Current Issues of Patented Software
Software can be considered intellectual property through either patents or copyright, but patents have many issues. The world of software is a rapidly changing one whereas the process of gaining a patent is a long and tedious journey. This means that for many developers the process of seeking a patent isn’t worth the payoff; their idea may become entirely useless by the time the patent is granted. For a large corporation this isn’t as big of a problem because the more patents they create, the more likely one will pay off big. Furthermore, if a patent covers a now well known idea or process, developers aren’t able to build upon it, stifling innovation. Small companies may be too afraid to create new software in case they accidentally infringe on a patent because the legal costs of a lawsuit could bankrupt them. Additionally, the people granting patents do not understand software well enough to be able to know if an idea falls within the patent criteria, and can end up granting a patent that they shouldn’t have; these patents can lead to lawsuits that force our courts to make new decisions regarding patents in software based on old intellectual property laws. Our current patent laws are insufficient for software because they take too long to get, they stifle innovation, and are too easy to hand out improperly.