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  M2M website closes in protest of software patents  (Read 11035 times)
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Offline albanc

Senior Newbie





« Posted 2003-08-26 13:22:04 »

The homepage is temporarily closed in protest against EU software patents plans.  As a sofware developer, we beleive software patents  will reduce innovation and will advantage international companies whom have the legal capacity and the financial ability to spend the tenth thousands of dollars required to fill one or many software patents in order to slow down or lock the innovation of their competitors.

 A software is a medium to automate ideas, scientific computation, or  day to day work. We beleive ideas, math and science shouldn't be  patentable because they are the essence of the mankind, they are the medium our specie has used to evolve and make the difference between us and the animals. We all get inspiration from our readings and sights in  order to create a new poetry, a new song, a new imaginary universe. Mathematicians have always been sharing math tools, and worked together on improving theories, models, and equations. What if one attempted to patent the addition, the equation ?

 This is what is happenning today with softwares. 30 000 patents are waiting to be validated  in the EU, for purposes such innovative as patenting the firewall, the 1-click buy,  the data compression or voice control which are automated tasks and pieces obviously part of  the worldwide software evolution. There is no need to be a genius to figure it would be nice  to be able to control your computer by voice and develop such a software for it. It only requires patience and work. Why would the first one to have done that process deserve a tax over the rest of the  human kind ? Why wouldn't people be allowed to code the same process for their own needs as long as  they don't copy the original code ?  

 We beleive the current author copyright is a fair and sufficient protection against evil  competition and we do not need software patents. Software patents will increase the cost  of software code by requiring the payment of royalties to people or companies which,  without working anymore, will lazily and quietly wait for the money to enter on their bank account.

 On the other hand, innovative developers coding new softwares will have to check, for every  line they code, if anyone has ever patented the "push that button" or "transmit that data"  feature.

Software patent is another attempt to reduce our rights and increase the economical gap between rich and poor individuals, companies and countries.

For more informations about the protest :
http://swpat.ffii.org/news/03/demo0819/index.en.html

European patents horror gallery :
http://swpat.ffii.org/patents/effects/index.en.html

Mind2Machine follows the protest :
http://www.mind2machine.com
Offline albanc

Senior Newbie





« Reply #1 - Posted 2003-08-26 19:11:25 »

3D Graphics under GNU/Linux besieged by MS patents
http://swpat.ffii.org/patents/effects/opengl/index.en.html

Open source developers wary of MS graphics patent grab
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/35/26156.html
Offline Jens

Senior Duke




Java for games!


« Reply #2 - Posted 2003-08-27 09:08:33 »

I'm using Linux and heard a lot about this topic the last few weeks. Software patents have the power to destroy the work of thousands of people. For instance it is (will be) very hard  to create a legal website. One-Click-Shopping is a good example for a thing which actually shouldn't be patentable. Certain game concepts could imho be patented in the same way or, even worse, the underlying algorithms (the same way it's done with compression algorithms).

Xith3D Getting Started Guide (PDF,HTML,Source)
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline ChrisM

JGO Coder


Medals: 3
Projects: 1
Exp: 14 years


Luke...END OF LINE


« Reply #3 - Posted 2003-08-27 10:02:18 »

Well,  if you recall, Atari held a tremendous amount of patents that they used regularly in court to keep them alive.  Things like scrolling characters and even the patents on holograph technology (just like the AT stickers on your credit cards.

-SG

Offline gregorypierce

Senior Duke




I come upon thee like the blue screen of death....


« Reply #4 - Posted 2003-08-28 03:55:00 »

The purpose of patents is to reward innovation, not discourage it. The patent process is built to PROTECT small business, not harm it. Without patents, any sizable company (i.e. Microsoft) could easily examine what you have done and copy it without penalty - shipping it in the marketplace while you get nothing out of it. As with any law, power, etc. it can become abused, but there is nothing inherently wrong with patents. Hell if it weren't for patents, Java would be dead at this very moment - destroyed by J++ (which was a REAL threat back then).

Some of the stuff that I'm reading in the protests around the web show a very clear lack of understanding about the patent process and what is and what is not patentable. I can only speak about US patent law since it is the only one that I have studied. But I will attempt to address some of the issues I've seen mentioned here.

Quote

Mathematicians have always been sharing math tools, and worked together on improving theories, models, and equations. What if one attempted to patent the addition, the equation ?


Someone would waste a few thousand bucks (the price to apply for a patent... non refundable, even if your application is denied) - as equations are not pattentable. In the United States there are two types of patents: utility and design patents.

Quote

To qualify for a design patent, a design must be new, original, and ornamental. Design patents are generally not suitable for protecting elements of Internet-related software processes. Design patents are considered rather narrow intellectual property protection because they are limited to the ornamental appearance of an article. Owners of design patents rarely sue to enforce their patents against infringers.


Quote

To qualify for a utility patent, an invention must be new, useful, and "nonobvious."


To meet the novelty requirement, the invention must not have been known or used by others in this country before the applicant invented it, and it also must not have been patented or described in a printed publication in the U.S. or a foreign country before the applicant invented it. The philosophy behind the novelty requirement is that a patent is issued in exchange for the inventor's disclosure to the public of the details of his invention. If the inventor's work is not novel, the inventor is not adding to the public knowledge, so the inventor should not be granted a patent.


Meeting the useful requirement is easy for most inventions. An invention is useful if it can be applied to some beneficial use in society.


To meet the nonobvious requirement, the invention must be sufficiently different from existing technology and knowledge so that, at the time the invention was made, the invention as a whole would not have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in that field. This requirement makes sure patents are only granted for real advances, not for mere technical tinkering or modifications of existing inventions by skilled technicians.

Abstract ideas and mental conceptions are not patentable. Discoveries of scientific principles, laws of nature, and natural phenomena are not patentable (although applications of such discoveries are). Mathematical algorithms that have not been reduced to some type of practical application have been held to be unpatentable.



In addition, a patent can be challenged and many times they are successfully challenged and thrown out (someone should remind the Microsoft attorney's that just because they get awarded a patent doesn't mean that someone can't get that patent thrown out).


The specific issue with Linux has less to do with patents as it does with potential wholesale copying of code that may have never been in a position to be copied. I personally think its a pile of crap, and since Caldera shipped Linux for a number of years I think they'd be hard pressed to convince a judge that they suddenly discovered that 'several hundred thousand' lines of their intellectual property were already in the code base. I would be willing to bet that the courts (if it ever goes to court) would say that even if they had a case, they waited to long to act and are therefore not entitled to anything.

http://www.gregorypierce.com

She builds, she builds oh man
When she links, she links I go crazy
Cause she looks like good code but she's really a hack
I think I'll run upstairs and grab a snack!
Offline William

Junior Duke




No Exit


« Reply #5 - Posted 2003-08-28 05:29:10 »

Quote
The purpose of patents is to reward innovation, not discourage it.

Yes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Quote
Hell if it weren't for patents, Java would be dead at this very moment - destroyed by J++ (which was a REAL threat back then).

The case surrounding Java was about trademarks, not patents. If patents had been the issue, Microsoft would not have been able to clone Java and call it C#, J#, J++ etc.

It's good that we as Java developers have big buddies like IBM and Sun to protect us, but it is a damn shame and a serious blow to free markets that we need to have that protection to be allowed to do business.

Quote
In addition, a patent can be challenged and many times they are successfully challenged and thrown out

This is a luxury that only rich companies can afford. Even an invalid patent can be used to force many smaller businesses to pay up (and a patent must be pretty damn obviously invalid for a small company to take the chance of challenging it).

The whole software patent deal in Europe is just another landgrab by the ones with lobbying power and deep pockets.
Offline Preston

Senior Duke


Medals: 4



« Reply #6 - Posted 2003-08-28 05:48:00 »

I signed that petition on http://www.ffii.org against EU software patents.

Amongst others the (German) Linux association LIVE now addresses the EU parlament to try to stop what looks like a putsch from the EU commission and big lobbies. See
http://www.golem.de/0308/27134.html for more, or http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.golem.de%2F0308%2F27134.html&langpair=de%7Cen&hl=de&ie=ISO-8859-1&prev=%2Flanguage_tools for English speakers.

Apparantly the EU parlament (=the legislature) has been intentional misinformed about what software patents in the EU really mean. In case of that we could hope this nightmare will being stoped by the EU legislature before it destroys thousands of small- and mid-sized software companies in the EU.
Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #7 - Posted 2003-08-28 05:58:47 »

The big problem with patents, is that it hinders innovation - no matter how you turn and wring it, the more access to information, the better.

The good thing about patents, I will agree, is that it enables smaller companies to develop something and then market it, witout being "bullied" by larger companies.
However, though having good intentions, patents are 99.9% used by LARGE companies to stop competitors - yes thats right, not the other way round!
And the reason for all of this is simple. Money. No small company is going to contest a large companies patent - it simply doesn't have the means for funding.

So fastforwarding a bit. How is *any* company to know if they're infringing on a patent? They'll have to spend $$$ to even figure out if the product they want to develop has already been patented. How many small buisnesses can afford to do that?

I say, make information free - and compete on doing the best implementation/service.

Better for most companies, and most certainly better for consumers.

Offline sugarshark

Junior Duke




Sugar to the sharks.


« Reply #8 - Posted 2003-08-28 10:35:32 »

Quote
The good thing about patents, I will agree, is that it enables smaller companies to develop something and then market it, without being "bullied" by larger companies.

Even that isn't necessarilly true. A (big) company with a large patent portfolio can just take the risk and violate the patent. If the small business dares to sue them, they can always find a patent of their own the small company does violate, so the y will settle with some cross licensing.

In fact, many big companies have just cross-licensed all their patents to the competition. This is very comfortable for them: It gives the big players the necessary freedom in development while keeping new businesses, without an patent portfolio, out of the market.

Patents are nowadays cleary used to erect market barriers, thereby making the free market a little less free. But every company dreams of it's own little monopoly.

When patents where invented sometime in the 18th century, they should originally assure that new inventions will become part of the human heritage. They encourage the inventor to tell it's secret to all, but give him a limited time to exclusively exploit this knowledge in exchange.

If this ever worked is the question, I do not know anyone who ever learned something by reading patent applications. But even if it worked, the problem is the 'limited time'. The timespan of now 20 years is a long time in computing. And this timespan tends to grow. In the related topic of copyrights, the original time the creator of a work retained all rights was 20 years. Now it's 95 years after the death of the creator, at least in the USA, thanks to some lobbying of Disney and MGM.

The main point the patent advocates are missing is IMHO:
The patent law (and this applies to copyright law as well) has  not been made to subsidice some individuals or corporations, however important to society they may be. It has been crafted to assure the knowlegde ends in the public domain, so everyone can benefit from it. The aim is not for the inventor  to monopolize his knowledge, the aim is to increase the common knowledge of our society and to add to the human heritage.


I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body.  
Then I realized who was telling me this.
-- Emo Phillips
Offline NVaidya

Junior Duke




Java games rock!


« Reply #9 - Posted 2003-08-28 11:01:14 »


Ever heard of the Marching Cubes Algorithm !

Now, US patents are valid for 17 years, right ? - is it (going to be)
20 years in Europe ?

Gravity Sucks !
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder


Exp: 12 years


Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #10 - Posted 2003-08-29 00:59:20 »

As others have pointed out the main problem is that very obvious stuff gets patented.  The patents should be invalid, but it costs millions of dollars in legal fees to prove that the patent is invalid.  All because the patent office is incompetent or simply incapable of doing its job.

I have worked at a company that was sued by a lawyer who made it his job to collect patents and sue people.   The claims were without merit of course, but it cost a lot to defend.  The lawyer knows this, so he eventually just accepted a settlement that he knew would cut our legal costs.
The thing is due to other faults in the legal system, our company wasn't even the one violating the so-called patent.  We used a chip produced by someone else that they claimed violated the bogus patent.  Since the chip sells for a few dollars and our board that used it sells for a few thousand, they simply choose to sue us instead.  Getting a royalty for the more expensive item was  better for them.   There was plenty of prior art that proved the patent bogus, but it still cost us a hell of a lot of money.

