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A Defense of Process Patents

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-world-hypothesis dept.

Patents 249

An anonymous reader writes "In light of the ruling against the University of California patent trolls seeking to claim ownership of the 'Interactive Web,' founding attorney of Beacon Hill Law Joe Stanganelli, has written an article defending process patents. In it, he refers to technology pundits as 'bizarro' and argues that it's a misconception that patents stifle innovation. As he writes, 'What I do not understand is — had the jury determined Eolas's patents valid — why it would be A-OK for dozens of already megarich corporations to get even richer adopting technology they did not invent or have legal permission to use, but somehow immoral for the actual creators of the technology to likewise profit[?]"" I am not a patent lawyer, but I doubt I'm the only one who thinks it's possible to support a patent on an industrial potash processing technique, but not software patents — or at least to distinguish them from each other.

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Patent Trolls (0, Troll)

IRCTech (2572595) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011021)

There's a large misconception about Microsoft being a patent troll. In fact, they have never used their patents to bully other companies. Only time they've used their patents is when other companies have tried to bully them.

In turn, take a look at Google who is outright buying companies to make their patent war-chest larger and larger. They're somewhat new company so they're only been preparing their chest now. How long until they start hitting companies with patent lawsuits? And how does Google justify having those patents? Apart from their search engine they haven't really made anything by themselves. All the other products are bought off from other new and innovative companies. I mean, just take a look at Android! And thanks to Google, these new innovative products get cancelled because there is no immediate profit in them [slashdot.org] . Google is, in fact, one of the biggest and most evil companies when it comes to suppressing innovation and start-ups.

Hey DCTech (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011055)

How are ya?

I know I'm not supposed to feed a troll, but what do you call MS's vague threats over Linux and Android?

Re:Hey DCTech (-1)

James Bonenfant (2572681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011083)

I know I'm not supposed to feed a troll, but what do you call MS's vague threats over Linux and Android?

I'll just chip in, but what vague threats? MS has a large R&D department and they actually do lots of research and development. Of course they should get some payments from companies who use the results of this process. By far every company has agreed and MS gets over 500 million a year from Android. Does Google have similar R&D department? Because I haven't heard about such.

Re:Hey DCTech (2, Insightful)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011105)

So far every company has agreed? Oh, well Barnes & Noble must have changed their stance and paid up, then.

Re:Hey DCTech (-1, Troll)

James Bonenfant (2572681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011119)

B&N is the only one that has not, but what do they know, they're a book store. Every single other tech and smart phone company has looked at the issue and noted that those Microsoft patents are valid.

Re:Hey DCTech (2, Insightful)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011227)

bollox, every other one that has paid up has a Microsoft license to protect.

Re:Hey DCTech (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011571)

It's "bollocks" you retard.

Re:Hey DCTech (0)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011123)

The key Microsoft patent:
1. Buy new technology patent
2. ???
3. Profit

Note, this is a 3 step plan, as opposed to the 4 step plan. The patent is expected to earn billions from patent troll competitors.

Pure genius.

Re:Hey DCTech (-1, Troll)

James Bonenfant (2572681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011135)

Actually, most of Microsoft's patents are for technology developed in-house. Can you tell what such technology Google has developed? Because I don't know any.

Re:Hey DCTech (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011179)

James Bonenfant? What kind of stupid-ass last name is that? I bet you were teased mercilessly in school. If I ever met a person with such a stupid last name, I'd smack them in the mouth with a rolled-up newspaper. Bonenfant. Haw!

p.s. I ejaculated in your wife's ass last night. She farted after sex, and it sounded like stepping on an almost-empty bottle of mustard.

Re:Hey DCTech (5, Insightful)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011207)

Google does have an R&D department, but you should also notice that most of that "research" that Andoroid has to pay for is based on overly broad patents that were granted before there was any kind of scrutiny.

The big problem is, it seems to be more expensive to take microsoft to court and go through a long legal battle than simply pay for them, and that's why almost no one does.

I'm all for patent licencing when you've actually done something good, but describing a general idea like this http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,778,372.PN.&OS=PN/5,778,372&RS=PN/5,778,372 [uspto.gov] or this http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,339,780.PN.&OS=PN/6,339,780&RS=PN/6,339,780 [uspto.gov]

Did you invent a new protocol that speeds up mobile computing? Did you develop a new communication device that revolutionizes anything? Then you should be compensated. But don't say that "a device with a screen and that has a browser and when the browser loads we show an icon moving" is innovation and should be worth 500 million dollars.

Re:Hey DCTech (5, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011405)

.....then you should be compensated....

Snarl, snort. Feed the troll, especially the attorney in the post.

The problem is much deeper than what you can cover in a slashdot reply, but I'll try to capture the salient points:

1) the US Patent Office process is broken, and despite attempts to the assuage the problem, it grants patents to unbelieveably looneytunes stuff.

2) ideas shouldn't be patented, but they are granted patents, see #1

3) there is no model for compensation, rather, it's what the "inventor" desires, or wants to do battle with, so the output of the process is unpredictable in almost every way; it's a compensation plan for attorneys, not a business model

4) standards and protocols should never be patented, for they are agreements and processes, not inventions. You can't patent math because math is prior art. Algorithms, presentation values are all math. Attempts to patent genes should be met with life without parole: life is prior art.

The life of patents is dubious, and getting worse now that the madmen of media have allowed retroactive protection for "works". It is out of control, and the attorney in the post is indeed snacking from the insanity.

