Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Jul 2011 22:12 UTC
Microsoft "One of Microsoft's hottest new profit centers is a smartphone platform you've definitely heard of: Android. Google's Linux-based mobile operating system is a favorite target for Microsoft's patent attorneys, who are suing numerous Android vendors and just today announced that another manufacturer has agreed to write checks to Microsoft every time it ships an Android device. Microsoft's latest target is Wistron Corp., which has signed a patent agreement 'that provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for Wistron's tablets, mobile phones, e-readers and other consumer devices running the Android or Chrome platform', Microsoft announced." That's the reality we live in, folks. This is at least as criminal - if not more so - than Microsoft's monopoly abuse late last century. After the Nortel crap, it's completely left the black helicopter camp for me: Microsoft, Apple, and several others are working together to fight Android the only way they know how: with underhand mafia tactics. Absolutely sickening. Hey Anonymous, are you listening? YES I WENT THERE.
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RE: Patents are patents
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 5th Jul 2011 22:39 UTC in reply to "Patents are patents"
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

I happen to be against software patents. They are pure evil. Software is properly protected by copyright. Patenting math is criminal.

Reply Parent Score: 18

RE[2]: Patents are patents
by leos on Tue 5th Jul 2011 22:49 in reply to "RE: Patents are patents"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

I happen to be against software patents. They are pure evil. Software is properly protected by copyright. Patenting math is criminal.


I'm also against it, but I can't fault Microsoft for exercising what they seem to believe are their rights. Not knowing anything about the patents involved I must assume they are valid and thus Microsoft is within their rights to go after people they think are violating them.

Of course it's a scumbag move, but the problem is the patent system, not the people legally using it. Maybe this kind of situation will force patent overhaul sooner rather than later.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 5th Jul 2011 22:53 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

They may be within their rights according to the law - but just because something's a law doesn't make it right.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by gedmurphy on Tue 5th Jul 2011 22:54 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
gedmurphy Member since:
2005-12-23

Yes, this is my point. Microsoft are just doing what any other company would do. Anyone who disagrees would never cut it in business.

It's a little unfair to criminalize MS as Thom's post does. And invoking a criminal organization like anonymous to attack them is rather unfortunate.

Edited 2011-07-05 22:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by JAlexoid on Wed 6th Jul 2011 15:40 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Here's the deal.
Lodsys are using the patent system to the max.
Microsoft is abusing the patent system globally.

If you buy an Android device from HTC(Taiwan registered company, products manufactured in China) in any country that does not have software patents you will still be paying indirectly to Microsoft for the patent license. That would be OK with me if HTC were a US based company or the device was shipped via US, or you made the purchase in US.
But current situation, where I pay for a patent license that is not valid in my country is enforcing US patent laws outside of US borders.

The scumbags at Lodsys are not asking for that. The lower than scumbags at Microsoft are asking for that!!!

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Patents are patents
by Tom9729 on Tue 5th Jul 2011 22:58 in reply to "RE: Patents are patents"
Tom9729 Member since:
2008-12-09

Are you against patents in general? Can't basically any patentable idea be reduced to math? You say that it's illegal to patent math, but what about the patents on RSA (for example)?

I agree with the people saying that it's bogus to take an existing idea with lots of prior art, rephrase it to use computers, and apply for a patent. However I'm not completely convinced that denying someone a chance to recoup their investment in a new technology is a good way to encourage progress in a field.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by lucas_maximus on Tue 5th Jul 2011 23:06 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

I totally agree ... this is the most sane comment I heard about software patents on this site.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by bnolsen on Wed 6th Jul 2011 00:26 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

Patents of mathematical algorithms, and I'll add "use cases" are very damaging. A big part of innovation is also bringing something to market, not just *think* of the idea.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Except firms are forced to innovate when there is an absence of patents, like in the fashion industry. A design cannot be patented, so the fashion industry invests heavily in creativity.

Let's not pretend some company could wave a magic wand and produce something like the iPhone without software patents. My Android phone tries, but it's not on the same level. Software is an art form, and some people will never be masters.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by JAlexoid on Wed 6th Jul 2011 16:05 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Software has copyright.
Hardware has patents.

When a hardware patent is applied for a schematic. A very specific schematic is provided. Bonus of that is that it's possible to create another non-infringing product that relies on the same physics principles. With software and business process patents it's basically impossible.

