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Me neither. But what about the opposite case - you work on something for a long time, and then make a breakthrough. Genius! You apply your breakthrough to do something awesome and release it out into the world. Someone else notes, it, reverse engineers it, and has a better marketing operation than you so they make $$$ and you get nothing. without patents, how do you protect your genuinely original work?

I'm not a fan of software patents. To be honest, I wish we didn't need a patent system at all. But since we don't live in the Star Trek universe and world communism turns out not to be the economic panacea that its creators hoped, we need something to protect the rights of inventors. Same thing with copyright - before it came into being, artists and writers had to rely either on fickle patronage or else hope to make some money on their first sales run because after that it was a free-for-all. Although I hate the way IP law and institutions have swung towards the opposite extreme and are now damaging to consumers and the general cause of innovation, those rules exist to solve a genuine economic problem.

It would be easier to overturn software patents if there were some alternative proposal to reliably secure the fruits of innovation to the inventor. If that task is left to the market, then a) there's abundant evidence that profit will win over ethics, and consumers won't know or care and b) people whose time is best spent innovating will have to spend more effort on marketing and monetizing their IP and fending off competitors, which is inefficient for solo inventors or small firms. So is spending a lot of time on patent work, admittedly, but a patent is a more reliable shield against having one's invention ripped off.

Please don't mix up copyright and patents. I'm pretty sure if this poll would be about copyrights you would find out that a lot more people here do in fact like the copyright system. Copyright prevents stealing code, everyone who does copy code knows he is doing that. But you have basically no chance knowing when you break patents until someone does sue you or by having patent-lawyers which go over all your code all the time and look for potential trouble.

Coding is a creative process - I write pages of code each day and every single line and idea I use in there might be covered by a patent of which I haven't heard yet. How is that supposed to work? We don't have patents for writing, music, painting, etc. although you could use the same arguments about original work and the danger of people ripping it off (we do have copyright!).


Are you able to tell/estimate what's the proportion of software patent cases that will bring profit to the people who actually did the work? And how many cases were initiated by those people because they felt at risk.


That's more research than I want to do for free on a Monday morning, and one might ask the same question about patents in general. The current system is broken, but simply abolishing it is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There's a reason the patent and copyright systems exist in the first place, and simple abolition would just exchange new problems for old.


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