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Patents are going to become like copyright currently is. The pace of creation and use is quickly outstripping the ability of legislation to reasonably deal with.

As the pace of technology grows people having the same idea about the same thing at the same time in different locations becomes all but inevitable. It looks to me like IP issues and how they are dealt with internationally is going to be a major feature of the next 15 yrs. It's going to be interesting as large corporations are currently using them to hit each other over the head with!
When Andy Rubin tweeted 'There are now over 500k activations per day....' the response that was RT'd over 300 times was 'We don't give a fuck. Sort out Lodsys'.
+lawrence merritt Speak for yourself, because I don't think most of us feel that way and you're wearing your ignorance of that fact like a CLOWN! .....funny, but closer to the wacky tobacky smoking side of that profession and sorry.... but I'm not hearing any applause for YOU! ;-p
We live in a world where the most heard group convinces itself it is the majority when, in reality, it is only the loudest.

That aside, it should be recognized that this sort of problem existed since the beginning of the patent system. In fact, I recall that the invention of the telephone had two different groups submitting the same patent on nearly the same day. However, Alexander Graham Bell's patent was the one processed first, so he ultimately got the patent protection.

The problem is, patents were intended to cover true physical inventions... such as a coil of copper wire around an iron core, combined with other specific structures to serve a particular purpose. It involved experimentation and research.

With software, it's a completely different monster. Whereas you could have someone accidentally stumble upon the galvanization of rubber in the lab... you wouldn't really have someone accidentally stumbling upon a new piece of software when they intended something else. Ultimately, any virtual idea you can think of, you can program a computer to do. So, computer programs are really more of the realization of virtual ideas than actual inventions. Otherwise, I could just come up with the "idea" of putting a banner at the top of pages, and patent it... and if that's already taken, come up with the "idea" of putting a banner at the bottom of pages, and patent it... eventually, everyone will have come up with every conceivable layout for web pages preventing anyone else from being able to build a website without paying patent licensing fees, which would be ridiculous.

Consider that Amazon has a patent regarding "one click checkout". Who grabbed the patent on "two click checkout" and "three click checkout"?

I think it's perfectly fine to patent a novel approach to touch screens or other manner of invention of physical contraptions. However, the idea of patenting software concepts just ties the hands of programmers the world over.
How's your Blackberry reporting going these days? Still employed at The Guardian....
Dude, do you even science?? btw... lame article on G+.
Hah. The article has most engagement coming from G+
(+1, Likes, Tweets,etc) 
Yeah, he gets way more engagement on G+ and he'd get way more if he shared the articles. G+ is the 2nd biggest Social Network in terms of active user figures. At the rate it's growing it'll overtake FB in the next couple of years. You should embrace it early. 
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