The Future Party has had extended internal discussion about the need for patent reform and what such reform would entail. Below is a summary of our beliefs regarding patents at the moment, which focuses on software patents, a highly contentious form of patent.
- We believe that innovation would still occur if we were to remove the patent system. The rate of development under a system without patents is debatable.
- Software patents are mathematics patents. If we follow the rules of patenting strictly, patents such as these probably shouldn’t exist.
- We believe patents (especially software patents) are granted too easily. If an expert in the field is able to reproduce the results without having looked at the code, then the patent should never have been granted to begin with.
- A software patent which is a computerised version of an obvious physical process should not be granted.
- Software patents are written too broadly. You should only be able to patent specific solutions, not general functions. You should only be able to patent a lawn mower, not mowing the lawn.
- Patents, as they currently stand, award monopoly power. Members of the Future Party are generally against monopoly powers because they can be (and have been) exploited. There may be scope for an alternate royalty based system.
- Finally, the majority of patents filed in the software industry today are mainly defensive patents to avoid nefarious litigation. This shows the system as stands is broken, that too many questionable patents have a strong legal standing and there is scope for change.
Please leave your thoughts below about how you think we can improve the patent system to ensure that innovation is supported effectively.