Strong opinions, weakly held

Stupid software patents

Earlier this week Tim Bray explained why he’s given up on software patents and today we learn that Facebook has patented the activity stream, which was not their idea in the first place. Of course the patent examiners wouldn’t know that, further illustrating the fact that the patent office shouldn’t be in that business and that nearly all progress in software is iterative. We don’t need patents.


  1. Nearly all progress in everything is iterative.

    In school we are taught about inventors and their inventions and they seem to stand out as distinct events in history, unconnected to others.

    In reality, almost all inventions build on previous work. It is only because of the fog of time that we do not understand the large number of unheralded “inventions” that enabled the well known ones.

    Invention is really a continuum of events, not a set of unrelated singularities.

  2. I’m always thankful that the patent laws were very weak in the 18th or 19th century or we wouldn’t be reaping the benefits of the industrial revolution today. (I’m that way about medical ethicists, too.)

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