At the recent D10 conference hosted by All Things Digital, Apple CEO Tim Cook was the latest voice from the software development community suggesting that the current U.S. patent system is "broken" and could be standing in the way of innovation. But although most regulatory bodies will concede that there is room for improvement, the intellectual property management incentives embedded in the current system still have plenty to offer savvy software developers.
According to Apple Insider, Cook aired his frustrations with a system he would prefer didn't exist while simultaneously pledging to defend his company's innovations using the current rules of the game. As he suggested, rival firms should not be able to effectively mark their signature at the bottom of a painting created by Apple developers and pass the artwork off as their own.
But as ZDNet's Steven Shaw suggested, software innovators like Apple would be far less likely to evolve their offerings in the first place without the protections afforded to them via the patent system.
"The majority of people will not innovate without the economic incentive the intellectual property laws provide," Shaw explained. "Whatever percentage of innovation that majority represents - and I'd argue it's an overwhelming majority - is how much innovation we'll lose if the current intellectual property laws protecting software were scrapped."
In Shaw's view, the fact that information may now be the most important form of currency in a knowledge-based economy means that keeping strong patent protections in place now will be essential for any future growth.