Women in Technology

Hear us Roar

  Software Patents in the EU
Subject:   artificial distinction between hardware and software
Date:   2005-03-08 18:47:27
From:   Johannes-Ernst
I fail to see the reason why my razor should be allowed to be covered by 20 patents (yes! I just checked!) while a sophisticated algorithm should not that can, well, do more and better and more important things than getting that minor shade off my face.

There are many good arguments that can be made why the current US software patent regimen is broken (I'd agree), why patents in general are a bad idea (I disagree) and so forth. But I don't see that they don't equally apply to, say, razors.

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Showing messages 1 through 5 of 5.

  • And the result of those patents are ...
    2005-03-09 15:55:33  nzheretic [View]

    The result of those patents on the market is that you can only purchase razors with those patented features from a few big mega-corporations. The envitable oligopoly raises concerns over price fixing, justifying price rises by, for example, artifically inflating development costs. Gillette makes the ridiculous claim that it spent approximately $750 billion to develop the Mach3.

    The difference with the software industry is that you can still make and sell basic razors that will do the job for any price, since the concept of the safety razor has been around for over a hundred years. This limits the extent that the big razor players can dictate price. It is going to become impossible to develop any software without it conflicting with the body of software patents being filed.

    It is not in the consumer or public interest to let software development be dictated to by the resulting combination of mega-corporations and so-called intellectual holding entities ( the latter often having a surprising number of connections to the aforementioned mega-corporations).

  • artificial distinction between hardware and software
    2005-03-09 12:27:46  Systems_Curmudgeon [View]

    I agree that the distinction between hardware and softsare patents is rather arbitrary. I believe it would not have become a big issue, if patents for software had been issued sensibly.

    We have a long history regarding hardware patents, and they tend to cover genuine inventions, useful or not.

    Software patents applications tend to cover simple, obvious, general operations. If these had mostly been refused, there would be no need for a distinction.
  • artificial distinction between hardware and software
    2005-03-09 08:34:11  zeuice [View]

    Isn't the reason that razors (as opposed to software) can be patented is because once someone has investigated, protyped, and developed a razor they have to begin to manufacture & distribute the physical device? someone could copy their design, get one up on them and distribute their own slightly modified design. This would mean the original razor designer went to great cost & lengths to create their razors all to be wasted by a copycat, a software developer has no such worries as a piece of software can be copied and distributed for free, so if it's copied, there has been no loss in manufacture costs (only r&d time/costs).
  • artificial distinction between hardware and software
    2005-03-09 08:29:44  SerpentMage [View]

    I am really glad you mentioned razors. What product in the industry is too expensive, and locked behind cages? Yes folks, razors! People steal and re-sell razors because they are valuable. And what are they? Razors! Pieces of metal with ground edges!

    This is why I am against patents because they keep prices artificially high for no real reason!
    • artificial distinction between hardware and software
      2005-03-09 10:19:15  JimmyB [View]

      If you can put an invention in a razor, why not patent it? If the invention were no good, why would anyone buy it?
      Assume you have a very good invention for a razor and you don't patent it, what are you chances to successfully market it without Gillette rolling all over you?
      The same is valid for software. I believe many people are currently demotivated to work out a software invention because they know that if it is really good, Microsoft and alike will copy it in anyway.
      The objective of patents is to protect an inventor so that he can market a product without being afraid that others will copy his invention. It must motivate the inventor to be entrepreneurial and bring new products to the market that are beneficial to the community.
      Of course, patents can be abused and some smart businessmen would like to patent standard engineering practices and this should be prevented by having a good patent law.
      Bottom line, in my opinion, if well implemented patents promote inventions and not the opposite.