There are no vague threats (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011581)

Microsoft sells their patents to Intellectual Ventures, which creates companies that sue the competition. Intellectual Ventures was set up by Microsoft executives for just this purpose. Apple does no better. This is all made clear here:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack

Many "features" of both operating systems appeared in open source code first. Fortunately for the corporations, first to file is law of the land now. So are ridiculously long patent lengths. I wonder who paid for those changes in the law over the years.

IANAL, but I have gone toe-to-toe with several and have never lost. What Joe Stangenelli writes is based on simple debate tactics. In order to buy this lawyer's arguement, one must accept that software is "invented". The bottom line is that all software written for a flexible platform is not "invented". The very nature of the computing platforms and languages such as B.A.S.I.C. (The "A" stands for ALL-PURPOSE) indicate that ALL software that is written was intentionally made possible by the hardware manufacturer. Add to this that all software is reducable to math, and there is no valid arguement left to patent software.

Joe Stangenelli compares software patents with process patents, but fails to find the difference. Does the making of potash, or the process of pasteurization require a computer? Can these processes be reduced to math. The answer is a definitive "No" and that is where the comparison ends.

Joe Stangenelli also compares obtaining software patents to Warner Brothers obtaining permission from J.K. Rowling to make Harry Potter movies. Clearly he has trouble distinguishing the difference between copyright and patents. This makes his other arguements even more suspect.

I hate to say it, but Joe Stangenelli appears incompetent in his logic. Perhaps it is an intentional effort to effect the weak minded. Perhaps it is a failure of his training. Either way, Joe Stangenelli has clearly demonstrated the difference between intellegence and wisdom.

Re:Patent Trolls (5, Informative)

SadButTrue (848439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011067)

There's a large misconception about Microsoft being a patent troll. In fact, they have never used their patents to bully other companies. Only time they've used their patents is when other companies have tried to bully them. .

So you are claiming that HTC and Samsung have been trying to bully MS? How about B&N?

I hope you are least getting paid for being this wrong.

Re:Patent Trolls (4, Insightful)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011163)

It looks like the trolls are flooding slashdot lately. Microsoft PR department is a powerful beast and they pay these trolls to spread misinformation on blogs and the like.

Re:Patent Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011713)

Did anyone else notice the recent copypasta ITWorld or whoever articles that read like press releases from Microsoft's website?

Re:Patent Trolls (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011765)

Microsoft PR department is a powerful beast and they pay these trolls to spread misinformation on blogs

I would be very surprised if that was true. It's quite possible that thereare people who legitimatly think/believe opposite of what you think. It's also possible that there are people who are misinformed, at as a result spread the misinformation.

Re:Patent Trolls (4, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011871)

Microsoft has always done this. I've been on Slashdot now about nine years and Microsoft has frequently astroturfed this place. And then every year or so there will be the quisling that Microsoft hires from the open source community to be in charge of whatever-they're-calling-their-Linux-lab-now, who will inevitably come here with an olive branch... dipped in arsenic. And let us never forget the level pro-SCO astroturfing that went on here in the day, and you still get a few of those old trolls making rude noises about Pamela Jones. Some, if not all of those guys were ultimately being paid by Microsoft, one way or the other (well, except Daniel Lyons, a fucktard of such incredible stupidity that he actually did it for free).

Re:Patent Trolls (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011891)

Or TomTom.

Thank God MS defeated that TomTom bully! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011937)

Image those bullying thugs over at TomTom trying to push around poor, little, defenseless Microsoft.

Re:Patent Trolls (1)

rotorbudd (1242864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011099)

Damn, where to start?
How about:
Google not making anything.
Suppressing innovation.
Google justifying having those patents.

I know you're a troll, but you could be a little less obvious. OK?

Re:Patent Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011785)

Well, he already got too obvious when he forgot to hit "post anonymously" [slashdot.org] .

Not to worry, though, he already got a new account just a hundred UIDs away from this one [slashdot.org] to show the grassroots movement in support of MS in this thread.

They really look like they want UID counter to overflow, lol.

Re:Patent Trolls (4, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011141)

In turn, take a look at Google who is outright buying companies to make their patent war-chest larger and larger. They're somewhat new company so they're only been preparing their chest now.

Meanwhile, how many companies have already filed patent lawsuits at Google already? I don't like it, and I definitely see it as a sign of how broken the patent system is, but Google's doing the same thing that most other big corporations do - they're trying to make sure they have a large enough patent war-chest that when the next group sues them, they can force it into a "well this guy says we're violating patent X, but they're violating our patent Y themselves" settlement scenario, the same sort of thing that happens all the time between big companies (look at the "patent-sharing access" agreements between, say, Intel and AMD).

It sucks, because it makes the patent system about fucking over the smaller companies and ensuring the big semi-monopolies are the only ones who can play on a level playing field. But that's how it works and WHY the patent system needs drastic reform.

Re:Patent Trolls (-1, Flamebait)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011145)

Hey troll moron, Microsoft is a despicable patent troll They are running an extortion campaign right now against any successful open source product in an attempt to push Linux and Open Source out of the marketplace. Fuckem I will NEVER purchase another Microsoft product and will do everything in my power to dissuade people from purchasing Microsoft products. They are despicable slime and your defence of their anticompetitive practices in the marketplace is a pathetic attempt at best.

Re:Patent Trolls (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011821)

They've certainly made threats against Linux based upon vague patent claims, and though not via patents, they were at least partially bankrolling SCO's spurious IP claims against Linux.

Oh, the jury strawman (4, Insightful)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011033)

What I do not understand is — had the jury determined Eolas's patents valid [...]

Let's be blunt: that makes the jury look stupid, not the patent somehow ethically OK. The patent was nothing new, there was plenty of prior art. They got lucky with a silly examiner, that's all.

