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Software Patent Reform Happening Now

Wolfbone Re:Can't be worse (130 comments)

It's a sad situationÂ: most larger companies' positions on software patents and IP in general are captured by their in-house IP professionals anyway, but both large and small companies (and individuals) generally don't have knowledge and insight sufficient to see through the prevalent patent system economic quackery and mythology - even though it's really as transparently bogus as any quack medicine pseudoscience. It's ironic - but also rather satisfying to my nationalistic instincts ;-) - that here in the UK it's our IPO and some of our most senior IP judges who've espoused a relatively rational and well-informed position on the matter of patent eligibility for software inventions.

 http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1036/957

more than 3 years ago
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France To Launch a National Patent Troll

Wolfbone Re:It's not possible to patent software in France (179 comments)

it's not possible to patent software (except software related to industrial processes, like computer-assisted production).

The EPO and some of the national POs have a long and dirty history of pretending - for political reasons - that that is the case. I'm horrified if the lie is being repeated in an educational setting. I suggest you contact the French branch of the FFII for clarification, but with a little patience you can quite easily check for yourself just how brazen a lie it is: http://worldwide.espacenet.com/

more than 3 years ago
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Senate Panel Backs Patent Overhaul Bill

Wolfbone Re:clarifications (243 comments)

arguments that I've seen apply equally well to any other kind of patent. Why should we abolish software patents?

Many arguments do, some important ones don't. Read some of the economics literature on the subject if you want to see which do and which don't. The most important thing to bear in mind is where the burden of proof lies: patents certainly should not be applied in any field or industry *unless* they substantially enhance innovation and economic welfare.

more than 3 years ago
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Senate Panel Backs Patent Overhaul Bill

Wolfbone Re:Helps companies but leaves individuals out (243 comments)

If the patent office simply enforced this simple rule, the problems with software patents would be fixed. We don't need to abolish software patents.

In view of the ironic 'Understand what you're discussing before you start discussing it.' which you aimed at Ciaran, i think it's only fair to ask you for the theoretical and empirical economic support on which you base that assertion. :P

more than 3 years ago
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World's Largest Patent Troll Fires First Salvo

Wolfbone Re:I own a patent. (189 comments)

Sorry, but that's utter nonsense. A patentee in posession of a granted patent is the householder - not the burglar. The trouble with 'you programmer and IT types' is that you continually and conspicuously fail to develop a sophisticated understanding of what the patent system is all about. You whine about 'patent trolls' amd 'low quality' patents etc. but you never bother to look up the patent system economics literature; think clearly about why these deplorable things happen (hint: it's inevitable!); or consider the rationale behind the patent system in the first place.

  - actually, almost everyone of course!

more than 3 years ago
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World's Largest Patent Troll Fires First Salvo

Wolfbone Re:I own a patent. (189 comments)

But whether that's good or bad depends on other factors - mainly the validity of your patent. If you just patented an idea that would likely occur to other people and sat on it until someone else did think of it and then sued over it... That would be bad. You've contributed nothing and caused a destructive effect. [...]

The answer to the question of whether you have the right to sell the patent, is actually more, do you have the right to a patent. I.e. did you come up with something genuinely original, either through your unique genius or more likely careful testing and research,

It's futile and neither rational nor ethical to place a moral burden on individual patent owners like this. If you own a patent you have the right to it and to do with it whatever is in your own best interests. Period. Patents are grants of powerful monopoly exclusion rights by definition. They intrinsically can have destructive effects, and insofar as it is even possible to decide objectively what is a "good" and "patent-worthy" invention individually, that is a matter for the legislators, POs and Courts. The consequences of the folly of granting patents too easily; for inappropriate subject matter etc. are deplorable but it's not the fault of the patentees.

more than 3 years ago
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Land of Lisp

Wolfbone Re:LISP a bad choice as a starter language. (330 comments)

Good points, fair criticisms...

However, I do think the situation is improving (a bit too slowly perhaps) and I don't think its importance is now past and nothing's being done about it. It's certainly not popular - never really has been and may never be - but it still is important to some (including in real-world, commercial settings of course) and I think it will continue to be. (At least I hope so).

If you hadn't come across it last time you looked CFFI is the FFI of choice now and I think it does have fairly good documentation (at least it's a lot better than many Lisp libraries ;-)).

more than 3 years ago
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Land of Lisp

Wolfbone Re:LISP a bad choice as a starter language. (330 comments)

rely on crutches like IDEs [...] t has a lot of unncessary and redudant parenthesis that do nothing except clutter up code, making that crap near un-readable [...] Algol-like languages have a better mapping to mathematical functions. foo(x) vs (foo x)

IDE? A programmer's editor is all you need. In the Real World (TM) I suspect most programmers are already 'reliant' on such ubiquitous crutches!

