a patent unless – (a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent.” So if you're an inventor and want to disseminate your product, but don't want someone else to patent it, just sell the thing and/or publish a paper that fully describes how it works.

  • Josh

    I know you are anti-patents, but the reality is they exist, so if you don't protect your idea then your competitors will go ahead and patent it for you.

    Without some broad changes in the issuance of patents, it is unrealistic to think that entrepreneurs will abandon pursuing them even if they agree with your view, out of fear of someone else securing rights to the idea.

    • Brian

      Your competitors wouldn't be permitted to patent your idea out from under you. 35 U.S.C. 102 states "A person shall be entitled to a patent unless – (a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent." So if you're an inventor and want to disseminate your product, but don't want someone else to patent it, just sell the thing and/or publish a paper that fully describes how it works.

  • Raza Imam

    Wow, I'm really amazed at how much support there is for loosening the stranglehold of patents. I've always been against them but never knew that so many other people felt the same way. The way I see it, inventors deserve credit for their innovation, but once they sell it, it enters the public domain. As long as other people give credit to the original inventor, I see no problem in adding to it, modifying it, etc.

    Thanks for sharing this post.

    Raza Imam
    http://SoftwareSweatshops.com

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    No argument here. I'm not suggesting that entrepreneurs shouldn't continue to pursue patents. As long as we are living with a fucked up system, we have to function in the context of it.

    I'm just trying to play my little part in changing the system!