Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 10th Mar 2010 23:58 UTC
In the News If you thought the growing criticism directed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office would force them to rethink their strategies in granting patents, you're most likely wrong. After a re-examination that took more than four years, the USPTO has reconfirmed Amazon's ominous one-click patent.
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A system like that cannot last
by irbis on Thu 11th Mar 2010 00:42 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

You cannot help but feel that stories like this has to be from some dystopian scifi novel and not from real life.

Allowing patents like that shows that either the USPTO people are incompetent idiots who should be fired, or that the whole US patent system - and the related other systems that have supported and made it possible - are a deeply corrupt and dishonest mess that cannot stand long as they are now.

Maybe turning back to the ideals of free markets, liberty and democracy could help?

Edited 2010-03-11 00:59 UTC

Reply Score: 8

RE: A system like that cannot last
by Dano on Fri 12th Mar 2010 12:44 UTC in reply to "A system like that cannot last"
Dano Member since:
2006-01-22

>>Allowing patents like that shows that either the USPTO people are incompetent idiots who should be fired, or that the whole US patent system - and the related other systems that have supported and made it possible - are a deeply corrupt and dishonest mess that cannot stand long as they are now.

Both are true. I run a business and we have a lot of ideas. People always say to us, "wow that's a good idea, do you have a patent on that". The answer is always the same...NO. There are two real problems with patents. ONE, your design or idea is completely documented for everyone to see so they know how your idea works completely which means that TWO your idea is completely defenseless unless you have to cash to sue everyone that copies your ideas and keep them in courts long enough to win the case without running out of cash. I mean if you need to spend all of your gains just to defend your idea, what the hell good is a patent? I just gives competitors a leg up on you. There is no (government subsidized?) enforcement of the patent so you are really getting nothing more than the right to sue and justify your win. I have friends with patents, they just gave up their cases because it cost them way more to defend their patent against multiple competitors than to let it go. I am sure that most patents people have are this way. "Inventors" never look at the true costs of patenting something...they think once it's accepted they are good to go. I believe these "patent-your-ideas" companies perpetuate this belief.

Reply Score: 1

irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

your idea is completely defenseless unless you have to cash to sue everyone that copies your ideas and keep them in courts long enough to win the case without running out of cash. I mean if you need to spend all of your gains just to defend your idea, what the hell good is a patent?

An important point of view. I would vote your comment up, if I could.

Reply Score: 2

v Why the surprise?
by StychoKiller on Thu 11th Mar 2010 01:03 UTC
RE: Why the surprise?
by cb_osn on Thu 11th Mar 2010 01:35 UTC in reply to "Why the surprise?"
cb_osn Member since:
2006-02-26

So now, the Decepticrats believe that the Govt. is now Competent(??) to make decisions about Health Care (Aaarrgghh!!)

Any incompetence of a representative democracy like the US government can only be the fault of its citizens. It is the responsibility of the governed to take an active and participatory role in a democratic government. Unfortunately, we have an increasingly apathetic electorate in this country which leads to people abandoning their own responsibility and then blaming all problems on the incompetence of the governing body.

The optimist in me hopes that people will realize this before it's too late, but the pessimist fears that it will take a second coming of the "dark ages" before people realize that democracy is not a panacea, and without active participation from an educated electorate, quickly degenerates into something indistinguishable from fascism.

Reply Score: 12

RE[2]: Why the surprise?
by No it isnt on Thu 11th Mar 2010 11:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Why the surprise?"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

You really believe that? The electoral system makes it very difficult for a third party to get any real political power, and the advertisment driven media makes it impossible to get much attention on a national level without the financial support from, well, people with money, i.e. corporations and organisations with an interest in maintaining the status quo. Who do you think the politicians represent?

Change == small change, lower/higher taxes, a high/higher preference for the very rich.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Why the surprise?
by nemesys571 on Thu 11th Mar 2010 17:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why the surprise?"
nemesys571 Member since:
2010-03-11

If you had the experience of witnessing the political process of other countries with political systems modeled after the US, you would know that third, fourth, and even more parties can have a real chance and a meaningful voice. That is the case in Dominican Republic, for example. The US bi-partisan system though is very limited, but that bi-partisanship is not a definition of representative democracy, it's just the way things evolved in the US.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Why the surprise?
by StychoKiller on Fri 12th Mar 2010 02:02 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Why the surprise?"
StychoKiller Member since:
2005-09-20

Precisely sir! It helped no one but the Decepticrats and Republicons, when a law was passed limiting the House of Representatives to 435 people. The population has grown significantly since then, yet the same number of representatives are voted for. How can one representative slot that used to represent say 50,000, be said to have the same effectiveness representing 200,000? It just makes it more expensive for a third-party candidate to mount a successful challenge. Gerrymandering has also been used quite effectively to maintain power for what are just TWO sides of the same coin IMHO.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Why the surprise?
by boldingd on Thu 11th Mar 2010 20:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why the surprise?"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

The politicians represent the voters. Politicians can't get elected without votes. If an alliance with a certain business interest is going to cost a politician an election, then they'll drop it, regardless of how much money that business group (or lobby or PAC) brings to the table. Or, they'll lose the election.

