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Software Technical Committee > Blog
Software Patents (increasing costs of products and services and hindering the innovation)

The question of which culture originally invented the wheeled vehicle remains unresolved and under debate.


This was finally settled in 2001 when  Ig Nobel Prize for technology was awarded jointly to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, for patenting the wheel in the year 2001, and to the Australian Patent Office for granting him Innovation Patent #2001100012. (probably  6,000 years after  it was invented)

On a serious note, patents are a big deal in the software industry right now. Lawsuits are proliferating. Big technology companies are spending billions of dollars to buy up huge patent portfolios in order to defend themselves. Computer programmers say patents are hindering innovation.

For decades, the patent office considered software to be like language. A piece of software was more like a book or an article. You could copyright the code, but you couldn't patent the whole idea. In the 1990s, the Federal courts stepped in and started chipping away at this interpretation. There was a couple big decisions, one in 1994 and another in 1998, which overturned the patent office completely.

A flood of software patents followed. A lot of people in Silicon valley wish that had never happened, including a very surprising group: computer programmers.

More details and audio podcast (Note: technology used in pod-costing itself was in a dispute :-) is available at:


When Patents Attack

Some excerpts:

“..At the same time Crawford's patent was being prosecuted, more than 5,000 other patents were issued for "the same thing," Martin says.

Martin says about 30 percent of U.S. patents are essentially on things that have already been invented. In 2000, for example, the patent office granted a patent on making toast — patent number 6080436, "Bread Refreshing Method."

US congress is working to reform the process


Baseball and BP  by Dr. Merlin Dorfman
Newsweek editor-in-chief Jon Meacham asks: why can’t the Gulf of Mexico oil spill be handled more like the missed-call (non) perfect game in Detroit? The umpire admitted he blew the call, the pitcher who had his perfect game taken away shook the ump’s hand, the fans cheered, eyes grew damp. Good sportsmanship, apologies, “be honest, admit mistakes, and keep moving.”
Please read full post at:
Agile Methods and Process/Quality Standards By Dr. Merlin Dorfman
Several readers of my previous posting about agile methods and software quality have asked: is it possible to follow an agile process and still comply with process and quality standards such as ISO 9001, TL 9000, and the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)? The answer is: it depends. In a nutshell, agile methods give the development team a great deal of freedom as to what activities to carry out; if they choose activities, including documentation and review/approval, that conform to the standard, then they can claim conformance and obtain any certification that may be available.  They may also find that the practices put into place to achieve compliance actually improve their software development performance.


dorfman May 13th, 2010 1 Comment

“Quality is more than the absence of bugs”
In recent years, a strong trend has emerged toward the use of “Agile Methods” for development of software and of software-intensive systems. While many forms of Agile exist, they tend to be characterized by values such as “communication, simplicity, feedback, courage, respect” (Extreme Programming [“XP”], Ref.1) and “Interactions and individuals over processes and tools; Working code over comprehensive documentation; Customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and

Risk-taking and the “Freedom to Fail” by Dr. Merlin Dorfman

Risk-taking and the “Freedom to Fail”

dorfman January 5th, 2011 1 Comment

“Take calculated risks–that is quite different from being rash.”
General George S. Patton
Especially in high-tech, progress is made only by taking risks. Taking a risk implies the possibility of partial or complete failure. So how can we decide what risks to take, and how can we encourage the identification of those risks and the willingness to go forward with them, i.e., institute a culture of risk-taking?
One of the most important factors in encouraging risk-taking is the “freedom to fail.” That does


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