Tuesday, December 28

India Quietly Introduces Software Patents

Slashdot reports that India is introducing software patents quietly. The Business-Standard India Report and NDTV's Report. However, some slashdotters and myself are in little disagreement over the Software Patents : From one of the comments quoting Richard Stallman :his talk on the danger with software patents

This phenomenon of cross-licensing refutes a common myth, the myth of the starving genius. The myth that patents "protect" the "small inventor". Those terms are propaganda terms. You shouldn't use them. The scenario is like this: Suppose there is a brilliant designer of whatever. Suppose he has spent years starving in the attic designing a new wonderful kind of whatever and now wants to manufacture it and isn't it a shame the big companies are going to go into competition with him, take away all the business and he'll "starve". I will have to point out that people in high tech fields are not generally working on their own and that ideas don't come in a vacuum, they are based on ideas of others and these people have pretty good chances of getting a job if they need to these days. So this scenario, the idea that a brilliant idea came from this brilliant person working alone is unrealistic and the idea that he is in danger of starving is unrealistic. But it is conceivable that somebody could have an idea and this idea along with 100 or 200 other ideas can be the basis of making some kind of product and that big companies might want to compete with him. So let's see what happens if he tries to use a patent to stop them. He says "Oh No, IBM. You cannot compete with me. I've got this patent." IBM says "let's see. Let's look at your product. Hmmm. I've got this patent and this one and this one and this one and this one and this one, which parts of your product infringe. If you think you can fight against all of them in court, I will just go back and find some more. So, why don't you cross license with me?" And then this brilliant small inventor says "Well, OK, I'll cross license". So he can go back and make these wonderful whatever it is, but so can IBM. IBM gets access to his patent and gets the right to compete with him, which means that this patent didn't "protect" him at all.