15 January 2006

Comments on Software Patents - Introduction

This post is intended to be the first of a series of posts dealing with the controversial issue of software patents.

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As most of the readers of Bazpat know, software patents have been a source of contention ever since their inception. Much of the negative press has arisen from fear of domination and exclusion by software giants with money to file multiple patent applications.

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Of course there is reason to be fearful. Just as in any industry, a healthy respect for deep-pocketed players is appropriate. That doesn't mean that software developers need to shy away from competing vigorously with the larger firms.

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Being a patent attorney, one may claim that I am biased. Well, I am. But I am certainly not in favour of the Australian and US patent offices granting patents for "inventions" that lack novelty and inventiveness. In my view there is a pressing need for both these patent offices to lift their respective games in this ever-growing field. That said, software patents are here to stay. The software patent system, such that it is, can provide an effective tool for achieving a competitive edge in a crowded market. Software developers should be rewarded for innovative work. I believe that the patent system can be used to generate such suitable rewards for new and useful ideas.

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This series of posts will includes the following topics (Bazpat reserves the right to chop and change!):

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1. The controversial Eolas v Microsoft matter that continues in the United States.
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2. Not all jurisdictions support software patents.
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3. What constitutes a decent software patent? This will include preparatory steps that should be taken before visiting your patent attorney.

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4. Interesting and hopefully alarming statistics. Fear is a great motivator.

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5. Why bother to file?

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6. What is to be done about the "giants"?

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I look forward to constructive engagement with both critics and supporters.

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