Tandberg illustrates stupidity of software patent policy

Summary:The patent is still complete tripe, and should never have been filed

Tandberg, the videoconferencing unit of Cisco that some reporters have called a patent troll, has accidentally revealed the stupidity of software patents with a recent application.

X264 developer Jason Garrett-Glaser, a student at Harvey Mudd College (from which this picture was taken after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs referenced his blog) wrote that Tandberg had tried to patent his open source code.

His first blog post on this read:

This is not coincidence. We already know from one of their employees that they follow x264 development. We also know that they file patents for practically everything he comes up with. Well, this time, it looks like they ran out of ideas, so they had to go use the cheat sheet: open source.

This quote set the media off on Tandberg, which contacted Garrett-Glaser to deny the charge.

"Tandberg claims they came up with the algorithm independently: to be fair, I can actually believe this to some extent." He asked people to stop harassing the Tandberg programmer involved.

But he did not back down about his claims concerning the actual patent application.

"The patent is still complete tripe, and should never have been filed." What's being patented is too basic, too simple, to be worthwhile, using the phrase "an apparatus" to try and fool the Patent Office.

At a time when governments around the world are trying to tighten the intellectual property regime, aiming to stop piracy and plagiarism online, it's still ridiculously easy for corporations to steal some kid's code and try to get a patent on it.

Software is not a mousetrap. It's a way for building mousetraps. It should not be patentable.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Software

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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