Instagram made a Snapchat knockoff. Can they even do that?

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""Ideas, before you actually put them to work, are very vulnerable to stealing," said University of California, Hastings law professor Ben Depoorter. "We give protection to someone who can make good on that idea, and put it into a particular application, practice, expression, art form.

Software patents have always been a little murky, said University of Idaho law professor Annemarie Bridy, and litigants are even more gun-shy since a 2014 Supreme court ruling threw a bunch of patents in doubt.

“If it’s a patent that just takes existing prior art and says ‘do it on a computer,’ that's too abstract to be patent-able,” Bridy said.

That kind of takes us back to the idea of Stories. Sure, the execution is similar but does anyone really own a time-limited slideshow?

“It’s always interesting to see how Silicon Valley companies sort of assimilate innovations from other sources as a way of remaining competitive,” Bridy said. “Innovation works through imitation, innovation is cumulative. Innovation inevitably involves copying earlier technologies and then improving on them.”"


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