Software Patents: A Time for Change
Software Patents: A Time for Change was a 2006 conference, organised in Boston, USA. Recordings of all presentations have been put online.
Brian Kahin's presentation:
http://www.researchoninnovation.org/swconf/Great_Debate_Kahin.html (This link is broken. Can you find a live link?)
He notes that the 1966 President's Commission on the Patent System concluded:
- "Inventions should meet the statutory provisions for non-novelty, utility, and unobviousness"
- "Computer programs cannot readily be examined for adherence to these criteria."
Kahin discusses these notable events:
- 1966: President's Commission on the Patent System
- 1972: Gottschalk v. Benson
- 1981: Diamond v. Diehr
- 1994: PTO hearings
- 1994: Alappat: "useful, concrete, and tangible result" (Fed Circuit)
- 1998: State Street (Fed Circuit)
- 2003: FTC report
- 2005: inter-industry split over reform
- 2005-06: PTO RFC; Labcorp
The problem with patents in software is the problem with patents in complex technology.
Because the cost of "invention" is low, and tiny compared to the cost of legal action, many developers will not have enough incentive to participate in the legal battles on which rest the justice of the system.
Talks about what companies were historically for and against. Talks about The Patent Reform Act.
An economist, notes that the possibility that if your company fails, you can sell your patents to a patent troll, thus reducing the "cost of exit" from the market (cost of failing?) and thus might encourage entry into the market. (Obviously absurd for software)
Talks a lot about the how decisions, mostly the Alappat case and how the reactions on the stock exchange can be read.