A bit of reading about software protection

This article published on the website of the WIPO may be old hat for some of the super-geeks, but for others it may provide useful reading. Another good read on the same subject that also includes a few links and additional information can be found on the website of CORDIS.

For preliminary prior art search search I recommend espacenet and the USPTO. Whatever you do, do read the small print, disclaimers and remember that terminology is in this field as important as syntax is in programming.


Interviewed by Nicole Simon

I was both honoured and delighted to be interviewed about my participation in reboot by Nicole Simon. Here is the link to the podcast on bloxpert.  For my part I found that listening to the other interviews made me feel like I am at reboot already.

What is intellectual property in the time of social and technological knowledge ownership?

In the age of knowledge social ecosystems, emergent phenomena happens in a nonlinear way. After interviewing a few people I had to sit in the garden, listen to the rain, and meditate on the information at hand and the objectives of reboot.

I started my preparation for the interactive inquiry into “Knowledge ownership” (workshop) by picking the brains of a few very bright individuals chosen at random or at my convenience and the few that  braved to volunteer. Given that random is just another form of bias, and convenience can be considered a characteristic of a social system, I thank those named below for sharing their knowledge and opinions in such an informal and generous manner. Both skype (voice and/or im) and personal face-to-face interviews were used.

Ben Voigt, Jean-François Groff, Jens-Christian Fischer, Pedro Custodio, Rick Segal and Matthias Guenter.

Interview questions guidelines: 1. In your formal education, how much intellectual property (IP) training or information have you had? 2. What do you know about IP? 3. When do you use IP? How? 4. What works in today’s IP system? 5. What does not? 6. What kind of IP protection do you wish for? First of all, I learned a lot and was inspired by what was shared in these  interviews. To put it in other words, there is work to do, lots of work, and this is the kind of work that I have fun doing.

Here are a few of the observations synthesized from what I heard and understood:

1. The available tools for intellectual property protection are not well known. University and tertiary education do not deal with the subject in any depth, if at all. A working knowledge is obtained on the job, and thus colored by whatever strategies used at the workplace.

2. The distinction of what constitutes intellectual property is not clear. The available tools and sources of information are not well known.

3. The perception is that the present system works in part and in specific situations, it is however stretched beyond its limits when it comes to software. Software and hardware do not have the same inherent characteristics (development cycle, lifetime, development cost, technical challenge).

4. It is important to protect one’s development investment and reward creativity.

5. Prior art search is not easily accessible. (Where, what, how)

6. Trivial patents are an hinderance.

7. Cost and enforcement are very demanding.

Yes there was more, but the seven points above represent the highlights.

What is the idea here? We will have a chance to interact and get thinking – not just having thoughts – about what is essential in the question of knowledge ownership and what would be fit for purpose. I view this workshop as the first step in creating the kind of knowledge ownership tools or guidelines that are going to serve our world wide needs.

Where do we begin? Consider that we live in a world where:

1. Physical resources are abundant. 2. Business is about people creating economic and social sustainability and bringing forth change. 3. Logistics and knowledge are pivotal intangibles. 4. The key resource is intelligence.

How do we address the question of knowledge ownership in software?