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Disclosure is unreadable

(new page, work in progress - possibly too similar in scope to Software patents are unreadable)

Disclosure happens without patents, and better

In a 2008 in re Bilski brief, this quote is pulled from the in re Alappat ruling:

"[i]t is estimated that 85-90% of the world's technology is disclosed only in patent documents." (Newman, J., concurring)

Of course, using this quote when discussing software is disingenuous given the massive, complete, and freely reusable information disclosed by free software such as GNU/Linux, and given that many authorities have said of software patents that the disclosure is useless.

Software patents are unreadable

Example #1: Australian government survey

There was an Australian government study of the patent system in the 1980's. It concluded that aside from international pressure, there was no reason to have a patent system -- it did no good for the public -- and recommended abolishing it if not for international pressure. One of the things they cited was that engineers don't try reading patents to learn anything, as it is too hard to understand them. They quoted one engineer saying "I can't recognise my own inventions in patentese".[1]

Example #2: A programmer talking about his patent US7650296:

Brunner says software patents on his own work don't even make sense to him. "I can't tell you for the hell of it what they're actually supposed to do. The company said we have to do a patent on this. ... Personally, when I look at them, I'm not proud at all. It's just like mungo mumbo jumbo that nobody understands and makes no sense from an engineering standpoint whatsoever."[2]

Example #3: A venture capitalist talking about all existing patents

There is no way for a software engineer or system architect to have any idea what exists out there to either copy or avoid (whatever the motivation).[3]

Microsoft tells employees not to read patents

When using existing libraries, services, tools, and methods from outside Microsoft, we must be respectful of licenses, copyrights, and patents. Generally, you want to carefully research licenses and copyrights (your contact in Legal and Corporate Affairs can help), and never search, view, or speculate about patents. I was confused by this guidance till I wrote and reviewed one of my own patents. The legal claims section -- the only section that counts -- was indecipherable by anyone but a patent attorney. Ignorance is bliss and strongly recommended when it comes to patents.[4]

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Why abolish software patents
Why abolish software patents Why focus only on software · Why software is different · Software patent quality worse than all other fields · Harm caused by all types of patents
Legal arguments Software is math · Software is too abstract · Software does not make a computer a new machine · Harming freedom of expression · Blocking useful freedoms
High costs Costly legal costs · Cost of the patent system to governments · Cost barrier to market entry · Cost of defending yourself against patent litigation
Impact on society Restricting freedom Harm without litigation or direct threats · Free software projects harmed by software patents · More than patent trolls · More than innovation · Slow process creates uncertainty
Preventing progress Software relies on incremental development · Software progress happens without patents · Reducing innovation and research · Software development is low risk · Reducing job security · Harming education · Harming standards and compatibility
Disrupting the economy Used for sabotage · Controlling entire markets · Breaking common software distribution models · Blocking competing software · Harming smaller businesses · Harming all types of businesses · A bubble waiting to burst
Problems of the legal system Problems in law Clogging up the legal system · Disclosure is useless · Software patents are unreadable · Publishing information is made dangerous · Twenty year protection is too long
Problems in litigation Patent trolls · Patent ambush · Invalid patents remain unchallenged · Infringement is unavoidable · Inequality between small and large patent holders