The protective value of software patents was weighed against their potential for stifling innovation in code creation in a Wednesday debate that featured the Free Software Foundation versus a patent attorney and a venture capitalist.
Both sides came out swinging in “Should Software Be Patentable?” with University of California at Berkeley law professor Peter Menell carefully placed between the two sides as moderator. The venue was the Churchill Club in Mountain View, Calif., with about 100 attendees.
An electronic vote at the end showed that the defenders had been vigorous in pressing their case that patents should be retained, an ample majority indicated. Later, when the audience was broken down by occupational segments, it seemed that representatives of private companies, which abound in the area, were in favor of retention, while representatives of government, students, and faculty were in favor of drastic reform or scrapping patents all together.