Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Patently Absurd

Paul Kedrosky comments on the latest travesty in the abusive system that we use here in the US for "protecting" intellectual property related to computer software.
As someone who gets paid by creating IP, I am supposed to support the US patent system, right? But I cannot help but think, what if the attitude of the early innovators in software had been like that of the current industry? How would have kids like me grown up hacking the Apple ][ using the published source code of its ROM? How would the Mac or Windows been created without mimicking the various OSes that went before it? How would innovation have occurred at all, let alone at the pace at which we have grown?
I look at my career, and it only exists thanks to standing on the shoulders of the giants. Where will we tell the next generation of dead programmers to stand? If we do not cultivate the minds and collective knowledge of our industry, the future programmers may be standing in an unemployment line.
Patents are intended to protect the public good, not merely to enrich individuals. If we do not reform the patent system for software, and quickly, we run the risk of massive consolidation in intellectual capital. Without the entrepreneurism and sharing of ideas that have made the software industry an engine of economic growth, the future of the US will be much poorer as a result.

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