Did you notice how the Democrats took over Congress in 2006, and won the Presidency in 2008, despite the fact that they they're not usually thought of as the pro-business party? That was because lots and lots of voters where really, really dissatisfied with the results of Republican rule, so much so that pretty much no amount of lobbyist/corporate money was going to buy the Republican party a win. You know those fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats? You know why they're like that? Because they represent their districts: they come from conservative districts, and if they want to keep their seats, they have to represent the desires of their electorate, regardless of their personal convictions or party affiliations. Those guys are living proof that the electorate still calls the shots, in American democracy: lobbyist money doesn't even enter into that equation.

While the large amount of influence that lobbies have in politics in the States is a problem, the greater and more fundamental danger really is the apathy (or ignorance) of the voters. Politicians will swiftly take any action on the really big issues we care about, when gaining or loosing votes are at stake. And IP policy isn't such an issue.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Why the surprise?
by StychoKiller on Fri 12th Mar 2010 01:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why the surprise?"
StychoKiller Member since:
2005-09-20

Ah, you mean like the Senator from Exxon, or the Congressman from Goldman-Sachs, etc. Yeah, I'm cynical enough to see what the Govt. does, and NOT believe what they say they're gonna do!

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Why the surprise?
by FunkyELF on Thu 11th Mar 2010 15:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Why the surprise?"
FunkyELF Member since:
2006-07-26

Any incompetence of a representative democracy like the US government can only be the fault of its citizens. It is the responsibility of the governed to take an active and participatory role in a democratic government. Unfortunately, we have an increasingly apathetic electorate in this country which leads to people abandoning their own responsibility and then blaming all problems on the incompetence of the governing body.

The optimist in me hopes that people will realize this before it's too late, but the pessimist fears that it will take a second coming of the "dark ages" before people realize that democracy is not a panacea, and without active participation from an educated electorate, quickly degenerates into something indistinguishable from fascism.


How can we stand up when they're too powerful and can lock you up for anything. We have laws that conflict with each other. If you obey the constitution you get locked up for 30 years. Ed and Elaine Brown are spending the rest of their lives in jail for questioning the government.

Speaking of constitution, do you know if you're living in a constitution free zone?...
http://www.aclu.org/national-security_technology-and-liberty/are-yo...

Another good read on the conflict between law and constitution...
https://www.checkpointusa.org/

I'd like to stand up and do something but I don't want to sit in jail. Ron Paul is the only politician one who cares about this stuff but voting for him is throwing your vote away.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Why the surprise?
by boldingd on Thu 11th Mar 2010 20:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why the surprise?"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

The whole reason Civil Disobedience works is because you get locked up. Because you force the government to choose between trying to incarcerate a large chunk of their populace, or changing an unjust law. If you're not willing to risk getting locked up, it's a fair bet you're not really that outraged.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Why the surprise?
by StychoKiller on Fri 12th Mar 2010 01:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why the surprise?"
StychoKiller Member since:
2005-09-20

I'd rather "Throw my vote away", than help either the Republicons or Decepticrats remain in power!

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: Why the surprise?
by Bobthearch on Fri 12th Mar 2010 15:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Why the surprise?"
Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

If you voted for the guy who YOU thought would do the best job, you absolutely did NOT throw away your vote.

Ron Paul supporters, all mouth no vote.

---------------

I'd like to see all of these political, off-topic, trolling posts voted to -20. Including mine.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Why the surprise?
by StychoKiller on Fri 12th Mar 2010 01:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Why the surprise?"
StychoKiller Member since:
2005-09-20

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald
the end of the republic.” — Benjamin Franklin

The laws need to change so that ONLY people that actually pay taxes get to vote in elections!

Reply Score: 1

This went out via email but it was bounced
by b.ms on Thu 11th Mar 2010 01:40 UTC
b.ms
Member since:
2010-03-11

Thom - I don't believe software patents are idiotic. Would you like to meet sometime so that you can claim to have met at least one person who feels that way?

