Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 17th Jul 2011 20:58 UTC, submitted by fran
Linux It's strange. Microsoft has been patent trolling the heck out of the Linux kernel for a long time now, and is still using these patents against Android today in its protection money scheme. However, as LWN.net illustrates, Microsoft makes quite a few contributions to the Linux kernel. Shouldn't this invalidate their patent claims?
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RE[4]: Logic
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Logic"
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

To say that software is math doesn't really tell the whole story, though. In this sense, the word "Math" is being used in two different ways. The "Math" that is discovered (and thus not patentable) is the kind that tells us things about orders of infinity, and the countability of natural numbers. The math that is used for software construction isn't discovering anything, it's constructing something. I think no one would argue that anyone "discovered" Linux, or Office. These things were built to fulfill a purpose, and serve a useful function. This also separates them from a story-book. That's why the patent question for software is so interesting, I think.


I don't see how making a software program is essentially different from writing a book or composing a musical piece. Each activity is remarkably similar in that the author takes small "building block" components, being words & rules of grammar, notes & chords, or maths operations and computing language syntax, and one builds up a "work" from there.

In the case of a book, the work tells a story or conveys a message. In the case of a musical composition, likewise. In the case of a software program, signals or information are trasnformed from one form to another. Then there are other creative works of authorship such as making a statue, painting, artistic photography, poetry, film-making, playwright, songwriting and so on. Even things like carpentry and furniture polishing can be considered as a work of authorship.

There are very, very strong parallels here. I can see no reason at all why computer software, just because its working medium is mathematics operations and not words or musical notes, should be the only type of work of authorship that is patentable. Everything else of similar creative ilk is protectable by copyright only.

It makes no sense at all.

What is worse, having patents on software is arguably ruining the entire IT industry in America.

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110717140031881

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvOHEA_xd2A

Seven ways to ruin a Technological Revolution indeed.

Edited 2011-07-19 05:21 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Logic
by saynte on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:29 in reply to "RE[4]: Logic"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

What you say holds for anything that is constructed out smaller parts. I can construct a new car engine out of parts, but the difference is that it actually does something. A new engine would also be patentable. Computer programs "do" things, a story doesn't "do" anything.

In terms of the machine or transformation test, software transforms input into output.

Being a software engineer, I think most software patents are bad because they are obvious, trivially extending on prior work. However, I could be persuaded of their utility if I saw one that represented significant ingenuity on the author's part.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: Logic
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 06:02 in reply to "RE[5]: Logic"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

What you say holds for anything that is constructed out smaller parts. I can construct a new car engine out of parts, but the difference is that it actually does something. A new engine would also be patentable. Computer programs "do" things, a story doesn't "do" anything. In terms of the machine or transformation test, software transforms input into output. Being a software engineer, I think most software patents are bad because they are obvious, trivially extending on prior work. However, I could be persuaded of their utility if I saw one that represented significant ingenuity on the author's part.


A new engine isn't patentable unless it is innovative, and uses entirely new methods.

A new model of a gasoline-burning internal combustion engine isn't patentable. Because it uses entirely different principles, a fundamentally new engine design like this might, however, be patentable:

http://www.cyclonepower.com/
http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1023924_cyclone-waste-heat-engin...
http://www.cyclonepower.com/comparison.html

"Cyclone engines do not require a transmission, starter motor, catalytic converter, muffler, radiator or oil pump."

Fundamentally different. Innovative. Arguably, a new invention (even though it is essentially a steam engine!).

Android is a touchscreen-based mobile phone OS, as is Android. Palm OS beat them both to it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treo_650

Neither Android nor iOS are fundamentally new designs. Hence Microsoft should be free to write WP7 if they want to.

Virtually ALL software written today is just "new models" ... a re-telling of a old story using different words, a new arrangement of an old song, a re-make of an old movie.

There is no real innovation here, there are no new inventions, just new bells and whistles. Software should NOT be patentable.

Copyrights ... OK, no problem, people should do their own work. Software patents? no way. Just say no.

Edited 2011-07-19 06:20 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3