Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 31st May 2011 22:20 UTC, submitted by john
Legal Well, I have to say this: Lodsys got some balls. After Apple threatening them with legal action, Lodsys has gone on the offensive, and has proceeded to sue third party iOS application developers. While Lodsys had first given developers 21 days to negotiate an agreement, due to Apple's legal threats, the company has now moved its litigation timing to an earlier date.
Order by: Score:
For or against
by WorknMan on Tue 31st May 2011 22:33 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

You're either for software patents, or you're against them. You can't condone software patents when Apple files them and is abusing them, while at the same time condemning them when others do the exact same thing.


Only a Sith sees things in black and white.

I think it depends more on what the patent is about as opposed to who is filing it. In other words, I have no issues with entities filing software patents for very specific things, such as a particular audio/video codec. If I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars/man hours investing in a thing (or purchasing the technology from someone else), it's a bit disingenuous of you to expect me to give it away for free.

However, many patents (like this one) seem way too broad. So, I'm not willing to get on board with the 'all software patents are evil' mantra. The whole thing just needs to be overhauled.

Edited 2011-05-31 22:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: For or against
by mrstep on Tue 31st May 2011 22:47 UTC in reply to "For or against"
mrstep Member since:
2009-07-18

Yeah, the problem is as much the fact that things like 'use a binary representation to interface with a system' ends up getting lawsuits against anyone using a monitor as anything else. And of course the large companies that can afford attorneys are all for this system.

Hmmmm. There's very little that it's protecting beyond huge corporations and lawyers fees, and in the case of software, the majority of patents seem to go to general ideas that are then broadly used to stifle competition. On second thought, it is just evil. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: For or against
by _xmv on Wed 1st Jun 2011 00:07 UTC in reply to "RE: For or against"
_xmv Member since:
2008-12-09

Yeah, the problem is as much the fact that things like 'use a binary representation to interface with a system' ends up getting lawsuits against anyone using a monitor as anything else. And of course the large companies that can afford attorneys are all for this system.

Hmmmm. There's very little that it's protecting beyond huge corporations and lawyers fees, and in the case of software, the majority of patents seem to go to general ideas that are then broadly used to stifle competition. On second thought, it is just evil. ;)


The thing is, it NEVER happens that the small guy patents a thing and get lot of money from it.
No. They either:

- buy him off cheap
- copy and win lawsuit even thus they shouldnt
- copy and lose lawsuit, end up buying out the guy still cheaper than if they paid licenses

Patents are broken. Even if only patents that made sense were recorded (GOD FORBID), that would still be broken.

It's a concept that sound like a good idea but cannot work out.

When there are no patents, at least there is no lie. You KNOW that you have to keep your idea secret until you can market it properly, and gain money from it that way (or sell it).

Heck, being forbidden to copy is alienating a basic human thing. And I'll push as far as saying, if it's a basic human need, it should be a basic human right, the right to copy (and improve, extend).


The real issue is that our society is based on the wrong values (artificial money) and that here, ideas, music, etc are convertible to money, and you REQUIRE it to survive, to scale yourself vs the others, etc.

It's well known that people would be happier if we lived in a resource-based society instead, where money had no value - because this, is the actual core issue that brought up the patent non-sense, and several other non-sense we live by TODAY. Several of which, we even think are OK or NORMAL.

Such as people having billions that they cannot even use, and millions of people dying of hunger - and that's not that they wouldn't want to work, or wouldn't be smart enough to work. It's that they're not given the chance, taken away by our society.

Yep, I dare to extend patent issues to such core issues. Before complaining, think about it a moment. After that, try to do something about it in your daily life. Every little bit count. Even just advocating in osnews forums :-)

Reply Score: 6

RE: For or against
by WereCatf on Tue 31st May 2011 23:17 UTC in reply to "For or against"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

If I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars/man hours investing in a thing (or purchasing the technology from someone else), it's a bit disingenuous of you to expect me to give it away for free.


Time or money spent on implementing something doesn't equal quality or a worthy implementation in the first place.

Reply Score: 4

RE: For or against
by JAlexoid on Tue 31st May 2011 23:21 UTC in reply to "For or against"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

I really don't agree.
Audio codecs are specialised compression algorithms. Those algorithms are applications of mathematical formulas. And mathematical formulas are not patentable, because they are formulations of nature's laws.