Many of the seminal video coding patents were developed in hardware - I don't know anybody who says they are not entitled to patent protection unless that person also feels there should be no patents. Lets take that group off the table - I think its a minority.

The idea that Intel computers have gotten 1000x faster compared to when the video coding patents were written - and so suddenly what required hardware accelerators can be done in software - and such an approach should not run up against the same patents that would otherwise cover them simply because the execution environment is software strikes me as absurd.

There are bad SW patents - and bad HW patents. But the notion that SW is different and should not be patented in any way shape or form while HW can be ignores the fact that the line between the two continues to blur.

Regards, Bill

Reply Score: 3

elanthis Member since:
2007-02-17

Algorithms are math. Math is not patentable. A hardware implementation of an algorithm should NOT be patentable any more than the software version.

Patents on hardware processes and machining (e.g., the way and method of building particular forms of silicon to achieve certain electronic properties) is one thing. Specifying a particular arrangement of basic logic gates to achieve some specific mathematic algorithm is, however, absolutely no different than a software patent, which is no different than a math patent, which should not be patentable.

Only an idiot who doesn't understand math (e.g. you and the USPTO) would think being in hardware or software is even remotely the issue at hand.

Reply Score: 10

umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

Specifying a particular arrangement of basic logic gates to achieve some specific mathematic algorithm is, however, absolutely no different than a software patent, which is no different than a math patent, which should not be patentable.

Only an idiot who doesn't understand math (e.g. you and the USPTO) would think being in hardware or software is even remotely the issue at hand.


Hell, why stop there... we should probably be lumping in pharmaceutical patents, where the process by which the drug is produced is patentable, and patents on life/genetic patents, where they're patenting a specific DNA sequence! It's all somewhat absurd in theory, and yet those corporations and industries are thriving on it.

Speaking of math, has anyone patented the mobius strip?

Reply Score: 5

strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20


Hell, why stop there... we should probably be lumping in pharmaceutical patents, where the process by which the drug is produced is patentable, and patents on life/genetic patents, where they're patenting a specific DNA sequence!


That's a good point. It is good to remember that the pharmaceutical and medicine industries probably issue more patents than the IT industry(?).

Reply Score: 2

Yamin Member since:
2006-01-10

Indeed.

I'll be as broad and general as Thom ;)

I've yet to meet anyone who actually reads patents who thinks hardware patents are valid, yet software ones are not ;)

People in software who think software patents are broad and generic... try looking at hardware patents. They can be equally broad and generic.

Toyota has over 2000 patents on the Prius... anyone think they're all innovative hardware patents? Or do you think most of those are the same that any auto company (Ford, GM...) would run into when they build their hybrids?

I even had someone claim that Intel's patents on x86 were somehow valid as a hardware patent? It's why everyone has to get a license from Intel just to get the instruction set compatible. How is an instruction set different from an API? It's just a labelling of bits and their associated inputs/outputs. It would like Microsoft patenting the win32 api.

I don't know much about chemical engineering. But my brother works in the field. He complains about this all the time. Other companies patent obvious things... you have no choice but to just pay the license.

Actually to think of it... that's really the only difference with software. Being a new field... lots of patents have been filed. And the software industry doesn't like to pay licenses... whereas other fields just accept it as part of doing business.

Reply Score: 2

StychoKiller Member since:
2005-09-20

Patents on DNA sequences should NOT be allowed either! Suppose you are the only person with a gene sequence that kills the HIV (virus) outright. Someone takes a sample of your blood, finds said sequence, patents it, and then demands that YOU pay royalties to them. Guess you better pay up or change your genetic make up tut-suite (my French ain't what it used to be)!

Reply Score: 1

umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

Someone takes a sample of your blood, finds said sequence, patents it, and then demands that YOU pay royalties to them. Guess you better pay up or change your genetic make up tut-suite (my French ain't what it used to be)!


That's kinda how it works with Monsanto - if they find any cross-polination of their genetically altered corn/soy crop on your farm, they sue you for patent infringement. Most farmers just give in and buy their seed from Monsanto while others go bankrupt fighting.

Hell, they don't even have to try hard - they just spray some Roundup on a patch of your field and if it doesn't die, they assume "their" gene is in your crop.

Reply Score: 2

b.ms Member since:
2010-03-11

Algorithms are math in the sense that ... um ... well ... actually they are not math.

