Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Developers quitting app stores over patents

Since the beginning of this blog, I've commented on many examples where companies are hindered from real innovation, due to fear of "software" patents. Too often, we see examples of one company suing another over "software" methods. Resources are being wasted in patent fights, when they would be better spent on Research and Development.

"Software" patents also scare off newcomers to the industry. And these start-up companies are often those that bring revolution to the market. When the PC revolution was just beginning, Microsoft and Apple worked out of basements. Amazon started in a garage. Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facebook from his dorm room.

Yet our patent system is placing a direct barrier to the "next generation" of innovators. Case in point:

App developers withdraw from US as patent fears reach 'tipping point' (The Guardian)

The article focuses on developers outside the US, but does discuss US-based developers:
He told the Guardian that it's "far too dangerous to do business" in the US because of the risk of software patent lawsuits.

But for US-based developers, the problems remain. Craig Hockenberry of Iconfactory, developer of Twitterrific, remarked that "Just when you think things couldn't get any worse, they do and tweeted that "I became an independent developer to control my own destiny. I no longer do". Iconfactory is among those being targeted by Lodsys, but earlier this week was granted a 30-day extension to reply to Lodsys's claim.
This is why I believe "software" patents have gotten out of control. We need to reform the US patent system. Again, I urge everyone reading this blog to please contact your Senator or Representative, and ask them to take action. They do listen, but you need to speak up. Call or write today!

1 comment:

  1. When patent trolls regularly collect triple the amount of damages awarded to practicing entities in patent litigation, it is certainly no surprise that more NPEs (non-practicing entities, or "patent trolls") are springing up and becoming ever more aggressive. They have everything to gain and relatively little to lose by filing patent enforcement actions. I fear that the only way to minimize the threat that PAEs pose to small businesses is by eliminating their incentives to assert patents -- i.e., by limiting the damages that they can collect. In the meantime, you can't really blame a company like Lodsys for taking advantage of weaknesses in the legal system.


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