Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Software Patents = Crazy Talk

Rep. Goodlatte, my representative in congress, has been working on fixing the problems with US Patent Law. I just emailed him the following:

Thank you for working on reforming our blighted patent system. Merely controlling litigation is not enough. You mentioned frivolous and speculative patent lawsuits, but you did not identify the deeper problem with software patents.
Software is written. Software should be protected under copyright laws not patent laws. Copyrights protect exact wording, but do not prevent people from speaking, thinking or writing about those ideas. Just like literate people can read ideas in good books, literate software engineers can read ideas in software. Just as literate people should not copy a book word for word and take credit for writing it, software engineers should not copy a computer program word for word and take credit for writing it.
Software should not be patentable. Think about these: A bookbinding, a new way to make paper, a new computer case, and a revolutionary computer screen. These can be patented, but the ideas on the pages of a book and the ideas in each line of software code are only thoughts and ideas. Patenting an idea is like trying to control how people think, it's like trying to control the newspapers saying that there can only be one republican newspaper and one democratic newspaper. Preventing the spread of thoughts and ideas is not constitutional.
Allowing software patents is like saying we don't really believe in the right to believe, think, or speak. Allowing software patents is fundamentally wrong. 
Please champion legislation to protect software the right way: with copyrights, not with patents.