You can count the number of algorithms. You can map them onto integers. In some cases you can define precise semantics for them.

But no - they are not math. And yes - I've studied some theory to form a basis for this opinion.

An algorithm is a method of doing something. Method patents are well defined and accepted by the patent offices - in the US and abroad.

Do you want to discuss ideas or just sling insults?

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Algorithms are math in the sense that ... um ... well ... actually they are not math. You can count the number of algorithms. You can map them onto integers. In some cases you can define precise semantics for them. But no - they are not math. And yes - I've studied some theory to form a basis for this opinion. An algorithm is a method of doing something. Method patents are well defined and accepted by the patent offices - in the US and abroad. Do you want to discuss ideas or just sling insults?


The core of a computer's CPU is a logic circuit that is called an ALU ... Arithmetic logic unit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arithmetic_logic_unit
The ALU is a fundamental building block of the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer


All that a CPU can do is mathematics, it cannot (by design) do anything else. Mathematics is it. Aside from the arithmetic functions, which are clearly mathematics, yes, logic is also mathematics ... specifically it is a type of algebra.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_logic

Ergo, software is mathematics.

QED.

Edited 2010-03-11 04:29 UTC

Reply Score: 7

Dawgmatix Member since:
2008-09-28

Thats seriously mixing representation with the layer above it. What you are saying is similar to saying - the thoughts expressed in his speech are english. English was the language, the thoughts spoken in the language carry their own added value.
If you took your own argument further, anything that is created using a logical engine which runs on mathematics is mathematics too. So all text written using a computer is math... ?

Reply Score: 1

talaf Member since:
2008-11-19

Dear God, I'm actually agreeing with Lemur2, my world is crumbling.

But yeah what the man said ;)

Reply Score: 1

Philip Grant Member since:
2008-12-28

Mathematics is an abstraction of logic. Therefore, mathematics is logic, but logic is not always mathematics. Logic can be cognition, the recognition of a sun rise, differentiated from a sun set.
QED, a logic circuit or a processor doesn't intrinsically do maths, though it is easy to abstract some algorithmic results to symbolise mathematics, while other results might symbolise other forms of logic.

Reply Score: 1

cb_osn Member since:
2006-02-26

Algorithms are math in the sense that ... um ... well ... actually they are not math.

You can count the number of algorithms. You can map them onto integers. In some cases you can define precise semantics for them.

Ignoring the fact that this is just plain wrong, let's look at it from another angle. As with copyright, the goal of the patent system is to "promote the progress of science and useful arts." Anyone that is involved in the actual development of software knows that innovation in that area occurs in spite of the patent system rather than because of it. Remove the ability to patent algorithms and they will still be developed because they are the fundamental components of useful and valuable pieces of software that are already covered by copyright.

That is the distinction with hardware. Patents make sense as a method to protect creative works that can not be practically covered by copyright. Software doesn't fit.

If we were to apply the current situation with software patents to other works of art, such as books, it would mean that not only would J.K. Rowling have control of the distribution of the actual text of her novels, but through patents, she would also have the ability to prevent anyone else from writing and distributing any stories about an adolescent male wizard for 20 years. I don't see any way in which that would be acceptable in a free society, yet that is the exact situation that we have with software today.

Reply Score: 9

Silent_Seer Member since:
2007-04-06

You are right, algorithms, in software or hardware form, are methods of doing things. But what is mathematics then? A good part of mathematics are methods too! For example, matrix multiplication is a method to multiply the numbers in matices to produce a new matrix that is a product of the input matrices. Differentiation is a method of producing the gradient of a tangent (or a function that gives the value) from a graph (a set x,y values, a two dimensional vector) or a function that gives the graph.

Why are these methods not patentable? Is it because their inventors were generous? Yes indeed they were. But the reason you do not pay a patent to some organization every time you multiply two numbers (that's a method and algorithm as well) is because the inventors of the method believed that they discovered something that was already there, i.e a part of nature. They never 'invented' it as such, they merely found it out. And they were happy to take credit for it, but most importantly, use it for their own benefit. Charging someone who chooses use their discoveries in their products (to make those products or make products that themselves allow these methods to be carried out) should have seemed bizzare to them. You should not have to pay patents to someone to make and sell an abacus, should you? Should you, even for a modern calculator? Why then, for a modern computer or now, for a video decoding hardware? Someone rearranges many, many standard mathematical operations to find a optimum way encode and decode video signals (numbers to represent moving images) and charges for it's implementation? Did they pay their patents for matrix multiplcation and calculus or for using the algorithms for multiplying and diving numbers, for using it in their algorithm?

