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Sept 24 Is World Day Against Software Patents

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the come-together dept.

Patents 155

zoobab writes "Veteran European anti-software patent campaigners have launched the World Day against Software Patents. They say, 'The issue of software patents is a global one, and several governments and patent offices around the world continue to grant software & business method patents on a daily basis; they are pushing for legal codification of the practice, such as currently in New Zealand and India. We declare the 24 September as the World Day Against Software Patents, in commemoration of the European Parliament First Reading in 2003 with amendments stopping the harmful patenting of software, guaranteeing that software programmers and businesses can safely benefit from the fruits of their work under copyright law.'"

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What to do (3, Informative)

PainMeds (1301879) | more than 5 years ago | (#25133931)

From TFA:

What to do?

1. Please sign or comment on our Draft Petition
2. Write to your Patent Office, Senators and Deputies
3. ...
4. Don't Profit!

Re:What to do (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25133969)

unless you're the owner of a small software company which is having problems because you can sit down and write something useful you thought up yourself, sell it as your product and then get sued for infringing a patent held by some company which does nothing but patent vague ideas and sue people.

Re:What to do (3, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134587)

I'm okay patents & copyrights, but there should be a time limit.

7 years or maybe 14 years, but that's it. Plenty of time to make a profit & recoup the costs of the invention. If a company can't make money during 14 years time, then that company doesn't deserve the patent; it should go public domain.

WTF? Are you missing fingers or something? (3, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134625)

What is the deal with all these base-7 solutions?

When I was a kid, I had a friend who only had 7 fingers, but his hands were deformed. Is that the case with you "14 year limit" guys too?

Re:WTF? Are you missing fingers or something? (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135319)

I'd be more okay with Software Patents, if they were limited to five years myself. As it is, 20 is way too long for software.

Re:WTF? Are you missing fingers or something? (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135377)

"7" is codified in many, many laws. And now it's become a kind of default.

Re:WTF? Are you missing fingers or something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25135823)

Then they would be 20 year guys, not 14.

Re:What to do (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25136133)

I'm not okay with patents on software. Most importantly, software patents contain no source code. Reproducing something based on the patent is impossible - you have to do the work that the "inventor" did all over again. Additionally, proprietary software effectively remains a trade secret forever, because the source code most often is never disclosed. Therefore, software patents are in fact patents on trade secrets. In any other field this would be considered absurd and counterproductive, but seemingly not so in the IT world.

Re:What to do (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25133983)

http://stopsoftwarepatents.org/petition [stopsoftwarepatents.org]

Re:What to do (2, Insightful)

mraway (1321283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134181)

I won't support these until the world offers me free bread.

Re:What to do (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134229)

The world does offer you a free beard.

Re:What to do (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135117)

There are a few places in every city that will do just that.

Ugh, it's always "n" day... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134473)

where n = your favorite obscure cause.

Seriously folks. The American economy is in shambles because Democrat AND Republican Congressmen and Presidents starting with Bill Clinton and running through George Bush pandered for votes by "encouraging" banks to make home loans to people who couldn't afford them - all under the guise of increasing home ownership. What did people think would happen when banks started making big loans to the 66th percentile of income earner with no down-payment? As with all mortgages, these crappy loans were securitized, and idiots bought them up like candy because the government promised that they'd back these loans. Fannie and Freddie (but especially Fannie) became a Democrat playground, and finally last week the whole house of cards came crashing down. We now find ourselves in a position where the government wants to take over Wall St. and is pointing the finger at the nebulous enemy they call "greed," when government intervention in the free market in the name of vote pandering is what created this whole stinking mess! The audacity!!! And 62% of Americans think that the government didn't do enough!!?? It just boggles my mind, the stupidity of the average person! Folks, we're on our way to the U.S. government seizing your 401(k) to bail out another failing vote-pandering scheme turned deficit spending slush fund called Social Security. This is only the beginning. But hey, cheer up! Today is apparently "Shit all over private property" day.

Re:Ugh, it's always "n" day... (0, Flamebait)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134995)

I'm not stupid, and I think you're wrong. The problem was directly caused by lack of regulation and enforcement.