Re:Oh, the jury strawman (2)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011507)

The patent was nothing new, there was plenty of prior art. They got lucky with a silly examiner, that's all.

There's that, and then there's the bit that the whole patent system is a gov't granted monopoly hack intended to skew the workings of the free market. In programmer terms, it's as bad as a goto. There are lots of ways to do what that intends to do without doing it in such an ugly way.

Plenty of vibrant industries don't rely on the patent system at all (eg. the fashion industry). The patent system enriches lawyers, full stop. It doesn't "promote the sciences and useful arts" at all, and seeing how capricious and how easily gamed it is as presently implemented, it should be abandoned.

Eg., Apple's look and feel patent !@#$ just disgusts me. They've done great stuff in the past. They shouldn't feel the need for crap like this now.

Re:Oh, the jury strawman (3, Insightful)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011705)

Patents don't "promote the sciences and useful arts" because Copyright does.

That said, I agree with your sentiment. Patents are supposed to provide a benefit by allowing companies to use inventions which would otherwise be secret. Nowadays, patents are granted for "obvious" things and provide a minefield whereby anyone trying to invent something inevitably infringes someone's patent and becomes liable even though they may not have seen the original patent.

Re:Oh, the jury strawman (4, Informative)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011779)

Huh? Both the U.S. patent and the copyright systems are in existence due to the "promotion" clause in the U.S. Constitution. They have the same reason for existence (or lack thereof), they just cover different aspects of it.

Re:Oh, the jury strawman (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011869)

Oops - my bad. I'd only heard that in relation to copyright.

Its obvious (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011045)

Patents are not supposed to be "obivious to someone skilled in the art".

Re:Its obvious (4, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011095)

Ah, but this means that obviousness is a judgement call by a skilled practitioner. Such a purely subjective metric is something lawyers will NEVER accept ... because it shows just how stupid patents really are when you need a jury of highly paid engineers to even be able to judge the validity of a patent. Every lawyer devised test for obviousness has boiled down to prior art, they will not stop trying to redefine the word obvious.

Patents on math (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011147)

We are not supposed to have patents on mathematics, yet that is exactly what software patents are -- especially patents on signal processing techniques, cryptography, etc., which are the patents that most severely threaten innovation.

Some process patents can be valid (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011061)

Its difficult to draw a line
Say, someone discovers a way to convert scrap metal to gold
That person should be allowed to have a patent on it
But someone shouldnt be given a patent for facilitating video conferencing by piping images from a camera to the local PC and then over a network to the remote PC

Re:Some process patents can be valid (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011215)

Difficult? Your example is clearly invalid due to rior art.

Re:Some process patents can be valid (0)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011291)

Well, if there exists a process for sending images from a camera to a PC
And a process to send images from a PC to a remote PC
How would the process of linking these 2 processes together by a 3rd process be prior art
Or to give another example
Process 1:Download a torrent file to downloads folder
Process 2: torrent client retrieves file from a predefined folder and starts download
Process 3:Copy file from downloads folder to the predefined folder
Now, if P1 and P2 are patented, then P3 can be patented in theory I guess, but practically shouldnt be allowed to

Re:Some process patents can be valid (3)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011333)

Because combining those pre-existing technologies in that way is obvious, and if nobody had ever done it until x years ago, it's only because the need didn't arise until then.

Re:Some process patents can be valid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011371)

That person should be allowed to have a patent on it

Why? You haven't provided a rationale for your position, or even qualified various conditions which are very important. What if they discovered it because another scientist discovered a simple method of nuclear transmutation, making turning X element into Y element a simple matter? What if the someone in question discovers the method while working on a project with significant federal funding?

Re:Some process patents can be valid (2)

dotbot (2030980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011513)

Say, someone discovers a way to convert scrap metal to gold That person should be allowed to have a patent on it

Unless they're converting scrap gold into gold... which is about the level of sillyness we're seeing with software-related patents.

Patents should be a good thing. The problem seems to be technical ignorance and lack of independence in the awarding process.

Re:Some process patents can be valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011517)

The problem as I see it is that companies don't get patents for a specific method of turning scrap metal to gold, they get a patent for ALL methods of turning scrap metal to gold. Developing a device that allows storage of potential energy in a torsion spring with a baited sensitive mechanical physical displacement release allowing rapid conversion of the stored potential energy to kinetic energy in the form of a swiftly moving bludgeon for the purpose of exterminating rodents is not the same as patenting all methods of killing mice. But today, companies want a patent on "the interactive web," or "1-click purchasing." Bullshit, I say. Just because you stacked 1 block on top of another and ran to the patent office faster than anyone else (or, more likely, were the only greedy bastard that thought it was patent-worthy) doesn't mean you get to patent all things made by stacking one item on another. All the other 2yo kids were doing it, too, and any 2yo can, so it's not patentable. Come back when you've discovered something novel, not when your lawyers have found new ways to squat on public ground and abuse the legal system.

Re:Some process patents can be valid (2)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011595)

Say, someone discovers a way to convert scrap metal to gold.
That person should be allowed to have a patent on it.

i) Why?

ii) [Tangentially] If someone can convert scrap metal to gold, what the hell does he need a patent for? He's already in a better position than King Midas.

Re:Some process patents can be valid (3, Interesting)

geoskd (321194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011683)

Its difficult to draw a line Say, someone discovers a way to convert scrap metal to gold That person should be allowed to have a patent on it

Why? If that person just simply used their machine to produce and sell the gold, they would have no need of ever letting on that they even have it.