Thinking logically, algorithms should not be patentable, either in hardware or software. Individuals/companies will find new ones and improve existing ones anyway, since they obviously need it produce better products or just for the sake for research.

Reply Score: 3

tyrione Member since:
2005-11-21

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algorithm#Origin_of_the_word

Origin of the word

The word algorithm comes from the name of the 9th century Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī whose works introduced Indian numerals and algebraic concepts. He worked in Baghdad at the time when it was the centre of scientific studies and trade. The word algorism originally referred only to the rules of performing arithmetic using Arabic numerals but evolved via European Latin translation of al-Khwarizmi's name into algorithm by the 18th century. The word evolved to include all definite procedures for solving problems or performing tasks.

----------------

Hence, Algorithms aren't Mathematics, but they are the Rules/Laws that leverage Mathematics to perform a desired task.

Reply Score: 4

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Hence, Algorithms aren't Mathematics, but they are the Rules/Laws that leverage Mathematics to perform a desired task.


I'm not sure about this, but I would suggest that the word mathematics itself is about "the Rules/Laws that leverage Arithmetic to perform a desired task". Arithmetic in turn is "the Rules/Laws that manipulate numbers to perform a desired calculation."

If that is anywhere near correct, then algorithms are indeed mathematics.

The word "algorithm" appears to have the same root as the word "algebra".

http://www.und.edu/instruct/lgeller/algebra.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algorithm#Origin_of_the_word

They are almost the same concept.

Wikipedia describes "algorithms" as (possibly very complex) computations:
Each algorithm is a list of well-defined instructions for completing a task. Starting from an initial state, the instructions describe a computation that proceeds through a well-defined series of successive states, eventually terminating in a final ending state.


Computer software does nothing but manipulate numbers. Digitally-encoded numbers, to be sure, representing almost anything, but still numbers.

Ergo, algorithms are mathematics. Software is mathematics.

Edited 2010-03-11 12:44 UTC

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I'm not sure about this, but I would suggest that the word mathematics itself is about "the Rules/Laws that leverage Arithmetic to perform a desired task". Arithmetic in turn is "the Rules/Laws that manipulate numbers to perform a desired calculation."

...

Computer software does nothing but manipulate numbers. Digitally-encoded numbers, to be sure, representing almost anything, but still numbers.

Ergo, algorithms are mathematics. Software is mathematics.


Here we go ... backup.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arithmetic

Not much dispute there, arithmetic is manipulation of numbers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematics#Discrete_mathematics

"Discrete Mathematics" is apparently the term I am after. This in turn leads to the "Theory of Computation"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_computation
The theory of computation or computer theory is the branch of computer science and mathematics that deals with whether and how efficiently problems can be solved on a model of computation, using an algorithm.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computability_theory_%28computatio...

Computer theory is about "computability", computability involves computations, using an algorithm ... which in turn is what software is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computability
Computability refers to the ability to solve a problem in an effective manner. It is a key topic of the field of computability theory within mathematical logic and computer science. The computability of a problem is closely linked to the existence of an algorithm to solve the problem.


Software is mathematics. It is a sub-branch of mathematics known as "discrete mathematics".

QED.

Edited 2010-03-11 13:08 UTC

Reply Score: 2

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Why don't you come up with some original thoughts instead of bashing other persons when you have no valid arguments?

Reply Score: 3

strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20

Why don't you come up with some original thoughts instead of bashing other persons when you have no valid arguments?


Like random link spam? I bet everyone would be delighted to see more of that here.

Reply Score: 2

boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Just to nit-pick, it's my understanding of the field that Computability Theory deals pretty much with proving that given algorythms terminate with given inputs, or wrestling with P/NP or etc. It's not the blanket term for "all of computer science," or "the fundamental theory of computer science."

But you are right. I think pretty much any academic would tell you algorithm design is, at its most fundamental, mathematical logic.

Reply Score: 2

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I can't speak for USPTO's official stance on patents, but from my own personal perspective I think you all are missing the point of patents.

I see patents as a way of protecting innovation that otherwise would have been too expensive to research and develop without a guaranteed short term monopoly.
I couldn't care less if the patent is software / hardware or engineering process / mathematics.

For example: If someone builds a mathematical formula that can predict the future to within a reasonable probability (taking into account Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) - I think that deserves to be patented just as much as if someone engineers a new way of manufacturing high-performance CPUs from recycled toilet paper.

