Shorten the patent term

Problem

A patent lasts for 20 years, beginning from the application's filing date. Often, the term is extended even longer to reflect the years it can take to obtain a patent. While 20 years might make sense when talking about inventions that take substantial investment—building factories and laboratories, for instance—software takes coders and computers. Hard work to be sure, but of a different type.

Solution

A patent covering software should survive for a term of five years, beginning from the date the application is filed. Even though international agreements could be read to require a 20-year term, we think there are ways around this. For example, it’s not clear those agreements even apply to software. Also, the proposal could be limited to U.S. inventors only.

G Patent
General Patent Corp.
United States
Posted Jun 26, 2012 10:11 am
I have long argued in favor of reducing the term for software patents. Although a 20-year term makes sense when applied to, for instance, pharmaceutical patents (which need at least a couple of decades in order to recoup R&D expenses), it makes very little sense for software patents. The patent system needs more flexibility so that such a multi-tiered arrangement could be pun in place; the one-size-fits-all approach is no longer the most effective model.
http://www.aminn.org/patent-legislation
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326 thumbs up.
Austin D
CA
United States
Posted Jun 22, 2012 11:39 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
Too short
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325 thumbs up.
Lasse Kärkkäinen
SingOn Oy
Finland
United States
Posted Jun 30, 2012 9:28 am
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Venture capitalist / investor
  • Internet user
Shortening the patent coverage mostly reduces any reason for genuine innovation to be patented but it still won't solve the big problem: you need patent lawyers for software development. The only real solution is to entirely abolish software patents (while we still can), and for very similar reasons, abolish the entire patent system (we need to keep our ideals even if they are currently not politically realistic).
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323 thumbs up.
Eric Blake
Red Hat
Salt Lake City
UT
United States
Posted Jul 26, 2012 1:27 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
I understand why you are proposing shortening things to 5 years, in an attempt to achieve something that might gain political consensus, but I personally would prefer a position that advocate the outright abolishment of software patents as abstract mathematical processes rather than tangible products.
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322 thumbs up.
Sean Tite
Hammock Beach
FL
United States
Posted Jul 7, 2012 8:23 am
  • Victim of patent troll
THERE SHOULD BE NO SOFTWARE PATENTS PERIOD. Any and all efforts to make Apple play fair are appropriate, stop making excuses and obfuscating the truth, you weak poser frauds you. Stop trying to route legitimate outrage into /dev/null. It is not a question of either/or, it is a matter of all and often.

Apple is straight up Evil, their Apple Logo itself is proof of where their heart lies. I pray they reap what they have sown, and they will, just as MICRO$OFT has and will continue to until they are ALL gone. http://goo.gl/LYnt

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312 thumbs up.
Timothy Butterworth
Punxsutawney GNU Linux Advocates
Punxsutawney
PA
United States
Posted Dec 29, 2014 5:02 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
The Patent System was created by the same group that once claimed the right to own human biengs as property. As they can no longer own people as private property they attempted to own their mind.

All technology starts with the basic science of being able to freely study, adapt and utilize everything a person comes in contact with. The patent system does nothing but remove the freedom to pursue knowledge and force the unwealthy into a state of legally mandated ignorace that they can not escape from.

The patent system as a whole needs to be abolished as a form of slavery!
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234 thumbs up.
Dan Carr
United States
Posted Jan 27, 2015 2:52 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
I don't think we should have software patents at all. In fact, I am thinking that very few things deserve to be patented anymore and that there should be a very high bar to being granted a patent. Unless something is truly revolutionary, it should not get a patent. Even if it is granted a patent I think 7 yrs max life. Anything more than that stifles competition and innovation.
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225 thumbs up.
Matthew LaBianca
United States
Posted Mar 17, 2015 7:38 am
  • Academic
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
Software patents last way too long. It puts a halt in technological progress, making small companies suppress their ideas because of the fear of being sued. The USPTO should review these patents and give a patent of no longer than five years. Even five years is too long, though it’s a great start. Think back to twenty years ago. Where was technology? Flip phones were just becoming a big thing. Now, our phones are on our wrist, or even in our glasses. The point is, by twenty years, so many generations of technology comes out, that the renders the patented software useless. Another reason why it needs to be shortened is because What if a very important software patent is being held by a troll who is suppressing society from using it. This causes harm, and we may not even know it. Obviously, we can’t just strip people of their patent if they are 15 years in already, but for future patents we need to make a change. Those people or companies that are already 15 years in probably have patents that are not useful anymore, so they can be grandfathered into the system allowing them to hang on to their patent to keep it fair. This is the solution that needs to happen.
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216 thumbs up.
Bill Murphy
East Providence
RI
United States
Posted Aug 27, 2015 10:46 am
  • Academic
The Defend Innovation/EFF software patent policy is sound and I support it.
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127 thumbs up.
James L
United States
Posted Mar 2, 2016 8:37 am
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
Patents are anti-competitive and slow progress and growth. Five years is better than twenty, but doesn't change the fact that patents for algorithms are bad for society. Actual practicing entities already have copyright protection, and as the saying goes, execution trumps strategy.

