Defend Innovation: How to Fix Our Broken Patent System
With roughly 400,000 software patents in force today it has become virtually impossible, as a practical matter, for entrepreneurs and engineers to avoid stepping on some purported inventor’s toes, no matter how hard they try… As noted in the previous section, software patents rarely contain any actual software. The hard and time-consuming work—writing the code—is left as a task for the reader. This creates an imbalance. Someone who simply wrote a wish list of functions can later demand money from companies that spent years developing, debugging, testing, and perfecting commercial products. Even if applications did include code, software patents would still protect far more than that program. This is because the scope of the patent is determined by the vaguely worded claim language. So the imbalance would remain—the patent owner gets a monopoly that exceeds his or her contribution and restricts followon development.