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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Patents: Time To Relook

Had VisiCalc been patented, it is believed that we would not have seen the rise of the microsoft excel in its current form. I read elsewhere that Nintendo has patented instant messaging on gaming applications. As Techdirt points out, one of the stated tests for whether or not a patent should be granted is whether it is non-obvious to a person who is skilled in the art. However, the way the patent office currently looks at things, they only look for prior art to prove obviousness. In most cases, prior art either means earlier patents or published journals and the test of obviousness suffers in the process. It would be tough to answer the question if there exists any patent on software that uses program logics and constructs unknown hithertho – while opponents of the idea may equate patented programs to be the equivalent of a literature work being constructed out of known words and letters – I think the key thing to note here is the difference between copyright and patent. I also think that abolishing software patents would be a very good thing, as increasingly the current system actually impedes the advance of software technology, at the same time that it works quite nicely to enrich patent holders. A patent goes well beyond copyright and trademarks - It protects even the underlying concepts from being used by others. Some mistake rise of patenting with robust innovation – not true. The key challenge today is to go beyond the patent accumulation mode into one promoting innovation.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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