The question is this: where do we draw the line between private ownership and the public domain? It is not a question of choosing between copyright and patent, of choosing between hardware and software, or of choosing between implementation and algorithm. It is a more fundamental question that reaches back to ancient human values and transcends our current fixation on computers and software. It helps to put things in perspective. When debating where we and the law are headed (as we are now), it helps to know where we have been. In this regard, do not assume that software patents are newtrodden soil. In fact, software patents have been around longer than you might think. What was the first software patent? The answer may surprise you.
Gregory A. Stobbs,
Information Wants to be Free, but the Packaging is Going to Cost You,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol2/iss1/3