The more a software patent is specific, the more it's obvious that it's plain mathematics. That is why software patents end up incomprehensible broad texts.

Reply Parent Score: 3

v RE[2]: Patents are patents
by ourcomputerbloke on Tue 5th Jul 2011 23:37 in reply to "RE: Patents are patents"
RE[3]: Patents are patents
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 5th Jul 2011 23:50 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

"I happen to be against software patents. They are pure evil. Software is properly protected by copyright. Patenting math is criminal.


Thom can I ask a question? Have you ever written any commercial software? It's just to me it seems you don't quite understand why software requires patent protection even more so than copyright. However, in your defense, it really is a concept that will probably only be understood by someone who's ever coded anything significant.
"

Nice underhanded insult.

Sofware doesn't need patent protection just like the news industry doesn't need it. Can you imagine if The New York times patented a news story, so that others wouldn't be allowed to report on it from their own angles? Because THAT is what the software world currently looks like.

Software is protected by copyright, and that's enough protection. Software patents are harming the industry, and holding back innovation. They are a huge burden on the US justice system, and cost consumers loads ofmp money every year.

Reply Parent Score: 10

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by kpugovkin on Wed 6th Jul 2011 00:02 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
kpugovkin Member since:
2011-07-05

I’ve written a lot of commercial software and still do not understand the idea of software patents. Do I have to search USPTO patent library any time I’m going to implement an algorithm or UI element and then pay for it?
If so, then it’s probably time to quit programming, because we are inventing bicycles every day.

Reply Parent Score: 17

RE[2]: Patents are patents
by MollyC on Wed 6th Jul 2011 04:33 in reply to "RE: Patents are patents"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

I happen to be against software patents. They are pure evil. Software is properly protected by copyright. Patenting math is criminal.


I take issue with the notion that software ideas/methods are nothing more than "math". Maybe the precise implementation of an idea/method is "math" (which I also question), in that the implementation is a sequence of 0s and 1s. But, as you said, the precise implementation is a copyright issue, not a patent issue.

As far as inventions of software ideas go, they aren't "math". And if the argument is that any idea or algorithm that can be described (note the word "described" rather than "implemented") as 0's and 1's is "math", then all ideas are math. All ideas can be described with natural language words and diagrams (at least, in order to be patentable at all), and those words and diagrams can be represented as a sequence of 0s and 1s, so all ideas can be represented as "math", whether those ideas describe digital things or tangible things made of atoms.

My stance on software patents (and any other kind of patent, for that matter) has always been that I have no problem with them as long as the patent holder offers licences to others to use the ideas covered by the patent for a reasonable fee. I don't approve of patent holders using their patents to block competing products from the market altogether, and I don't approve of patent holders asking for outrageous fees, and I don't approve of patent holders sitting on their patents and allowing some product that infringes on the patent to become huge in the marketplace and only THEN demanding that the product maker license the patent at extortion prices. Additionally, I'd reform patent law to say that if a patent holder doesn't make a good faith effort to produce and market a product that uses the patented tech in question, then the duration of the patent is cut in half.

Bottom line: if someone spends millions of dollars developing something then someone else simply copies it and sells it at a lower price or gives it away, then the original inventor deserves some compensation.

--------------------
Now to delve more into philosophy or metaphysics:
You assert "patenting math is criminal". As I said, I don't buy the idea that software ideas are "math", but even if I did, patenting such is clearly not "criminal", according to law.

And besides that, you provide nothing to back up or explain your assertion as to why it would be criminal or even wrong.

Let's move away from software ideas and methods, and let's take your assertion literally. Let's say some company did invent a new "math" (like Isaac Newton invented calculus, because the math at the time was insufficient for his purposes in dealing with physics). Let's say it took billions of dollars of research to invent (or even "discover", if that's the word you want to use) this new math, but once it was invented, that new math allowed the company to create breakthroughs in energy, artificial intelligence, medicine, and whatnot, and they created products that took advantage of those advancements and made healthy profits in the process. Is it really wrong to patent the math for a number of years, during which they could license the math to others for a reasonable fee? Or should others that did nothing be allowed to simply copy the new math and create competing products that undercut the company that spent billions of dollars to invent (or "discover") the new math in the first place? I don't see how allowing the inventor to license the math for a fee is wrong in any way.