However, we are at a stage of technological development where true innovation is rare and most advances are evolutionary (e.g. touch screen -> multi-touch). Thus patenting becomes a high stakes game of poker rather than a means to pioneer new technology that development couldn't have been funded otherwise.


so the problem we have is the following:
* Who decides what's evolutionary and what's revolutionary? Certainly shouldn't be patent applicant.
* and how do you determine that the product will have / did have heavy R&D costs that will be reliant on the income from a subsequent monopoly?


To throw an additional spanner in the works, I also fully support individuals and smaller / start up companies patenting ideas before they approach larger organisations who have the means to develop said ideas.
The reason being because they can approach businesses to build their ideas under contractual agreement without worrying about their idea being stolen.

The problem here is it's impossible to identify between people like us - who might have an idea and would try our damndest to make that idea a reality - and patent trolls who have an idea but don't care to develop it as they just want to profit from others hard work.



So in reflection, the patent system will never be perfect as it relies upon a certain degree of trust from the applicant. Trust they will develop the product and trust said product's revolutionary development is dependant on the monopoly a patent will provide.

Now seeming as you can't trust any stranger or business the moment money is concerned, the patent system immediately become vulnerable.



So maybe the only fix to the patent system is frequent and open reexaminations of patents, their effect on the market and the effect on the patent holders business and future developments should the patent be revoked.

This way patents could still be argued as a means to encourage innovation without stifling competition.

Edited 2010-03-11 11:39 UTC

Reply Score: 5

kittynipples Member since:
2006-08-02

Really? So what exactly would be the practical difference in creating an algorithm that is several times more efficient at a particular task, using novel techniques, than any current one, from say, inventing a new type of drill bit that is more efficient at drilling than existing bits? The design of this new drill bit would obviously be patentable, yet you insist that any new technique for doing some task, when implemented in software, cannot be.

Basically this whole bogus argument comes down to: it's okay to patent a new technique to perform some action if it's implemented mechanically, but if a technique is implemented in source code, better hope you can enforce a copyright claim; which does nothing to protect the technique at all.

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Really? So what exactly would be the practical difference in creating an algorithm that is several times more efficient at a particular task, using novel techniques, than any current one, from say, inventing a new type of drill bit that is more efficient at drilling than existing bits? The design of this new drill bit would obviously be patentable, yet you insist that any new technique for doing some task, when implemented in software, cannot be.


Musical notes have a mathematical relationship to one another in their frequency, timing (both duration and spacing) and relative volume. Music is mathematics.

When an author of music (aka a composer) comes up with a better (as in more pleasing to the audience) arrangement of musical notes, that work is not protected by patents. It is protected by coyright.

The techniques of composing music are not protected at all.

A similar, but less obvious and less direct comparison applies to authors of literature.

Reply Score: 2

StychoKiller Member since:
2005-09-20

ALL software, no matter what it does, is based on Mathematics. It's no different than trying to patent Euclid's Geometric Theorems, or Newtons/Leibniz's Calculus. Don't think so? Try and come up with software that does no arithmetic or boolean logic!

Reply Score: 1

steogede2 Member since:
2007-08-17

The idea that Intel computers have gotten 1000x faster compared to when the video coding patents were written - and so suddenly what required hardware accelerators can be done in software - and such an approach should not run up against the same patents that would otherwise cover them simply because the execution environment is software strikes me as absurd.


The idea that consumers should have to continue paying you for the next 20 years (or more) - because they want to use media that own which was encoded for your now obsolete piece of hardware - strikes me as equally absurd.

There are bad SW patents - and bad HW patents. But the notion that SW is different and should not be patented in any way shape or form while HW can be ignores the fact that the line between the two continues to blur.


I think the fact that there are any bad patents is a serious cause for concern.

Reply Score: 1

the crazies
by Ikshaar on Thu 11th Mar 2010 01:47 UTC
Ikshaar
Member since:
2005-07-14

To the commenters 1 & 2 : One agency is not the whole government and FYI UPTSO have existed under all parties' government. Do you think the US army is incompetent ?! that "evil" government-run agency ... I did not think so, so can we keep the paranoia down here. You can go post on other website who would be interested in your rantings.

Edited 2010-03-11 01:48 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE: the crazies
by irbis on Thu 11th Mar 2010 02:21 UTC in reply to "the crazies"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

To the commenters 1 & 2

So I suppose you were also referring to my comment above (although I fail to see the point)?
One agency is not the whole government and FYI UPTSO have existed under all parties' government.

I only emphasized the simple fact that patent officies and policies don't exist in an isolation from wider political and economic structures. That is also precisely the very reason why most other countries have so far escaped a similar software patent mess what they now have in the USA. People working at the patent offices in the USA, or in the EU or elsewhere are hardly very different from each other - but, the surrounding political and economical structures are different, and it is because of that why politics related to software patents can be very different in different parts of the world.
Do you think the US army is incompetent ?! that "evil" government-run agency

What an earth has that, or the rest of your low class rant, got to do with anything discusssed here? Could we, please, concentrate on the topic, and stay away from off-topic low class ranting and trolling?

Edited 2010-03-11 02:26 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: the crazies
by Ikshaar on Thu 11th Mar 2010 07:28 UTC in reply to "RE: the crazies"
Ikshaar Member since:
2005-07-14

So I suppose you were also referring to my comment above

My bad.. it was 2 and 3.

Reply Score: 1

RE: the crazies
by Soulbender on Thu 11th Mar 2010 03:14 UTC in reply to "the crazies"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Do you think the US army is incompetent ?


Yes?

Reply Score: 8

RE: the crazies
by nemesys571 on Thu 11th Mar 2010 17:22 UTC in reply to "the crazies"
nemesys571 Member since:
2010-03-11

The army is very incompetent. You just need to be on the receiving end of their mistakes to appreciate it. But then you probably wouldn't be reading technology articles on your computer from the comfort of your chair; heck you might not live to post your opinion!

Reply Score: 1

Assessment?
by Brendan on Thu 11th Mar 2010 03:35 UTC
Brendan
Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

Something that helps to explain why software patents are granted when they shouldn't be (from http://www.ilaw.com.au/public/patentsarticle.html):

"One of the reasons for the poor standard of assessment of software patents is that traditionally the state of the art in a particular technical field is assessed by reference to journal articles and papers. Software inventions are not typically documented in those forms, but more often in source code or software manuals. Patent examiners do not make reference to these sources, which means that they are commonly unaware of what the state of the art is."

-Brendan

Reply Score: 7

Patents
by 3rdalbum on Thu 11th Mar 2010 04:24 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

Patents are not bad. Not even software patents. But the implementation of the patents system is terrible.

All patents need to last for one or two years from product launch to expiry. This will protect the inventor's product, but the inventor won't be able to rest on their laurels without improving the product.

Result: Protection for inventor, no patent trolls (there must be a product in order for the patent to be protected), and competition to cause the product to get better.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Patents
by satsujinka on Thu 11th Mar 2010 04:44 UTC in reply to "Patents"
satsujinka Member since:
2010-03-11

Software patents are a bit redundant though, what with that thing called copyright.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Patents
by Soulbender on Thu 11th Mar 2010 05:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Patents"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Patents and copyright does not address the same issues.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Patents
by ShadesFox on Thu 11th Mar 2010 05:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Patents"
ShadesFox Member since:
2006-10-01

Correction, they aren't SUPPOSED to address the same thing. As it stands now you can have code under copyright, patent, and trade secrets protection all at the same time.

Edited 2010-03-11 05:26 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Patents
by Soulbender on Thu 11th Mar 2010 07:50 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Patents"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

copyright, patent, and trade secrets protection all at the same time


Sure, why not? If they address different issues obviously you'd want all of those issues covered.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Patents
by satsujinka on Thu 11th Mar 2010 15:17 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Patents"
satsujinka Member since:
2010-03-11

Because the point of any and all laws should be to aid society at large and creating monopolies left and right generally isn't considered good for society?

Copyright = monopoly on distribution
Patents = monopoly on design (which is also effectively a monopoly on distribution)

Now I'm not saying one is better than the other (that's entirely dependent on implementation,) but I am saying you should pick one and only one.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Patents
by boldingd on Thu 11th Mar 2010 21:36 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Patents"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

I would pretty much concur. Bear in mind, the purpose of both patents and copyright are not grant a "natural" right of control over your property, but to help an innovator/producer recoup their investment. They are also necessary evils (as they are legally granted and enforced monopolies), which is whey their terms are finite. So, ideally, we'd like to keep such "necessary evil" protection measure to minimum. Therefore, if either copyright alone or patents alone would suffice to foster innovation in software, then we should choose either one or the other, and not apply both.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Patents
by lemur2 on Thu 11th Mar 2010 22:27 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Patents"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I would pretty much concur. Bear in mind, the purpose of both patents and copyright are not grant a "natural" right of control over your property, but to help an innovator/producer recoup their investment. They are also necessary evils (as they are legally granted and enforced monopolies), which is whey their terms are finite. So, ideally, we'd like to keep such "necessary evil" protection measure to minimum. Therefore, if either copyright alone or patents alone would suffice to foster innovation in software, then we should choose either one or the other, and not apply both.


