A Few Historical Opponents to the Patent System

Computerists are aware of the Open Source, and Free Software engineering and political tendencies. They may also be aware of the resistance to patents on algorithms and software. However, I and others were unaware of the long legacy of historical skepticism toward patents.

Jagadish Chandra Bose microwave and semiconductor researcher.

Madame and Pierre Curie radiation researcher.

When asked why she and her husband, Pierre Curie did not patent the procedure for extraction and purification of radium, something which would have made them very wealthy, she said "No, It would be contrary to the scientific spirit."

Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, inventor of the x-ray.

And, of course, Donald Knuth.

This is not to say that patents should not exist. All of these scientists held patents, but not on their "great works" that have helped lay the foundation for our technological society. Those things, they've "given away" or simply published. In return, they were awarded prizes, some monetary, for their important work.

It's something to think about.