Patent Absurdity: How software patents broke the system

I have come across the short film, Patent Absurdity, whilst researching my Major project. It is an insight into how the patent system in America has changed to encompass the legislation of what are essentially abstract natural concepts: algorithms in software.

In the late 1990′s the total number of software patents increased to one quarter of all patents applied for in the US. Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe who were not previously in the business of patents found themselves being sued for infringing on patents. This caused a retaliatory reaction from these larger corporations and they now each own over a thousand patents on software. This legislative free-for-all means that the whilst writing code for software you could accidentally be infringing on any number of legally possessed algorithm and be sued.

Richard Stallman (at around 16mins 40secs) speculates about what would have happened if in the 1700′s the government’s of Europe decided to promote symphonic music by encouraging Musical Idea Patents. In his words, “now imagine it’s the 1800′s and your Beethoven”.

Patent Absurdity is avaliable for free download and you can also watch it online.

It was supported by the Free Software Foundation.

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