Lets use something a little more practical. The person(s) who designed the class D amplifier for example. It was a borderline idea. It was novel enough that most engineers wouldn't have thought of it, but about a handful did. It only missed being patented because the first ones to market were from academia back before the patent furor started in the mid 20th century. They all made quite a tidy bit on money selling motor controllers based off their amplifiers. Even today, many people come up with good alternative amplifier designs. Many of those designs are patented, but the patents are not what keeps the companies like Bose in business. What keeps them selling product are the more evolutionary things, like adding multichannel support for surround sound, adding MP3 playback ability, adding multi-room support, and other features that come from a marketing perspective instead of an engineering one. If Bose stopped improving on sound quality today, and focused solely on producing better and better feature sets, they could probably survive a long long time without ever filing for another patent. The only trouble they might run into would be if some idiot granted an overly broad patent on something like using a network to do X...

Toilet paper manufacturers seem to have no trouble staying in business without needing to sue everyone in sight over patents. Makes you wonder...

-=Geoskd

Patents should promote innovation (5, Interesting)

evanbd (210358) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011065)

Patents exist solely to promote innovation. Or, more specifically, "science and the useful arts". There is plenty of evidence that traditional industrial patents do exactly that. There is very little evidence that software patents do so, and plenty of evidence that they stifle innovation.

This isn't about morals. It's about asking what bargain society wants to make with innovators, in order to promote innovation. The software patent bargain is helping neither society at large nor innovators. Making sure that the lawyers like it is not one of the goals here.

Re:Patents should promote innovation (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011151)

Moreover, "process" patents are almost always about "using X (that someone else invented) do Y (which X was designed to do)". If you invent the screwdriver, should I really be allowed to patent of using your screwdriver to turn screws?

Re:Patents should promote innovation (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011173)

Process patents were supposed to be granted on manufacturing processes that are not truly mechanical -- for example, processes involving complicated chemistry. That is fine, it is certainly in the spirit of the patent system and not simply "using someone else' invention for what it was intended."

Somewhere along the line, though, we got industrial processes confused with mathem^H^H^H^H^H software.

Re:Patents should promote innovation (2)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011319)

processes that are not truly mechanical -- for example, processes involving complicated chemistry. That is fine, it is certainly in the spirit of the patent system

I'm not saying I like software patents, but I fail to see how a process that involves complicated chemistry is any less "math" than software.

It seems that they're both simply algorithms. One deals with how you control chemicals, the other with how you control electrons.

I guess all I'm really asking is how you can justify process patents, but not software patents? Are you saying that software is not a process?

Re:Patents should promote innovation (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011455)

Except that a chemical process operates on real, physical matter, while software operates only on abstractions like numbers. Software is entirely abstract; the closest an algorithm comes to an industrial process is computing how some industrial process should be carried out (which, if memory serves me, was the subject of the first software patent). I draw the line at abstraction -- something which is completely abstract should be beyond the reach of the patent system, which is logic behind the existing rule that mathematics cannot be patented (except when we allow it to be patented e.g. DSP patents, crypto patents, etc. -- all forms of software patents).

Re:Patents should promote innovation (2)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011271)

The obviousness criteria should be a lot more broadly applied than it currently is. For one, while copyrights allow for similar or identical expressions developed in parallel, patents do not. If you realize that someone can file their taxes * on the internet *, and I realize that someone can file their taxes * on the internet *, it's a first-to-file-take-all situation. If we allowed for independent / clean room developments, the water might be a bit murkier but at least the indefensible patents wouldn't survive a week.

Second, patents should involve some degree of experimentation and possibility of being wrong. If you don't have to think about whether or not the simplified abstract of the patent is right, it's probably obvious. Utilizing a form of magnetics to sort oil from seawater would be a patentable invention under this standard, in that it may or may not work. Some degree of thought went into it. Attempting to patent using an arrow to point the player in the direction of travel would not. Obviously it's going to work, because obviously that's what they're for. If more effort went into the patent's paperwork, than into the idea of what is being patented, the patent shouldn't not be granted.

Re:Patents should promote innovation (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011367)

Patents are intended to protect inventions. A device that implements a business method should be patentable, but a process using it shouldn't. Otherwise you'd end up with a patent on using RFID for inventory control, et cetera.

Re:Patents should promote innovation (2)

Trevin (570491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011263)

I've read evidence that industrial patents do not promote innovation, but hinder it instead. The most effective tools for profiting from either a product or a process are secrecy, complementary manufacturing, and market lead time. (Boldrin & Levine, [2008], "Against Intellectual Monopoly")

Re:Patents should promote innovation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011431)

I've not seen any good evidence that any legal monopolies promote innovation. I'll agree that software patents are an even bigger mess, but that doesn't mean other patents are good.

Re:Patents should promote innovation (3, Insightful)

Staale Nordlie (943189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011675)

Patents exist solely to promote innovation. Or, more specifically, "science and the useful arts". There is plenty of evidence that traditional industrial patents do exactly that.

Cite?

Crypto Patents (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011089)

Patents on industrial processes are not the same thing as patents on mathematics, and that is what cryptography patents are. At one time it was RSA that was patented, and the RSA patent contributed to the stagnation of cryptography deployment in the early days of the Internet (we are still feeling the effects of that now). Today, it is elliptic curve crypto that is being mired down by patents, and cutting edge cryptographic technology is languishing in obscurity because of it. Patents have been granted on lattice crypto, which is even more obscure than ECC.

Mathematics is not supposed to be patentable, yet somehow these crypto patents -- which are really just patents on algebra -- have been granted, and our national security is threatened by it (the NSA has licensed some ECC patents for use in certain security sensitive contexts, but that is not even close to what we need). That anyone could defend that situation is mind boggling to me.

Re:Crypto Patents (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011143)

Someone who profits from the situation, who can ignore all the societal implications of the actual patents, could defend it quite well. Like, say, a patent lawyer.

