Do Software Patents Stifle Innovation?

This post from Small But Disorganized started as a comment to my earlier post on software patents which talks about Martin Fink, HP's vice president of Linux, and his comments that software patents are here to stay and that we should just grin and bear it, and that its foolhardy not to pursue them. Quoting the response:

"I think what disturbs the open-source programmer is that large corporations use their patent library as a shield and club, cross-licensing them with other companies, thus avoiding lawsuits. Small companies, open-source projects and individual developers can't protect themselves from large corporations' patent claims by cross-licensing as they have no huge library of patents with which to engage in cross-licensing.

Most cannot even afford the cost of pursuing a patent, so the issue of being foolhardy in not pursuing a patent is moot.

The effect of all this is to stifle innovation and create stagnant monopolies. The little guy can't innovate for fear of lawsuits and the cost of the patent process. This leaves a few large corporations in control of the industry, where they don't have to innovate. They can just sit back and collect license fees."