The Predominance of Copyright and the Patent Weapon
When software has become a commercial asset, in the 1970's, its legal protection has converged towards the use of existing tools, and the predominance of copyright.
Copyright protects the expression of an idea. The protection of software by copyright allows its use only within the scope of its license, but it doesn't forbid making similar and/or compatible software.
However, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of software patents in the United States since the 1980's ; but also in Europe, whereas software patents are clearly forbidden!
Software patents are a threat against interoperability, innovation, and free competition:
If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of
today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would
be at a complete standstill today. Bill Gates.
The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no
patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to
impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in
excluding future competitors. Bill Gates.
- Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) - http://www.ffii.org/
- FFII: Software Patents in Europe - http://swpat.ffii.org/
- Patented European webshop http://webshop.ffii.org/
- Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe - http://petition.eurolinux.org/
- Software patent - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent