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Canada Courts, Patent Office Warns Against Trying To Patent Mathematics

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the free-numbers dept.

Math 215

davecb writes "The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has recently published two notices for patent examiners relating to patent interpretation, and in particular computer-related/business method type patents saying: 'for example, what appears on its face to be a claim for an "art" or a "process" may, on a proper construction, be a claim for a mathematical formula and therefore not patentable subject matter.'"

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215 comments

Cool! All we have to do is create code to math... (2)

Kjellander (163404) | about a year ago | (#43738959)

...translators and software won't be patentable!

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43739005)

Isn't code already math? Any algorithm can be implemented on a Turing machine, which is a mathematical construct.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (5, Insightful)

metageek (466836) | about a year ago | (#43739007)

Sure it is, but judges still need to be convinced

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#43739155)

printf("Hello World!\n");

Convince me where the math is in that.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739301)

You are declared a function call with parameter. It is math.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739303)

|printf("Hello World!\n");
|Convince me where the math is in that.

Sorry, which part of that do you think should be patentable?

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739547)

Run it on a mobile phone and it becomes patentable...

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (4, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#43739321)

printf("Hello World!\n");

Convince me where the math is in that.

Prove that it is not math. Start by showing that it is not represented by 1s and 0s at the hardware level. Then prove that it is not all NAND gates that do the manipulating and that all the hardware operations are not mathematical. Bonus: Prove that add, subtract, divide, multiply, mov are not mathematical functions.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43739441)

This. GP, if you feel your little line is not math.. learn some assembly. EVERYTHING.. and I mean everything.. on a computer is math. Like the parent said.. prove it's not.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (2)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43739601)

Corollary to Clarke's Third Law: all math, sufficiently abstracted and obfuscated, is indistinguishable from art.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43739653)

Corollary to Clarke's Third Law: all math, sufficiently abstracted and obfuscated, is indistinguishable from art.

So, what you're saying is.. Art is math?

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43739709)

Deep underneath the hood... it might very well be that all art is math. Shhh! Don't repeat such heresy.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43740107)

Don't worry, your secret is safe with me.. besides, no one listens to me anyway on these matters!!

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739751)

well for one thing, printf cannot be described by one formula.

When he says, "its not math" he means the meaning of the line of code does not represent any mathematical objects.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43740067)

Well, the string literal represents a sequence of numbers, and the printf part a mapping (as in, a mathematical function) of that sequence of numbers to a temporal sequence of I/O actions. The I/O actions are perhaps the only part that doesn't have a purely mathematical interpretation.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

guytoronto (956941) | about a year ago | (#43739917)

What an inane argurment. The claim is "Code is math". Therefore the onis is on the person making the claim to prove a simple printf command is a mathematical formula or equation.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (2)

Kookus (653170) | about a year ago | (#43740109)

That's like saying that a chair is just a representation of geometrical shapes which can be expressed as mathematical formulas.
Everything is math, therefore everything must not be patentable.

Your thoughts are nothing more than a complex orchestration of electrochemical stimuli, akin to a computer. Everything from your dreams to the stars can be expressed using math, as it's a form of communication.

To me, the line is drawn wherever it is most convenient and fair. 1 line can be drawn in front of software and say, software can't be patentable... I'd rather use a different line, and raise the bar at what is considered novel or common sense. There's no reason why 50 different variations of a tripod that can spray water should be patentable just because they change the color or the medium they spray. I tripod is common sense, the click of a button is common sense. Using hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell to interact with anything is common sense.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

bunratty (545641) | about a year ago | (#43740219)

Prove that physical reality is not math. Start by showing that it is not represented by 1s and 0s at the lowest level.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#43740263)

The problem with that logic is that with sufficient effort you could show that any problem can be reduced to math. The question is not can something be reduced to math, but is it math itself. For example: geometry is a mathematical field, but not everything created using geometry is math. Another example: every video on Youtube. Every one of them is reduced to mathematics before being displayed (and quite often when it is made), but arguing that the video itself is math or a mathematical algorithm is patently ridiculous.

