Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Xenia von Wedel, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Release Management , Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Open Source Cloud

Release Management : Article

Do Software Patents Stifle Innovation?

A debate has been raging about the usefulness of the US patent law governing software patents

Of late patents around mobile technologies have been in the news. Four high profile news items are (1) Oracle suing Google for Java patent violation, (2) Apple and Samsung fighting each other in different parts of the world, Microsoft, Apple, Rim and others jointly buying Nortel patent library for $4.5 billion and (4) Google buys Motorola Mobile and gets 17,000 patents.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. This diagram from Reuters shows the complex battlefield of mobile patent and significant portion of these patents are for software.

In the sideline of this patent war, a debate has been raging about the usefulness of the US patent law governing software patents. Point to note here is that each country has a different patent law. For example, in India, software per se cannot be patented.

If you want to have a quick look at what patenting is all about have a look at -

ABC of patenting – why, what and how

What is the debate on Software Patents about?
In US the patent law is expected…

“…to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited time to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries…”

However, the distractors claim that the software patent law does the exact opposite – it stifles innovation. They claim that there are enough scientific studies to prove this point. With so many patents around it is practically impossible to write a piece of software and feel confident that it does not violate any existing patent!

Here is couple of references to those studies:

There is also a Wikipedia page which discusses this topic.

For and Against – Three Arguments each

For:

  1. Public disclosure: Since patent must publicly disclose the invention it is expected to accelerate software development by making previously unknown and not obvious software inventions public.
  2. Allow the inventor to peacefully perfect the invention: Since every invention requires time and effort to perfect, the patent provides protection without the fear of imitation.
  3. Encourage the inventor to additional use to maximize return: The inventor will have incentive to search for further applications of the patented software.

Against:

  1. Patent has never been an incentive for a Startup or VC: Survey of software entrepreneurs and venture investors indicate that they would have invested even without patent protection.
  2. Defensive patenting locks up invention: Companies patent everything they can think of that might be relevant to their business and then implement only a fraction of those things, which creates a barrier for innovation.
  3. Deterrence to work on innovative idea: Companies may be reluctant to invest in a new idea because of the fear that the work may infringe on some existing patents.

What about economic benefit?
Pro
: For small companies patent should (1) provide protection to market their products, (2) increase the valuation of the company and (3) combat large players through patent law suit.

Con: The process of patenting is very expensive and only a small percentage of patents land up making any money. Small companies aren’t very well protected by patent because the damages awarded may be very small. It appears that the economic benefit goes to the “Patent Troll” who buys patents just to fight law suit and claim infringement.

Is Copyright not sufficient protection for software?

Sufficient: Copyright is the right of an author of any software to prevent others from copying their creative work without a license. Copyright protection is given automatically and immediately without the need to register, though registration strengthens protection. Often copyright infringement is relatively easy to determine.

Insufficient: Patents protect functionality. Copyright on the other hand only protects expression. Substantial modification to an original work, even if it performs exactly the same function, would not be prevented by copyright. To prove copyright infringement also requires the additional hurdle of proving copying which is not necessary for patent infringement.

Inventions aren’t created by a single genius
Current research suggests that inventions are created from a bunch of people competing and collaborating as the world changes. That makes the whole theory behind our current patent system is flawed. The current patent system is built around the idea that lone genius individuals need to be incented to make great leaps forward.

See this paper – The Myth of the Sole Inventor

If you believe in FOSS movement then it is very difficult to support software patent
Let me just refer to this post – Why Patent Injunctions Are Even Worse For Open Source.

Finally…
Some believe that…

Software = Algorithm = Mathematics … so it cannot be patented

Related Article

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
Google

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...