Fred Wilson: Software Patents Should Not Exist
I believe that software patents should not exist. They are a tax on innovation. And software is closer to media than it is to hardware. Patenting software is like patenting music.
The mess around the Lodsys patents should be a wake up call to everyone involved in the patent business (government bureaucrats, legislators, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, etc) that the system is totally broken and we can’t continue to go on like this.
First of all, the idea of a transaction in an application isn’t novel. That idea has been resident in software for many years. The fact that the PTO issued a patent on the idea of “in app transactions” is ridiculous and an embarrassment.
Second, Lodsys didn’t even “invent” the idea. They purchased the patent and are now using it like a cluster bomb on the entire mobile app developer community. They are the iconic patent troll, taxing innovation and innovators for their own selfish gain. They are evil and deserve all the ill will they are getting.
Third Apple and Google, the developers of the iOS and Android app ecosystems (and in app transaction systems), did license the Lodsys patents but that is not good enough for Lodsys. They are now going after mobile developers who use the iOS and Android systems. The whole point of these app ecosystems is that a “developer in a garage” can get into business with these platforms. But these “developers in a garage” can’t afford lawyers to represent themselves in a fight with a patent troll.
The whole thing is nuts. I can’t understand why our goverment allows this shit to go on. It’s wrong and its bad for society to have this cancer growing inside our economy. Every time I get a meeting with a legislator or goverment employee working in and around the innovation sector, I bring up the patent system and in particular software patents. We need to change the laws. We need to eliminate software patents. This ridiculous Lodsys situation is the perfect example of why. We need to say “enough is enough.
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