Oh, and also the burden of proof isn't on him to prove the statement isn't math, it's on people who claim it is math to prove it is.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (2)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about a year ago | (#43739327)

printf("Hello World!\n");

Convince me where the math is in that.

Can a computer interpret it? If it can, then it's maths, because all a computer can do is manipulate symbols [caltech.edu] , which is maths. If, of course, it can't be interpreted by a computer, it may not be maths.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

bunratty (545641) | about a year ago | (#43740237)

A computer can interpret Shakespeare, so therefore literature is math. No, I don't think that's a sound argument.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43739343)

Except for the "Hello World!\n" (which is data, not code), it's nothing but math. Not any different than any other mathematical function, which is why it's in the form of one - f(x). The language it's written in even calls it a "function."

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43739443)

The 'Hello World' is still math.. play with a little assembly, and you learn that EVERYTHING with a computer is math, in ASCII characters.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43739459)

No. A number is not math. Manipulation of that number is.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43739545)

And how do you think that number ended up on your screen?

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43739579)

You're having a hard time with concepts. Math puts the words on the screen, but that doesn't make the words themselves "math." I can measure a distance and an angle and use math (trigonometry) to determine the height of a tree. That doesn't make the height of a tree "math."

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43739677)

No, it doesn't. But if you were to attempt to display it on a screen, you would have to compute everything that goes with displaying it. So, this really goes back to, everything with a computer is math. You HAVE to manipulate the strings and values to make them display on a screen, which is math.

I agree. 'Hello World!' is not math, but the process to display it on a computer screen is. So, that would mean that all computer functions, from displaying text, or anything more complex, is all MATH..

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43739767)

I agree. 'Hello World!' is not math, but the process to display it on a computer screen is.

Meh. If you agreed with that, then why did you first argue it's not true? Just admit that you didn't think it through, were wrong, and move on.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43740181)

Why do you argue that I'm wrong?

All that line is, is a series of 1's and 0's, in a combination of bits, bytes, nibbles, and DWords.. so, tell me how it doesn't end up as a mathematical function?

In another post on this subject.. I provided an XKCD reference... Take a look at it. http://xkcd.com/435/ [xkcd.com] ... so on that basis.. how is ANYTHING, not math?

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#43739357)

Look at the exe file with a hex editor. All you will see is numbers.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year ago | (#43739369)

Just have a look at the printf source code [sourceware.org] (actually vfprintf). If you don't understand it, that'll remind you your old maths classes ..

You'd have to be open to understanding first. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739423)

But here we have several problems.

1) Where's the invention there?
2) Where's the process in there?

Now, what do you think is going to happen when you compile then run that code? Do you think there's a host of pixel pixies who will read that message "Hello World!" and typeset it on your screen for you?

Or do you think that the result will be the addition or subtraction to an array that is then sent as a signal over your VDU cable to change luminescence or blocking of your monitor's active elements?

Now, do you think addition and/or subtraction are maths or not?

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739461)

All that I would have to do is convince you that an algorithm is a mathematical construct. How it is used is irrelevant.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

evilmidnightbomber77 (2891503) | about a year ago | (#43739697)

It's isomorphic to printf("You've missed the point\n");

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43740021)

Look at the assembly code. You'll see its maths. Code can be copyrighted but should never be patentable.

Re: Cool! All we have to do is create code to math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43740033)

it is math If you know What it takes to print that

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

bunratty (545641) | about a year ago | (#43739885)

Any physical machine can be simulated on a computer, which includes a Turing machine. That doesn't mean the idea is math. In other words, the fact that X can be implemented on a computer does not imply that X is mathematics.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43740091)

"Simulated," yes, as in imitating, not duplicating. You can simulate a wheel, but that doesn't mean you've violated the wheel patent. And, contrary to what's implied by your claim, that simulation is math, even if the wheel itself isn't. Conversely, taking something physical and simulating it on a computer shouldn't make it subject to patent (the common "x, but on a computer" patents).

