Patents

Good? Bad? Both?

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17 Replies - 4493 Views - Last Post: 18 August 2010 - 08:54 PM

Poll: Patents! (19 member(s) have cast votes)

Are Patents useful in the software industry?

  1. Yes, they enable small companies to compete with larger companies despite differences in infrastructure (1 votes [5.26%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.26%

  2. Sometimes, they enable a level playing field but are difficult to obtain and so are unreliable. (1 votes [5.26%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.26%

  3. No, Patents are a very bad thing. They make it impossible for small developers to use solutions to problems that big companies have already found and hold back further development because of this (6 votes [31.58%])

    Percentage of vote: 31.58%

  4. Yes and no, they can level the playing field but are often abused by large companies with the ability to file large numbers of patents at once and the process for submitting a patent is both prohibitively expensive and unnecessarily complicated. (10 votes [52.63%])

    Percentage of vote: 52.63%

  5. No, I read an article in WIRED that said so and it seemed logical at the time (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  6. Yes, I'm an apple fanboy and I hate the idea of android users having multi-touch. (1 votes [5.26%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.26%

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#1 Choscura   User is offline

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Patents

Post icon  Posted 15 August 2010 - 07:12 AM

I keep seeing rumblings about patents being a 'bad thing' in various parts of the software industry and so I'm curious what people here think of them in general.

For reference, everybody with a CS-type degree or any type of schooling related to this has probably gone through algorithms that would be patented if they were developed recently, but which, whether they were patented or not at the time they were created, would still be open domain today - if memory serves, patents last 11 years past the date of filing (citation needed). Examples of this are Djikstra's algorithm and Huffman trie/tree encoding.

For further reference, a lot of software algorithms (such as google's "map-reduce" algorithm) are kept away from the public eye and deliberately not patented, but instead classified as 'trade secrets', a status which lasts an indefinite time, requires no disclosure, and will never be released to the general population without the general population developing it on it's own.

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Replies To: Patents

#2 Vestah   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 15 August 2010 - 09:18 AM

When you are talking about patents do you the way the current software patent system in the US or do you mean the more broad concept of a system which in some degree allows ideas to be monopolized?
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#3 Choscura   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 15 August 2010 - 02:54 PM

I'm talking specifically about the way that US patents work, However if you have input on other systems or on ways that (software only) patents could be improved upon, please by all means share.
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#4 Zekorov   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 15 August 2010 - 03:09 PM

ok the patent thing seriously probably doesn't matter. either way, competition in the U.S. between programmers would eventually lead to advancement. patents only serve for one program. if that program is improved, the improvements can be patented so that someone else has to improve it again to get it patented (as long as the patents keep enduring the whole time anyways). and if the patent system were to change and software was no longer able to be patented, i do not think it would really matter because if two businesses are at each other's throats for customers and have basically the same programs, everything will fall to prices, and then once prices can go no lower due to having to have some kind of profit out of it, companies would produce newer, more advanced programs. so either way i see software being improved. I think patents are really just something to say, "hey look at me, i did this cool thing here and it was my idea." They're just certificates that mean nothing except to the person that retains them. just like a diploma. it's just something saying you graduated high school. but it doesn't mean anything other than that. it's like putting milestones up for the progress of software, until of course, the patents run out and are obsolete. :D
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#5 Sergio Tapia   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 15 August 2010 - 07:16 PM

This horse has been beaten to death already.
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#6 Tom9729   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 16 August 2010 - 05:20 AM

Oh god not this thread again.
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#7 Zekorov   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 16 August 2010 - 05:26 AM

lol i know right. :D hahaha it's terrible. There's already been some huge major discussion about all this stuff. that's partly why i am just like, whatever it doesn't matter anymore. lol
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#8 eclipsed4utoo   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 16 August 2010 - 06:00 AM

I think that patents for full applications are fine. However, a patent for 12 lines of code that solve a specific problem is retarded.
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#9 Tom9729   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 16 August 2010 - 06:07 AM

View Posteclipsed4utoo, on 16 August 2010 - 08:00 AM, said:

I think that patents for full applications are fine. However, a patent for 12 lines of code that solve a specific problem is retarded.

You can't patent applications/implementations. Patents are for ideas, copyright is for implementations.

Eg. You can't patent those 12 lines of code but you can patent the algorithm being used if you are the original author and there is no prior art.

Just because the USPTO is underfunded and grants patents on ridiculous things that clearly have prior art does not mean the inherent concept of a patent is necessarily flawed.
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#10 xclite   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 16 August 2010 - 06:39 AM

View PostTom9729, on 16 August 2010 - 09:07 AM, said:

Just because the USPTO is underfunded and grants patents on ridiculous things that clearly have prior art does not mean the inherent concept of a patent is necessarily flawed.


Agreed. I like being rewarded for my work, and I am okay with others being rewarded for their work. Patent trolls can DIAF.
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#11 Choscura   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 16 August 2010 - 07:12 AM

Good discussion. Just for reference, who here currently holds or has held any kind of patent (not just software)- or who has submitted patents through an organization and had them granted, even though the organization holds the patent at the end? Who here has been through the submission process (even if you've been denied, whatever the grounds)? And last but not least, who here has had an idea that they were interested in patenting but were unable to either due to budget constraints or a lack of bandwidth to deal with all the forms and information required, just for some small idea?
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#12 Craig328   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 16 August 2010 - 11:46 AM

View PostSergio Tapia, on 15 August 2010 - 06:16 PM, said:

This horse has been beaten to death already.


I keep a handy image for just such occasions:
Posted Image

...aaaand...

View PostTom9729, on 16 August 2010 - 05:07 AM, said:

You can't patent applications/implementations. Patents are for ideas, copyright is for implementations.


Thank you. I came here to say this.

Carry on with thread.
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#13 Programmist   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 17 August 2010 - 04:21 AM

Rumblings? I'd say it's been a full-on earthquake for several years. Android and Java have recently brought it to the forefront of mainstream news, but this has been churning for quite some time.
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#14 molocules   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 17 August 2010 - 07:37 AM

I came upon this article on zdnet today: http://www.zdnet.com...-literally/2039

It talks about developers who had to create patents, though they really didn't want to.
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#15 WolfCoder   User is offline

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Re: Patents

Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:28 AM

There's too many patent trolls in the software world for me to really be behind patents. It isn't as straightforward as that though, so yes and no.
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