PROGRESS ON THE SW PATENT SYSTEM

PROGRESS ON THE SW PATENT SYSTEM

Matt HealeySaturday,22 December 2012

The Snap

A while back I wrote about how the software patent system needs to change. The basic point of the article was that the patent system has gone crazy. The fact that Apple could patent rounded corners is crazy. That is not innovation, it is protectionism. The problem is that the courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of the protectionism. These rulings simply encourage the abuse of the system.

The Download

Despite the abuse, there is apparently progress. A court has ruled that the ban on Samsung selling 21 of their devices in the U.S. was too broad, as the devices had many features that were not covered by the patent lawsuit. This is progress. It will force the formerly innovative Apple to actually compete again rather than simply relying on patent protection and litigation.

This system is destructive and does not benefit consumers or the companies that it is meant to protect. By sheltering companies from protection, they inevitably become lazy and interested only in protecting their existing product lines. Eventually this leads to a more nimble competitor disrupting the market and destroying the incumbent. However, given the patent system, and the exorbitantly high costs of litigation, the nimbler competitor usually has a massive uphill battle. In many cases this results in the first few organizations that challenge an incumbent failing and ending up bankrupt. It takes multiple attempts to break through. During this time public is effectively paying monopoly rents to a stale company. This hurts the public. No one wins in this system. It needs to be revised.

Hat Tips

Court ruling, Image Credi: Wikimedia Commons

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