The notice problem
"The notice problem" describes the impossibility for software projects to know what is patented and what isn't.
The concept of "notice" comes from property law where sellers of land have to register the geographic boundaries of the land they're selling. By notifying others of the boundaries of the land they claim to own, they make it possible for others to contest the boundary, or to avoid accidentally using that land.
In the book Patent Failure, James Bessen and Michael Meurer argue that patent applications for software ideas provide no useful information as to the boundary of what is claimed, and that software patents thus fail as a form of property.
Related pages on ESP Wiki
- Ch3: If You Can’t Tell the Boundaries, Then It Ain’t Property, Chapter 3 from Patent Failure
- The FTC weighs in on patent reform, opensource.com, 26 Apr 2011