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How the place of patents is changing in an era of software innovation.

Ezra Klein's Wonkbook

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Oct. 8, 2012

How the place of patents is changing in an era of software innovation. ”[C]ompanies [are] caught in a software patent system that federal judges, economists, policy makers and technology executives say is so flawed that it often stymies innovation. Alongside the impressive technological advances of the last two decades, they argue, a pall has descended: the marketplace for new ideas has been corrupted by software patents used as destructive weapons…Patents are vitally important to protecting intellectual property. Plenty of creativity occurs within the technology industry, and without patents, executives say they could never justify spending fortunes on new products. And academics say that some aspects of the patent system, like protections for pharmaceuticals, often function smoothly. However, many people argue that the nation's patent rules, intended for a mechanical world, are inadequate in today's digital marketplace. Unlike patents for new drug formulas, patents on software often effectively grant ownership of concepts, rather than tangible creations…As a result, some patents are so broad that they allow patent holders to claim sweeping ownership of seemingly unrelated products built by others.” Charles Duhigg and Steve Lohr in The New York Times.