Software Patents as Big Government

It occurs to me that the whole furore over patents in the software industry really revolves around the role of government in setting the regulatory ground rules for business and government’s influence in the private sector. A recent post in the New York Times about Apple’s decision to patent everything that moves was as eye-opener. The overall tenor of the post was patent-negative. The Times showed many instances in which patents were used as a business barrier to entry and a tactic to lessen competition. The question was to what degree patents foster innovation or inhibit them in the technology industry given that $20 billion was spent in the last two years alone on patent litigation and purchases. That’s money that could have gone to R&D. In practice, what Apple was doing was smart ...

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