Implementation of a physics engine is quite a costly venture, yet the first one to implement it could essentially block anyone else from implementing the laws of nature in software. Guess what? Video/audio codecs are in a very much similar area - using physical and mathematical properties that are present in nature to compress.

Encryption is very much a good example. Modern encryption algorithms consist of 100% mathematical properties of numbers and nothing more. Why would we allow these to be patented?

I had the same dilemma. I thought that software patents could be cornered. But in reality just a light dig deeper reveals that that corner may just be worse. These idea patents that can be overcome by a different implementation. The patents on application of nature's laws bars everyone from using which is everyone's to begin with(but most probably no-one’s).

Edited 2011-05-31 23:23 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: For or against
by WorknMan on Wed 1st Jun 2011 02:10 UTC in reply to "RE: For or against"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Implementation of a physics engine is quite a costly venture, yet the first one to implement it could essentially block anyone else from implementing the laws of nature in software. Guess what? Video/audio codecs are in a very much similar area - using physical and mathematical properties that are present in nature to compress.


So we don't make the patents permanent then? All I'm saying is that the first person/company to invent/release a new thing should have exclusive rights to it for awhile (IMHO). Otherwise, why spend time and money working on a thing when you release it and your competitors can just leech off of your work?

And don't spout any of that socialist bullshit either, like the guy who responded to me saying that money is evil and shouldn't exist, yada yada. In the world we live in, money does exist and unless you want to live in the woods somewhere, people need money to eat, and a lot of the big open source work that has been done was made possible by other people's money.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: For or against
by Spiron on Wed 1st Jun 2011 02:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For or against"
Spiron Member since:
2011-03-08

There is this little thing called COPYRIGHT which you can apply to anything and make it so that no one copy YOUR work. Copyright actually makes sense with your argument, no one wants their hard work to be stolen by another company, but seeing as a software patent is an idea, I could patent "A system to save OS state to disk and shutdown" and sue everyone for including the 'hibernate' option within their OS. THAT is what makes the system flawed, the fact that a software patent is for an IDEA, not actual code.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: For or against
by Fergy on Wed 1st Jun 2011 03:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For or against"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

Otherwise, why spend time and money working on a thing when you release it and your competitors can just leech off of your work?

After reading your comments it has become clear that you don't know what a software patent means. If you write a peace of code on the basis of an idea you have the copyright automatically. If somebody steals the code you can sue them. Now if you patent the idea you can sue your competitors that have written the same program without ever having seen your code. They have worked just as hard on their solution as you did.

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: For or against
by WorknMan on Wed 1st Jun 2011 04:03 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: For or against"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

After reading your comments it has become clear that you don't know what a software patent means. If you write a peace of code on the basis of an idea you have the copyright automatically. If somebody steals the code you can sue them. Now if you patent the idea you can sue your competitors that have written the same program without ever having seen your code. They have worked just as hard on their solution as you did.


Trust me, I know the difference, but here's what I am saying:

Let's say I spend several years and countless hours developing a new type of compression algorithm that compresses files 5x smaller than zip, rar, 7z, or any other type of compression algorithm currently available. So I release my program, "WorknMan's Super Compression Appp", and copyright it. Now nobody can rip off my code and everybody's happy, right? Well ...

If I am not allowed to patent the algorithm itself, then my competitors are able to reverse engineer the file format and a few months later, everybody else is using my file format, and benefiting from the years of work it took me to develop it. Sure, maybe I have benefited mankind and that's great and all, but at the end of the day, I'm still starving ;)

Am I suggesting that I should have a patent on that algorithm for life? Well no, but maybe for a reasonable amount of time anyway. And what is reasonable? I dunno, but I'm hoping maybe we could have that conversation, instead of so many people dismissing patents outright as 'evil'.

To me, it seems like the folks who are anti-patent are also anti-capitalism, insomuch that if you do any work involving 0's and 1's, you are (for whatever reason) not entitled to profit financially from your work, and any attempt to do so makes you a selfish bastard who is a slave to the almighty dollar.

Edited 2011-06-01 04:05 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: For or against
by Alfman on Wed 1st Jun 2011 05:44 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: For or against"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,

"Let's say I spend several years and countless hours developing a new type of compression algorithm that compresses files 5x smaller than zip, rar, 7z, or any other type of compression algorithm currently available."


But, you're not appreciating the extent to which compression is mathematically derived. Upper (lower?) bounds of lossless compression are derivable for any given distribution, that problem's already been solved.

