The Patent System is a Mess

I used to believe that this whole patent system was just a cold war. Everyone was patenting everything they thought of, mainly in case they got sued for infringement on something else, in order to counter sue. Then they’d go meet in a bar somewhere, have a few pints and work things out.

Well, unlike the real cold war, where everyone got smart and realized there would be no winner and just gave up, (and, yeah, there was much more to it than that, but humor me :). The software industry seems to be about to implode on itself.

Yes, I’m talking about Apple suing HTC. I am not a lawyer. I am only a humble software designer, but if I was afraid before of getting sued for accidentally borrowing someone’s idea in my own design, now I’m terrified. Today I was working on a wizard to import existing code into the CDT. I bet someone patented that already and I’m freakin’ scared.

O.K. I’m being over dramatic about this. And I’m sure peace will reign. But something’s got to be done about this system. There are way too many common sense ideas getting patented. And it’s killing the drive to produce great products. The iPhone was really cool when it first came out. But as we got our hands on it and used it for a while, we realized that is wasn’t really anything special, and the user interface ideas they had are easy to implement. So was it worth a patent? Was it really an invention?

The telephone, electricity, the car, those were great inventions worthy of patenting. But patenting to what end. If whoever owns the patent to the automobile sued everyone who figured out how to make one, where would we be today? And isn’t that a monopoly? Where’s the fine line between protecting the rights of the inventor, and protecting the rights of the consumer?

At any rate, I’m just a humble software designer who’s getting very frustrated about having to be a part time legal clerk to do my job. I just want to innovate. And you know what. If someone comes up with the same idea and doesn’t use my implementation. Good on them. There are lots of smart people in the world. Does the patent system help them, or does it make them so frustrated they decide to go server hamburgers instead. (Melodrama hat off 😉