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Timothy Lee: “The Supreme Court Should Invalidate Software Patents”

From Forbes:

The Supreme Court Should Invalidate Software Patents

Jul. 28 2011 – 9:30 am | 8,024 views | 0 recommendations | 12 comments

Last weekend I was thrilled to hear one of my favorite radio programs, This American Life, take up the issue of software patents. Computer programmers have been sounding the alarm about this problem for two decades, and it’s great to see mainstream media outlets finally start to give the issue the kind of attention it deserves. TAL devoted a full hour to the subject, focusing on Intellectual Ventures (which I’ve written about at length) and did an absolutely spectacular job.

This American Life‘s story-telling format makes it great for describing a problem, but it didn’t spend any time discussing potential solutions. So in this post I hope to fill in the gap by describing what I believe to be the best solution and how we ought to get there.

In my view, the solution is straightforward: software shouldn’t be eligible for patent protection.

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The problem is not software patents. If you accept the logic of patents, there is nothing wrong with software patents. The problem is patents per se. And of course the good moderate Timothy Lee is not so radical as to oppose this state grant of monopoly privilege on principle: As quoted here:

As noted by Roderick Long here, “Timothy Lee writes:  ‘I can’t agree with Baker that all copyright and patent monopolies are illegitimate.’


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To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.