It's a matter of tradeoffs between speed/memory/complexity/domain specific knowledge/etc.


Mathematically speaking, a trivial algorithm would be to enumerate all possible programs producing output within an acceptable amount of time, and then locate the smallest of such programs who's output equals the data you want to compress.

This program becomes the compressed output.

Of course, the difficulty is not coming up with the IDEA, but rather deriving/building an efficient IMPLEMENTATION.

If someone where to patent this idea, they would then have monopoly rights over someone else's working implementation.

If we were to ban patents like this on the basis that derivable algorithms should not be patentable, then no software patents could be granted.

Edited 2011-06-01 05:50 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: For or against
by n0b0dy on Wed 1st Jun 2011 06:51 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: For or against"
n0b0dy Member since:
2009-09-03

WorknMan,

Let's say you've spend countless days and hours to develop something, just so a few days before being ready to file for patent, you discover someone with more money got there first and has a patent for a similar (patent wise, basically the same) thing?
Do you still like software patents now?
Do you like seeing all your original work being thrown away into the trash bin just like that?

Consider this: You make a strawberry pie, I make a banana pie. I half-bake mine and rush to the patent office, beating you to it by 10 minutes. When you get there, you claim it's a STRAWBERRY pie and I claim a PIE is a pie. I get a patent for my lousy half baked pie and yours doesn't even get tasted, or I'll sue you and anyone eating your pie for patent infrigment.

Edited 2011-06-01 06:53 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[6]: For or against
by Valhalla on Wed 1st Jun 2011 11:42 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: For or against"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

Agreed, also very much in line with what John Carmack wrote on software patents years ago:

The idea that I can be presented with a problem, set out to logically solve it with the tools at hand, and wind up with a program that could not be legally used because someone else followed the same logical steps some years ago and filed for a patent on it is horrifying.

He also discusses the 'lone inventor' defence:

Patents are usually discussed in the context of someone "stealing" an idea from the long suffering lone inventor that devoted his life to creating this one brilliant idea, blah blah blah.

But in the majority of cases in software, patents effect independent invention. Get a dozen sharp programmers together, give them all a hard problem to work on, and a bunch of them will come up with solutions that would probably be patentable, and be similar enough that the first programmer to file the patent could sue the others for patent infringement.

Why should society reward that? What benefit does it bring? It doesn't help bring more, better, or cheaper products to market. Those all come from competition, not arbitrary monopolies. The programmer that filed the patent didn't work any harder because a patent might be available, solving the problem was his job and he had to do it anyway. Getting a patent is uncorrelated to any positive attributes, and just serves to allow either money or wasted effort to be extorted from generally unsuspecting and innocent people or companies.

Yes, it is a legal tool that may help you against your competitors, but I'll have no part of it. Its basically mugging someone.


It's a good thing for pc gaming that he hates software patents, because if he had patented all the stuff he did back when he pretty much revolutionized pc graphics techniques then we would have the exact same patent problem in the video game sector which plagues the rest of the computing world.

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: For or against
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:14 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: For or against"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Let's say I spend several years and countless hours developing a new type of compression algorithm that compresses files 5x smaller than zip, rar, 7z, or any other type of compression algorithm currently available. So I release my program, "WorknMan's Super Compression Appp", and copyright it. Now nobody can rip off my code and everybody's happy, right? Well ...

If I am not allowed to patent the algorithm itself, then my competitors are able to reverse engineer the file format and a few months later, everybody else is using my file format, and benefiting from the years of work it took me to develop it. Sure, maybe I have benefited mankind and that's great and all, but at the end of the day, I'm still starving ;)


If you developed it, believe me you are NOT starving. If you actually do create such an algorithm, then you will definitely have a comfortable job for life.

You are not automagically a millionaire or a monopolist, because you applied some mathematical formula to a bunch of numbers.(In fact, the longer you took, the less you should be compensated. It would take a total idiot decades before he will develop a rudimentary algorithm for PKI.)

Will you be paying the mathematician that spent decades in finding that formula or proving it? I guess not.
How long LZMA used in 7Z was being developed? Do you know what it boils down to? In short, adding the MC to LZ77. Both people who LZ is named for, didn't think it's valuable enough to try to patent. And I bet that neither you nor most of software "inventors" are smart enough to rank over them.

Oh and BTW, you can't patent the algorithm by itself. You would have to add a lot of things that would make your algo not a pure mathematical formula. And then anyone else could read your patent and use only the mathematical formula out of it and still rip you off.

