Software, Open Source and Programmers

On August 12, 2014, I spoke with computer expert Bob Zeidman (pictured left) on the record for an in-depth interview that published on The interview lasted approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and was over 11,000 words in length. I think it was an excellent and intriguing discussion about the reality of software, both from a coding and market perspective. We also spoke at length about the Supreme Court’s decisions in Alice v. CLS Bank, Bilski v. Kappos, and Diamond v. Diehr. We also discussed what type of disclosure might be enough to satisfy both the Patent Office and the Supreme Court, which is increasingly becoming the arbiter of all things patent-eligible.

While a lengthy conversation like this would be of interest to those who work in the area, there were a number of intriguing points raised during our interview that I hope all patent practitioners would be interested in. For that reason, I offer here highlights of the interview. For the complete interview, please see A Conversation about Software and Patents.


The Role for Open Source in Paradigm Shifting Innovation

Written by Gene Quinn (of IPWatchdog and Practice Center Contributor)

My writings about open source and software patents have earned me a special place in the hearts and minds of those who harbor irrational hatred of software patents. But I am here to tell you that open source is not all bad and, in fact, should be embraced. Open source, however, is hardly something new to the patent community. Perhaps it is better to say that where open source software is heading is nothing new, and it will come as a shock to those who hate patents, but patents will be completely necessary in order for the open source community to continue to advance and live up to its full potential.

Of course, many in the open source community simply do not want patents and would rather they go away altogether. They choose to believe that “innovation” is synonymous with “independent creation,” which is just straight up intellectually dishonest. In order to innovate one must create a new device or a new process. Simply stated, copying the work of others is not innovative; and neither is ignoring what others have done and independently creating something with careless disregard of whether it is new or used. (more…)

Why Open Source Stalls Innovation and Patents Advance It

Written by Gene Quinn (IPWatchdog and Practice Center Contributor)

Over the last couple weeks I have been giving more thought to open source software and what, if any role it has to play with respect to the economic future of both start-up companies and established giants.

My belief is that open source can and should play a vital role in innovation, but the way it is by and large carried forward today does little to forward innovation and an awful lot to significantly disadvantage start-up companies.  The horribly bad advice that pervades the open source community and the utter lack of knowledge or familiarity about patent law is staggering.  I don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t like the patent system, but can you please at least not like it for a valid reason?  With the myths and disinformation spewed by those who are either clueless and loud, or those who know better and have an agenda, are drowning out rational debate and significantly impeding progress and innovation.

Just the other day I received an e-mail from an individual asking a few questions about my opinions and views of open source software. I had been planing on writing about this for a while, and this is what prompted me to stop thinking and start writing. (more…)