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Doctrine of Equivalents

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Doctrine of Equivalents is a legal concept which extends the breadth of patents to include ideas or elements that could be considered "equivalent" to the ideas or elements in a patent.

[edit] Little help for software developers

A narrow interpretation of equivalence has been suggested (by Mark A. Lemley and others) as one way to reduce the harm caused by software patents. However, in the case of standards and compatibility, this would provide no help at all. To be compatible with other software, or to process common data formats, a software developer needs to make her program behave in an identical manner to the existing software.

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