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.
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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 Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: For or against
by WorknMan on Wed 1st Jun 2011 02:10 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 Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: For or against
by Spiron on Wed 1st Jun 2011 02:40 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 Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: For or against
by Fergy on Wed 1st Jun 2011 03:31 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 Parent Score: 6

RE[3]: For or against
by Alfman on Wed 1st Jun 2011 04:14 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 Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: For or against
by sparkyERTW on Wed 1st Jun 2011 15:04 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 Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: For or against
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 1st Jun 2011 02:49 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 Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: For or against
by Fergy on Wed 1st Jun 2011 03:35 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 Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: For or against
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:25 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 Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: For or against
by lindkvis on Wed 1st Jun 2011 12:17 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 Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: For or against
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 15:15 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 Parent Score: 2