Thursday, August 28, 2003

Plugin Patent to Mean Changes in IE?

Another predictably irritating conclusion of the SNAFU software patent system, timed so gracefully aptly in concordance with the current EU machinations - if ever there were an example of why software patents are A Bad Thing, this is it. No, I'm not keen on the Explorer monopoly, but I'm even less keen on Soft Pats. A majority that's wrong is still a majority. A restrictive minority is despotism ;)

Consider this. Code is based on practises and processes - take your pick of any "software methodologies" book on Amazon - and software development is inherently influenced by these patterns. Software methodologies have evolved and have been refined for about 50 years now (nothing's new), to the point where if you want to implement a new idea, there are obviously "better" ways to do it. So to implement a patenting idea on this is utterly ridiculous - even if one person comes up with an implementation first, it will be reasonably easy for someone else to do the same thing, quite independently.

This applies on different scales, according to the complexity - for instance, a lot of modern cryptography may be based on the work of a small set of people (e.g. Diffie and Helman), but the principle is the same. For most common IT work, ideas sprout readily constantly. The "race" to patent a new idea, as pursued by all the larger companies, should be undermined by the race for competition (or collaboration, it's all the same thing).

The sooner we put a stop to all this, the better.

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