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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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.

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