Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another view on "sofware" patents

It is sometimes interesting to look at something from someone else's point of view. I found this article at The Media Online about "software" patents in South Africa. There are two quotes in the article that are very telling: (emphasis mine)
Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, the previous Minister for Public Service and Administration, recently described software patents as “an issue which poses a considerable threat to the growth of the African software sector”, adding that there had been “recent pressure by certain multinational corporations to file software patents in our national and regional patent offices”.

She maintained that “all of the current so-called developed countries built up their considerable software industries in the absence of software patents”. She said that for those same countries to insist on software patents now “is simply to place patents as barriers in front of newcomers”.
Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and CEO, observes: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. … The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.”
I view the rest of the article as positioning "software" patents as legal leverage. So the article tends to see "software" patents in South Africa as a good thing. But I think the opposite is true, and rather than propagate the concept of "software" patents as a form of legal protection, we should do what we can to reform the patent system with regards to "software" patents.

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