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Commercial-off-the-shelf software components are considered an important technology for future software development. However, compared to their potential benefit, their market success has been modest. This article discusses how unrestricted proliferation of functionally similar software components is technically and economically disadvantageous. Software patents can slow it further by channeling it into either additional applications of existing technology or more significant improvements to that technology. This would facilitate component-based software reuse and strengthen COTS software's weak business model.