Re: Patents

Date: Mon Jan 24 2000 - 20:30:29 MST

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, <>, writes:
> I think someone - I forget who - may have been right on when they
> pointed out that in ordinary fields, patents are needed to promote
> investment, and are usually unambiguous and fair. In software, the idea
> that any further spur to investment is needed is absurd, and the patent
> system is totally broken. So I'd definitely be in favor of a total,
> outright ban on software patents.

How can you judge how much of the current investment level is due to the
existence of patents, and therefore how much would be lost if software
patents were eliminated? You suggest that no further spur is needed,
but after all the present system already includes patents. No one is
proposing to add more innovation by introducing software patents; we
already have them. The question is whether eliminating patents would
reduce innovation, and if so, how much.

Unfortunately software patents started being issued in the late 1970s or
early 1980s, which was about the time that the "software industry" as we
know it came into existence. We don't have much independent experience
with how the software world would look free of patent protection.
It's not clear how relevant the 1960s are as a model.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:39 MDT