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43740041)

Any algorithm can be implemented on a Turing machine, which is a mathematical construct.

You might want to implement it in lambda calculus instead, it's more abstract and probably feels more math-y, even to the judges.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (4, Interesting)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#43739365)

Good, they shouldn't be.
Many things patentable, shouldn't be, many things unpatentable shouldn't be, but are.
Patents should expire 4 years after acceptance to promote innovation. If you haven't dug gold out of it in 4 years, it's time to shit or get off the pot. There's a world out there who can innovate. What have you done for us today?

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43739611)

The 19th century called and wants its algorithm [wikipedia.org] back.

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739681)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry-Howard_isomorphism

Re:Cool! All we have to do is create code to math. (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about a year ago | (#43740113)

Careful. Back when I was in college, NO computer programs could be patented under exactly that logic. The whole argument about doing the same as some old business process "on a computer" would have made it NOT patentable, rather than "new" as is currently done. So when the group I worked with came up with a major new wrinkle in a manufacturing process that involved mostly software, the lawyers decided it was unpatentable and we didn't get any filing bonus - unlike the mechanical folks who got a patent and bonuses for bending a piece of metal a few extra degrees.

I've been conflicted on the issue of software patents my whole career because of my experiences. On the one hand, they are MUCH overused and abused, and stifle the spread of good practices across the industry. On the other, people should get recognition for original creative work.

this is why mathematicians are poor (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43738967)

all they can aspire to is the Fields medal, but then again they even refuse that or bigger prizes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Perelman

Re:this is why mathematicians are poor (4, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#43739057)

Because money is all that matters in life. Got it.

Re:this is why mathematicians are poor (1)

tmosley (996283) | about a year ago | (#43739905)

It is if you want talent and progress in a given field, yes. But I guess you would rather we have all the top brains become lawyers, politicians, and CEOs.

Re:this is why mathematicians are poor (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43740101)

It's why you typed that out on a fancy handheld and have shelves jammed with stuff.

Humanity tried building worlds based on "money is evil", and the results are universally vastly substandard.

Re:this is why mathematicians are poor (0)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#43739299)

Yes, Larry Page is extremely poor. The research he did into graphs in relation to the worldwide web that went on to make him the multi-billionaire he is today had nothing to do with math.

Wait, what?

Re:this is why mathematicians are poor (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year ago | (#43739383)

Indeed, Google is gonna win because it was built by mathematicians. Like Stephen King said "Money is great stuff to have, but when it comes to the act of creation, the best thing is not to think of money too much. It constipates the whole process.".

Re:this is why mathematicians are poor (1)

tmosley (996283) | about a year ago | (#43739911)

But money is all you think about when you don't have any. People who are well paid don't have to worry.

You can't patent math (3)

Esben (553245) | about a year ago | (#43738971)

but you can patent the application in a specific area to solve a specific problem. Nothing new there.

Re:You can't patent math (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#43739079)

That sounds strange. So you could patent "subtracting two numbers to calculate at what time you have to leave home to arrive on time"?

Re:You can't patent math (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739095)

You have to add "with an iphone" to the end, otherwise you could do that with paper and pen and that's not patentable.

Re:You can't patent math (1)

tmosley (996283) | about a year ago | (#43739921)

You can patent the process that makes the calculation, not the calculation itself. But IANAPA (patent attorney).

Re:You can't patent math (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about a year ago | (#43740143)

You can patent "remember what your regular customers buy and suggest accompaniments and accessories" - which people have been doing since camel caravans on the Silk Road and before - by adding "on a computer" or "with a single click". The concept has gone overboard.

Re:You can't patent math (1)

gomiam (587421) | about a year ago | (#43739265)

I think you are wrong. In Europe, for example, a software algorithm is only patentable as part of a physical method and only as far as that physical method is concerned. So you can patent an algorithm that imitates a servomechanism to keep a motor from stalling but that patent only applies to the physical system it is embedded in. I can freely use the same algorithm to, say, control the pressure of a boiler, if it is appliable.

That is, unless I have misread or forgot something.

