Why You Should Support The SHIELD Act

Simon Phipps | InfoWorld | March 8, 2013

Shocker! All sides of the debate agree the SHIELD Act offers part of the reform needed for U.S. patent system

I've said before, and often repeated, that software patents are evil. Ask almost any experienced software product engineer -- especially in an open source project -- and they'll tell you software patents are a bug, not a feature. The worst problem they face is patent trolls appearing from nowhere and enaging in a legal shakedown. Even President Obama says, "They don't actually produce anything themselves. They are essentially trying to leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them."

Now a partial fix may be coming, in the shape of the SHIELD Act, an initiative in Congress that's intended to thwart patent trolls. You may be surprised who supports it.

There are companies that benefit from their ability to interpose themselves in other people's innovation and defend software patents because of it. Microsoft, for example, is said to earn significant income from Android, a platform it has had no direct or indirect involvement whatsoever in developing, based on the likelihood there will be ideas within Android over which Microsoft can claim rights...