For the Postgrad Lunch

Posted by Anton Hughes on Thursday, April 06, 2006 with No comments
This is for the postgrad lunch, but I thought it might prove a useful progress report.

1.  What is the working title of your thesis?

Software, Innovation and Imitation: Tailoring Intellectual Property Solutions to Meet the Needs of the Australian Software Industry

2.  In 100 words or less, describe what your thesis is about.

Software and intellectual property have a troublesome relationship. Trade secrets, copyright and now patents have been leveraged to protect software innovations, and all of them have fallen short of the mark. I'm looking at why software has proved so difficult to fit within the patent regime, the resulting stifling of innovation in Australian software development, with a particular focus on the open source software sector.

3.  Why did you chose this topic?

I've worked as a computer programmer for the last 10 years, and figure that there aren't too many people with a foot in both camps who can understand both the law and the technology. So hopefully, I'll be able to find something that others have missed.

4.  Explain the type of work you are doing (e.g. theoretical, empirical, etc).

It's largely theoretical (most IP research seems to be), although I do intend to try and gather some empirical data to support my hypotheses.

5.  Have you applied (or do you intend to apply) for an ethics clearance?

No.

6.  What have you done so far on your thesis?

Read almost every software patent case in the US and Australia back to about 1850. I've published one article on the topic.

7.  What is your favourite way to procrastinate from working on your thesis?

  • Surf the Internet - starting with Slashdot.org (News for Nerds)
  • Drinking coffee
  • Writing software

8.  What is one thing that would make writing your thesis much easier?

A sane theory of the limits of patentable subject matter.

9.  What is the hardest thing so far about writing your thesis?

Writing words that I want to keep.

10. If you weren't writing about your current topic, what other topic would you choose and why?

Something on the relationship between free speech and copyright in software.