There are several aspects of intellectual property that relate to software agent technology.
Any serious attempts to patent core agent technology could dramatically impede the development and deployment of the technology.
General Magic had a patent for mobile agents, but its status is unknown as the company has been liquidated.
Jarg Corporation has a 2001 patent covering "knowledge-fragment enabled intelligent autonomous agents".
It is anticipated than much of the source code for software agents and agent infrastructure will be public domain or open source. However, some will not, so licensing issues will require attention.
Extensive and comprehensive ontologies will become important for the development of software agents. But, organizations that expend the significant amounts of resources to develop various ontologies may seek to protect them and require licensing or access fees.
Even if core software agent technology is cheaply and readily available, the sheer complexity of utilizing the technology in real-world domains may result in organizations resorting to IP protection to protect the significant investment that an organization may make in adapting and connecting the core software agent technology to specific legacy systems or the extensive and specific requirements of specific domains. Trade secret and copyright protection may hinder development, and patents may raise prohibitive barriers to development for all but the most motivated and well-funded organizations.
In the course of its operation, an active software agent may have need to access digital content which is protected (in a legal sense). A "license" may be needed, and access fees may be levied.
A per-use license may be granted, or a specific agent may be granted a blanket license for specified classes of protected content.
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Updated: February 08, 2006 09:09:26 PM -0500
Copyright © 2004 John W. Krupansky d/b/a Base Technology