FWIW, you need to do more research. The opinion radio slant you've got there is a particularly ugly one.

Yes, it was "greed" that drove the crooks to dodge, break, and change the law. And it was probably greed that caused Bush and the "Goldman Sachs" crew to give the financial services industry the all-clear; they wouldn't even have to worry about SEC action anymore.

If anything, Social Security has been too successful, and you're characterization of it is just plain strange.

Is there anything that will shake your faith? Your libertarian utopia has never existed. All you have is belief.

Re:Ugh, it's always "n" day... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25135519)

"I'm not stupid..."

Apparently you are, if you still think that Social Security is viable. Are you not aware that politicians have been borrowing against surpluses in the Social Security trust for YEARS in order to prop up their other failing income redistribution programs? They've been robbing Peter to pay Paul. Now tell me, where is the money going to come from to repay the debts to the Social Security trust when all of the boomers have retired and there are more people collecting Social Security checks than there are workers paying into this debacle?

Furthermore, Social Security amounts to double-taxation. My paycheck is "taxed" every payday since the day I began working at age 16. At first I was ok with that because I was under the illusion that I would one day receive back what I put in to the system. But then I realized that I also had to pay taxes on the back-end when I collect whatever pittance is left after the political class is finished raping the Social Security trust. In effect, the government is borrowing money from me, and I'M THE ONE PAYING THEM!!! If this doesn't outrage you, then nothing will. Enjoy the illusion of safety you have from inside your welfare cage. For your sake I hope I'm wrong, because it's apparently all that you have.

Re:Ugh, it's always "n" day... (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135841)

Wow, how the hell did you get modded insightful? Your post is both Offtopic and Flamebait, but certainly not Insightful...

Re:What to do (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135753)

Erm... doesn't signing a *draft* petition amount to signing a blank page ?

Nice job, editors (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25133953)

Thanks for the advance heads-up, so we could you know, like ORGANIZE something. Instead of doing something, anything about it, let's just bitch about it on /. the day it happens. Thanks, good job.

Day of this, day of that... (3, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25133967)

We should also have official Day of Linux Desktop.

Re:Day of this, day of that... (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134019)

We should also have official Day of Linux Desktop.

It's okay. Next year we have a whole year planned for that.

Re:Day of this, day of that... (4, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134023)

Interestingly, Sept 25 Is World Day Against World Days. Look it up.

Re:Day of this, day of that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134427)

Which would be easier to enforce if tech-people called in sick on the 24th...

People who's stuff goes and stays down would rue special days after that.

(ironic captcha = fixers)

Re:Day of this, day of that... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134661)

As the holder of patent #175867433764 "Global event against Global events as imagined by nerds" please make sure you buy me a pint or come to some other reasonable and non-discriminatory arrangement with me before looking it up.

Cheers.

P.S., We have also filed to patent our innovative "Day" concept. We fully anticipate that this will be extremely valuable IP after the LHC muppets have changed their batteries and destroyed us all with their black hole.

Re:Day of this, day of that... (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134539)

Every day is the Day of Linux on the Desktop

Re:Day of this, day of that... (1)

cjjjer (530715) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134895)

I thought it was assumed that {INSERT_CURRENT_YEAR_HERE} was "Year of the Linux Desktop".

Re:Day of this, day of that... (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135059)

I thought it was assumed that {INSERT_CURRENT_YEAR_HERE} was "Year of the Linux Desktop".

Actually, that depends on your locale settings, particularly LANG and LC_TIME.

Re:Day of this, day of that... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135325)

Close, but it's actually always next year.

Mine (0)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#25133979)

I'm sorry, but I already own the patent for "World Day Against [Miscellaneous Topic]".

Therefore you must send me 1 million bucks so I don't sue your ass.

Re:Mine (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134245)

You can have two: Buck Rogers and Uncle Buck.

Patents and circles of knowledge (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25133987)

If you are a programmer, you probably come up with a myriad of ideas that are already patented by someone else. This is because your circle of knowledge encompasses programming and there are certain patterns and solutions that seem to emerge in the course of development.

