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
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/
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
There is no need to blindly focus on software patents. They aren't special.
Yes they are (see the economic literature e.g. http://researchoninnovation.org/) and what we should not be doing is blindly assuming that patents are beneficial.
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?
Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.