Digital rights Law & Freedom

Software Patents and Innovation stimulation

Ford Model T, 1926

In Mexico, we don’t have software patents and recently, New Zealand has also banned software patents in an effort to get rid of patent trolls.

A few days ago while talking with a book author and lawyer, I mentioned my interest in copyright and patent law, as they affect my field of work constantly, even though I’m not living in the US. I mentioned that in Mexico we don’t have software patents. That you cannot patent an idea, only inventions. And she asked: “what’s the incentive to create something, if when you do, others can come by and steal your work? That doesn’t seem like a good idea”. I answered that you could copyright software, but not patent it. This way we don’t have patent trolls in Mexico, who only patent an idea but never do anything practical with it, and make it hard for anyone who tries.

Henry Ford revolutionized the car industry, but first he had to fight the patent on the automobile to sell his affordable cars. The owners of the patent were not granting him a license because they didn’t want common people to buy cars. The car patent owners didn’t built any cars, their only business was charging for licenses on every car built by manufacturers, raising the final cost of the car to the customer. If its innovation what we want, patent monopolies are not the answer.

After thinking some more on that conversation, my answer would be: “then I would make it better”. Free use of ideas are a better fuel for innovation, and a constant threat to your business is a great motivation to improve yourself. Market protection will only make it very comfortable to sit on an idea an do nothing to continuously improve and get creative.

New Zealand has also joined this mindset banning software patents by declaring that software is not a patentable invention.

Ford Model T Grille

As a side note, Ford’s Model-T was almost entirely made of hemp (marijuana) resin and initially ran on hemp ethanol, not gasoline. Later Rockefeller’s oil companies changed that.

By Gabriel Saldaña

Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter