View Full Version : WTF!? software patents

04-21-2005, 01:43 PM

Have there been software patents in the US for a while? that sucks, i hope it dosn't happen here.

mumbles patented progress bar mumble

El Sitherino
04-21-2005, 02:31 PM
How do you think we got software giants? They ingested miracle grow and sprouted from the ground? ;p

04-21-2005, 02:43 PM
That website has a very.... extreme perspective on this, but I have a bad feeling about this. Thing is, Norway is not a part of EU, but They force most of the laws upon us, but we don't get any of the benefits.

Samuel Dravis
04-21-2005, 03:03 PM
Originally posted by jon_hill987

Have there been software patents in the US for a while? that sucks, i hope it dosn't happen here.

mumbles patented progress bar mumble Hah. Yeah, in the US it's gotten to the point where people can patent things like that. Even when there was obvious and easily obtainable prior art. USPTO needs to hire some competent employees.

I even saw a patent for a 'method of swinging on a swing'. :|

04-21-2005, 03:30 PM
Oh crap **** no. That better not get approval. What kind of idiot idea is that?

04-21-2005, 03:45 PM
For the most part software on it's own is not patentable. If for example the software converts base 10 numbers to base 16 numbers, then it is not patentable. However, what is patentable are processes and machines. What is looked at is the invention as a whole. If the software is integrated into a machine and calculates real world values, such as an acoustic analyser, then it is patentable. Also, if it is used as part of a process, like controlling the making of cookies, then it is patentable. IIRC this was the stance adopted by the US in the mid 90's. I would guess that there is a lot of software out there that is already patented. I certainly know of some.

Also remember that this applies to hardware as well, since for the most part software can be implemented by hardware and vice versa. In addition, software is already protected under copyright, so it isn't like patents are going to all of a sudden change everything you have access to now.

I find the website somewhat amusing, since they are talking about all these horrible things that are going to happen if the UK becomes like the US in terms of software patents.

"Chances are that patents on software, common practice in the US and on the brink of being legalised in Europe, in fact stifle innovation. Europe could still alter course."

I don't think anyone seriously considers innovation completely stifled in the US and existing all over the place in Europe. Even if it is true to some extent, I don't really think the sky is falling with this particular issue.

And of course they immediatly mention Linux and open source software.

"Thanks to Linux and other open-source software, Europe has the chance to gain independence from Microsoft and other large American companies. However, if the EU allows software patents, then that's the beginning of the end for Linux. Not only for Linux. It's just a prominent example. "

That is simply not the case from what I have seen. Linux has been around for a long time and is a very viable alternative to Microsoft's Windows. They make it sound like because of patents Linux is unusable or unavailable in the US. We all know this isn't true. You can buy Red Hat at your local store.

Suspect practices aside, the fact of the matter is that Windows is used by the average person because it is easy to use and has so many things developed for it. That has nothing to do with patents. You can't patent an idea, so developers are still free to develop their own operating systems. The thing is my mom does not want to have to wade around in configuration files or compile source code to play MP3s (contrived example).

That being said, Linux is extremely useful and I would guess is growing quickly in a wide number of areas. I work in the telecom industry and the project I am working on is using modified Linux as the OS for next gen systems. I know for a fact that the likes of Motorola, IBM, and others are as well. So I really don't see how Linux is dying in North America due to software patents.

It could be argued that patents help foster rather than stifle innovation. I doubt any company is going to invest in developing new technologies and products if any guy off the street can just copy it. Patents are just another way for someone/company to protect their development investment. That is neither good nor evil.

My initial impression is that this site is run by the same sort of folks who believe that any and all software should be freely available without any copyright and usable and modifiable by anyone. Thus the Linux comment right off the top. But the fact is people rightly like to get payed for making something, and not have to give everything away for free. My daughter is going to have to eat when she arrives. :)

All that being said, corporations are indeed out only for the bottom line and nothing else (they are legally abliged to be this way). So it is up to the government (and in essense the people) to prevent corporations from having too much power. But I have my doubts that having a software patent system like the US's is going to destroy mankind like this site would lead you to believe.

Sorry for the longwinded post, lads. I feel like Kurgan.

j/k :)

EDIT: To make it up for the long post, I've put it through gizoogle so that it is much more entertaining. No Softizzle Patenshizzle (http://sites.gizoogle.com/?url=http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/intro/index.html)

04-21-2005, 05:46 PM
They will probably be an explostion as software companies will sue eachother for millions of dollars at a time for "patent infringement."

This will suck. :-\


04-21-2005, 06:21 PM
Ugh, I misread it and thought you wrote "software parents".


El Sitherino
04-21-2005, 06:28 PM
I had to laugh at the whole "software patents will crush linux". No it won't.

04-21-2005, 11:28 PM
Originally posted by InsaneSith
I had to laugh at the whole "software patents will crush linux". No it won't.

Exactly. Linux is teh greatzor.

Anyways, that thing really sucks. But most probably it will be stopped. I think.

04-22-2005, 12:22 PM
Technically they COULD crush linux, and Firefox. And Media Player Classic. And almost any other freeware/open source programme out there.

The problem with software patents is they can be very, very vague, And the USPTO (and other patent offices) hav a policy of just approving every patent and then letting the courts decide later... which would be fine if the courts were even, but isn't in a world of patent lawyers that cost millions.

Almost any software process you can think of has been patented already. Even the really obvious ideas. And big companies or unscrupulous lawyers ahve bought them all up. Think you can write some software that uses JPEGS or MP3s or MPEGS.... think again... all that is patented and you need to pay the owners royalties.
Heck, write a programe that compresses adjacent things by writing XXXX as 4X and you are violating a patent.
Put in a "help button" and you are violating a patent.

Its got to the stage where no small developer could possibly spend the years it would take to check for every possible patent infringement... so lawyers advise them to not even try (cos you pay more if you violate one knowingly). So you just have to write and hope you don't get sued.

And of course open source is even more valuable, as anyone can look in the source to look for violations.

The whole patent system is F***** up anyway, as you can see from sony getting a patent for "a future system that might beam experiences directly into the brain". (They have no idea how it moght work, they just thought of it and patented it. Even though its been in numerous sci-fi fiction for years.)

Patents are supposed to protect innovation, not stiffle it. They should be short term, have more limitations and you should have to have a working version yourself to get damages... not just think of an idea (or buy someone elses) and then sit around waiting for someone else to come up with it and make it work. Then sue them.

Software patents are even more f***** up cos they are so intangible and its so hard to define what is a new, original idea, and what is an obvious development.
I'd bet half the javascript used in most web pages violates SOME patent somewhere.

If you implement a great new software idea then copyright should cover the implementation, patents aren't needed to prevent anyone using similar methods.

This is actually the first issue i have felt strongly enough to have emailed my (euro) mp about. But i've had no response of course. And with the stupid non-democratic way the EU is set up it will probably pass (even though it was voted down twice) simply because not enough MPs will bother to turn up to defeat it.

At least India has just removed it from their copyright law... no wonder they are fast becomeing one of the computer programming centres of the world...

04-22-2005, 01:09 PM
In the end the problem is that concept of patents doesn't translate very well to the world of software and intellectual property.