From the days of VisiCalc until today, software -- and software patents -- have come a long way. The patent system itself, on the other hand, is still where it was before the PC was invented. It's time for a change.
When Eolas defeated Microsoft in a suit that involved HTML, even hard-core Microsoft critics found themselves rallying around their opponent. The W3C appealed for relief, and the PTO agreed to review the offending patent. Less noticed was the release of a major report by the Federal Trade Commission, in which the FTC recommends major patent reforms.
In the last ten years, the IT world has made major strides moving from proprietary systems to open standards. But has this change to the competitive landscape actually reduced the ability of coalitions of companies to manipulate commercial outcomes?