I would hold that patents on software are by no means necessary evils. They are not necessary at all.

Software was being written and sold commercially under copyright protection for decades before the first patent for software was ever granted.

There is no need at all for patents on software. Software will get written, and innovation will happen, entirely without a single software patent ever being granted.

Edited 2010-03-11 22:36 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Innovation
by Gone fishing on Thu 11th Mar 2010 06:04 UTC
Gone fishing
Member since:
2006-02-22

I’m very skeptical about patents – the idea is to protect and nurture innovation by making sure that those who have invested time and money in developing an idea have a reasonable time to recoup there investment from sales etc so that others can not simply steel the ideas they have developed.

It’s always been problematic - I seem to remember early cars trying to avoid essential engine components to avoid patents. However, if we assume that patents are needed to protect innovation, it maybe reasonable for a pharmaceutical company to be granted a patent for a product that has taken years and millions of dollars to develop, however, a naturally occurring DNA sequence or derivative there of obviously shouldn’t be patentable any more than a goats horn should be patentable.

In IT an idea that can be dreamt up in the bath, which seems to cover lots of trivial software patents should not be patentable although the code to implement should be copyrightable. Even if we argue that some software patents do not fall into this category and required large investment to develop. 20 years in the IT industry is not a reasonable time to recoup the investment (think back to 1991 and BBCs etc) maybe 2years would be reasonable.

It seems that the patent system is now being abused to create cartels etc that have as their purpose to stifle innovation the actual antithesis of why the system was created, this is partially encouraged by some governments who seem to see IP as a reasonable form of protectionism to protect their economies from competition.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Innovation
by ricegf on Thu 11th Mar 2010 11:21 UTC in reply to "Innovation"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Well, a broader goal of patents (I believe?) is to ensure that inventors make their inventions *public*, so that after the patent expires, those techniques are available for everyone to use.

In other words, *without* patents, inventors would have a strong motivation to keep their inventions as a trade secret and only sell the result of the related manufacturing processes. *With* patents, the inventor is assured of legal cover - the government essentially maintains the same monopoly as a trade secret, free of the risk of accidental disclosure or parallel discovery, at the cost of *eventual* release to the public domain.

This doesn't eliminate trade secrets entirely (the formulation of Coca-Cola being perhaps the most famous example), but in the manufacturing disciplines it does help a lot (e.g., drug manufacturers seem particularly drawn to patent disclosure for the profitable temporary monopolies it brings).

If I got that right (IANAL), then I don't see the point of software patents. Software is not "manufactured" and by definition can be reverse engineered - the machine must be able to decipher the instructions to execute them after all - so patents here gain nothing for society at all. A competent engineer can *always* break a "trade secret" implemented in software. Copyrights protect the software from competitors already, so patents aren't necessary to software inventors, either.

However, software patents *do* allow major corporations to abuse small business (and sometimes vice versa) by legalizing extortion over trivial patents, the one-click patent being the most famous absurdity.

So. Just go back to not permitting software patents. Ever. Copyright works well (although the term is too long). Long live software copyrights. Death to software patents. *Please*

Reply Score: 5

They must have some sort of archaic...
by Tuishimi on Thu 11th Mar 2010 16:21 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

...rule book that tells them to ask certain questions about the patent to test for validity... questions that were written in 1800 or something.

We should see if we can reverse engineer the criteria by reviewing some of the granted patents.

:)

Reply Score: 3

boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Actually, they do, and it was old (albeit not from the 1880s). It was also updated. They appear to be ignoring the update, which puzzles me. For instance, the update to the decision-making guidelines includes that "obvious" innovations -- defined as "something that would be obvious to someone with mean skill in the art" -- are not patentable. How "one-click" doesn't fail that test -- dramatically -- I don't understand.

I've heard that part of the problem is that A), most patent examiners are far from subject matter experts, and B), there are way to many applications for them to do any kind of reasonably thorough investigation of each one. Therefore, they may "rubber stamp" patents that aren't a blindingly-so-even-to-a-laymen level of obvious.

Reply Score: 2

USPTO
by jabbotts on Thu 11th Mar 2010 17:46 UTC
jabbotts
Member since:
2007-09-06

.. for those times when you can't even get a job at McDonals.. join us at the USPTO.

Reply Score: 4