Re:Crypto Patents (1)

engun (1234934) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011185)

Interesting points about crypto and patenting mathematics.

But what is your take on patenting software in general? What is the difference between an algorithm and an industrial process? Aren't they both "recipes"? If so, should both be patentable? or neither?

Following from that, why is patenting beneficial for industrial processes but not for software?

I'm not really advocating patents nor renouncing them, just trying to get a better idea.

Re:Crypto Patents (4, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011365)

What is the difference between an algorithm and an industrial process? Aren't they both "recipes"? If so, should both be patentable? or neither?

Neither. You should be able to copyright the implementation of an algorithm. But anyone who goes back to the first principles and derives their own implementation should be free to do so.

With industrial processes, it would be similar. You can't just copy some companies process documentation and build your own production line. But its that misappropriation which should be the crime.

Re:Crypto Patents (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011423)

I think the key difference between software and industrial processes is that software operates only on abstract data, while industrial processes operate on actual material. I cannot write a computer program that produces plastic, no matter how fancy the program is; the closest I can come is writing a program that computes how plastic could be produced using some machine or industrial process.

The dividing line is the abstract nature of software, which is itself just an extension of the abstract nature of mathematics. Your web browser is a mathematical operation that maps HTML, Javascript, CSS, and mouse and keyboard inputs to images (which are displayed on your screen). The Church-Turing thesis pretty much says this, using an abstract model of computation that is even more powerful than the computer that you are using to read this.

Now, to be fair, there are two things that influence my view on this matter. The first is that amount of theoretical work that I do, where algorithms and "software" are described in a very formal language, and so I tend to view all software as being mathematics; I know full well that a lot of people view software development as engineering work and would disagree with my "software is just math" view of the world. The second is that I do not accept the argument that copyrights are a form of property, which is a necessary view to have if you equate software with an industrial process.

Re:Crypto Patents (0)

David_Hart (1184661) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011711)

I would agree with the idea of software being nothing but abstracted mathematics. However, there is one slight issue, what about operating systems? I understand that most, if not all, of the Slashdot community would prefer all operating systems to be non-patentable and open source. However, there are some benefits to close source operating systems, especially to business who require 24x7x365 support, enterprise management tools, and feature/UI stability. I agree that trivial software processes should not be patentable, but when you put a series of trivial processes together to create an OS, a game, or an application, these should be patentable as they are non-obvious, non-trivial, and rises to the level of creation.

Re:Crypto Patents (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011767)

However, there are some benefits to close source operating systems, especially to business who require 24x7x365 support, enterprise management tools, and feature/UI stability

  1. This has nothing to do with patents
  2. http://www.redhat.com/

I agree that trivial software processes should not be patentable, but when you put a series of trivial processes together to create an OS, a game, or an application, these should be patentable as they are non-obvious, non-trivial, and rises to the level of creation.

So by putting lots and lots of abstract things together, you somehow wind up with something that is not abstract? I said that I draw the line at abstract: something which operates only on abstract concepts should not be patentable no matter how complicated it is.

Re:Crypto Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011839)

I think the key difference between software and industrial processes is that software operates only on abstract data, while industrial processes operate on actual material. I cannot write a computer program that produces plastic, no matter how fancy the program is; the closest I can come is writing a program that computes how plastic could be produced using some machine or industrial process.

I don't see how the distinction you are making is relevant. Are you saying that only a lesser kind of innovation is possible in software, as compared to in industrial equipment?

Patent the Rope that will Hang Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011101)

... why it would be A-OK for dozens of already megarich corporations to get even richer adopting technology they did not invent or have legal permission to use...

This issue is easy to address; simply change the laws (or even the constitution, if needed) to disallow large corporations from taking advantage of small corporations or individuals.

But there is really no need to worry: nothing is going to change unless there is an Arab-spring like revolution in the United States. So don't worry, the patent system and patent Trolls aren't going away anytime soon. There may be lost battles, but the winning side of the war is definitely on the side of free-market capitalists, bankers, wall street lawyers, copyright holders and sleazeballs.

LOL (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011171)

He said "actual creators".

Explaining software patents to the patent lawyer (5, Insightful)

Teppy (105859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011175)

I've noticed that most language in contracts is copied and sometimes tweaked language from other contracts. So, suppose as a lawyer you were required to negotiate a license for every sentence that wasn't your original text. Or more analogously, you were liable for even inadvertent use of phrasing that someone else had created first. For example:

Some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you.

Have you ever used that phrase in a contract that you charged a client money for? It (or some minor variation) appears in license agreements from Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and Sony. And I'm pretty sure they don't all use the same lawyer. *I* would never have come up with that phrasing, but perhaps it's obvious to you, someone skilled in the art of contract law. Well, same thing for us software engineers - most of the software patents we see, and nearly all of them in the particular area of software that we specialize - are equally obvious.

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011305)

Some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you.

Pedantic, but I've always wondered why that phrase was necessary. In a contract with a severance clause (like every EULA ever), if the exclusion isn't legal, it just gets severed from the contract and the rest remains in full force. So why specifically mention it?

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011393)

I'm talking about Canada here, so it may be different elsewhere: If a contract is found to be overly biased to one side or includes any pieces not allowed by law, the ENTIRE contract can be deemed invalid in court, not just the offending part. By adding that simply line, they can say "that part of the contract doesn't apply to you" and avoid having the contract thrown out in court.

IANAL, but the "all or nothing" part was explained to me in a college law class.

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (1)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011459)

Some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you.

