Published: Fri 05 June 2015
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
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