Is it not also true for other circles of knowledge as well? There are only a few gun designs, but there are many types of guns. Same with refrigerators, pens, book bindings, and shopping carts. If you are an expert in any of those circles of knowledge, then any new patented invention will seem obvious and trivial.

So are we to throw out all patents because anyone who is an expert would consider a new invention to be trivial and obvious? Is "non-obvious" really a good measure of patentability?

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (4, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134081)

So are we to throw out all patents because anyone who is an expert would consider a new invention to be trivial and obvious? Is "non-obvious" really a good measure of patentability?

Is "being the first to file on anything" a good measure of patentability? That's the other alternative to a measure of "non-obviousness".

As for trivial and obvious, there are things you can patent that aren't trivial or obvious. They may seem like a logical step after the fact, but if no-one else has made that step then it isn't that obvious. If, however, hundreds upon thousands of software developers have had the idea of linking data objects in to a list in multiple directions for easy access then patenting it [slashdot.org] is patenting the obvious.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134369)

if no-one else has made that step then it isn't that obvious

And assuming that the entirety of patents would contain all "steps" that have been made that can be patented, a step that has not yet been patented would be non-obvious, right?

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134935)

And assuming that the entirety of patents would contain all "steps" that have been made that can be patented, a step that has not yet been patented would be non-obvious, right?

No. Merely novel. There's three requirements for patentability. Usefulness, novelty, and non-obviousness. If a "step" hasn't been done before, it's novel. But it may not be non-obvious. The step of doing "X" on the internet, when "X" has already been done somewhere else, comes immediately to mind. Or, the step of doing "X" on a "portable multimedia player", when "X" has already been done on a regular computer.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135161)

Your sarcasm detector appears to be broken.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135459)

Your sarcasm detector appears to be broken.

Sorry, I have to disable it when it comes to patents, because so many people (most of them, oddly, patent examiners and patent lawyers) seem to believe such absurd things.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (2, Funny)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 5 years ago | (#25136119)

Your sarcasm detector appears to be broken.

i've got a patent on the sarcasm detector so he'll owe me if he uses it

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135125)

They may seem like a logical step after the fact, but if no-one else has made that step then it isn't that obvious.

It may be that it isn't obvious, or it may be that it's the obvious solution to a problem no-one has previously wanted to solve.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135623)

but if no-one else has made that step then it isn't that obvious.

The problem with that argument is that what happens in reality is that inventions happens when the time is right and the prerequisites (everything from manufacturing process to societal views) are filled. At that time it is very likely that the exact same or similar invention happens in more than one locations.

There are very few inventions that are actually unique to warrant the need for patents. The little time gain (one or maybe a few years) that a patent could gain is offset by the cost of the two decade long monopoly and associated costs with the patent system, which include chilling effects, lawsuit costs and inferior technology used to avoid patents. The only field where patents are even remotly useful may be medicine, and even there it is debatable if the costs inflicted by use of inferiror/no medicines (especially in 3rd world countries) is worth it.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134095)

Every now and then I see some piece of code which uses methods which I can honestly say I would never have thought of, really novel ideas. Those should be patentable but there's so much trivial shit that is only original to the extent that the patent examiner can't recognise it through the obfuscated drivel and legal challenges are far too expensive for the little guy. In such a situation riting a piece of software is akin to playing hopscotch through a minefield.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (4, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134333)

Every now and then I see some piece of code which uses methods which I can honestly say I would never have thought of, really novel ideas. Those should be patentable...

No they shouldn't. Copyright exists on that code and that is more than enough "protection". Why should that code be protected by both patents and copyright? If you are going to issue a patent then you should not receive a copyright on it.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (4, Interesting)

Ploum (632141) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134481)

But anyway, even if you can honnestly say you would never have thought of that, there are thousand of people who will have. Because they face the same problem and basically have the same culture/background/education.

The problem is even more subtle because, yeah, we are against "bad" patents but not against "good" patents (think "non-software"). But this is a bit stupid because any software method can be implemented in hardware. You invented a new lightbuld ? Fine, but if you never really make it, you only did a simulation on your computer as a proof of concept, is your lightbulb software or hardware ?

