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Blocks competing software, reducing choice

(For the general impediment to entering the software market, see Cost barrier to market entry.)

Software patents prevent multiple teams from innovating in the same field, and prevent multiple teams from providing the same functionality. So instead of ten word processors, you'll only have two.

This factor is particularly important in the software field because the software industry already has a strong tendency towards the creation of natural monopolies, partly due to the cost of competing with an established incumbent, and partly due to the natural desire of users to adopt the products that they see a majority of other users using, because of the benefits this brings in terms of interoperability and adoption costs.

For new entrants to the market, interoperability with established products is often a precondition of success. Patents can make such interoperability much harder (sometimes impossible) to achieve.

Higher prices

The cost of all these patents has to be paid by someone, often the users.

Studies supporting this

Gowers Review of Intellectual Property:

The evidence suggests software patents are used strategically; that is, to prevent competitors from developing in a similar field, rather than to incentivise innovation

Related pages on ESP Wiki

External links