Offline gregorypierce

Senior Duke




I come upon thee like the blue screen of death....


« Reply #11 - Posted 2003-08-29 04:36:54 »

Then truly your legal staff was asleep at the wheel. You cannot tort nor extort a company into ceasing the shippage or development of a product unless the legal issue goes to trial or unless an injunction is filed to prevent the shipping of a product. I assume that they filed a counterclaim so when the case was thrown out they got their money back plus punitives? If not, hire a new legal staff - today.

On another point, a patent is pretty useless as far as getting knowledge into the public domain because once patented - that knowledge is effectively unusable without royalty payment for 20 years (US and Europe). That's not to say that exposing methodology is without merit (as THAT is what you're patenting), as your competitors can easily ascertain the nature of your claims (which has to be explicitly and unambiguously defined in the patent application) and as such a competitor can simple do the same thing by taking a different approach. That's why there are several public databases for researching patents. Both IBM and the USPTO are useful places for determining whether or not something you're working on is patentable. In terms of Amazon's One Click, the patent is actually quite valid because it makes very specific claims. Otherwise it would have been thrown out for being to broad/general.

The patent approach actually encourages companies/individuals to take risks because in doing so they can achieve a position as a reward for assuming those risks and coming up with something useful. Otherwise there wouldn't be anywhere near as much point in many of these companies (especially the larger ones that spend 10s and hundreds of millions of dollars in research every year) as there would be no benefit to doing so. Better to let someone else come up with the idea and simply use your superior market position to duplicate their idea and bring it to market cheaper and faster.

On the Microsoft issue - no, it is BOTH about patents and copyrights. Sun has an enormous number of patents especially with respect to virtual machines - and Sun has lawyers who vigorously watch to see if anyone is violating those patents. If not for those patents, Microsoft could have cloned Java in an insignificant amount of time and protected their share during the late 90s. The Research and Development arms of Sun, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, etc are all about coming up with patentable IP that can be used. Heck MP3 is patented, MP4 is surrounded by patents and OpenGL is as well - they just agree to share their IP (usually with little to no cost).

A world without patents would be mostly devoid of innovation as the larger players would simply outmaneuver and out price their competitors and the people who actually innovated would get no real benefit from their hard work. That is not beneficial for consumers.

Lets look at an area where there is a lot of latent fuss about patents - fuel cells. Needless to say, there are people spending many many millions of dollars to come up with the ideal fuel cell - this money comes from investors who get money from the company making money by having an 'unfair advantage' over competition. If a small business has to go up against Exxon and they just came up with a cool new fuel cell but had no means to protect it, Exxon would acquire the technology and duplicate it and due to market factors (such as brand recognition and the like) would be ideally positioned to benefit moreso than the inventors themselves.

If you think a world without patents is going to be a better one, you're fooling yourself. That's not to say that a world with patents is 100% ideal, but getting rid of them actually makes matters worse... especially for smaller companies.

http://www.gregorypierce.com

She builds, she builds oh man
When she links, she links I go crazy
Cause she looks like good code but she's really a hack
I think I'll run upstairs and grab a snack!
Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #12 - Posted 2003-08-29 04:48:54 »

Quote
A world without patents would be mostly devoid of innovation as the larger players would simply outmaneuver and out price their competitors and the people who actually innovated would get no real benefit from their hard work. That is not beneficial for consumers.


So by this statement you've just rendered ALL Open Source Software economically unfeasible?  Roll Eyes

Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #13 - Posted 2003-08-29 04:52:24 »

Quote
If you think a world without patents is going to be a better one, you're fooling yourself.
I don't nescesarilly think that patents is _always_ a bad idea. However the current timeframe is rediculous!

20 years for a software patent? come on. It's Just LameĀ®
And don't even get me started with "The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act"!

Offline William

Junior Duke




No Exit


« Reply #14 - Posted 2003-08-29 05:19:28 »

I doubt Microsoft would have been affected by Sun's patent if they had not signed an agreement to license Java in the first place. Microsoft is a big enough company and has a big enough patent portfolio of its own to take on any claims by its bigger competitors (even they are vulnurable to companies that does no actual production on its own though, like the recent plugin ruling). Much of the technology in Java also came from other languages.