In fact, the "software" patent case is only the tip of the iceberg. With software patent, it is obvious that something is wrong. And then, we have the wrong conclusion that "software is not patentable".

This is not the case at all. The whole "first-to-get-its-paper-in-the-patent-office-win" process is wrong. All patents made a completely wrong assumption : if you do something as described in a patent, you are infringing this patent. This has nothing to do with software or not software.

And it is very simple to fix : enforce that anyone attacking someone else for patent infrigement should bring the proof that this someone else could not have done what he had done without reading the patent/reverse engineer your product/spy your documents. Just do that and you will discover that software patents are perfectly acceptable. It would means that you would not be able anymore to infringe a patent without even knowing that someone else patented it before. How can EvilCompany attacks you and bring the proof that you copied the ObviousMethod by looking at their product when everybody can think about ObviousMethod. Also, it still leave patent very useful for non-obvious thing (like drug industry, advanced design, ...).

Unfortunatly, I'm observing that companies do not even see what they are doing with patent. They are all trying to patent whatever can be patented. I see with my own eyes that the money spend just to read other patents is huge. Patenting need to be outsourced and cost a lot more money than anything else but is seen as the only way to make money in the future.
Having a good idea : from one day to a few weeks
Implementing a prototype of this idea : from 6 months to 1 year
Patenting the idea : 1 year of non full time work for the inventor but also for 2-3 people and for an outsourcing company

Unfortunatly, patent is also a visible output. Management often cannot understand something else from their R&D department. The department must produce X patents each year.

And because they always lived like that, you cannot even try to tell them you disagree. It's too deep in the culture, like a religion.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134677)

You forgot that many take advantage of both patents and trade secrets.
How many of the patents filed could really be used to build a working example of the product? That's the goal yet companies will patent a vague description to make it hard for others to copy even using the patent material after it has expired.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (5, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134129)

I love your bad analogies.

The difference is, guns, refrigerators, pens, book bindings, and shopping carts were all invented (and the patents ran out) long before corporations bribed their way into writing all the IP legislation so that patents/copyrights last (for all practical purposes) forever. Second, a patent is meant to apply to a device, even something so small as a new piece added to an old, existing device ("adding this flange prevents the breakage that has plagued previous designs"). Since software is, by definition, the expression of an idea, it shouldn't get patent protection. Since Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, does that mean that all other versions of boy-meets-girl, boy-falls-in-love-with-girl, things-end-badly should be precluded from being produced?

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (3, Insightful)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135327)

Disclaimer: IAAME (I am a mechanical engineer)

The difference is, guns, refrigerators, pens, book bindings, and shopping carts were all invented (and the patents ran out) long before corporations bribed their way into writing all the IP legislation so that patents/copyrights last (for all practical purposes) forever.

Bullshit. New ideas for those products still come out to this day, and they are just as much squashed by patent law as software ideas. It bothers me to no end when programmers (or any other profession for that matter) think it is OK that my freedom of expression and right to conduct business are restricted, but heaven help us if the same laws are applied to everyone.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

Wyck (254936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135417)

That's ridiculous. The American statute says that a "useful process" is patentable, where a process is a "process, act or method". Software is surely in that category of things. It's all about how you use a computer.

I realize you said "it shouldn't get patent protection", all I'm saying is that it's pretty clear that it does. Whether it should or not is left for you to discuss with your government, and it would be democratic of you to participate in such discussions.

And I am reluctant to accept the definition of software as being "the expression of an idea". At least on the dictionary.com site, which lists several such definitions, neither of the words "express" nor "idea" appear anywhere on the page.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (2, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135567)

Copyrights last virtually forever. Patents last 10 years and can be extended 10 years. They're very different. A Copyright only covers the specific code as written, while patents cover novel and non-obvious ideas.

I don't have any problem whatsoever with software patents, myself. I don't understand why some folks insist on painting such a strong wall between a mechanism implemented in a Turing machine versus one implemented with wood and metal. It's the idea that's novel and non-obvious, and the substrate (be it a Turing machine or "reality") is only incidental.