Pedantic, but I've always wondered why that phrase was necessary. In a contract with a severance clause (like every EULA ever), if the exclusion isn't legal, it just gets severed from the contract and the rest remains in full force. So why specifically mention it?

Two possible reasons:
1. Even with severability, there is the question of how much of the contract remains in force. This clause tries to define the portion of the contract that will be severed.
2. Even with a severance clause, you may not have a severable contract. The judge may just decide it's not severable: a contract is between two people, it has no
power to tell the courts what legal reasoning they must apply in a dispute.

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011379)

Teppy, this is the *best* analogy I've ever seen on this subject. I think it should be re-iterated far and wide.

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011407)

Have you ever used that phrase in a contract that you charged a client money for? It (or some minor variation) appears in license agreements from Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and Sony. And I'm pretty sure they don't all use the same lawyer. *I* would never have come up with that phrasing, but perhaps it's obvious to you, someone skilled in the art of contract law.

You're making an assumption that you can have a copyright over legal texts and thus can't reuse it. Guess what...

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011521)

That's probably the point. So-called 'IP' lawyers often tout the benefits of 'intellectual property', but the legal system has a huge free culture ecosystem, using the precedents set by other judges (convinced by other lawyers) as well as many other things. If such systems really promote innovation, then perhaps we should get lawyers to deal with them in their primary business

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011911)

In many places legislation is not subject to copyright, but contracts most certainly are. Lawyers make lots of money selling basically the same contract over and over again with the names changed, and they jealously guard the copyright on their boilerplate.

Re:Explaining software patents to the patent lawye (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011433)

The added bonus is that in the case of software patents (and this analogy) it doesn't even matter if you some up with a better, more readable, more concise way to state this, you're still infringing. Innovation indeed.

Throw it out of the window (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011197)

Etymological series: Throw it out of the window > Defenetre > Defence

Hence: Throw the process patents out of the window.

Read the comments on TFA - hilarious (3, Interesting)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011199)

OK, since no-one read TFA, let alone TFA's comments:

TFAuthor clarifies his position:

>Traditionally, the "patent troll" (or "[whatever-kind-of-IP] troll") term has been reserved for companies that buy underenforced IP and then make money by litigating it. FWIW, I have little inherent problem with this "trolling" act either because it's simply investing in an asset (the particular IP) that is obviously well in demand. The original creator wins by being able to realize a purchase price for his creation without having to go through the trouble of managing the IP, and the investor wins through selling licenses and/or getting judgments and/or settlements on violations. In practice, of course, there have been legal system abuses, but that should not speak to the inherent practice.

In other words, there's no problem with leaving a bunch of cookies on a table, then selling the rights to cookies to a debt collector, who shakes down everyone who ate one for a fair price (determined through a process of valuing their kneecaps).

Re:Read the comments on TFA - hilarious (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011443)

Actually no. It's like posting a bunch of recipes in post-it form on the community bullitin board, where anyone *can* find them, but won't unless they look. Then going around 10 years later and demanding money from anyone making those types of cookies, whether they evere even saw your post-its or not.

The summary contains a HUGE oversight.

why it would be A-OK for dozens of already megarich corporations to get even richer adopting technology they did not invent

Just because someone else invented something before you does NOT mean you did not ALSO invent it. His reasoning only makes sense if everyone already knew it had been invented. If I come up with a really good cookie recipe but only publish it in one recipe book (that few people bought), I can't really go after you if you happen to come up with a similar recipe without having ever seen mine!

Re:Read the comments on TFA - hilarious (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011845)

Why is there always SOMEONE here who sees a good analogy and thinks they can make it better - and in so doing turns it into a convoluted mess?

Person A: X is like Y when Z.
Person B: No, actually, X is like A when Y but also Z.

(And yes, I fully expect- in keeping with slashdot tradition - sometime to pipe up and tell me about Person C who thinks X is like B when A but not Y and also Z but not Z1. )

Re:Read the comments on TFA - hilarious (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011797)

OK, since no-one read TFA, let alone TFA's comments:

Guilty. :-(

In other words, there's no problem with leaving a bunch of cookies on a table, then selling the rights to cookies to a debt collector, who shakes down everyone who ate one for a fair price (determined through a process of valuing their kneecaps).

There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between the way gov't works (patent system) and how the mafia works (protection rackets). It's always surprised me that people think they are entirely unrelated processes. It all comes down to how good/believable is your PR.

Sorry,but I'm with him. (1)

cornicefire (610241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011217)

I know people like to make a distinction between physical and non-physical goods, but I'm less and less impressed by them. Potash is just stuff in the ground. It's almost as free as software. Yet just like information it takes work to organize it, refine it and bring it to market. So I increasingly don't see a difference. Oh, I know the old saw that you can make infinite copies of a digital file, but that ignores how expensive it can be to produce the first copy. We need to find a good way of protecting the folks who invest in that first copy. If that means patents, I think that's fine.

Re:Sorry,but I'm with him. (2)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011383)

Patent trolls don't make a first copy. They sketch out a vague diagram and then say that anyone doom what they diagramed needs to pay.

I would love to see software patent suits require a demo of functioning software. But I have a suspicion that that woul make it too easy for juries to say "these aren't the same things."

Heck if I had my way anyone entering a courtroom for a software parent suit without being able to present a working software example of their parent should be shot.

Re:Sorry,but I'm with him. (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011417)

Then people should be paid to refine and organise potash and bring it to the market, just like people should be paid to refine and organise existing algorithms and adapt them to a specific customer's needs.

Patents prevent people from doing that. The person who digs up potash from the ground can be sued if he does it in a way that someone else thought of first, and the programmer who applies algorithms can be sued if someone else came up with the same algorithm first. Both are prevented from profiting from their own work by patents.