Am I suggesting that I should have a patent on that algorithm for life? Well no, but maybe for a reasonable amount of time anyway. And what is reasonable? I dunno, but I'm hoping maybe we could have that conversation, instead of so many people dismissing patents outright as 'evil'.


In the current state, as well as any option on the table, it's going to be even harder for an inventor. Because in that space the patentable things become more basic to mother nature. And as a result not circumventable.

To me, it seems like the folks who are anti-patent are also anti-capitalism, insomuch that if you do any work involving 0's and 1's, you are (for whatever reason) not entitled to profit financially from your work, and any attempt to do so makes you a selfish bastard who is a slave to the almighty dollar.


I am very much anti-capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system. Not a market system. Not a political system. It's an economic system with strong tendencies into monopolies and oligarchy.
And you have a very strange view of folks that are anti-patent. If you said "benefit" instead of "profit" you would seem a bit more open on the "I sunk all that time, please give me way way to be compensated for the value my time and work resulted in" front.

PS: There is copyright and just because you think that you know what it covers, does not limit it in covering much more. Sufficiently complex algorithms cam be successfully protected by copyright. And I've seen it in action.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: For or against
by WereCatf on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:31 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: For or against"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Let's say I spend several years and countless hours developing a new type of compression algorithm that compresses files 5x smaller than zip, rar, 7z, or any other type of compression algorithm currently available. So I release my program, "WorknMan's Super Compression Appp", and copyright it. Now nobody can rip off my code and everybody's happy, right? Well ...


What do you do if after all that time and effort spent on working on your algorithm you release your program and then the next day you get a call from lawyer who tells you to cease distributing it because you're infringing on someone's patent?

THAT is the problem here: even if you create something all the way from the bottom all yourself, with absolutely no one else's help or any documentation, someone can still come to you saying that what you did is wrong and you need to pay them!

Software patents only help those who already have lots of money and a sizeable patent portfolio, they do in no way or form help newcomers in the field; even if you really come up with some exceedingly great thing that you patent you'll just get sued for infringing on tens of other, completely obvious and trivial patents until you have no way of surviving without going bankrupt except giving your own patent away.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: For or against
by WorknMan on Wed 1st Jun 2011 16:53 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: For or against"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

What do you do if after all that time and effort spent on working on your algorithm you release your program and then the next day you get a call from lawyer who tells you to cease distributing it because you're infringing on someone's patent?

THAT is the problem here: even if you create something all the way from the bottom all yourself, with absolutely no one else's help or any documentation, someone can still come to you saying that what you did is wrong and you need to pay them!


The flaw in your logic is that you are talking about the patent system as it exists now, and not in the context in which I am speaking, where patents exist, but cover much more specific things. For example, let's say somebody wanted to invent a new type of compression format, and this guy has been living under a rock and has never heard of .zip files.

So once he finished building his compression algorithm and built it into a file format, what would you say the odds are that his format would be 100% compatible with zip files? THAT is what I am talking about, being able to patent formats, codecs, APIs, etc that are VERY SPECIFIC, not overly generic like somebody being able to patent the concept of compressing a file. In other words, the only way you would be able to patent something in software is if it would be damn-near impossible for somebody else to come along and do what you did on accident.

Well, an exception might be made if you were the VERY first one to ever come up with a thing, like if you were the first person to ever build a file compression scheme and the tech world truly has a 'holy shit!' moment when you release your thing, then maybe you get a monopoly on that for a year or two, and a patent on whatever specific format you came up with that lasts for five or ten years. In other words, after a period of time, the world gets to copy your idea, but not your specific format.

Note: I'm not suggesting that the world needs any more compression formats; just using it as an example, since it's the first thing that came to mind ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: For or against
by _txf_ on Wed 1st Jun 2011 17:52 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: For or against"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

So once he finished building his compression algorithm and built it into a file format, what would you say the odds are that his format would be 100% compatible with zip files? THAT is what I am talking about, being able to patent formats, codecs, APIs, etc that are VERY SPECIFIC


Then doesn't copyright apply here? The final data structure would have to be exactly the same, meaning that it would be an exact copy of the original work...

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: For or against
by Alfman on Wed 1st Jun 2011 23:31 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: For or against"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,

"So once he finished building his compression algorithm and built it into a file format, what would you say the odds are that his format would be 100% compatible with zip files? THAT is what I am talking about..."

