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[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 Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: For or against
by Alfman on Wed 1st Jun 2011 05:44 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 Parent Score: 4

RE[5]: For or against
by n0b0dy on Wed 1st Jun 2011 06:51 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 Parent Score: 6

RE[6]: For or against
by Valhalla on Wed 1st Jun 2011 11:42 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 Parent Score: 4

RE[5]: For or against
by JAlexoid on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:14 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 Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: For or against
by WereCatf on Wed 1st Jun 2011 08:31 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 Parent Score: 4

RE[6]: For or against
by WorknMan on Wed 1st Jun 2011 16:53 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 Parent Score: 2