The real problem with software patents as they stand are the bar being set too low for "non-obvious". In addition, ideas that were implemented in one domain shouldn't get a patent on a new domain if they're substantially unchanged simply for being re-implemented there. That being said, I think a lot of the "problems" we're having now will work themselves out once the land-grab for IP rights for doing things on the still relatively immature internet expires.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134267)

So are we to throw out all patents because anyone who is an expert would consider a new invention to be trivial and obvious? Is "non-obvious" really a good measure of patentability?

I would suggest non-obviousness is a decent measure. Consider that the goal of patents is advance arts and sciences by simultaneously rewarding those who come up with new advances and ensuring that thiose advances are publicly documented. There's not a lot of point if providing rewards to get people to publicly document advances that are obvious to anyone in the field. Nor is there much to gain by encouraging and rewarding obvious advances -- it will do far more to hold things back as people are forced to wait for the expiry of the patent before making the next obvious advancement on that idea. Ideally you would probably want the length of time a patent is good for to be roughly the amount of tiem it will take to develop the next equivalent advance; unless you're suggesting patents that are good for a matter of days, obvious ideas are clearly not the way to go.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134317)

So are we to throw out all patents because anyone who is an expert would consider a new invention to be trivial and obvious?

Frankly, yes. If an implentation is obvious, why would I be interested in paying for it? (Me being the public in general, and the method of payment being a time-limited monopoly on use of the concept).

Patents should never be awarded for small, iterative improvements in design that are obvious to any person with knowledge of the field. Patents should be awarded for concepts that, if the patent-holder didn't come up with them, would conceivably never have been thought of.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134397)

Is "non-obvious" really a good measure of patentability?

Yes.

Patents in gun designs or refrigerators or pens or book bindings are typically on novel things -- designs that improve functionality, appearance or both. These also relate to a tangible product. Patent examiners can easily see the novelty involved (are there other guns that do what that gun does or are there other refrigerators that have as polished a finish?). In software patents, it's not so easy.

The problem with software patents is that software is not a tangible thing. It is also not manufactured -- it is crafted by creative individuals. Intangible, creatively-produced art has other laws designed to protect it -- copyright laws. You can't get a patent on a plot or a theme in a novel, right? Then why should you be able to get a patent on a software algorithm?

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134537)

Ah, but you can create a program to "manufacture" another program. Dreamweaver and Frontpage are examples of programs that "manufacture" programs based on designer input. Certainly you should be able to patent the means of manufacture!

And are programs really so intangible? They have a physical representation in magnetic bits on a physical hard disk, and they have a physical representation in electrical signals when loaded in memory. These physical representations are just too small for you to see, and their usage characteristics are far more important than their physical representation. But this is just arguing about trivialities (though slashbots are eager to head down this dead end).

Let's say you are an architect. Your individual schematics are protected by copyright, but not patentable because, as you have noted, the work is a creative work and has copyright to protect it. Then one day you have a flash of brilliance and design a support column that can bear 10 times the weight of current designs with only half the necessary material. That is a patentable idea, of course. Then you go and use your patented idea in your designs, and your customers are ecstatic and your competition is ground to dust (those who choose not to license your patent).

How is this any different from the software solution that provides a new way to do something that is faster, lighter, or more convenient than the currently known methods? Is it just because the "stuff" is ephemeral bits and not a solid marble column?

That is a bit closeminded, I think.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134747)

And are programs really so intangible? They have a physical representation in magnetic bits on a physical hard disk, and they have a physical representation in electrical signals when loaded in memory. These physical representations are just too small for you to see, and their usage characteristics are far more important than their physical representation. But this is just arguing about trivialities

Agreed on the trivialities part, but they do not have the same physical representation when stored on, say, optical discs as opposed to a physical hard disk. And they have yet another physical representation when sent across a wire or optical cable. In fact, every time software changes the media it resides on, it changes its physical representation. Like, say, a book. See what I mean? ;)

Let's say you are an architect. Your individual schematics are protected by copyright, but not patentable because, as you have noted, the work is a creative work and has copyright to protect it. Then one day you have a flash of brilliance and design a support column that can bear 10 times the weight of current designs with only half the necessary material. That is a patentable idea, of course. Then you go and use your patented idea in your designs, and your customers are ecstatic and your competition is ground to dust (those who choose not to license your patent).

Okay, but it's obvious you don't know many architects ... :)

How is this any different from the software solution that provides a new way to do something that is faster, lighter, or more convenient than the currently known methods? Is it just because the "stuff" is ephemeral bits and not a solid marble column?

The problem is that there are very few software solutions that are truly unique or innovative. The patent office actually employs architects and engineers to examine patents related to architecture. The patent office mostly doesn't employ computer science experts and they are all too quick to hand out a patent.

In concept, I agree with you, but in terms of actual execution? Tell me how the FAT filesystem or the Office Open XML file format is worthy of patent protection.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134917)

How is this any different from the software solution that provides a new way to do something that is faster, lighter, or more convenient than the currently known methods? Is it just because the "stuff" is ephemeral bits and not a solid marble column?

Correct. Bits can be copied without cost; public institutions such as libraries will allow you access to the means of copying and storing bits absolutely free. Meanwhile, solid marble columns have a significant physical presence and a very high cost of copying.

Earlier, you referred to bits as having physicality if one looked on a small enough scale; for legal purposes, magnetic fields are not physical entities, and anything that can be translated into a pattern of magnetic fields without losing value is simply not "physical" in nature. Under the law, physical objects are supposed to be things you can see and touch, things that have what the "common man" would readily agree have a physical presence.

Re:Patents and circles of knowledge (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25136075)

the difference, of course, is that guns, refrigerators, pens, book bindings, and shopping carts are physical objects, that would require some capital to prototype and build. Patents are a good thing for those who would like to take an actual invention to production (patents should not be granted if you have no such intent, and can't create, or work with a company to create, a prototype). It protects their idea from being stolen by those with ridiculous amounts of capital, before they themselves can capitalize on their idea. Not so much with some words and math. Why not patent the content of books, then? Patent the computer, sure. Even patent the book. But to patent the contents you can put into them? I don't think so.

Interesting Idea... (3, Funny)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25133997)

But I can't see this as any more useful than trying to get everyone to boycott gas stations for a day.

Still, perhaps I can get a patent on this, before Jeff Bezos or some other bozo starts filling out those forms, yet again...

Awesome (2, Funny)

JeremyBanks (1036532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134001)

It's also my birthday! Yay!

Re:Awesome (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134161)

World Day Against Software Patents is your birthday? Why on earth did you choose to call it that?

(Anyway, congratulations and don't eat too much cake)

Re:Awesome (1)

Doug Neal (195160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134291)

Me too. I think September is birthday season...

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134551)

That's b/c folks get-it-on at New Years. I know, my son is due any day now.

Re:Awesome (0, Troll)

drseuk (824707) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134991)

But do you know who the father is?

Re:Awesome (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135127)

Darth Vader?

Preventing more software patents (3, Interesting)

kraemate (1065878) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134003)

Rather than preventing a legislation from passing, why not attack the problem at the source: programmers and their corporations who file software patents?

How do you convince a programmer that software patents are bad, when he stands to gain substantial reward for a patent from the organization he works for, or negative consequences because of refusing to file a patent?

Why are _new_ software patents being filed in the first place?

Re:Preventing more software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134027)

Lynch mob!

My support (3, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134021)

I am supporting this by not utilizing any patented items today. Well, except for this computer, its software, all the hardware and protocols between my computer and the Slashdot server, software running on the Slashdot server, the action of clicking a virtual button with a mouse to preview a information to be submitted to a server.

Addendum: the clicking of a "Continue Editing" button to correct information that is to be submitted to a server after first previewing said information.

Addendum: the clicking of a "Preview" button to preview newly edited information.

Addendum: the clicking of a "Submit" button to send information to a server.

Re:My support (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134139)

I was under the impression that most of the protocols like HTTP were not patented?

Or pancake day! (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134037)

What? Are pancakes not good enough to get their own day as well?

Re:Or pancake day! (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134067)

Fuck it, I'm just going to Waffle House [xkcd.com] .

I'm in! (0)

RandoX (828285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134063)

I'll show my support by downloading music all day.

Re:I'm in! (1)

boredandatwork (1339259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134141)

Copyright != Patent.
Course, having that been said, if you feel like doing so with a Limewire knockoff, then go right on ahead.

Re:I'm in! (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134491)

Hey, you support it your way, I'll do it mine.

Re:I'm in! (1)

drjoe1e6 (461358) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134237)

I'll show my support by downloading music all day.

No, that was the activity for Download Like a Pirate Day on the 19th...
-Joe

Please go away. (4, Insightful)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134145)

My perspective on patents is simple: stop issuing patents.Patents should not exist.
We're all standing on the shoulders of giants, so to speak. The current patent systems
smack of arrogance and ignorance. Furthermore, I think that if such a system had exsisted 8000 years ago we'd still all be sitting in caves paying that one family that "invented" fire.

Re:Please go away. (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134215)

I think you mean "A method of generating light and heat via the friction-induced combustion of a flammable material"

Re:Please go away. (1)

andy.ruddock (821066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134273)

I, for one, welcome the invention of the magnifying glass.

Re:Please go away. (1)

eagee (1308589) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134219)

They're not all bad, some of them actually protect and encourage innovation. It just isn't software or business model patents that do so.

Re:Please go away. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134455)

I agree there should be no software patents (or any patents for that matter). I had been programming several years before I had my first formal education on anything computer related (which was a Modula2 course). During this course, I was thinking "oh, this technique/algorithm I have been using for over 10 years actually has a name" about all of the time.

Re:Please go away. (2, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134723)

My perspective on patents is simple: stop issuing patents.Patents should not exist. We're all standing on the shoulders of giants, so to speak. The current patent systems smack of arrogance and ignorance. Furthermore, I think that if such a system had exsisted 8000 years ago we'd still all be sitting in caves paying that one family that "invented" fire.

Not 8000 years, but patents have been around for 2000. The Romans had patents, and I don't think innovation has really dragged since then.

Also, while software needs a good look, there are many good reasons for patents as an alternative to trade secrets. For one, it allows innovation by requiring public disclosure of the idea, and for two, it makes the idea pass into the public domain after a limited time. Neither of these apply to trade secrets, which is what we'd get if we abolish patents.

Re:Please go away. (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134953)

You completely miss the point of patents.

The purpose of patents is to ensure that inventions are published, and not lost simply because the inventor disappeared, failed to publish or actively kept it a secret. To give inventors an incentive to publish, they are granted a limited period of monopoly on that invention, in order to profit from it.

That period is 20 years, not the 8000 years you seem to think it is.

I agree that 20 years is far, far too long a period for software patents, and possibly for other fields as well. And I think that patents in general are overly liberally granted (especially by the USPTO, less so elsewhere in the world). But I believe that this is an indictment of the current patent system, not the concept of patents.

Re:Please go away. (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135799)

The purpose of patents is to ensure that inventions are published, and not lost simply because the inventor disappeared,

Yeah, right. We humans are in general quite good at reverse engineering.

And keeping something a secret is quite difficult. Especially when more than one person is involved (which there pretty much always is nowadays). Finally, most inventions are just waiting to happen once the time is right. If one person doesn't do it, someone else will.

Arggg! (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134175)

Just last week we had talk like a software pirate day.

Oh wait, that was the other kind of pirate.

Nevermind.

Re:Arggg! (1)

elysiana (1152995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135045)

Arrrrrr, me torrents are driving me nuts!

Timezones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134225)

Yeah, um, thanks for the warning.

Good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134251)

It's a good thing that they send out their mailings afew days in advance so people can prepare & participate...

(Yes, i'm being sarcastic, i got the mailing today *sigh*)

You Fa1l It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25134357)

what We've known [goat.cx]

The day of nothing? (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134383)

i'm just wondering, have we still got a day left that doesn't celebrate or encourage or is against or .... something?
i would really celebrate that day, it would be amazing that it exists, rather that the 10000 things that have some day dedicated to them (and probably a dozen other things on the same day, since the days are probably seriously outnumbered by the occasions that "need" their own day)

I now declare Sep 25... (1)

vaedur (1357815) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134433)

Give me royalties for all Software Patents day...

