This post from
) offers a comment from the id Software technical
director on patenting technologies used in video games. The post responds to
about the legal beagles who have launched
The Patent Arcade
encourage more game technology patents (since that would be an opportunity to
drink from an untapped revenue stream). Here's Mr. Carmack's take:
proud that there is "a relative dearth of patent applications for the video game
industry, especially considering how technology-dependent the video game
industry is, and given its size in terms of annual sales."
Before issuing a condemnation, I try hard to think about it from their point of
view -- the laws of the land set the rules of the game, and lawyers are deeply
confused at why some of us aren't using all the tools that the game gives us.
Patents are usually discussed in the context of someone "stealing" an idea from
the long suffering lone inventor that devoted his life to creating this one
brilliant idea, blah blah blah.
But in the majority of cases in software, patents effect independent invention.
Get a dozen sharp programmers together, give them all a hard problem to work on,
and a bunch of them will come up with solutions that would probably be
patentable, and be similar enough that the first programmer to file the patent
could sue the others for patent infringement.
Why should society reward that? What benefit does it bring? It doesn't help
bring more, better, or cheaper products to market. Those all come from
competition, not arbitrary monopolies. The programmer that filed the patent
didn't work any harder because a patent might be available, solving the problem
was his job and he had to do it anyway. Getting a patent is uncorrelated to any
positive attributes, and just serves to allow either money or wasted effort to
be extorted from generally unsuspecting and innocent people or companies.
Yes, it is a legal tool that may help you against your competitors, but I'll
have no part of it. Its basically mugging someone.
I could waste hours going on about this. I really need to just write a position
paper some day that I can cut and paste when this topic comes up.