As I said before, I wouldn't approve of the inventor blocking other company's products by refusing to liecense the patent. And I'd want the patent to expire after a number of years. But as long as the inventor is offering the patent for licensing by others (and doing so in good faith (i.e. not asking an impossible price)), then it's fine with me. More than fine, actually, it's GOOD.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by lemur2 on Wed 6th Jul 2011 05:26 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I take issue with the notion that software ideas/methods are nothing more than "math".


And if the argument is that any idea or algorithm that can be described (note the word "described" rather than "implemented") as 0's and 1's is "math", then all ideas are math.


You are arguing against the wrong concept.

A CPU (which runs the software) comprises and ALU (arithmetic and logic unit) and control circuits.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arithmetic_logic_unit
"In computing, an arithmetic logic unit (ALU) is a digital circuit that performs arithmetic and logical operations. The ALU is a fundamental building block of the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer"

All an ALU can do is math (since Boolean logic is also math). The ALU, and hence the CPU, can do nothing else. Thats it ... that is all a general purpose computer can do. Math. Therefore, software is math.

There is a branch of computer science (which itself is a sub-branch of mathematics) which is all about this precise matter.

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

"Computability is the ability to solve a problem in an effective manner. It is a key topic of the field of computability theory within mathematical logic and the theory of computation within computer science. The computability of a problem is closely linked to the existence of an algorithm to solve the problem."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computability_theory
"Computability theory, also called recursion theory, is a branch of mathematical logic that originated in the 1930s with the study of computable functions and Turing degrees. The field has grown to include the study of generalized computability and definability. In these areas, recursion theory overlaps with proof theory and effective descriptive set theory.

The basic questions addressed by recursion theory are "What does it mean for a function from the natural numbers to themselves to be computable?" and "How can noncomputable functions be classified into a hierarchy based on their level of noncomputability?". The answers to these questions have led to a rich theory that is still being actively researched."


Computability theory is the branch of mathematics that works out if a given function/problem/invention can, or cannot, be implemented in software.

Ergo, software is mathematics.

More here:
http://perlstalker.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-software-is-not-patenta...

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110426051819346
"This article provides a detailed factual explanation of why software is mathematics, complete with the references in mathematical and computer science literature."

It seems the software experts and the mathematicians disagree with you, Molly.

Bottom line: if someone spends millions of dollars developing something then someone else simply copies it and sells it at a lower price or gives it away, then the original inventor deserves some compensation.


Fox spent millions making (developing) the movie "Avatar". If "someone else simply copies it and sells it at a lower price or gives it away" then indeed, Fox do deserve some compensation. Absolutely, no question. This is, however, covered by copyright law, not patent law.

There is no reason why someone else shouldn't make another movie about an uprising of nine-foot blue aliens, however. They are perfectly entitled to do so, as long as they do their own work.

This is the reason why no-one takes any notice of things like this:
http://www.slashfilm.com/is-james-camerons-avatar-actually-an-uncre...
http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2010/01/05/pocahontas-avatar/

There is no doubt that the movie Avatar is an original work, even if parts of the story line are very reminiscent of older works. Copyright does not cover ideas, it covers literal copies.

Edited 2011-07-06 05:45 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by lemur2 on Wed 6th Jul 2011 06:27 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Let's move away from software ideas and methods, and let's take your assertion literally. Let's say some company did invent a new "math" (like Isaac Newton invented calculus, because the math at the time was insufficient for his purposes in dealing with physics). Let's say it took billions of dollars of research to invent (or even "discover", if that's the word you want to use) this new math, but once it was invented, that new math allowed the company to create breakthroughs in energy, artificial intelligence, medicine, and whatnot, and they created products that took advantage of those advancements and made healthy profits in the process. Is it really wrong to patent the math for a number of years, during which they could license the math to others for a reasonable fee? Or should others that did nothing be allowed to simply copy the new math and create competing products that undercut the company that spent billions of dollars to invent (or "discover") the new math in the first place? I don't see how allowing the inventor to license the math for a fee is wrong in any way.

As I said before, I wouldn't approve of the inventor blocking other company's products by refusing to liecense the patent. And I'd want the patent to expire after a number of years. But as long as the inventor is offering the patent for licensing by others (and doing so in good faith (i.e. not asking an impossible price)), then it's fine with me. More than fine, actually, it's GOOD.


There are essentially two huge problems with this argument.

