It's a nice personal landmark, although I as such am not supportive of the idea of software patents. In the case of our innovation, what is patented is the unique approach, and thereby it promotes further R&D investments in that area.
My main peeves against patentability in general are:
- It's use by large corporations to bully smaller ones due to the risk of litigation costs. In the U.S., I'm amazed by the time and energy lost in haggling with litigation firms, who make a living out of this
- It's often used to monopolize the market, at least in the near term, by establishing some proprietary standard which the general public is then trapped with. Or worse still, caught between having to choose between two standards which are not interoperable. More money, more time lost.
- Poor quality reviews by patent examiners - Understandably, since they are overwhelmed by the sheer volumes, it takes them years to get through patents. Mine took seven years! Despite that, since patents are often in very specialized niche areas, the examiners are often not qualified to judge them effectively and patents get awarded for things which are just minor derivative improvements.
- The open source and SME community suffers - thereby choking innovation at lower levels before they can become fruitful.
- The number of patents does not correlate to value to society, which should be the longer term goal.
All in all, I'm not saying patentability is a bad thing. However, I believe that it needs to be tuned to benefit society better.
Here's the letter with the details of the patent grant.
February 19, 2007
Mr. Aravind Krishnaswamy
Re: U.S. Serial No. 09/781,638 - Patent No. 7,174,536
Integrated Interactive Software Visualization Environment
Dear Mr. Krishnaswamy:
We are pleased to advise that a patent has been granted on the referenced patent application. The patent, entitled Integrated Interactive Software Visualization Environment, issued on February 6, 2007, and was given U.S. Patent Number 7,174,536. The patent may be viewed by entering the patent number at the following link: http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm. Please contact our office if you would like us to send you an electronic version of the patent, or if you would like assistance in viewing or downloading the patent. Thank you for all of your efforts in working with this office and our attorney to make this possible.
Kenneth Kirkland, Ph.D.
Inventors: Kothari; Suraj C. (Ames, IA), Krishnaswamy; Aravind (Redwood City, CA), Namara; Yogy (Ames, IA), Deng; Yunbo (Ames, IA)
Assignee: Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc. (Ames, IA)
Appl. No.: 09/781,638
Filed: February 12, 2001
Current U.S. Class: 717/109 ; 717/105; 717/113; 717/123; 717/125; 717/144; 717/155; 717/156
Current International Class: G06F 9/44 (20060101); G06F 9/45 (20060101)