Esteban Manchado VeláÛquez wrote:
> Hi Thursday,
> 
> On Thu, Jan 20, 2005 at 11:06:01PM +0900, Thursday wrote:
> 
>>[...]
>>Software patents have both positive and negative aspects.  Anyone simply 
>>preaching that it is all bad or all good are merely displaying their 
>>ignorance.
>>
>>I don't think many people look at the pros and cons of software patents. 
>> I think many just ride the bandwagon after listening to just one side 
>>of the argument (mindless sheep).
> 
> 
>    Sorry, simply not true.
>

How do you know it is not true?

I know it is true by talking to people and getting their opinions on 
this.  Ask pro-patent (software) people to name some big negatives about 
patents.  And ask anti-patent people to name some big positives.  You'll 
frequently find both sides struggling (or unwilling) most of the time.

It is an easy test to perform.

I challenge you:  name some big positive benefits of having software 
patents if you are anti-patent (software).

And if you are pro-patent, then I challenge you to name some big 
negatives of having software patents.

What are the root causes of the positives and the negatives?  What are 
some ways to gain all the positives without incurring the negatives?


>    Theoretically yes. But please do a little research and see _lots_ of
> absolutely obvious patents (the e-shop by FFII is particularly entertaining:
> http://webshop.ffii.org/).  I'm not saying that _necessarily_ most/all patents
> are obvious, but obvious ones usually (can) do a lot of harm. And I don't see
> non-obvious (I'm not even sure I've seen any of those) being
> innovation-fostering.
> 

No, not 'theoretically'.  The non-obviousness criteria is a specific 
requirement in patent law.  Non-obviousnesss is an actual test that is 
applied by patent examiners to determine if they should allow the patent.

Patent examiners are humans and mistakes.  Just like programmers being 
human and making mistakes.

Bad patents = mistakes made by patent examiners.  Just like buggy 
software = mistakes made by programmer.

"hey, i found many examples of bad patents so lets ban all patents!"
==
"hey, i found many examples of bad software so lets ban all software!".

In fact, we know of specific instances where bad software has actually 
cost human lives so the argument isn't silly (especially if your family 
members were among the victoms of bad software).

To say that patents should be banned because of examiners' mistakes is 
the same as saying software should be banned because of programmers' 
mistakes.  A better approach in both cases is to fix the causes of the 
problems rather than throwing out the whole thing.

Imagine anti-software demonstrations by non-techs in favor of abolishing 
software--yes, all software--because of bugs and security problems 
caused by bad programmers (or good programmers not given enough time by 
management).  Wouldn't it seem silly to programmers because they 
understand the benefits of software and that the problem isn't software 
itself--but that programmers aren't given enough training or time to 
accomplish their tasks?  Same thing is true with patents.  Patent 
examiners are under ridiculous pressure to examine complex patent 
applications in very little time.  In fact, the US patent office 
actually generates more money than they spend (profitable!) but the 
extra money is drained away into other areas of the govt instead of 
being reinvested into the office--this is an outrage given the crappy 
patents that are allowed to issue--and also an outrage given the valid 
patents are rejected automatically on insufficient grounds because the 
examiner is under stress.

>    And sorry, but I find it hilarious that without patents there won't be
> innovation. Do you see companies _not_ innovating or developing new things
> because they can't "protect" their "inventions"? Small bussinesses don't even
> have money to file/defend patents... :-)
> 

I find it hilarious too!  What fool told you there would be no 
innovation without patents?  It should be obvious there would still be 
some innovation without patents--but we'd probably see far fewer new 
drugs, medical devices, complex software of the kind that require lots 
of money to create.

Actually, yes. I've personally seen companies that do not develop new 
products they cannot sufficiently protect with patents.  If you don't 
believe me, speak with any seasoned venture capitalist, they'd tell you 
an important criteria to funding both new and existing companies with 
money to develop products is "barrier to entry".

In the USA, a small business or individual can file provisional or 
regular patent application for ~$100.  Legal fees can range from $500 - 
$50,000 for software patents if you *choose* to hire lawyers.  In the 
USA, patent examiners are actually *required* to help inventors who do 
not file with the help of a patent attorney--the examiner will actually 
write one claim for you (usually very, very narrow in scope).

If you have a good patent (one that isn't flawed by having previously 
undiscovered prior art and would not be deemed obvious and claims are 
properly supported and...) then you can find law firms (high quality 
ones) that would be willing to fight on your behalf on contingency (they 
get paid only if you win).

Bad patents, ones that should not have been issued, have virtually no 
chance of winning in court.  Their only worth is to anti-patent 
activists to showcase as examples but in court, they'd become 
invalidated if challenged.

>    Sorry for the Off-Topic, but specially being European, I had to state that
> people opposing patents aren't particularly mindless :-)
> 

I don't think it is mindless to oppose patents.  And I don't think it is 
mindless to favor patents.

But I think it is mindless to oppose or favor patents without 
understanding & considering both sides of the issue.

I say again, most (not all) people who oppose patents that I've spoken 
to cannot (or will not) list any major benefits of patents.  And most 
(not all) people who favor patents that I've spoken to cannot (or will 
not) list any major negatives of patents.  In my opinion, the former is 
driven by laziness in thinking and the latter is driven by greed/fear. 
Both are frustrating to communicate with, but sometimes they can be 
cured by education.