The first objection is that every other field allows a different implementation of an "invention" that achieves some desired end. Take for example "headache tablets". The fact that one company invents, and then patents, the formula for paracetemol, shouldn't disbar another company from inventing ibuprofen. This is especially the case when you consider that both of these headache tablet formulae were pre-dated by aspirin. New implementations of an idea are NOT prevented by patents, as patents do not cover ideas, they cover "methods". Invetion of a new method is most definitely allowed under patent law, even if it does implement the same desired end function.

The second objection is more simple ... software patents are not being used in the manner you describe. Microsoft did not invent Android, nor did they write any of the code. There is a vast quantity of prior art in mobile phones, smartphones and Java language subsets on mobile phones via which to implement "apps". Where do Microsoft get off claiming that they "invented" any part of Android?

Reply Parent Score: 4

Software patents are evil
by frajo on Wed 6th Jul 2011 07:53 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
frajo Member since:
2007-06-29

Let's say some company did invent a new "math" (like Isaac Newton invented calculus, because the math at the time was insufficient for his purposes in dealing with physics). Let's say it took billions of dollars of research to invent (or even "discover", if that's the word you want to use) this new math, but once it was invented, that new math allowed the company to create breakthroughs in energy, artificial intelligence, medicine, and whatnot, and they created products that took advantage of those advancements and made healthy profits in the process. Is it really wrong to patent the math for a number of years, during which they could license the math to others for a reasonable fee? Or should others that did nothing be allowed to simply copy the new math and create competing products that undercut the company that spent billions of dollars to invent (or "discover") the new math in the first place?

Unfortunately you forgot to consider history:
These ideas were systematized into a true calculus of infinitesimals by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who was originally accused of plagiarism by Newton. He is now regarded as an independent inventor of and contributor to calculus.
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calculus ]

Should Leibniz have been punished, imprisoned, or executed?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Patents are patents
by andydread on Wed 6th Jul 2011 12:22 in reply to "RE[2]: Patents are patents"
andydread Member since:
2009-02-02

I like your Idea. If I spend Millions of dollars researching a book about wars in space. Lots of dollars researching and talking to experts about space and weapons etc and what is physically posible etc. Then I produce this book which is already protected by copyright I should be able to Patent it also and then charge a reasonable license fee to anyone who writes a book about space wars regardless of the exact content? right? Nice idea. One should be able to file patents on copyrighted material. Maybe the Music people should get into the game too. How about a song about life in the ghetto. Maybe that can be patented so that I can charge anyone that makes a song about life in the ghetto a "reasonable licence fee" to use the idea of a song about life in the ghetto. THis is exactly what is happening with software patents. Stand alone sofware that is not married to a specific device should not be patented. It is already covered by copyright.

After this I won't be recommending Windows Phone to anymore of my customers. We recommended windows phone 7 to a few of our customers (10) of them bought Windows Phone. We won't be doing that anymore. We cannot in good faith support this type of extortion.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Patents are patents
by bassbeast on Wed 6th Jul 2011 13:15 in reply to "RE: Patents are patents"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Well I'n against the drug laws but I can't walk down the street with a fatty hanging out my mouth and not get hauled to jail, can I?

Let us not forget that unlike certain OTHER companies...cough cough Apple cough...MSFT has been pretty good about offering the same RAND license whether you use Windows or some other OS. For example before TomTom gave them the finger MSFT offered them the exact same price they offered the flash OEMs, no discrimination because they weren't using WinCE and TomTom gave them the finger. Did you rail against them then too, even though FAT was written by MSFT?

Like it or not MSFT owns 10s of 1000s of patents covering just about every stage of OS functionality, similar to how you'd be hard pressed to make a codec that doesn't step on the MPEG-LA patents. Now if you want to give your product away that isn't the job of MSFT or any other corp to support your failed business model, which at looking at the roster of failed FOSS companies, Novell, Sun, Mandriva, etc I would argue you'd be hard pressed to not call the free as in beer model and overall failure.

MSFT paid good money, both in purchasing and in R&D in getting the patents they have and they offer RAND licenses no matter if you use their OS or not. But just as I can't advertise my business using Jimi Hendrix songs just because I don't believe in copyright lengths so too can't handset makers just ignore MSFT's copyrights because some think everything should be free as in beer.

The smart ones will accept having to license as a normal part of doing business (after all they ain't making Droid sets out of the goodness of their hearts) and the dumb? Well lets just say I hope they have a nice chunk of their operating capital set back for lawyers fees.

Reply Parent Score: 1