Re:Sorry,but I'm with him. (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011895)

Oh, I know the old saw that you can make infinite copies of a digital file, but that ignores how expensive it can be to produce the first copy. We need to find a good way of protecting the folks who invest in that first copy. If that means patents, I think that's fine.

ITYM copyrights, not patents.

I think I'm okay with Paul McCartney and his designated distribution arm being the only ones legally allowed to sell copies of Wings' music, because that (in theory) ensures he gets his royalty.

I'm not okay with Apple suing restaurants in Germany for using the generic word "apple" in their name. That's just lawyers abusing the system for no reason other than their greed.

Re:Sorry,but I'm with him. (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011917)

Imagine if this was patented:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadratic_formula [wikipedia.org]

What differentiates a software patent from a math patent? Well, nothing, as it turns out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church-turing_thesis [wikipedia.org]

Moreover, software patents have caused substantial harm to the state of computer security:

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2000/09/38635 [wired.com]

...and they continue to do so:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECC_patents [wikipedia.org]

We need to find a good way of protecting the folks who invest in that first copy. If that means patents, I think that's fine.

Let's try avoid reliance on this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_scarcity [wikipedia.org]

Will ALL of the people that invented it get paid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011275)

"... why it would be A-OK for dozens of already megarich corporations to get even richer adopting technology they did not invent or have legal permission to use, but somehow immoral for the actual creators of the technology to likewise profit[?]"

Because for many of these supposedly "non-obvious" software patents, dozens of people independently implement the same or similar solution and only discover that fact years later when some patent troll brings suit against them. What about compensation for all the inventors who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having invented something that was obvious to them years ago but that apparently wasn't "obvious to someone skilled in the art" when it rolled through the patent office and got a "deserves a monopoly for being 'first'" stamp? There are many, many software patents out there that don't deserve to be patents for reasons of prior art and obviousness. None of these should have been patented. And that's leaving aside the question of whether something that amounts to patenting math should get a patent in the first place. Even if there was some validity to patenting math, the implementation of software patents has been so poor that the whole premise deserves to be scrapped for practical reasons.

Wait, what? (1)

miltonw (892065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011283)

'What I do not understand is — had the jury determined Eolas's patents valid — why it would be A-OK for dozens of already megarich corporations to get even richer adopting technology they did not invent or have legal permission to use, but somehow immoral for the actual creators of the technology to likewise profit[?]"

What you do not understand, Mr. Stanganelli, is that Eolas DID NOT INVENT IT EITHER. Eolas is NOT the "actual creators" so why, to use your own logic, should THEY profit?

Invisible to Mr Stanganelli (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011307)

Unfortunately, Mr Stanganelli won't get to see this, as I can't post it as a comment on his article because the registration procedure is four screens long and wants every last detail of my domestic and financial circumstances.

The three technologies he cites, online video, image rotation, and search bar autocomplete, were all well in use long before the so-called "inventors" "invented" them, so I cannot but agree with the judgement that the patent is invalid.

It sounds as if Mr Stanganelli is simply suffering from a nasty case of sour grapes because he simply doesn't understand the technology: he inhabits this bizarro world of patents and attorneys where it's seen as perfectly OK to hijack an existing piece of work and pretend it's your own.

I tried to RTFA, but the bullshit detector went of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011317)

Critics nonetheless mewl argue that patents "stifle innovation." This is like arguing that requiring people to pay money at a restaurant "stifles feeding," or that making it illegal to steal a UPS truck to start a delivery service "stifles entrepreneurship."

I stopped reading the article right there. It's a shame because I almost made it through...

Software Patents Stifle Innovation (4, Insightful)

Software Geek (1097883) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011339)

it's a misconception that patents stifle innovation

The problem with software patents is that the legal standard of patent quality is too low. Something can be patented if it is novel and not obvious. I can write something that is novel and not obvious in an afternoon.

If I patent my afternoon's work, that doesn't enable me to sell it. So patents don't help me the innovate. On the other hand if tens of thousands of other people patent various things I could do in an afternoon, I am now legally obligated to respect all those patents, never doing any of those things unless I first negotiate a license with them. And I can get sued into bankruptcy if I make a mistake. And so the cost of avoiding infringing on low quality patents gets added to the cost of software development.

The patent system provides an incentive to be a software patent troll. It does not provide an incentive to develop software for people to use.

First to invent (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011369)

Any discussion about patents must start by stating the fact that most patent infringements occur when its idea is reinvented, not stolen. So when you say that patents benefit the inventor, you must clarify that each patent only benefits one inventor, who was the first to register a particular idea. Thus we can rephrase the patent argument as: should people be rewarded for being the first to think of something?

Maybe it's just me (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011377)

but I used to think patents were for the specific implementation of an idea, not the idea or the end result itself. Which is to say, someone else could (and is encouraged to as it promotes the arts and useful science) get the same end result using a different technique.

Let's say wifi-enabled mousetraps that detect when they've caught one are the next big thing. I might hook my mouse trap up to a scale and patent it. You might hook yours up to a motion detection camera and patent it. But claiming a vague patent for the idea of detecting a dead mouse doesn't advance anything.

Patent problems (5, Insightful)

geoskd (321194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011381)

it's a misconception that patents stifle innovation

No it isn't... They Do [techrights.org]

The author is a lawyer, so its no wonder he is defending the legal system. It pays his bills. Take the whole thing with a gigantic grain of salt.

