Software patents was Re: [extropy-chat] Care Economy?

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at
Wed May 18 03:41:15 UTC 2005

Rik van Riel wrote:

> On Tue, 17 May 2005, Brett Paatsch wrote:
>> If a single AI could be constructed in that time period and protected
>> by a patent, then copied ad-infinitum, what effect do you imagine that
>> would have economically and geo-politically?
> Then there'd be an even better reason to get rid of
> software patents ;)

I'm curious, do you really think that it would be a good thing to get rid of
software patents or to change the software patenting laws where you

I worked in the IT industry in Australia for something like 10 years but
I was a business manager rather than a programmer.

I tend to see patent law as a potentially good thing but it has to strike
the right balance between creating incentives for people to be practical
and to innovate and not creating disincentives or other side effects that
produce a net or suboptimal social benefit.

Its is of course always going to be possible to balance conflicting goods
suboptimally in particular laws, and technology and other things can
shift the optimal balance point over time.

I know that Microsoft is often kicked about and has faced anti-trust
actions but I don't really know whether those that complain about
software patents generally are complaining because they see that the
balance in patent law is wrong in some area or whether it is just because
they personally want a different set of laws that in the short term would be
in their personal interest.

I would like to hear from someone that knows what they are talking about
with respect to software patents and can make a reasoned case that the
existing law in their area is suboptimal and has got the balance wrong.

It is possible that the software ip laws are suboptimal in some respects
but it is also possible that those that are complaining about it are not
looking at both sides of the quid pro quo that patents are supposed to

A very good programmer that has other skills as well might want to have
some software patent laws so that they can create a path to wealth based
on their personal efforts and their merit.

Brett Paatsch 

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