Uh Oh (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year ago | (#43739017)

My guaranteed payday based on my patented use of the letter 'x' in equations suddenly appears in doubt.

Re:Uh Oh (3, Funny)

Nbrevu (2848029) | about a year ago | (#43739749)

Of course! This is because of prior art. Your so-called 'x' is nothing but a 45 rotation of MY patented '+' symbol for addition.

Pythagoras would have been very rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739071)

Pythagoras would have been very rich if he had just thought to patent his theorem. Imagine having to pay royalties every time you calculate the hypothenuse of a triangle.

Re:Pythagoras would have been very rich (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about a year ago | (#43739429)

Probably not that rich due to the length of time that patents last for. The evidence suggests that the equivalent of patents in Greece around that time (500BC) only lasted for a year.

It's not over yet! (5, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | about a year ago | (#43739073)

Here's why: Lawyers being what they are, will bicker over what exactly a mathematical formula is.

I will never forget an incident where in the recent Oracle vs Google case, Oracle's side tried to change the facts about a memory reference being symbolic or otherwise. Mind you, this was an expert! It was pathetic!

Subsequently, the court shot down Oracle's position with this piece.

The foregoing is sufficient but it is worth adding that Oracle's infringement case was presented through Dr. Mitchell. A reasonable jury could have found his many "mistakes" in his report merely to be convenient alterations to fix truthful admissions earlier made before he realized the import of his admissions. For this reason, a reasonable jury could have rejected every word of his testimony.

Oracle lost the case - For now.

not unlike .. (1)

thephydes (727739) | about a year ago | (#43739085)

should genes be patentable, but it seems that we maybe have lost that one (sadly)

Lost tree hugger miss' his genes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739161)

should genes be patentable, but it seems that we maybe have lost that one (sadly)

Who lost this. You have a frog in your pocket. Living natural genes being patentable hasn't been decided. Created works using genes has.

Re:not unlike .. (3, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about a year ago | (#43739347)

should genes be patentable, but it seems that we maybe have lost that one (sadly)

Actually, it's the same issue, since genes are information structures which are processed by the cell. Consequently, genes are software, and consequently are mathematics. The fact that we don't yet understand in detail the mechanisms by which the cell processes the information structures is irrelevant.

If you can't patent software because it is mathematics, then you can't patent genes because they are software.

Re:not unlike .. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43739483)

Obligatory XKCD. http://xkcd.com/435/ [xkcd.com]

Re:not unlike .. (1)

socialleech (1696888) | about a year ago | (#43740249)

Really, no +1's?

Genes are biology, which is just applied chemistry, which, is just applied physics, which, ends at applied mathematics.. /. might be growing less sane by the minute..

Matter of time (2)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#43739093)

In a little while, when physicists have figured out the laws of the universe, everything might be mathematics... (not just symbolic stuff like computer programs)

Re:Matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739187)

Think it's more like: If physicists figure out the laws of the universe, everything will be mathematics.

Re:Matter of time (1, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year ago | (#43739249)

Ah, the good ol' Slashdot obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com]

Re:Matter of time (4, Interesting)

khakipuce (625944) | about a year ago | (#43739283)

It's the other way round. Mathematics is just an abstract representation of the real world. No amount of physics, maths or theories of "everything" will cure cancer or invent the next IPhone. Patents are about (or at least should be about) the inventive step - i.e. the coming together of several elements to create something new.

Re:Matter of time (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#43739425)

No amount of physics, maths or theories of "everything" will cure cancer

Well, a sheet of paper on which a patent is written will not solve many practical problems either.

Re:Matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739819)

In the real world, patents are now means to securing perpetual rents.

Re: Matter of time (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#43740153)

And that seems to apply to software as well. Like many things, software is just a medium for designs and ideas, implemented in math at some levels (usually abstracted away from the designer).

Not all that different than hardware... though the implications might be.

