Linked by jrincayc on Fri 15th Jul 2011 17:14 UTC
Legal Patent term calculation is complicated in the US because there are essentially two different systems and quite a few corner cases. Even with a list of patents, it can be tricky to determine when the patents are all expired. Since I am a computer programmer (and not a lawyer), I created a program to try and automate this. This paper discusses how patent term calculation works, and some results from a combination of hand and automatic term calculation for MP3, MPEG-2 and H.264.
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RE[4]: Ouch
by FishB8 on Sun 17th Jul 2011 05:48 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Ouch"
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The purpose of patents is to ensure that companies / individuals get a return on investment in research and development. Without patents, there is no motivation to invest in research and development if somebody else can take the results (without contributing to the cost of the R&D) and beat you to market with a competing product.

This makes sense when applied to physical products. When applied to things like software, genetics, business methods, etc. like it has been, it is no longer beneficial to the community as a whole, and simply turns into government sanctioned thuggery. I have no doubt that there should be protections in these areas as well, but they need to be separate from patent law, with different rules, limitations and means of litigation that are tailored to the specific fields and result in a the best positive and balanced outcome for both the companies and communities as a whole.

Or, to be more direct for the sake of brevity: patent trolls should strung up by their nuts.

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