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What's wrong with software patents

 
 
Peter
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      03-15-2005


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?...ectID=10115247
"Patent 525484 says Microsoft invented and owns the process whereby a
word-processing document stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by
applications that understand XML. ...
There is no novelty there. The whole idea of XML was to allow
interoperability. The patent should be rejected for obviousness, if not
for other criteria such as prior art. ...
Politicians still talk of a free trade agreement as benefiting this country.
The reality is intellectual property rights will be high on the US agenda
and it won?t be to this country?s benefit."

Hmmm - NZ patent office issuing a patent to a foreign company for a obvious
application of existing technology. Where have I heard that before? Oh
yes - http://www.fightthepatent.co.nz where a Canadian firm tried to rip
off some honest NZ companies.

Software patents only benefit the big corporates and their lawyers.


Peter

 
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Allistar
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      03-15-2005
Peter wrote:

>
>
> http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?...ectID=10115247
> "Patent 525484 says Microsoft invented and owns the process whereby a
> word-processing document stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by
> applications that understand XML. ...


Like OpenOffice.org does?

> There is no novelty there. The whole idea of XML was to allow
> interoperability. The patent should be rejected for obviousness, if not
> for other criteria such as prior art. ...
> Politicians still talk of a free trade agreement as benefiting this
> country. The reality is intellectual property rights will be high on the
> US agenda and it won?t be to this country?s benefit."


Indeed. It appears that the patent people don't even check for prior art.

I did read somewhere that they used to be rewarded for the most patents they
could push through the system - now they are rewarded for the most patents
they can reject. It would be nice if it were true - can anyone back it up?

> Hmmm - NZ patent office issuing a patent to a foreign company for a
> obvious
> application of existing technology. Where have I heard that before? Oh
> yes - http://www.fightthepatent.co.nz where a Canadian firm tried to rip
> off some honest NZ companies.
>
> Software patents only benefit the big corporates and their lawyers.


Indeed. Patent mechanical things, by all means. Ideas though should not be
patentable. Copyright the implementation of those ideas, if desired. But
don't patent the ideas themselves.

> Peter


Alistar.

 
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Roger Johnstone
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      03-15-2005
In <(E-Mail Removed)> Peter wrote:
>
> http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?...ectID=10115247
> "Patent 525484 says Microsoft invented and owns the process whereby a
> word-processing document stored in a single XML file may be
> manipulated by applications that understand XML. ... There is no
> novelty there. The whole idea of XML was to allow interoperability.
> The patent should be rejected for obviousness, if not for other
> criteria such as prior art. ... Politicians still talk of a free trade
> agreement as benefiting this country. The reality is intellectual
> property rights will be high on the US agenda and it won?t be to this
> country?s benefit."
>
> Hmmm - NZ patent office issuing a patent to a foreign company for a
> obvious application of existing technology. Where have I heard that
> before? Oh yes - http://www.fightthepatent.co.nz where a Canadian
> firm tried to rip off some honest NZ companies.
>
> Software patents only benefit the big corporates and their lawyers.


Hah! I've just patented a process whereby a word-processing document _
not_ stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by applications that
understand XML. That means every program that understands XML and trys
to manipulate _any_ type of word-processing document now owes me
royalties.

I'm just waiting for the money from the patent licensing to start
rolling in...

--
Roger Johnstone, Invercargill, New Zealand
http://vintageware.orcon.net.nz/
__________________________________________________ ______________________
No Silicon Heaven? Preposterous! Where would all the calculators go?

Kryten, from the Red Dwarf episode "The Last Day"
 
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Peter
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      03-15-2005
Roger Johnstone wrote:
> Hah! I've just patented a process whereby a word-processing document _
> not_ stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by applications that
> understand XML. That means every program that understands XML and trys
> to manipulate _any_ type of word-processing document now owes me
> royalties.
>
> I'm just waiting for the money from the patent licensing to start
> rolling in...


You haven't played this game before, have you?
A patent is just a licence to sue. It is of little value unless you have a
legal budget bigger than the other guy, and in this case, the other guy
will be someone like Microsoft or IBM or Sun or ...


Peter

 
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steve
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      03-15-2005
Peter wrote:

> Software patents only benefit the big corporates and their lawyers.


This is why real innovation is being driven into the homes and
after-hours offices of programmers / hackers who then give it away for
free.

Anything that earns money will be sued.

So don't earn any money to avoid being sued into oblivion, but through
Open Source you / we still derive the benefit of the innovation and
satisfaction of doing it.

Guerilla computing in the battle against corporate imperialism of ideas.

They run on money and will seek to feed on any significant concentration
of it......so use some OTHER mode of creating and deriving
value.....(and a little money - but not enough to make it worth their
while).



 
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Rob J
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      03-16-2005
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>, http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) says...
>
>
> http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?...ectID=10115247
> "Patent 525484 says Microsoft invented and owns the process whereby a
> word-processing document stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by
> applications that understand XML. ...
> There is no novelty there. The whole idea of XML was to allow
> interoperability. The patent should be rejected for obviousness, if not
> for other criteria such as prior art. ...
> Politicians still talk of a free trade agreement as benefiting this country.
> The reality is intellectual property rights will be high on the US agenda
> and it won?t be to this country?s benefit."
>
> Hmmm - NZ patent office issuing a patent to a foreign company for a obvious
> application of existing technology. Where have I heard that before? Oh
> yes - http://www.fightthepatent.co.nz where a Canadian firm tried to rip
> off some honest NZ companies.
>
> Software patents only benefit the big corporates and their lawyers.


