Rule Utilitarians on Software Patents


Paper details 

Discuss whether and how patents should be applied to software, from a rule utilitarian perspective.
Write a paper with three separate sections, label each section by number.
Section 1: What reasons could a rule utilitarian cite for allowing the government to grant legal
patent protection to Adobe for the algorithms of its PHOTOSHOP digital picture
processing software? (This software package processes the digital picture file, allowing
you to remove ‘red-eye’, adjust color and contrast, crop the picture, etc.. *)
Section 2: What reasons could a rule utilitarian cite for claiming that such a patent on these
algorithms should not be granted?
Section 3: Consider Amazon’s 1-Click check-out method. The patent for that protects the
functionality of a feature of Amazon’s user interface. The patent forbids any other
company from using software with the same 1-Click checkout functionality (unless they
pay Amazon a royalty). This patent on a business method prevents others from freely
inventing their own software with the same functionality (enabling the execution of a
purchase with a single click) – even if the code and algorithms are different from
Amazon’s program. What reasons might a rule utilitarian cite for arguing that
patents should be limited to the algorithm, and not the functionality, of a program?

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