Skip to Content

White House Petition to End Software Patents Is a Hit

Now that Congress failed to reform software patents, will the Obama administration step up?
September 24, 2011

At this moment, on the White House’s official website for petitioning the government, the only thing as popular as legalizing marijuana and separating church from state is a petition to “Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents.”

There are lots of good reasons to end the practice of patenting software, including the fact that software patents are primarily a vehicle for transferring wealth from the innovators who create it to patent trolls whose sole “product” is litigation. (Software patents are also sometimes used by big companies to take their rivals down a peg or two, in what seems like an effort to pile up so many cross-licensing fees that they all cancel each other out.)

Anyway, if you agree that this madness must stop, you’d better get yourself over to WhiteHouse.gov, because as of the last time I reloaded that site, the petition still needed 531 more signatures in order to merit an official response.

Unfortunately, that “official response”—a written statement—is about all anyone can expect from this effort. It seems that even though the U.S. Constitution provides an avenue for citizens to petition their government, it says nothing about how the government should handle those petitions.

Hopefully someone’s at least posting them over the water cooler, so administration decision-makers can get a sense of how those other branches of the government are failing to address one of the technology industry’s most pressing issues.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Russian servicemen take part in a military drills
Russian servicemen take part in a military drills

How a Russian cyberwar in Ukraine could ripple out globally

Soldiers and tanks may care about national borders. Cyber doesn't.

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.