A competing technology infringes whether it's 100% compatible with zip files or not. Since the patents have expired, many different compression formats do share the same algorithm and are 0% compatible since they're separate implementations. It is algorithms which are patented, not the file format.

The fundamental flaw with arguments like yours is the assumption that independent work is always unique. If that's your view, then you need a better understanding of how the principals of mathematics will lead separate developers to the same conclusions.

Given the same problem, how many unique algorithms will 2 developers come up with? 10 Developers? 100 developers? 10000 developers?

Your going to find that developers think alike because they derived the same math as everyone else.

Go read about the "birthday problem", which is a similar problem.

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

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: For or against
by Alfman on Wed 1st Jun 2011 04:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For or against"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,

"Otherwise, why spend time and money working on a thing when you release it and your competitors can just leech off of your work?"


Isn't that argument ignoring the majority of software developers currently, and all software developers prior to software patents? We develop software algorithms because it's part of our job - writing code to solve requirements. Employers hire us to address the needs of their paying customers, most of whom don't have the time, resources, or desire to deal with patents. Sometimes we write from scratch, other times we incorporate open source, other times we license commercial code. Sometimes we're inspired by other products, other times we're not. Either way, so what? That's evolution, and it's a good thing for both customers and developers alike.

Unless there's copyright infringement, there's nothing even remotely unethical about creating one's own (possibly better or worse) implementations of the same ideas.

Have you ever thought about why most software developers hate software patents? It's because patents hand over monopoly control of our own code to another party who took no part in it's implementation. We're left paying for something which was of no help to our own development efforts, assuming they don't just shut us down completely.

There's nothing wrong with the way things for work developers without patents. The lawyers hate this scenario far more than we developers do.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: For or against
by WorknMan on Wed 1st Jun 2011 04:36 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: For or against"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

FYI, see my comment here:
http://www.osnews.com/thread?475404

I'm not saying that we should let people patent anything and everything for an indeterminate period, just that there are some things that aren't really covered by copyright, that developers should be able to take ownership of for at least a limited amount of time. And if the developer wants to sell his patent to a giant corporation, so be it. It's his/her choice.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: For or against - examples?
by jabbotts on Wed 1st Jun 2011 12:22 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: For or against"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Can you provide examples of software which can not be covered by copyright?

Reply Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Can you provide examples of software which can not be covered by copyright?


Can you copyright an audio or video codec? What about a file format or API? For example, "I just built this particular file format for the manipulation and storage of widgets in my application. You can build your own format if you want, but you can't incorporate my specific format into your own application without my permission ..."

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

audio or video codec; written in source code so yes. You copywrite the source code implementation since you already can't copywrite or patent the math formula used at it's core.

API is also written in source code so yes; copywrite again covers that. That is the exact thing that happens now when one's software program (ie. API) is protected under a specific copywrite license.

File formats seem like they shouldn't be protected at all. The file format is the user's saved data which you don't own in the first place. What you can have though is a copywrite on the program which writes that file format; that seems perfectly reasonable.

I mean, user data lockin through file format monopolies is the very cornerstone of why software patents are completely market and consumer hostile. Your commiting a consumer hostile act in trying to limit the user's data to only your program. Why not do like the PDF file format and implement the best tools for working with it? The spec is open yet I've still not seen a PDF writer which produces a better file quality than Adobe's own tools.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: For or against
by sparkyERTW on Wed 1st Jun 2011 15:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For or against"
sparkyERTW Member since:
2010-06-09

[why spend time and money working on a thing when you release it and your competitors can just leech off of your work?


I'm sure I'm just rehashing, amalgamating, or paraphrasing what's already been said, but what the heck, maybe it'll give some that "ohhhh, I get it!" moment...

Patents do absolutely nothing to help the little guy. First of all, navigating the patent system is going to cost you a decent chunk of change between investigating and filing. Even if you manage to somehow manage to come up with an idea/design that has yet to be patented, a larger competitor can easily trounce you by wiping you out in legal costs. As long as the amount to bankrupt you is less than the amount they can buy it from you legally, that's what they'll do. It won't matter if they're wrong if you can't afford to prove it.

Let's say it's not a large competitor; let's say it's of equal or smaller size. It's still quite likely that the costs of attaining the patent and subsequent legal action against the competitor is greater than the losses you incur from competition. And even if you do successfully quash them, you'll have another one right behind them looking to take advantage of the fatigue you've suffered from the first round (or second, or third).

