It’s a strange time to be living in Britain. From one perspective, things could hardly be worse: the railways are still in a pitifully poor state, following the Hatfield crash months ago; the countryside is stalked by bonfires of diseased carcasses; the weather, never anything to write home about, continues to be biblically bad, with incessant rain and floods.
That’s what you would glean from the newspapers (and foreigners are apparently cancelling travel plans to Britain in droves). But everyday experience isn’t like that. The economy continues to flourish, with unemployment below 1 million for the first time in decades, and inflation at near-record lows. And good sense rules in some quarters of government.
That particularly applies to the recent conclusions of the Patent Office on software and business processes. “The Government�s conclusion is thus to reaffirm the principle that patents are for technological innovations. Software should not be patentable where there is no technological innovation, and technological innovations should not cease to be patentable merely because the innovation lies in software.”
Going further, “There is no sign, at least to date, of a want of innovation in computer-implemented business methods, and nor was there in the US before business methods became patentable in 1998. Intense innovation has characterised this field. The Government�s conclusion is that those who favour some form of patentability for business methods have not provided the necessary evidence that it would be likely to increase innovation. Unless and until that evidence is available, ways of doing business should remain unpatentable.”
So the lunacy of the Amazon.com One-Click patent can’t exist in the UK. Hallelujah for (not so) small mercies. Now, if only we can work on getting a more Silicon Valley-like climate, maybe Britain could attract and retain a critical mass of independent developers.