Corante

AUTHORS

Donna Wentworth
( Archive | Home | Technorati Profile)

Ernest Miller
( Archive | Home )

Elizabeth Rader
( Archive | Home )

Jason Schultz
( Archive | Home )

Wendy Seltzer
( Archive | Home | Technorati Profile )

Aaron Swartz
( Archive | Home )

Alan Wexelblat
( Archive | Home )

About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

What Does "Copyfight" Mean?

Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

COPYFIGHTERS
a Typical Joe
Academic Copyright
Jack Balkin
John Perry Barlow
Benlog
beSpacific
bIPlog
Blogaritaville
Blogbook IP
BoingBoing
David Bollier
James Boyle
Robert Boynton
Brad Ideas
Ren Bucholz
Cabalamat: Digital Rights
Cinema Minima
CoCo
Commons-blog
Consensus @ Lawyerpoint
Copyfighter's Musings
Copyfutures
Copyright Readings
Copyrighteous
CopyrightWatch Canada
Susan Crawford
Walt Crawford
Creative Commons
Cruelty to Analog
Culture Cat
Deep Links
Derivative Work
Detritus
Julian Dibbell
DigitalConsumer
Digital Copyright Canada
Displacement of Concepts
Downhill Battle
DTM:<|
Electrolite
Exploded Library
Bret Fausett
Edward Felten - Freedom to Tinker
Edward Felten - Dashlog
Frank Field
Seth Finkelstein
Brian Flemming
Frankston, Reed
Free Culture
Free Range Librarian
Michael Froomkin
Michael Geist
Michael Geist's BNA News
Dan Gillmor
Mike Godwin
Joe Gratz
GrepLaw
James Grimmelmann
GrokLaw
Groklaw News
Matt Haughey
Erik J. Heels
ICANNWatch.org
Illegal-art.org
Induce Act blog
Inter Alia
IP & Social Justice
IPac blog
IPTAblog
Joi Ito
Jon Johansen
JD Lasica
LawMeme.org
Legal Theory Blog
Lenz Blog
Larry Lessig
Jessica Litman
James Love
Alex Macgillivray
Madisonian Theory
Maison Bisson
Kevin Marks
Tim Marman
Matt Rolls a Hoover
miniLinks
Mary Minow
Declan McCullagh
Eben Moglen
Dan Moniz
Napsterization
Nerdlaw
NQB
Danny O'Brien
Open Access
Open Codex
John Palfrey
Chris Palmer
Promote the Progress
PK News
PVR Blog
Eric Raymond
Joseph Reagle
Recording Industry vs. the People
Lisa Rein
Thomas Roessler
Seth Schoen
Doc Searls
Seb's Open Research
Shifted Librarian
Doug Simpson
Slapnose
Slashdot.org
Stay Free! Daily
Sarah Stirland
Swarthmore Coalition
Tech Law Advisor
Technology Liberation Front
Teleread
Siva Vaidhyanathan
Vertical Hold
Kim Weatherall
Weblogg-ed
David Weinberger
Matthew Yglesias

LINKABLE + THINKABLE
AKMA
Timothy Armstrong
Bag and Baggage
Charles Bailey
Beltway Blogroll
Between Lawyers
Blawg Channel
bk
Chief Blogging Officer
Drew Clark
Chris Cohen
Crawlspace
Crooked Timber
Daily Whirl
Dead Parrots Society
Delaware Law Office
J. Bradford DeLong
Betsy Devine
Dispositive
Ben Edelman
EEJD
Ernie the Attorney
FedLawyerGuy
Foreword
How Appealing
Industry Standard
IP Democracy
IPnewsblog
IP Watch
Dennis Kennedy
Rick Klau
Wendy Koslow
Kuro5hin.org
Elizabeth L. Lawley
Jerry Lawson
Legal Reader
Likelihood of Confusion
Chris Locke
Derek Lowe
Misbehaving
MIT Tech Review
NewsGrist
OtherMag
Paper Chase
Frank Paynter
PHOSITA
Scott Rosenberg
Scrivener's Error
Jeneane Sessum
Silent Lucidity
Smart Mobs
Trademark Blog
Eugene Volokh
Kevin Werbach