Would the world be a better place if TQP, or any single entity, got exclusive rights to the concept of public key encryption?
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68 thumbs up.

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Richard Stallman
Free Software Foundation
Boston
MA
United States
Posted Jun 21, 2012 9:53 am
  • Academic
  • Internet user
The WTO requires that patents last 20 years from date of application. To make software patents last a shorter time would require defying the WTO.

Defying the WTO would be a good thing, since it undermines democracy and needs to be abolished. However, I think it is better not to tie the solution of the software patent problem to the solution of the WTO problem.

The WTO does not require software to be covered by patents at all. Entirely abolishing software patents would therefore avoid this problem.

Politically we can get more support for abolishing software patents than for a partial solution, because all those in danger will support the abolition.

However, the US already has many patents that can be used to attack software and they are scheduled to last 20 years. Any change in the issuance of software patents would take 20 years to do the job.

I therefore recommend that we approach the problem at the other end, by legislating that software to run on general-purpose computing hardware be excluded from patent infringement.

This means we don't need to try to distinguish between software patents and other patents. We only need to distinguish between software and hardware.
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723 thumbs up, including yours.
NO NO
Pakistan
Posted Jun 21, 2012 5:33 am
  • Software developer / engineer
NO to this. 5 years is way too short. Just because something is written in computer code doesn't mean it doesn't take effort and as you admit yourself, it does take hard work. Why should computer programmers be screwed over just because their work is not physical? If you remove this and #7 I'm in favor of everything else.
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390 thumbs up.
Terry Ackey
United States
Posted Jun 20, 2012 6:53 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
With the backlog at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, software patents can take 2 to 4 years to get granted. A 5-year lifespan measured from the filing date would be pointless.

The whole point of any patent system is to give an inventor a time-limited monopoly in exchange for teaching the public about her invention. If this time-limited monopoly is only one year long, most inventors would likely keep their inventions as trade secrets, taking these trade secrets to the grave with them. Don't count on them publishing their trade secrets out of the kindness of their hearts.
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526 thumbs up.
Kent England
Oceanside
CA
United States
Posted Jun 20, 2012 4:26 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
Submarine patents lurk secretly in the system for many years as the trolls string out the application process. When they surface many years after submission, the damage is much more extensive. Software patents make no sense. It's like patenting sentences in a book. Not likely you could write a book without using a few phrases and short sentences that have been patented. "It was a dark and stormy night."
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558 thumbs up, including yours.
Erik Levin
Göteborg
Sweden
Posted Jun 20, 2012 1:40 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
Unfortunately, I cannot sign this well-spirited petition, since even five years is way too long, the demand should be for 0 years. Software patents should be completely abolished. Any software patent is immensely harmful to innovation.
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598 thumbs up, including yours.
Don Montgomery
Method by Design
Scroggins
TX
United States
Posted Jun 20, 2012 12:56 pm
  • Academic
  • Patent owner
  • Software developer / engineer
I believe that computer programs claimed as stand-alone "inventions" (e.g., so-called "one-click ordering") are entitled to be afforded full copyright protections, since they are written works. Those with opposing viewpoints may eventually find themselves defending patents on innovative printouts of paper forms, even if used to facilitate the venerable mail-in order process. As a programmer, I would argue that software itself is a work of craft, beyond the extent that the term "craft" applies to legislative creation. As such, strong copyright statues offer the appropriate protection for software authorship.
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573 thumbs up, including yours.
Daniel Cabanaw
Windsor
Canada
Posted Jun 20, 2012 10:34 am
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
When two developers can independently come up with a similar solution to a problem, it does not make sense to have software patents. They both were creative and innovative while trying to solve a problem. Just because one is able to file for a patent faster than the other does not invalidate their creativity and hard work.

Writing software is like writing a play. The script of the play (software) instructs the actors (computer) how to perform. Patenting a play would be silly. I believe the same is true for software.
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634 thumbs up, including yours.
Steve Baker
Austin TX
TX
United States
Posted Jun 20, 2012 9:53 am
  • Patent owner
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
It would not be so bad if the inventor of the patent (or the company for which the inventor works) were to own the patent. The real evils start when patents can be bought and sold by companies who have no interest in using the technology - have no intention of ever making a product - and exist only to game the legal system for profit. This kind of behavior is abusive and does absolutely nothing to encourage innovation or to boost the nations bottom-line.

So, I would ban the buying and selling of patents - except by individuals to their employer. Licenses to USE the patent are OK - but not rights to sue for infringement...those rights would have to remain in the hands of the company or the individual who filed the patent in the first instance.
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584 thumbs up, including yours.
Stephen Rynas
Morehead City, NC
United States
Posted Jun 19, 2012 7:28 pm
  • Internet user
Basically, ALL software uses the same code. It may be arranged differently and use different languages, but in the end they specify discrete tasks that ALL software has to use.
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600 thumbs up, including yours.
Joshua Brown
Phunware
Santa Ana
CA
United States
Posted Jun 19, 2012 5:26 pm
  • Software developer / engineer
  • Internet user
Even 5 years is too long.
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671 thumbs up, including yours.

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