Friday, October 19, 2007

It is patent nonsense

I like to patent

- the way I walk, smile, eat and talk

- the way I carry my bag, mow my lawn, arrange my house, clean my house,

- the way I arrange my work desk, run my meetings, conduct interviews,

strange? keep reading

- the way I create a web page, name it, upload it,

- the way I sell products on my web page

- the way I wrap up gifts, Sorry already patented

- the way my customers Click and Buy, Sorry you can't do this too, it has been patented by Amazon
but thanks to a kiwi, not any more

I am writing all this to vent my frustration over these ridiculous patent laws. Probably you might have heard about the recent news story when Amazon has been successfully challenged for its 1-Click patent by a NewZealender. It is some great news. I read about this some time ago and couldn't believe how clicking buttons in some sequence on a web page could be patented? but that was done for Amazon. Not only that, Amazon was also making money from the web sites who were using the similar process, well it is law, they are the patent holders.

Another ridiculous example is 'Buy it now' button on eBay, yes it is patent by someone and that means on my own web site I can't name a button/functionality similar to "Buy it Now". How silly, then what should we do for 'Submit it Now', Check-out it Now', 'Close it Now', 'Cancel it Now', 'Sing-up now' ?? Can I get them patented for me, if some one hasn't already got them?

I am not an expert on laws, but I have done some research on net to understand this drama.
Patent laws originated to protect inventions so that someone investing money in some new technology should be able to get return on his investment/achievement before others start copying the technology, fair enough, no issues. The core problem is that these laws were primarily designed for mechanical (and later electrical/electronics) inventions. With the advent of software the same laws were used to protect software process and methods and here we ran into trouble. The software world is whole different world and patent laws have been misused by those were the first in getting the patent for some simple things/processes (which a layman can think of when faces the similar problem)

If you search net , you will find that there is a lot of noice from people protesting such misuse but what is not good is I couldn't find if there were some serious steps taken by Governments (well basically US Govt, there is one hope) to alter the laws. (In EU first it was recommended and then blocked by Parliament ). Also the bad thing about Amazon case is that the lawsuit against Amazon was won not on logical basis but on the fact that similar process exist before Amazon got it patented. What it means is that if someone could prove that I was the one who first used some process similar to 1-Click then he/she will have the patent, which I object. This is some common sense, the 1-Click sort of thing is not an invention , it shouldn't be get patented.

Few interesting comments against patent laws for software, from wikipedia

Bill Gates (Microsoft) 1991

Internal memo

"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today...The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors."

(though Gates had slightly different view in 2005, when Microsoft needed patent laws)

Oracle Corporation 1994

Submission to USPTO

"Oracle Corporation opposes the patentability of software. The Company believes that existing copyright law and available trade secret protections, as opposed to patent law, are better suited to protecting computer software developments..."

Few more ridiculous patents

Someone claiming 'Most ridiculous patent application ever"

Net2Phone Suing Skype

Microsoft Granted Patent for Creating Insecure Software

I hope when I do some web development as my hobby I won't be getting some legal notice from someone sitting in another corner of the world 'hey you have just violated my patent', fingers crossed,