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Patenting around what will become essential

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In software, it is often easy to see what will become essential in the medium-term future.

[edit] IPv6 example

IPv6 is a networking protocol which will replace the current IPv4 on which the Internet is based. The IPv4 system is currently running out of addresses, so the change is unavoidable - like moving from six digit telephone numbers to seven digits. Everyone can see that people will continue using the Internet for telephone, video, websites, etc. etc.

Having a patent on something that's required by hundreds of millions of people is very lucrative, so the worry is that many companies will patent methods for transmitting video via IPv6, or conference calls via IPv6, etc.

If these things are patented, they will block developers from writing useful software.

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