Markus Persson - aka Notch - the somewhat vocal developer behind the hit indie game Minecraft has stepped up to the plate in the battle against the crappy American patent system with a $250,000 donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
"Temporary fixes aren't good enough – we need deep and meaningful reform to protect software development and keep it as free and democratic as possible," said Persson, creator of the popular videogame Minecraft. "New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better – an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely. This is a dangerous path we're on, and I'm glad to help EFF move us in the right direction."The money is going to the EFF's Defend Innovation project (along with another $250,000 from Mark Cuban ).
If you pay even a tiny bit of attention to technology news, you'll know that patent issues have been a Big Deal, especially in the mobile phone world, where patent wars are becoming almost thermonuclear in their intensity. There is a real risk that problems with the US patent system will discourage innovation as entrepreneurs are aggressively blocked by patent trolls.
Software developers are at particular risk with many utterly trivial ideas and concepts being patented "on a computer", making it a bit of a minefield if you're a startup looking to commercialise a great idea. It's great to see Notch step up and put his money where his mouth is in such an epic way and I look forward seeing the EFF put it to good use.
I'm torn about where to stand on this. As a software developer that tries to be a bit inventive I would love to protect any brilliant ideas I came up with, because well I really have nothing else to sell except my brilliant idea. Some company like adobe or google could easily take my idea and sell it c***block me from making any money off it. You might even say that this stifles innovation as why would an independent programmer spend time developing something that can be easily reverse engineered and sold by a large company?
On the other hand a company that patents an idea like 'swipe to unlock' is merely the first to be able to manufacture something that implements the idea, but there was no brilliant idea behind it. But where do you draw the line?
And what about people who patent ideas but never figure out how to actually make them work and never implement or sell the idea? That idea can't be used by someone who legitimately figures out how to use it?
I should add that notch is a lucky guy that really didn't invent anything new, he got lucky by making a huge success out of half of an old concept. So for someone like that, being able to use other people's technology is a big bonus, but protecting his own ideas isn't as important.
last edited by thermite at 12:36:43 20/Dec/12
On the other hand a company that patents an idea like 'swipe to unlock' is merely the first to be able to manufacture something that implements the idea, but there was no brilliant idea behind it.The 30+ year old oven I just got rid of had a glass touch panel on it, must be made by apple.
(actually it was a whirlpool)
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20121219174625546 is pretty cool too - Apple loses patent on "pinch to zoom". Maybe things are already changing!
As a software developer I have had to write patents both for companies I've worked for any myself to protect things I've sunk a lot of time in to. The most recent was something I've written for cycling that I know can make the information provided by TV broacasters to far simplify how they present race results and states.
IMO the real problem lies with the patent office of US giving out patents will nilly and leaving things to get settled in the court. So what Notch is supporting is very noble.
This is good news. I've heard that Apple's patent litigation budget now exceeds their R&D budget. That's gotta be bad for everyone in the long run.
"as entrepreneurs are aggressively blocked by patent trolls. "
Why don't you just say Apple.
"as entrepreneurs are aggressively blocked by patent trolls. "Why don't you just say Apple.
because it isn't just apple
I'd go so far as to say that Apple isn't the one being referred to at all there. Sure they are c**** with patents, but as far as I'm aware they don't go after startups or the like, only the very biggest of their competitors.
The problem referred to there is more about true patent trolls (companies that have a patent but don't actually create or sell anything related to it) suing small companies and startups in the expectation that they won't have the budget or time to defend themselves in court.