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April 25, 2005
Engine vs. Caboose
eWeek story on the Association for Computing Technology's Intellectual Property and Technology Summit panel on whether IP protection policies promote or inhibit innovation. The trivial answer is, of course, both. The protection regime is a game and those who have learned how to play it will benefit and grow their businesses. Those who haven't will get crushed. But these are business questions, not innovation questions. For simple innovation, IP protection is mostly irrelevant. However, innovation is rarely simple; it's almost always bound up in business context (even, sadly, in universities today).
The value of patents, particularly to organizations like the Apache Software Foundation which don't have large legal staffs or budgets to enforce them, is debatable. The current abysmal quality of patents issuing from the USPTO only makes the situation worse.
I won't rehash the patents-good/patents-evil debate here, but I would like to find out more about this panel. I could not find an online record of the conference, let alone this panel - anyone have a pointer? I did notice that quite a few places confuse "Association for Computing Technology" with ACM, the "Association for Computing Machinery".
EDIT: Copyfight reader Brandon Rash provides links to the ACT Conference Web site and a brief note in the EEJD blog.
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