Beyond just individual genius, innovation and advancement requires the ability to build upon existing technologies to improve them. It can at times be a fine distinction when thinking about respecting patents, but it is not incompatible to believe that both patents and the freedom of innovation should have equal footing in the intellectual property space.
Some believe so strongly in the ethos of innovation and creativity that they willingly offer up their own work for free. The internet is replete with resources for free software and open source code, many of which allow use and improvements based upon a user agreement that stipulates that those resources remain free for all to use. But one tech giant is alleged to be acting in bad faith in trying to profit from someone's freely available work.
Jarek Duda, the inventor of a compression algorithm called asymmetric numeral systems, is claiming that Google is attempting to patent his work that he placed in the public domain upon its creation in 2014. Google claims that their patent is for an application of Duda's creation, which the company claims is merely theoretical and thus not patentable. However, Duda has noted that Google's patent filing has no meaningful difference from his work, an opinion that was upheld in a preliminary ruling by a European court.
Duda's ANS algorithm is has proven to be an incredibly valuable breakthrough, with companies like Facebook, Apple and Google already taking advantage of its free use in their own software. And that value is further evidenced by the fact that Google would try to surreptitiously patent the work for its own use. But Duda has continued to protect his work as public domain, and Google's attempt to patent his creation would seem to represent needless greed on the part of a tech giant that already has a considerable portfolio of its own patents. After all, if the algorithm remains available for all to use, what concern would Google have if being locked out from using it? This reading would suggest that they wish to prevent others from being able to freely use the algorithm.
Today's landscape of big tech companies is a highly competitive world. But maintaining an environment in which smaller companies can exist, and one in which innovation in encouraged and protected, requires a good faith effort on the part of all to adhere to the rules and laws. For the sake of creativity and some semblance of fairness, it can be hoped that Google sees the light in this regard.