The parentheses are necessary and are not redundant - the necessary minimum in fact - and do not "do nothing except clutter up code". Far from it. One of the first things someone new to Lisp should know - especially if they are used to languages bogged down in complex syntax and so ironically initially view the parentheses as a distraction instead of as an aid (as more experienced Lispers will) - are the great advantages of having the written code in the form of a simple tree structure. The fabled power of Lisp macros - something many people have heard about and which may have attracted them to Lisp in the first place - is facilitated by this simplicity.

"Better mapping to mathematical functions"? I can't even guess at how you arrived at that judgement. All I can say is that, of all the programming languages I've tried, Lisp is by far the most pleasingly congruent with my mathematical aesthetics, conventions and habits of thought. (And no, I don't like Haskell - I've heard it said how "mathematical" it is but I suspect that in this case the programmer and comp. scientist view may be at odds with the generalist mathematician's view.)

PS. It's confusing and cluttery bad Lisp style to put the closing parentheses on lines by themselves. ;-)

more than 3 years ago
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Record-Breaking Galaxy Found In Deep Hubble Image

Wolfbone Re:red shift (196 comments)

Well, since z is a distance (scale factor) and c is a velocity,

It isn't a distance or a scale factor: z is a pure number ratio of frequencies or wavelengths http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redshift

more than 3 years ago
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Record-Breaking Galaxy Found In Deep Hubble Image

Wolfbone Re:Correct me if I'm wrong.. (196 comments)

The first ~380,000 years are all glow, yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recombination_(cosmology) and galaxies take some time to form after that too. Note also that if the light from an object we are seeing now has taken ~13 Gyr to get here, that object is actually considerably further away than ~13 Gly because of the expansion of the cosmos.

more than 3 years ago
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Webvention Demanding $80k For Rollover Images

Wolfbone Re:Abstract... (314 comments)

If a web developer themself has no clue at all what this patent is talking about, then who is it referring to?

The web developer's patent lawyer(s) of course. Surely every web developer is aware by now that they might very well need to employ a patent lawyer? Exactly the same goes for the electronics manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, and software development is no different from any other patent eligible field of technology, don't you know? ;-)

more than 3 years ago
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Why Geim Never Patented Graphene

Wolfbone Re:Actually a case for stronger patents (325 comments)

Counter-intuitively, this actually presents a case for stronger patents.

It portrays - anecdotally, in narrow circumstances, and hypothetically - just one potential (benefit side) effect of such a change, which even if realised still only might lead to an overall improvement in the performance of the patent system - and might just as easily do the opposite.

Just saying. ;-)

It would be nice if cases for change could be made so easily in patent system economics, but the system is complex and they can't.

more than 3 years ago
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The Encryption Pioneer Who Was Written Out of History

Wolfbone Re:Patentability issues (238 comments)

I thought even US law said that purely mathematical algorithms couldn't be patented?

They can't. But what is a "purely mathematical" algorithm? Can you find one which, for some reason, could never have any useful application whatsoever? The RSA algorithm wasn't patented - it's use in encrypting "messages" was.

This is why the typical programmer argument against software patents, "But it's just math!", is futile and justifiably derided by the typical Patent Attorney. The proper (and extremely powerful) argument to use aganst software patents is an economic one.

more than 3 years ago
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Facebook Patents Location Social Networking

Wolfbone Re:/. fails again (120 comments)

"I can explain exactly how the claim isn't nearly as broad as the summary."

I really appreciate the work you put into that but I'm afraid I don't think you've succeeded - at least not from the perspective of the ordinary programmer or entrepreneur etc. I don't want to start quibbling about the degree and practical significance of each of the narrowings you identified - although in light of claim 21 at least one of them seems /entirely/ moot! - I just don't think those perfectly valid and patent-lawyerly-proper distinctions make the broadness that most of those reading this article would've initially perceived go away.

more than 3 years ago
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Facebook Patents Location Social Networking

Wolfbone Re:/. fails again (120 comments)

While you have a point about the general level of comprehension of patents and patent matters on /. (and you're hardly the first to make it) I'd say this was a very poor choice of article against which to raise that criticism - unless you can explain exactly how that claim "isn't nearly as broad as the thing posted in the summary".

more than 3 years ago
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Patent Office Admits Truth — Things Are a Disaster

Wolfbone Re:Big Software Corps (278 comments)

The standard of non-obviousness has never been particularly high (in all fields, not just software) and, for various reasons (desirability of examination objectivity; demand pressure; ...), is never likely to be. A low standard of inventive step isn't the only contributor to contraindications such as a high rate of independent (re-)invention anyway.

You've correctly identified the fundamental rationale for granting patents in the first place, and seem to have recognised that it is primarily a question of economics, but you've made some assertions / indicated some implicit assumptions which don't really stand up to economic scrutiny. Have you read e.g. Machlup or any of the more recent literature on patent system economics - and the wisdom of allowing software as patent eligible subject matter in particular? It's really not so clear that there is a baby in the bath. ;-)

about 4 years ago

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