It is always amusing to read the arguments sent to the EU politicians in favor and against software patents in EU. On one side we have smaller software companies opposing patents and on the other there is IBM and various patent lawyers arguing that patents are absolutely necessary for smaller companies to be able to compete (how altruistic of them!).

Let's face it. The bigger companies are lobbying the politicans to interfer in the market so they can get a break from the constant risk that a smaller company may publish a product and use its first-to-market advantage to quickly grow big. In other words, what Apple, Digital, and Compaq did to IBM.
Offline Markus_Persson

JGO Wizard


Medals: 16
Projects: 19


Mojang Specifications


« Reply #15 - Posted 2003-08-29 05:59:09 »

I don't really see how a free market where the competition between companies and normal supply and demand decides how good a product should be and what it's worth can coexist in a world/market where you can effectively have a total monopoly on an idea just by being the first guy to file for patent.

In my humble opinion, patents are about as evil as calling people names, stealing their best powertools then burning down their house.
Ideas are, after all, supposed to be FREE.

[edit: Err.. Forgot "evil as"]

Play Minecraft!
Offline William

Junior Duke




No Exit


« Reply #16 - Posted 2003-08-29 10:30:54 »

It's nice to see that also bigger sites such as The Apache Foundation supports the campaign (the support page is only up today), hopefully it is not in vain.
Offline Preston

Senior Duke


Medals: 4



« Reply #17 - Posted 2003-08-29 11:41:14 »

Latest news say that the EU parlament decision on the software patent question is being postponed (to end of September?) because of the massive protest from opensource communities and many small- and mid-sized companies.
That's good IMHO.
May the force be with us. :)
Offline gregorypierce

Senior Duke




I come upon thee like the blue screen of death....


« Reply #18 - Posted 2003-08-29 15:55:15 »

Quote


So by this statement you've just rendered ALL Open Source Software economically unfeasible?  Roll Eyes


No, and I'm not even sure how you derived that from my statements. However I will point out that there are no economic entities (including Red Hat which sells Open Source software) who does not have or is acquiring a patent portfolio. I'd also like to point out that there are MANY individuals who own patents as well.

To be honest, the only people I've ever talked to complaining about patents/copyrights were people who believed that everything should be free - ideas, software, music etc. and that we should all get along and paint our CD covers with pansies and bunnies. That ideal world simply does not exist. In the same breath those same people charge money for their works and don't want people to copy or steal them, which makes no sense. What IP should be free, but products should cost money? Hmmm...

Patents are not about ideas, they are about implementations. Coming up with a way to do something that noone else has done and doing so in a way that wouldn't have been obvious in the first place.

http://www.gregorypierce.com

She builds, she builds oh man
When she links, she links I go crazy
Cause she looks like good code but she's really a hack
I think I'll run upstairs and grab a snack!
Offline Athomas Goldberg

Junior Duke




Grrrrrr...


« Reply #19 - Posted 2003-08-29 23:35:29 »

Unfortunately, the patent process has gotten something of a bad name, thanks to a number of high-profile seemingly ludicrous patents that were granted during the dot com craze.

Lest one forget, the whole patent process was created in the first place to protect the individual inventor from being ripped-off by larger, more powerful concerns (this is one of the reasons individuals, not corporations are named on patents) As Greg pointed out, patents are granted on implementations, not ideas. More specifically, patents are granted for novel, non-obvious and useful solutions within a specific problem domain.  So having the idea for a levitation device isn't enough to get you a patent, but if you actually design a working levitation device, using a system or process that is novel and non-obvious (to a professional in the field) and you can demonstrate that a levitation device is in fact useful, then you may qualify for a patent, provided that no prior art is revealed that nullifies the novel or non-obvious conditions.

Yes, the patent process is currently flawed, and large corporations often exploit these flaws to wage war with each other, often at the cost of innovation, but I think these are problems with the process, not problems with patents themselves.