Announcements (5, Informative)

iJusten (1198359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134439)

Why do these announcements always have to be made when the announced day is nearly over? It's 21:50 on 24th at Japan, and 15:40 at Eastern Europe (eg. Finland, where I'm at). My day is nearly over, closing the computer and leaving to home to do chores. I never hear of these "World Days" until I'm leaving work (at soonest, usually only on the following day).

Re:Announcements (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135105)

That's because of the USCentric nature of Slashdot

See also : World Series - a set of matches, played between teams in the USA and a very few surrounding countries, of a sport that the rest of the world has never heard of

Re:Announcements (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135245)

Unless it was "world don't go to work day", I can't see how finding out in the afternoon about world days would make any actual difference.
 

A bit short notice, no? (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134757)

Why does does this kind of news always have to come in on the day. I mean, put it in the hose on Monday, so that at least gives us time to prepare some Molotovs, voodoo dolls (for the extravagant lot), and stock up on the uppers. You don't have clients walk up to you on the day to tell you they want the project delivered immediately, or else. OK, maybe they do... Still - that's no excuse!

World Day Against... (1)

FourthLaw (1365279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134759)

Does anyone else keep reading "Parents" instead of "Patents"? And...how does that make you feel?

MOD PATENT UP (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25134813)

Sorry, I had to.

Or, better known as.... (4, Funny)

n122vu (1126345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135145)

International Talk Like a Software Pirate Day....

September 24 Is A Big Day (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135163)

Not only is it World Day Against Software Patents but it's National Punctuation Day (US); a day to remind us all that using a semicolon is not a surgical procedure.

Also; please do NOT forget that September 24 (US); AKA 24 September (EUR); AKA Whatevermate (AUS); is International Polar Day; a day for us all to ...um...ah... think about ...ah... people in the ...um... polar regions ...

New Zealand : wonder what Weta think (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135199)

Weta workshop being the only major example of a software developer in New Zealand that I can think of (not being a Kiwi myself), I wonder what it is that they think on the matter?

Getting influential players to forswear the Dark Side is probably the best move you can make.

Priorities, priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25135413)

It's also my dead grandfather's birthday today, but I don't see that on Slashdot.

Software is inherently un-patentable (1)

shliddle (1337091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135677)

All software is merely a set of instructions, and you can't patent instructions on how to do something. You can't patent a recipe, you can't patent the rules of a board game, you can't patent a piece of sheet music. How is code that is loaded from a hard drive into RAM then executed any different from music I read from a piece of paper (the hardware) retain in my head (the RAM) and play on my piano (execution)??

Re:Software is inherently un-patentable (1)

torokun (148213) | more than 5 years ago | (#25136171)

Wow, you're right! A hard drive is exactly the same thing as paper, human memory is exactly the same as semiconductor RAM, and a computer processor's actions are exactly the same as those of a human playing a piano... In fact, let's just agree that 'paper' is a synonym for 'hard drive', 'human memory' is a synonym for 'computer RAM', etc.

There couldn't possibly be any legally cognizable differences between people and computers/software.

Patent abuse goes beyond software (2)

joekrahn (544037) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135721)

Patents in general are a good thing to protect inventions. The big problem is that the definition of "invention" has been expanded to include just about anything. Many software patents cover things that should not be patentable because they are obvious or have plenty of "prior art" examples. Patents are even being used to cover gene sequences that have been around for hundreds of years, are are really discoveries and nothing close to being an invention. The main problem with software is that it is hard to define just what is patentable, especially since the lawyers have no clue about what should qualify as an invention.

Re:Patent abuse goes beyond software (1)

joekrahn (544037) | more than 5 years ago | (#25135801)

Oops, my post got truncated. Patents are even being used to cover genome sequences that have been in organisms for 100s or 1000s of years, and are obviously discoveries and not inventions.
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