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Harm without litigation or direct threats

Aside from litigation and direct threats, software projects also suffer from passive threats of software patents. Small developers are very unlikely to get sued (at least until they make money), but they are very likely to auto-censor, to omit features that would be useful but for which there are software patent worries.

Some analysts fail to notice this harm. For example, if we want to know who the "victims" of software patents are, one might suggest that we check who is being targeted by litigation, however, this completely misses all the projects that notice a patent and have to avoid it or remove features from their software.

This faulty analysis can lead people to make claims that Microsoft is the real victim of software patents (because it's targeted by a lot of litigation), or that SMEs or free software are little affected by software patents (because they're not targeted by litigation).

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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