Debunking the Software Patent Myths

Paul Heckel, Hyperracks Inc.

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University May 13, 1992


The League for Programming Freedom calls Mr. Heckel's software patent an "absurd patent," and "outrageous result." In a February talk in this series, Mr. Stallman of the League said Mr. Heckel was "extorting Apple Computer" by suing them for patent infringement on Hypercard. Mr. Heckel will set the record straight on his patents and the results of his research into the value and history of patents in general and especially software patents. Learn that:

* Patents are a constitutional right.
* A PC software company is named for a 15th century patentholder.
* The current software patent mess is a result of IBM's using its influence to weaken software as a competing technology. IBM got its in house policy written into a supreme court decision.
* Patents are in the interest of the software developer, innovation, and U.S. competitiveness.
* The nine patents the League cites on examination show software patents promote innovation, new business formation and generally prove the opposite of the League's allegations about software patents.


Paul Heckel has been involved in leading edge software since the early 1960's when he worked on developing systems software for several early timesharing systems in the early 1970's he worked at Xerox PARC. In 1982 he founded QuickView systems to develop personal and notebook computer software. He is the author of The Elements of Friendly Software Design (Sybex). This talk is taken from "Debunking the Software Patent Myth," to be published in the Communications of the ACM 1992.

NOTE: The views expressed here (as well as those expressed by Stallman) are those of the respective speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the seminar organizers or of Stanford University.


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