A Sign of the (Litigious) Times

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2001-02-05 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can't own knowledge, but you can patent software. Tens of thousands of software patents are issued every year, and patents—unlike copyrights—can't be evaded by "clean room" programming.

You cant own knowledge, but you can patent software. Tens of thousands of software patents are issued every year, and patents—unlike copyrights—cant be evaded by "clean room" programming. If the idea is patented, the patent holder owns it even if you "invented" the same thing with no knowledge of that prior work.

The threat of finding that someone else, in effect, owns the product that you spent years developing is a major opportunity for intellectual property law firms like the one that posts a sign at San Jose International Airport.

Just as a product team takes the trouble to search for trademarks and URLs that arent already taken, a patent counsel is quickly becoming an indispensable part of any commercial software launch.

 
 
 
 
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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