||Patents... Not so useful after all?
There's a lot wrong with the world today. It would take me forever to write about it all, so I'll start with patents for now.
Lately, the news has been covering a lot to do with patent infringements, and there has been talk in the software world that perhaps some patents shouldn't be valid. At first I wasn't sure which side to take. But then I got to thinking, and common sense gave me the answer.
You shouldn't be able to patent a way to do something! There may only be so many ways of doing things! And this is especially true in software.
I'm not going to drag this out, so I'll just give the following excerpt from MSN's site:
Bert Brodsky, chairman of E-Data Corporation stated, "Microsoft, Tiscali, and On Demand Distribution are in blatant violation of our patents by jointly enabling consumers across Europe the ability to download music tracks. The Freeny patent covers the downloading and recording of information, such as music, from a computer onto a tangible object, such as CDs, DVDs and MP3 players. As a result, we are seeking an injunction to prevent further violation of our intellectual property."|
Mr. Brodsky added, "Microsoft, Tiscali and OD2 are working to build a service in Europe that would parallel iTunes Music Store, a successful music downloading service developed by Apple in the United States. However, these companies have not done their homework on patent rights before launching the service in Europe. We are confident in the scope of our patents as demonstrated by our favorable rulings in the U.S. Moreover, we are encouraged by our recent settlement with Satellite Newspapers, which reinforces the validity of our patents in Europe."
Well, this guy pretty much says it himself. He's an idiot. Regardless of favorable rulings he's received in the past in the United States, his patent is too broad. And what do those rulings prove anyway? Does the United States government ever work in the benefit of consumers? And to answer that, one needs only to look at current spam legislation to find the answer...
The truth is, companies like E-Data and Eolas should not exist. Their entire existence is a nuisance at best and at worst a hindrance to innovation. They seek only to gratify themselves through either exorbitant (and intrinsically pointless) license fees or the litigation against others who only sought to build a product consumers would enjoy, using a concept that only coincidentally happened to resemble their "patent." Never mind the consumers, of course. Patent holders don't care about them.
I would encourage others to enlighten the world about this. It would be interesting to see petitions drawn up and signed by us as well as larger players in the software world, to seek the invalidation of frivolous patents.
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