04 August 2008

Why Software Patents Are Harmful

Recently I've pointed to a couple of classic texts about the general undesirability of intellectual monopolies. Here's an interesting counterpoint: a text about why bringing in software patents would be harmful to the Indian computer industry.

Despite this specificity, its points are quite general. For example:

In other industries, research continues up to a point where further research costs too much to be feasible. At this stage, the industry's output merelyconsists of replacing parts that have worn out.

However, in the software sector, a computer program that is fully debugged will perform its function forever without requiring maintenance or modification. “What this means is that unlike socks that wear out, and breakfast cereal that is eaten, a particular software product can be sold to a particular customer at most once. If it is to be sold to that customer again, it must be enhanced with new features and functionality.” This inevitably means that even if the industry were to approach maturity, any software company that does not produce new and innovative products will simply run out of customers! Thus, the industry will remain innovative whether or not software patents exist.

(Via Open Source India.)

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