August 16, 2011

How the US patent mess affects European Tech and Startups

It’s a situation that has added weight to the argument that software patents shouldn’t exist. VC Fred Wilson, for example, wrote in June this year:
I believe that software patents should not exist. They a tax on innovation. And software is closer to media than it is to hardware. Patenting software is like patenting music.

The mess around the Lodsys patents should be a wake up call to everyone involved in the patent business (government bureaucrats, legislators, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, etc) that the system is totally broken and we can’t continue to go on like this.
Well-known developer Mike Lee (who spoke at this year’s The Next Web conference – dressed as a pirate no less) has announced a legal team and fund to help developers fight back against “patent trolls” like Lodsys. He takes a balanced view on software patents and tells me, “One can make purely theoretical arguments either way. We have to look at reality, how software patents are actually used. The reality is, the same patent system that has failed to keep Apple from being ripped off wholesale is being used to harass its developers. You cannot look at that and honestly say this is a system that works.”

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