Why Enterprises Should Fight Software Patents


At times the battle over whether software should be patentable can seem distant thunder to those trying running a company. But the threat software patents pose to the enterprise may be closer than you think:

An enormous number of programmers are employed in organizations we don't think of as software firms, developing custom applications for the internal use of their employers. In a sense, every company of non-trivial size is a software company.


And this, I think, is one of the things that makes software patents so dangerous. A firm doesn't have to worry that its fleet of company cars infringe patents; that's generally the responsibility of the car manufacturers. In a healthy patent system, companies should only have to worry about patents in their own line of business. But when a company "manufactures" a software product for internal use, they suddenly have to worry about whether their internal software might be violating some patents.

So if people are coding in your company, you probably should care about whether software can be patented or not. Indeed, it might be cheaper making a donation to the fight against allowing them in Europe than paying endless licensing fees to use them.