The people who truly win in this system are the lawyers.

So what's the key to success here? The same as it is in any information-based economy, which is what software is: attainability and familiarity. Make your software easy to acquire and get it out to as many people as you can; that's how you establish yourself.

Here's a tip. Take a look at how much it would cost you to get the patent(s) and how much you would spend fighting a legal battle to protect that patent. Now imagine you spent that money on marketing, or R&D to build on your design to keep ahead of your competitors. Which do you think is going to have more success?

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: For or against
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 1st Jun 2011 02:49 UTC in reply to "RE: For or against"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Audio codecs are not pure compression algorithms. Only the lossless ones are. Mp3's on the other hand, have some hand crafted logic based on research of human hearing capabilities to strip out parts of the audio that a human wouldn't notice their absence.

Should learned information about the human body be patentable ? No, I don't think it should be. However, the point I was trying to make is that its not all math. Sort of a "your're right but for the wrong reasons. "

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: For or against
by Fergy on Wed 1st Jun 2011 03:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For or against"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10


Should learned information about the human body be patentable ?

Writing a good program requires years of learning coding and how humans interact with computers. Should that _learned_ information be patentable?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: For or against
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 1st Jun 2011 04:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: For or against"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Yes, that is the question. Its the same one that is being explored in genetic engineering. I say no. There are other people that disagree with me, and its a new field. I'm open to persuasion, but basic facts about us should belong to all of us. Now, new patents on therapies based on those facts, thats okay in my book. Say use drug x because it stimulate Gene Y, Thats ok. But the patent shouldn't be as broad to cover any therapy that targets Gene Y. "The gene Y affects this disorder" info should be in the public domain and non patentable. At least, in my perfect world where I make all the decisions.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: For or against
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:35 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: For or against"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

I agree that the gene therapy using specific chemical compounds should be patentable. Why? Simply because there are no other protections from copying that compound. And add to that the open door of finding another chemical compound to do have the same effect.

Software however already has copyright and software patents are either:
a) Exceptionally broad, that they don't describe what is done but describe the effects.
b) So narrow that they patent use of laws of nature in software. See my reference to implementation of physics engine.

If we go back 300 years back and apply the way the software patents are filed today, the steam engine patent would only include:
a) boiler
b) piston
c) explanation that a rod attached to a piston could push something

Or in an extreme it would patent the expansion of high pressure gas in a lower pressure environment.

PS: Yes, I'm a bit oversimplifying. But that is my experience from the field of US patents.

Edited 2011-06-01 08:36 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: For or against
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For or against"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Yeah... I know they're not.
My point in essence is that expression of laws of nature should not be patentable.
What sound waves our ears register is as much patentable as what genes we have. Add to that pure mathematics to compress and you have a basic lossy audio codec.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: For or against
by lindkvis on Wed 1st Jun 2011 12:17 UTC in reply to "RE: For or against"
lindkvis Member since:
2006-11-21

"Audio codecs are specialised compression algorithms. Those algorithms are applications of mathematical formulas. And mathematical formulas are not patentable, because they are formulations of nature's laws. "

You are confused. You definitely can make formulations of nature's laws using mathematics. This is why it is such a fantastic tool in the realm of physics, chemistry or biology. However, mathematics is in itself just a totally abstract language. As such it can be used to describe totally abstract concepts.

These abstract concept may well be incredibly useful, but they are as much of an "invention" as music, pictures, books etc.

If you can use mathematics/software to perform the task of a patentable physical machine. Then why should only the physical machine be patentable?

I'm very much a patent-sceptic (not anti-patent), and I think most of the black/white discussion on it is exceptionally uninformed.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: For or against
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 15:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For or against"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

It's not confusion at all. It's philosophy.
2+2=4 is as natural as 2+2=2.8... Though one is more abstract than the other. Numbers are the laws of nature. Even the most crazy abstract mathematical ideas came to be useful in the physical world. Two of the most abstract numbers, as a non mathematician, I can think of are the imaginary number sqrt(-1) and zero. Yet both are used in physics.

Software has copyright. Just like you said "but they are as much of an 'invention' as music, pictures, books etc.". I see patents as necessary for physical inventions, because physical inventions can be copied easily and don't have copyright. Essentially patents is a copyright on physical invention.
As for software patents level of abstraction, see my note on steam engines: http://www.osnews.com/permalink?475418

My standpoint is not of a person that is far off from these matters. I dealt with software patents quite a lot at my workplace. I always refused to write up applications myself, but I had to review patents of my peers.