-=Geoskd

Re:Patent problems (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011593)

Every patent application is published after 18 months. Society may well get information that way before a product is even sold.
Every patent application contains a detailed description of how to work the invention and to that end may well contain info you can't learn even if you have the product in hand. (If a patent application doesn't show how to work the invention it is unlikely to be granted. Except software patents, unfortunately). Having a proper description saves quite a bit of time over figuring things out for yourself. Society is saved from the burden of having to re-invent stuff.
Other people can make another invention base on the earlier invention and apply for a patent too. Thus they get bargaining power over the original proprietor as that guy isn't to do what the other people came up with too.

I've a client who was confronted with a patent for technology my client would have liked to use. The client then started thinking and came up with something better (and not covered by the patent). Patents can drive innovation.

So, while a patent can stop other people from doing things, it can NEVER stop people from building on that. Apart from that, a patent being a territorial right, there's usually plenty of countries where you can do your thing freely.

Bert

 

All patents and copyrights harm progress, economy (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011395)

All patents and copyrights cause harm to the economy and to progress, it is absolutely wrong to have government protect anybody's business model, regardless of what it is, and this includes special subsidy of the enforcement, court and penal systems.

Patent system problems (1)

geoskd (321194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011479)

In theory a person has to build whatever they are patenting, but process patents are much too broad, not being tied to an actual machine. Patents in general are no longer useful to society, and simply allow the lawyers to get rich at everyone else's expense. Patents made sense back when the time it took to reverse engineer a product was trivial compared to the time it took to design it in the first place. In an age when the time to design is less than the time to steal, patents serve no valuable purpose, and only the dark-side of patents is left. Whats worse, is that our patent system rewards those who get to the patent office first, not necessarily those who actually had the idea. Even worse, is that the patent system will award the whole pie to anyone who comes up with something even if someone a world away did the exact same thing, only didn't get to the patent office right away.

As a side note, ever had an idea and tried to figure out if some part of your idea is patented? What a flaming nightmare.

-=Geoskd

No patents please. (4, Insightful)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011487)

Imagine this story: University scientists, working diligently in their lab, invent something world-changing. Several big corporations steal the invention for themselves, making billions of dollars in profits. The scientists receive nothing.

You don't have to be a professional folklorist or ethicist to conclude that the scientists are the good guys and the corporations are the bad guys.

Imagine this;
Business has a problem.
They hire a software engineer to solve that problem.
The software engineer, working entirely on their own, writes a piece of software that solves that problem.
Business implements the software.
Patent holder sues business because software violates holder's patent.

It might take a professional folklorist or ethicist to determine who's the bad guy in that situation.

Now imagine a third scenario;
Business has a problem.
They hire a software engineer to solve that problem.
The software engineer, working entirely on their own, writes a piece of software that solves that problem.
Business asks if the software violates any patents.
No one has any idea.

Even a folklorist or ethicist won't help you resolve the patent issue in that third scenario.
And that's the real problem with software patents.
It's not business knowingly using an invention and not paying for it's development.
It's not business being forced to pay for something they didn't use.
No, the problem is not knowing.

Software engineers are notorious for reinventing the wheel.
We often don't look for existing solutions because it's easier to reinvent them than to find them.
I don't believe anyone in the current lawsuit read Eolas's patent and said "nice idea, it's mine now."
But they did have to go to court over it.

Only a lawyer would think that's a good thing.

Senator Ben Cardin's take on patents (1)

InterGuru (50986) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011647)

At a town hall meeting hosted by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md), I stood up and complained that the patent system, which is supposed to help software developers, is instead a sword over our heads. I then gave two examples of recent ridiculous patents.

He replied that he is ( or was ) on the Commerce Committee and is aware of the problem. After the obligatory talk on the need to protect intellectual property he showed an awareness and sympathy to the issue. His last line was that when you want to use "1+ 1 = 2" you should not have to worry about someone having a patent on the plus sign.

The fundamental problem with patents... (1)

jurgen (14843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011669)

'What I do not understand is — had the jury determined Eolas's patents valid — why it would be A-OK for dozens of already megarich corporations to get even richer adopting technology they did not invent ..."

The fundamental problem with this guy's argument, and with patents in general, is that aforementioned megarich corporations DID invent this technology... regardless of whether the Eolas patent was valid by today's standards of what is patentable or not, Google, Yahoo and others sure as hell DID NOT COPY this technology from Eolas, their own engineers invented it, even if they were not the first to invent it.

The problem with the whole idea behind patents is that almost any technology is easy to invent once you put your mind to it, but with patents you basically should not put your mind to it, you should first hire an army of attorneys to read all the possibly relevant patents to find if someone has already "invented" it and then license it from them. Then, if you can't find it in existing patents, you can try inventing it, right? But many patents are so obfuscatedly written you could read them 10 times and not realize that they cover exactly what you're looking for.

Don't forget for a second that he is a lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011709)

And a snake. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie.

Patent implementations, not algorithms (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011783)

The solution is simple. Only allow the patenting of IMPLEMENTATIONS, not ALGORITHMS.

Algorithms are DISCOVERED, not invented. They have always existed, the techniques by which computing gets done.

Can you imagine the shitload of trouble we'd all be in if some of the authors of the great programming texts and guides had PATENTED their algorithms?

*shudder*

X, but with computers/internet/iWindows/databases (1)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011855)

I'm particularly upset about the rise of "X, but with computers/internet/iWindows" patents.

Clearly, if something is done on paper, it is possible to do the same digitally, where is the innovation in implementing it?

Recipes are copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011927)

Patents really should only apply to the end product.

You baked a really awesome super-cake, never before seen, that can be replicated by a process and sold in a store? That's great! Here's a patent.
You want to patent the part where you take all the ingredients and throw them together to make the cake? Sorry, that's copyright.
You want to patent the super-cake product line? Sorry, that's trademark.

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