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

Adrian Tymes wingcat at
Fri May 20 18:58:12 UTC 2005

--- Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at> wrote:
> Rik van Riel wrote:
> > In short, patents can only protect your idea, but not
> > the actual product that your business is trying to make
> > a living off.  In fact, patents can endanger your product,
> > and with 150,000 granted software patents in the US alone
> > I don't think there's anything you can do to avoid potential
> > infringement.
> Is that a fact ?  150,000 *software* *patents* as opposed to
> licenses or other types of patent ? Would you by chance
> have a source for that?

I don't have a source for Rik's claim, but it doesn't strike me as
that surprising.  A quick search on the USPTO's site shows that there
have currently been somewhere from 6,800,000 and 6,900,000 utility
patents issued - and that's not counting design or other types of
patents, although utility accounts for most patents.  The number of
patents issued in all fields has risen exponentially over the years
(although the factor is far less than 2x/year).  The USPTO has only
been around for about 200 years; software complex enough to potentially
warrant patents has been around for about 50 years.

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