Re:Matter of time (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year ago | (#43739389)

physicists have figured out the laws of the universe, everything might be mathematics

I'm afraid everywhere is already mathematics... This is the difference between physics and mathematics: change the way our Universe works and physics vanish, mathematics (on which physics formula are based on) remain.

Abolish all patents and copyright (0, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43739103)

AFAIC all patents and copyright should be abolished on a general principle that government has no authority to protect or promote any business (or private protection scheme of any ideas or implementations) in the first place and all of a sudden the problem disappears. You want protection? It's your private business, use trade secrets and contracts.

It should be noticed that the decision in the story does not do that. You can patent your business idea or implementation, but it should be an idea or implementation that is not a pure math. So you can't patent a theorem on faster signal transformation but probably can patent business idea on using your faster formula to achieve a specific result.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (2)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#43739191)

AFAIC all patents and copyright should be abolished on a general principle that government has no authority to protect or promote any business (or private protection scheme of any ideas or implementations) in the first place and all of a sudden the problem disappears. You want protection? It's your private business, use trade secrets and contracts.

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Let me guess: when I buy a book, I'd be bound by contract to respect the author/publisher's right to control duplication, right? Is this meant to bind from the moment of purchase, or of opening the book?

If I am recording video of me walking along the street, and walk past someone reading a newspaper, then unless I'm contract-bound simply by having inadvertently seen the newspaper, then all the contents of that newspaper that I have recorded are essentially 'public domain' now, right? The copyright idea of 'fair use' can't apply here, after all.

I've yet to hear a vaguely plausible defence for replacing copyright by contracts. I've also never seen the idea seriously forwarded outside of Slashdot discussion.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43739239)

Not a baby but a rotten corpse. You don't have to sign any contract with a publisher, very few would, so to sell books they would not ask you to. Ever been to countries where they don't care about copyright? Publishers are in business there as well.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#43739307)

Point taken - I myself think of freely available ebooks as value-add for the treeware, as is the case with Thinking in C++ [mindview.net] - but piracy seems to be much more popular with music and video than with books.

If it was legal to build a free-of-charge Netflix-like service that paid nothing back to the companies behind the available shows, and made a profit from advertising, then that service would flourish, to the detriment of the actual content-producers.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43740135)

Point taken - I myself think of freely available ebooks as value-add for the treeware, as is the case with Thinking in C++ [mindview.net] - but piracy seems to be much more popular with music and video than with books.

I take it you've never visited LibGen or Avaxhome...

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (1)

pipatron (966506) | about a year ago | (#43739261)

I've yet to hear a vaguely plausible defence for replacing copyright by contracts. I've also never seen the idea seriously forwarded outside of Slashdot discussion.

So you've missed the various pirate parties getting mandates in many European nations in some places even nationwide, not to mention two seats in the European Parliament.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a year ago | (#43739353)

Without meaning to sound frivolous, do you have a link?

I actually had missed these things - Google didn't turn up much [google.com] . From my brief Googling, it seems [falkvinge.net] that at least the Swedish Pirate Party aren't in favour of actually abolishing copyright, they just want to give it a significant overhaul.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43739237)

AFAIC all patents and copyright should be abolished on a general principle that government has no authority to protect or promote any business

Which government are you referring to? The US government most certainly has the authority, defined by Constitution to "protect or promote any business" (your words). Supreme Courts have been upholding that authority for at least a century and a half, and government has been asserting it since before ratification.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43739251)

And it was a mistake.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739829)

Preach it comrade! Yes, it was such a mistake that the US went from backwater colony to world superpower. It was a mistake for the socialist Lincoln and the Feds meddle in the affairs of private businesses, protecting and promoting the businesses in the north over the humble God fearing cotton farmers in the south.

That was the beginning of the end. It was at that point that the collectivists - Republicans - introduced income taxes, which is of course nothing but stealing from productive people. They said it was to pay for society ("preserve the union" they said). But of course government doesn't build society, it only consumes. And like a junkie, once the government got a taste of spending other people's money it wants more, and more, and more.

Re:Abolish all patents and copyright (0)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#43739291)

If one starts with the premise that patents and copyrights are detrimental to progress, then Congress does not have that authority.

