It’s a really big world, and if one person comes up with an idea, no matter how innovative they think it is, GUARANTEED thousands if not millions of others have come up with that same idea. I’ve been engineering software for over 25 years, and I can tell you this: there’s nothing new under the sun. No pun intended.
Patents are only useful to big companies (to prevent the little guys from kicking their butts) and patent trolls (to legally extort money from product-producers while producing nothing of value to anyone). Neither use has any positive moral aspect to it, nor does either use benefit mankind in any material way.
For software, copyright is sufficient. Patents are not only unnecessary, but actually illegal if one reads the original patent act’s requirements that patentable inventions have actual physical implementations, and that nothing occurring in nature can be patented.
Since software is nothing but mathematical algorithms, and since all mathematical algorithms already existed from the beginning of time, software is not an “invention”, but rather a discovery. Like music, software is copyrightable. You can’t patent a specific musical chord progression, so there’s no reason software should be patentable.
Therefore, independent implementations of an algorithm in software, according to a strict reading of the law, should be free from claims of both patent and copyright infringement, as long as the implementation was done without copying any actual code which was covered by someone else’s copyright. Only copying of code should technically be forbidden — not only from a strict reading of the existing copyright and patent laws, but from a moral perspective also.
People should be free to implement their ideas, unhindered by government-endorsed extortion by patent bullies, as long as they aren’t copying someone else’s code or misappropriating someone else’s trademarks.