I received some thoughtful comments from an associate about my last post. In part, this is what he said:
Posts Categorized: Software Patents
Many software developers have the mistaken belief that software is not or should not be patented. Many believe that copyrights are sufficient to protect their ideas.
Patents are reserved for the ideas behind the software. The big picture is patentable, but the code required to make the big picture a reality may not be.
The activists in Europe are very well organized and have infused the public (and even software developers) with the absurd notions that software is not inventive and should be available like music in the days of Napster.
Some commentators have pointed out the story of Tim Berners-Lee who invented a certain portion of what is now known as the World Wide Web. In so doing, Mr. Berners-Lee opted to forego patenting and not collect money on his invention. This story is sometimes offered as an example of why the patent system should be abolished. I suggest that the story is an example of a business case where patents are not the best choice, but abolishing the patent system is not warranted.
A lawsuit is filed, the parties negotiate a license, and they agree in some fashion to work together in the future.
I do not mean to paint too rosy a picture on it, but companies or organizations who have at least some software patents (like the OSS developers could have) have a big chip with which to negotiate and conduct their business.