What the fuch ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739143)

I don't understand the statement about Oracle : Oracle [youtube.com]

an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739145)

Invent something nee, instead of juist looking for patents...

Software is math (1)

kbg (241421) | about a year ago | (#43739189)

It really is simple. Software is mathematics because all software can be expressed as mathematical formulas, therefore it can't be patented.

Re:Software is math (2)

InvalidError (771317) | about a year ago | (#43739727)

Software may be mathematics but the research, engineering and creative thinking that went into bringing the software from concept to actual code isn't.

If I invented a new artificial intelligence algorithm that has distinctive advantages over every currently known alternative, I believe the principles behind it would still be very much patent-worthy. The exact software implementation is pointless since others would likely be able to rewrite their own alternate implementation from principles and my own implementation would already be covered under copyright anyway.

The big problem with software patents is the endless volume of different filings about different methods of doing generally trivial stuff like drawing lines and countless other things most programmers consider obvious, take for granted, is purely cosmetic and non-essential (ex.: end-of-list bounce), etc. so we get countless lawsuits about things nobody other than the patent troll and its victims care about aside from being outraged the patent was ever granted in the first place.

Re:Software is math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739813)

What happens when someone takes software and converts it to hardware? It is now a physical thing etched in silicon. That's how companies like IBM patent software. Their patent lawyers say it can be created in software or as hardware.

Judgement calls and research by the examiners (4, Informative)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about a year ago | (#43739257)

As a clarification and reminder for the patent examiners, this is a good thing. However, the USPTO has guidelines and rules as well, with odd little things like "Prior art" and descriptions of things that should not be patentable.
However, there is also a policy (not sure if it is written, or just written about) that if the patent examiner cannot understand the patent application but cannot specifically see that it definitely contravenes any of the guidelines for things that should not be patentable, the patent should be granted and then the court system should be used to test the validity of the patent.

Re:Judgement calls and research by the examiners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739341)

>However, the USPTO has guidelines and rules as well,

The _United State_ Patent and Trademark Office does not listen to _Canadian_ Intellectual Property Office nor _Canadian_ courts. The world would be nicer otherwise, eh?

Re:Judgement calls and research by the examiners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739437)

At the other end, courts assume that since the Patent Office has accepted a patent, it should be presumed to be valid.

Re:Judgement calls and research by the examiners (2)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about a year ago | (#43739891)

he examiners are supposed to be at least familiar with the area. of ordinary skill in the art as it were.

if they cannot understand a patent then how could they build what it describes. so if they cannot understand it then it's not meeting the goal of patents: ie disclosing how something works.

It's not about Software, everything is messed up! (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year ago | (#43739521)

Well, I HATE this software argument about patents as, to be honest, EVERYTHING can be described as mathematics. From mechanical systems to genetic code, from electrical designs to source code. You can name anything: I can write it down either as mathematical model using a set of formulas or using a array of numbers. If mechanical designs and electronic systems can be patented so can be software.
The problem with the current patent system, in particular in the US, is that it is a lousy version of an idea from the 19th century. It doesn't take in consideration how fast technology improves, barely acknowledges the immense variety of new tech fields and how their are interconnected and it's filled with abused double standards.
How to solve this problem this problem? Modernize it and make it more strict(only absolutely novel tech for a much more limited time with very specific implementations). Is that perfect? NO. But a business is much more than just inventing stuff; use marketing, funding, quality, support and be secretive to overcome the copycats.

Good (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#43739567)

I'm against patients in general, except for big billion dollar medical advancements I don't really see the point. Why can't we just share knowledge, intellect and wisdom and not slap each other with law suits.

Re:Good (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | about a year ago | (#43740285)

No patents except for Pharma. Well I got a pretty good guess who you work for.

Where are my royalties!? (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#43739923)

2 + 2 = 5 ©

Nobody says the IP has to be correct.

Maybe you can't patent math (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#43739931)

But text can be copyrighted.

The first person to print out the full value of Pi can copyright it....

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