There is nothing inherently wrong with software patents any more than
hardware patents and the like. Software can be just as much an invention
as hardware.

Much of what the open source community produces these days is clones of
or piggybacks off commercial products. Copyright is not sufficient
protection. Why buy the commercial product when a rip off clone can be
had for next to nothing?

The article talks about the internet protocols being developed by a
software commons. However, it is a fact that mass access to the internet
has happened because it was opened up to commercial development. Before
that time the internet was limited to academics in universities.
 
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Nik Coughin
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      03-16-2005
Rob J wrote:

8< snip >8

> Much of what the open source community produces these days is clones
> of or piggybacks off commercial products. Copyright is not sufficient
> protection. Why buy the commercial product when a rip off clone can be
> had for next to nothing?


What kind of argument is that? I guess ignorance is bliss huh.

Can you give any actual examples of open source programs that are a straight
up clone of a commercial product?

By piggybacking, do you mean the ability to open another product's file
format? Is this a bad thing? Ever had to shift data between different
application before? If you meant something else, then what?

Most of what the commercial software industry produces these days is clones
of or piggybacks off other commercial software products as well.

Microsoft Word was a rip off of WordPerfect for example.

Surely you can't be trying to say that software patents are a good thing as
no-one should be allowed to produce a product that competes with an existing
product, whether it be open source or commercial? Because without further
clarification, that's what your statement implies, as it stands.

Your statement that open source software is mostly clones of or piggybacks
off commercial products is also laughable. The underlying architecture is
usually fundamentally different, so how that is cloning is beyond me.
Compare Apache and IIS, Photoshop and the Gimp, IE and Firefox.



 
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AD.
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      03-16-2005
On Wed, 16 Mar 2005 13:01:39 +1300, Rob J wrote:

> There is nothing inherently wrong with software patents any more than
> hardware patents and the like. Software can be just as much an invention
> as hardware.


Software patents aren't granted to inventions, they are granted to methods
of doing something. Companies aren't patenting an application, they are
patenting methods of doing something in those applications.

Software algorithms (ie Computer Science) are basically just written
expressions of mathematical ideas. Should maths be patentable? Should
written work be patentable? Should science be patentable?

There are only so many ways of doing moving data from one location to
another, or adding numbers together which is generally what software boils
down to.

Software is more like Lego where there are a limited number of basic
building blocks that get arranged in different ways to create something
bigger.

This means that software patents are way broader than patents on physical
objects which usually only apply to the specific domain they operate in.

>
> Much of what the open source community produces these days is clones of or
> piggybacks off commercial products. Copyright is not sufficient
> protection. Why buy the commercial product when a rip off clone can be had
> for next to nothing?


As I said before, patents aren't given for applications they are broadly
given for methods. Completely unrelated original software will still fall
foul of them.

You can't write any non trivial software these days without infringing
some soft of patent.

Its not just the open source community that are worried about software
patents. Small to medium commercial software developers are worried too.
The patent portfolios of large companies leave them very vulnerable to be
being driven out of business.

The large companies are stocking up on massive arsenals of the things so
that other companies won't sue them. How is that promoting innovation?

Now what you are seeing is that lawyer only companies with no products of
their own will acquire a few patents and go round suing the entire
industry. These guys are immune to the cold war like mutually assured
destruction that keeps the big guys from suing each other because they
don't have any products of their own. How is that a good situation for
the software industry?

Software patents are turning into a sort of defensive tax of doing
business that only lawyers make money off. Small companies can't afford to
apply for, defend patents, or defend against patents. How does that help
innovation or promote the industry? The whole situation is an out of
control lawyer feeding frenzy that is a catch 22 self defeating pandoras
box of a mess for software companies.

>
> The article talks about the internet protocols being developed by a
> software commons. However, it is a fact that mass access to the internet
> has happened because it was opened up to commercial development. Before
> that time the internet was limited to academics in universities.


How do you explain new open standard protocols, and ongoing development of
existing ones since 1995 then? They are still being developed in a
software commons, and commercial interests take part in those groups the
same way the academics did.

I dispute that mass internet access happened because it was 'opened up to
commercial development'. It was the open internet that killed off
the proprietary commercial networks, and the big commercial players only
realised that after the fact.

--
Cheers
Anton

 
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Rob J
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      03-16-2005
In article <(E-Mail Removed)> in nz.comp on
Wed, 16 Mar 2005 14:34:02 +1300, AD. <(E-Mail Removed)> says...
> On Wed, 16 Mar 2005 13:01:39 +1300, Rob J wrote:
>
> > There is nothing inherently wrong with software patents any more than
> > hardware patents and the like. Software can be just as much an invention
> > as hardware.

>
> Software patents aren't granted to inventions, they are granted to methods
> of doing something. Companies aren't patenting an application, they are
> patenting methods of doing something in those applications.


Let's suppose a word processor and a spreadsheet program could be
patented. As applications, patenting them would be entirely reasonable in
my view.

I personally deplore the likes of Eolas trying to patent the ActiveX
download dialog in Internet Explorer.

>
> Software algorithms (ie Computer Science) are basically just written
> expressions of mathematical ideas. Should maths be patentable? Should
> written work be patentable? Should science be patentable?


But if you apply these to hardware (mechanical devices) that in some
cases is entirely what is being patented.

 
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Peter
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      03-16-2005

This is how they do law on software patents in Europe.
http://progenitor.se/luxembourg9cu.jpg

The question is whether we'll see this sort of stuff in NZ. I guess it
depends who wins the next election.


Peter

 
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