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Patent reform

© November 2015 Anthony Lawrence

Younger readers may not know that until the 1990's, software could not be patented. I'm of the opinion that it should have remained that way.

There has been some recent pushback and it is certainly possible that court opinions will change, but really we need to reexamine the patent system in general. I think it often does more harm than good. I'm not saying we should abandon it entirely, but I do think that overly broad patents should not only be denied, but be punishable as they hinder commerce. I also think that the length of patents should vary with the industry. Perhaps tech patents for consumer goods should have a shorter lifetime than miracle drugs or vice versa and both should be shorter than they are now.

As to patenting genes and GMO products, I think that's both ridiculous and dangerous. For example, a recent decision denied a gene patent because genes are "products of nature". Well, what isn't? An improved light bulb works because of the physics of its materials - where's the true difference and where do you draw the line?

We need change.

Can we patent products found in nature? It's complicated.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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