Reply Score: 2

RE: For or against
by darknexus on Tue 31st May 2011 23:25 UTC in reply to "For or against"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Only a Sith sees things in black and white.


I've always found that part funny. By in effect saying that only so-and-so deals in black and white, the person saying it are dealing in black and white themselves. In keeping with the Star Wars example: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." Yet, by saying *only* a Sith, Obi-wan in that sentence is, himself, making an absolute statement. Therefore, he proves his own point to be invalid.

Reply Score: 10

RE: For or against
by orestes on Wed 1st Jun 2011 02:12 UTC in reply to "For or against"
orestes Member since:
2005-07-06

A "simple" solution would be a "no implementation within a set time from filing an application, no patent granted" clause. Also accelerate patent expiration if the current holder has no actual products being protected by them

Reply Score: 4

RE: For or against - hardware maybe
by jabbotts on Wed 1st Jun 2011 11:51 UTC in reply to "For or against"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Hardware is hard to change and expensive to develop. I'd say hardware patents are indeed available in all shades of grey.

On the other hand, software is much easier to develop and change with a much faster rate of evolution.

- it's already protected by copyright
- it's actually a complex mathmatic formula and math is not patentable
- it's the written form of a business process and business processes are not patentable
- it's based on the command set of the processor which provides "prior art" negating the patent

and

- software patents are, in the staggering majority, used to block competition rather than premote it (ie. the oposite of there intended purpose)

- the patent office is supposed to grant patents based on not eing obvious and not being based on prior art; both of which most software fails. Yet, the patent office grants any application willy-nilly leaving the burden up to the courts to validate later

I mean, with a touchscreen which can easily get pumbed, we instead see a less natural motion like sliding one's finger across a specific area; pretty obvious. hey, I want to make this picture bigger so I'll pull two oposite corners; obvious again (and remarkably similar to the 3D desktop pior art that turned up before touchscreen popularity). A button in a program that says "click here to buy the full version".. obvious doesn't start to describe that one. This is the kind of lunacy only our broken legal system (rather than an actual justice system) could support.

Yes, developer's need to be paid for there work but software is already covered by copyright. It's protected apropriately. Claiming it should also be covered by patent law is nonsense. Why is copyright not enough? Can anyone provide an answer that doesn't fall apart when inspected from closer than half a mile?

Reply Score: 3

RE: For or against
by TemporalBeing on Wed 1st Jun 2011 17:28 UTC in reply to "For or against"
TemporalBeing Member since:
2007-08-22

I think it depends more on what the patent is about as opposed to who is filing it. In other words, I have no issues with entities filing software patents for very specific things, such as a particular audio/video codec. If I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars/man hours investing in a thing (or purchasing the technology from someone else), it's a bit disingenuous of you to expect me to give it away for free.


How much time or money you dump into/invest in something does not grant you the privilege of a patent.

A book author could write a million page novel, spending a million dollars on each page, and a thousand man-years writing it; but that would not qualify for a patent - no matter the writing technique used to make the work.

Patents are only granted for something that will enhance the state of the art and not for things that are laws of nature, and such - laws of nature includes the realm of mathematics. Additionally it must be non-obvious to the average layman in the field at the time and be a novel invention - e.g. no prior thing does the same thing in the same way.

Needless to say, software in its very nature breaks down when applying the very basic concept of a patent to it - namely because the field is too new to properly determine novel inventions, but also because it is highly abstract and built on top of abstractions such that most things are essentially done the same way in the end, even if the software author wrote some things differently in code.

Yes, there have been various proofs that compilers will take code written in different forms and produce the same binary output to run on the same computer when the code in all the different forms does essentially the same thing. This is namely a result of compile-time optimizations that the compiler performs on an intermediate language that the original source code is converted to before it spits out the binary data.

However, many patents (like this one) seem way too broad. So, I'm not willing to get on board with the 'all software patents are evil' mantra. The whole thing just needs to be overhauled.


Software patents to be useful for enforcement must be by nature overly broad. Otherwise there will be nothing to protect. Ultimately this means that they are abstract - which is not allowed in patents; a valid patent is quite specific about what it is actually describing.

