Saturday, June 09, 2007

I really hope this is a joke...

Somebody please tell me this is a joke - something perpetrated by the "anti-patent" community to make a point...

A new company, Intellectual Weapons, is creating a business of patenting solutions to bugs in software programs. I'm not a fan of "offensive" patents in the first place - I think the current patent system is busted in many ways with respect to software patents.

But seriously... if there's a bug in a program, the odds that the "fix" are going to really satisfy the patent requirements of being non-obvious (in context)... gotta be close to zero, don't you think? After all, someone "skilled in the art" wouldn't have created the bug in the first place, right?

Just to make the point, I will briefly play devil's advocate - people who spend the time and energy to discover and find solutions for a defect should be entitled to fair compensation for their efforts, right?

Except patents aren't about "fair compensation" - they provide a monopoly on the patented idea, where the patent holder creates the terms of licensing. In the case of a software defect, particularly a security hole, you could potentially create a situation where the original company is both liable for the defect, and unable to fix it without extortionary licensing conditions. "Intellectual Weapons" isn't really concerned about compensating the people finding the defects, they are more concerned about how deep the pockets are of the company being targeted.

Come on - the splash image on their home page has a bullet! It's got to be a joke, right?

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