The Software Patent Dilemma


While Obama did pass the America Invents Act, nothing in the act addressed software patents. Software patents have been under heated debate for years. The debate is over where the line should be in terms of what software is patentable, whether saying software patents are too abstract is fair, and if innovation is encouraged or not by patents on software.

Currently in the US, patent law disallows any patents with abstract ideas, which generally applies to most potential patents involving software. Thus, computer software companies have a difficult time patenting their products. Promoters of software patents say that it will be good for research and development, protection, and cause economic benefit. Those against software patents believe copyright is sufficient, software patents will hinder research and development, and that software is a different breed in the sense that they are designed differently, because it is based off function as opposed to physical structure. In other words, patents on software essentially grant rights to concepts and not tangible creations. Here is an interesting article involving Apple that discusses how there is not a high enough standard for granting patents. I found the picture above amusing.

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4 thoughts on “The Software Patent Dilemma

  1. I really like the picture you picked. I wrote about Apple for my first paper and find their stance on patents to be very interesting. Many of the articles I found stated that Apple suing Samsung for patent infringement really hurts innovation and is giving Apple more of a monopoly over certain software products.

    • That is a good point. I also wonder if some patents were “silly” in the sense of being elements that are not unique nor add value to the iPhone (rounded corners?) and the effect of enforcing patents is to make less choice and higher prices for consumers. In any case, your point and mine underscore that business often HATES real economics because a more efficient allocation of resources through LOWER prices means lower margins for firms.

  2. Did you realize what he is holding? It is the Declaration of Independence? Now, why is that funny and what does it say about Apple’s image or about whoever created it? And, WHO did create it?
    UPDATE It is a patent. Oh well. I thought it would have been funnier as something more un-patentable.

    I am very interested to see where we head in legal and economic directions with all of this patent stuff. I find that the usual arguments of many that IP must be super duper strong (which would mean patenting anything like words, genes, software code, founding documents) misses the point that some amount of common knowledge that can be shared widely is more the basis for innovation and growth than high and enforced “walls” around every smallest bit of information.

  3. Like Heather, I have read some articles about the Samsung-Apple patent dispute and think it would be very interesting to explore the nature of patents specifically in regards to software. Apple really does seem like it is attempting to monopolize the industries in which it does most of its business. I look forward to seeing how you explore the problems that software companies face because of these laws against software patents.

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