von Neumann on Software Patents

‘ … they are a commercial group with a commercial patent policy. On the basis of the information before me, I have to conclude that we cannot work with them directly or indirectly, in the same open manner in which we would work with an academic group which has no such interests. I certainly intend to do my part to keep as much of the field “in the public domain” (from the patent point of view) as I can. This is my own inclicnation … ‘

‘ … If you wish to maintain the same type of close contact with the [commercial] group – which is for you and you alone to decide – then you should not put yourself into an incompatible position by communicating with us too. I would apprecitate your making your choice in this respoect before we continue our discussions further.’

— John von Neumann to Frankel, 29 October 1946. Quoted in ‘John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing’ by William Aspray (MIT Press, 1990)

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