March 29, 2013

New Patent Law will Change DevOps and Software Orgs

Version Control

If you were completely wrong about how the patent system works for software last week, this week you're now only just as wrong as most people, and you might even be right. As I pointed out in an article for ReadWrite, the system has changed a lot, thanks to a new law called the America Invents Act.

What's different? Two big things that are going to affect how we release our software, and what we expect from our industry associations. First of all, the new law gives you an incentive to publish a software idea before a would-be patent applicant can, by publishing your software ideas early. After I turned in the article for ReadWrite, the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic announced its own defensive publication site (via Dan Gillmor) to take advantage of the new law. Whether you use a new site, an existing defensive publication program such as Linux Defenders, or your own blog, publishing is now a stronger way to protect youself.

So that's the first way we're going to see the software business change. Besides "continuous integration" and "continuous delivery", we're going to get "continuous prior art," a system that will push out as much documentation as you're willing to release, as soon as it's ready.

The second way that the patent system changes for the better is that it establishes an inexpensive challenge process. But there's no way that I can challenge all the patents that might affect me, and I doubt you can either. But if we work together, through an industry organization that works on subjects we both use, we can track new patents and organize challenges. Let's talk about the best way to do this.

Please read the whole thing over at ReadWrite and let me know what you think.