Open Source Paradigm – Beyond the Solution to the Software Patentability Debate

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 Last revised: 8 Mar 2021

See all articles by Giovanna Massarotto

Giovanna Massarotto

Center for Technology Innovation and Competition (CTIC), University of Pennsylvania; UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies (UCL CBT)

Date Written: November 29, 2015

Abstract

Around 300 B.C., a Greek mathematician — Euclid — discovered a theorem on which modern geometry and a fundamental algorithm is based. The Euclid’s theorem represents a method for calculating the greatest common divisors between two integers. Since 300 B.C., both Euclid’s Theorem and algorithm have been applied in many fields, including algebra and geometry. But, what would have happened if Euclid’s Theorem had been patented? The issue is not whether we can continue to use Euclid’s Theorem without paying royalties, but rather if software and algorithms underlying the software are patentable. Although software is based on algorithms similar to the algorithm discovered by Euclid, in the United States software are generally patented.

Open source paradigm — here explored — could resolve the software patentability issue, in addition to represent the best economic/social paradigm to apply in technology industry. Android — Google’s open source operating system — for example, is installed in more than eighty percent of worldwide smartphone showing that open source strategy is workable. The Web developed by Tim Burney-Lee is another of these examples. If the Web had been patented, innovation and the development of technology would have been inevitably compromised. Instead of patent protection, the United States legislator could guarantee through copyright an adequate (and not exaggerate) software legal protection.

Keywords: open source, software patentability, competition, innovation, open source paradigm, software copyright

JEL Classification: D23; K11; K21; L17: L21: O31; O34

Suggested Citation

Massarotto, Giovanna, Open Source Paradigm – Beyond the Solution to the Software Patentability Debate (November 29, 2015). John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law, Vol. 15, No. 4, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2701266 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2701266

Giovanna Massarotto (Contact Author)

Center for Technology Innovation and Competition (CTIC), University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies (UCL CBT) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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