Much of this could probably be resolved if Patents were to be required to be submitted with a physical invention as proof of an operating device - and in the case of software the source code also. Many in the software field, though, would bulk at such a requirement as they would see it as having to disclose Trade Secrets to get the patent; but that is really what a patent requires - disclosing a trade secret for limited time monopolies over those trade secrets.

Patents in themselves are not necessarily bad. Software patents are because they don't fit the patent system.

Reply Score: 2

Moving the Timing
by pantheraleo on Tue 31st May 2011 22:50 UTC
pantheraleo
Member since:
2007-03-07

I think the fact that the gave developers 21 days to come to an agreement is probably going to be an issue. Don't think a judge is going to let them move the goal posts like that and suddenly decided "Even though we told you that you have 21 days, we changed our minds and are going to sue you now". Don't think that's going to fly in court.

Reply Score: 2

Contrary to what Thom says
by smitty on Tue 31st May 2011 23:21 UTC
smitty
Member since:
2005-10-13

Google has been pretty consistently against software patents. They've gotten nowhere trying to get rid of them.

Most people are surprised by this, but Google has very little influence in politics compared to a lot of other companies, because they completely ignored it while they were a private company. They've only recently hired a bunch of lobbyists in the past few years and haven't seem to have made much headway in virtually anything they've lobbied for. They also didn't use to hoard patents like some other companies did, which is why they're almost constantly being sued now. Apple and other companies have a bigger portfolio which makes others a little bit warier to sue them and gives them better leverage in cross-licensing agreements.

Edited 2011-05-31 23:23 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Contrary to what Thom says
by dsmogor on Wed 1st Jun 2011 11:02 UTC in reply to "Contrary to what Thom says"
dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

Well, the patent portofolio is an ineffective weapon agains patent trolls anyway.

Reply Score: 3

Rammin' it through
by mdoverkil on Tue 31st May 2011 23:57 UTC
mdoverkil
Member since:
2005-09-30

Lodsys is trying to ram this through court so they can get precedence set.

Reply Score: 1

PATENT INFRINGEMENT ALERT
by aust77 on Wed 1st Jun 2011 01:27 UTC
aust77
Member since:
2010-10-08

Dearest Thom,


Our litigation department has determined that your possession of a unicorn directly violates patent #34024229 of the Horse Variants Patent Act. We offer you 21 days (though this may be shortened in good time) to assess your situation and will pay you $1000 if this accusation is proven invalid.

Cheers,


|_odsys

Reply Score: 7

RE: PATENT INFRINGEMENT ALERT
by Soulbender on Wed 1st Jun 2011 14:39 UTC in reply to "PATENT INFRINGEMENT ALERT"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18



Edited 2011-06-01 14:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

You're Awesome...
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 1st Jun 2011 05:42 UTC
UltraZelda64
Member since:
2006-12-05

"Apple, you have brought this on yourself. You get zero sympathy from me, and I hope this damages your business as much as possible."

Who else has the balls to say things the way they really are?

Well said, Thom.

Reply Score: 2

i would
by Mellin on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:06 UTC
Mellin
Member since:
2005-07-06

i would tell them to go f*ck them self softaware patent do not exist where i live

Reply Score: 2

RE: i would
by dvhh on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:58 UTC in reply to "i would"
dvhh Member since:
2006-03-20

Not *yet*, Microsoft is among the strongest lobbyist of software patent all over the world.

Plus they could block the distribution of your software in the countries where software patent exists (US for example, and for a lot of dev it represent a share that is not accessible).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: i would
by Mellin on Wed 1st Jun 2011 21:45 UTC in reply to "RE: i would"
Mellin Member since:
2005-07-06

microsoft is the biggest patent troll in the world!

Reply Score: 2

US distribution exlcusion
by dsmogor on Wed 1st Jun 2011 11:05 UTC
dsmogor
Member since:
2005-09-01

The question now is: do IOS, Android developers have an option to prevent their app being distributed by app stores in the US?
That could be the short term fix for poor IOS devs until the situation clarifies.
Anybody knows?

Reply Score: 2

RE: US distribution exlcusion
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 15:26 UTC in reply to "US distribution exlcusion"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Android developers can limit distribution to certain countries. And yes locking out US users is a possibility.

Reply Score: 2

This shit just got real
by Soulbender on Wed 1st Jun 2011 14:48 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

Apple, you have brought this on yourself. You get zero sympathy from me, and I hope this damages your business as much as possible.


Put on your hooded robe and chant after me: "for the greater good"

Reply Score: 2