John Oliver on Software Patents

A few years back, only the legal and computing industry understood the dangers of software patents. Today I was amazed watch John Oliver's detailed and hilarious treatment of the subject on Last Week Tonight (YouTube). The narrator summed up our concerns beautifully:

In the last decade, the number of software patents has skyrocketed. The issue here, say experts, is that while patents for machines tend to be fairly specific, software patents can be so broad and vague that they may give someone the ability to later claim ownership for inventions they never dreamed of at the time.

I suppose it's tempting for reporters to dwell on patent trolls, but many of the most harmful patents come from large well-known companies and consortia. These patents make important fields such as video encoding almost unbearable to work in and leave the public all the poorer for lack of compatibly and choice. That aside, it's always satisfying to see Uniloc being berated for it's misuse of the patent system.

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