ORGANIZATIONS
ARL
Berkman @ Harvard
CDT
Chilling Effects
CIS @ Stanford
CPSR
Copyright Reform
Creative Commons
DigitalConsumer.org
DFC
EFF
EPIC
FIPR
FCC
FEPP
FSF
Global Internet Proj.
ICANN
IETF
ILPF
Info Commons
IP Justice
ISP @ Yale
NY for Fair Use
Open Content
PFF
Public Knowledge
Shidler Center @ UW
Tech Center @ GMU
U. Maine Tech Law Center
US Copyright Office
US Dept. of Justice
US Patent Office
W3C


In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

« A Blogger's Defense Fund? | Main | Berkman on Copyright in EU »

December 4, 2004

Software Patents = = WMD

Email This Entry

Posted by

Typically, it's copyright infringers who get compared to/equated with terrorists. Here, Ben Adida of Creative Commons flips the script:


[Where] copyright is concerned, techies quickly shift the conversation to patents, a fairly important topic to the W3C and the web community at large. It's during one of these discussions that it occurred to me that software patents behave very much like weapons of mass destruction.

Software patents are used mostly for defensive purposes, as a kind of threat of potential action: software companies stockpile patents as quickly as they can but rarely make use of them. If a party chooses to make use of a patent against another party, the effect is usually devastating, especially if the other party chooses to countersue using its patent portfolio. The fines resulting from a patent infringement lawsuit are enormous (Eolas patent: $521 Million).

What ends up happening is that large software companies have an understood agreement that they will not sue each other for patent infringement, because the effect of suing and countersuing would be too much for either party to deal with. A sort of Mutually Assured Destruction by Patent Litigation, if you will. Of course, the small companies which have a much smaller patent arsenal cannot compete and are forced to negotiate to stay alive.

[...]

Certainly, it is too extreme to say that patent firms are the equivalent of Intellectual Property terrorists. But it's important to note how the precarious balance of defensive patent portfolios is about to be shattered by Patent-Only firms, in very much the same way that the precarious balance of MAD during the Cold War was shattered on 9/11.

There are legitimate uses to patents, but we're about to enter an era where they will do far more harm than good. And even the large companies will realize that we're in need of serious patent reform.


Bonus: Professor Lenz strikes back at the "enemies of freedom" in a post on the kind of patents that kill -- not literally, but too close to be tolerated.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


COMMENTS

1. Brad Hutchings on December 4, 2004 5:05 PM writes...

Nice story. But I wonder how well it jibes with reality. Many small software companies and startups use software patents in order to protect themselves from big player competition if their market heats up.

It would be very interesting to see an analysis of company size (people and revenue) and purpose as percentage of software patents issued. With such an analysis in hand, we can then see whether software patents are WMD for patent portfolio fights, multi-million dollar shakedown tools, or (perhaps) still server the purpose of protecting inventors in developing markets. Anyone know of such a study?

Permalink to Comment

2. Alexander Wehr on December 4, 2004 5:51 PM writes...

the rise of "patent only" companies should be a clear signal to congress that our IP law has gone awry and must be rebalanced.

They make no product, they are honestly nothing but parasites, latching onto other companies and sucking them dry.

The same can be said for companies who claim blanket patents over such ubiquitous technologies as "double-click".

Out of control would be an understatement. It sends a very clear message that anyone who attempts to start an IT based or software company that, no matter what financial safeguards the government offers to encourage entrepreneurs, they could end up in debt more than the net worth of their largest competitors.

Is that honestly a way to a healthier, more vibrant, and more innovative economy?

Permalink to Comment

3. aa on December 4, 2004 9:52 PM writes...

Think that p2pnet story is good? Look at this lovely Ashcroft quote, directly from his homepage:
http://www.cybercrime.gov/chips101904.htm

"Intellectual property theft is a clear danger to our economy and the health, safety, and security of the American people," said Attorney General Ashcroft.

Indeed. Copyright infringers are not only destroying the American economy, but also the security, health, and safety.

Permalink to Comment


EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
Everything You Need to Know About Doing a Kickstarter
Is Patent Valuation a Leading Indicator of Trolls' Demise?
Free Music in a Capitalist Society
Art & Law in Chicago
Compare and Contrast Approaches to the DMCA
CBS to HBO: Wait for Us!
Sometime Next Year, HBO Will Become Netflix
OpenMedia vs the TPP