As Greg points out, the people who are most likely to object to patents are people don't want to be hindered in their ability to use technology in their livelihood, but are still highly protective of the fruits of their own labors. Many of the same game developers who get so riled up by software patents also don't want people copying and redistributing their games (or game assets) without their permission (or without paying for it). Copyright they understand, because it protects them. Patents they don't understand, because it protects others from them.

This is all well and good if you're in the business of using new technologies, but what if you're in the business of developing new technologies?  The work that goes into developing a unique and novel solution that will be useful to an entire industry is rarely trivial, though reimplementing that solution once it's been demonstrated and described may often be, and therein lies the problem.

A cautionary tale: While working at NYU, way back in 1993, a fellow research scientist and I developed the first implementation of real-time motion blending (and later layering) Following the advice of the NYU administration we filed for a patent on the technology, and then (as is the point with patents) we went out and shared our solution with the world, presenting the work at various conferences and spreading the word. As a result, a few of the large animation companies (who will remain nameless) approached with interest in the technology. As it turned out, the patent process took longer than anticipated, and during this time, there were a number of mergers and acquisitions going on in the industry that made continued negotiations difficult. Eventually, we decided that our best bet for getting the technology out into the hands of those who could really benefit from it would be to create our own middleware company and release it that way. The year the company was founded two of the largest animation tools companies released tools based on the technology we had  presented, and discussed with them in detail. Lacking the marketing dollars and distribution channels of these long-established industry players we were unable to compete, despite the fact that our solution was still a couple of years ahead of what was being offered.

Now, from my own point of view, it's not that I have anything against releasing things into the public domain. I have great respect for those who freely share their inventions with the world, and have done it several times myself.  I do have a problem when others are making money off my inventions, and as a result, I am unable to. As it stands, the patent that was eventually granted may be the only way for me to share in the wealth generated by my own work. Which is, of course, why patents were invented in the first place.

Athomas Goldberg
Project Lead / Wildcard
Game Technologies Group
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #20 - Posted 2003-08-30 05:25:33 »

Quote
As Greg points out, the people who are most likely to object to patents are people don't want to be hindered in their ability to use technology in their livelihood, but are still highly protective of the fruits of their own labors. Many of the same game developers who get so riled up by software patents also don't want people copying and redistributing their games (or game assets) without their permission (or without paying for it). Copyright they understand, because it protects them. Patents they don't understand, because it protects others from them.

There is a *huge* difference from not wanting people to make binary copies of a produced games (much like one would copy a book), than there is to release the sourcecode for the game, to encourage innovation.

Take Alien Flux, as a very good example. Most of the code is open source (not as in gpl, but still) - Cas often points people to look in the source code for hints how to do stuff. This is a very good thing - it makes people produce better stuff, since they don't have to start from scratch. That said, he ofcourse doesn't want people to steal his sale by copying the product, and redistributing it. Most games out there that are open sourced, have their CODE openend up - not the artwork. Since this is copyrightable in some way.

Quote
This is all well and good if you're in the business of using new technologies, but what if you're in the business of developing new technologies?  The work that goes into developing a unique and novel solution that will be useful to an entire industry is rarely trivial, though reimplementing that solution once it's been demonstrated and described may often be, and therein lies the problem.

Yes, but as you said yourself - the problem is that patents are granted, in what seems to be without thought *whatsoever*!
Fix this, (and the longevity) and I'll wager that most wouldn't have problems. But as it stands now - software patents are lame.

Imagine someone in the good old days patented books!! - I know this wasn't the case, but some future patent might have profound social and technological problems.

Currently we're seeing a core technology of the internet becoming a target of a patent (plugins in browsers). The result? Microsoft and other companies have begun to remove plugins, and redesign its plugin technology (don't know what they'll come up with though). The result? *all* websites using plugins (quite a lot, flash is used very much) will stop working. Is this really a good thing? - I fail to see that. If we had 3 years of life on software patents, this wouldn't be a problem at all. But somehow some dickass company/decission process made the patents last 20+ years. "To save the small companies" - yeah, right...

Quote
The year the company was founded two of the largest animation tools companies released tools based on the technology we had  presented, and discussed with them in detail. Lacking the marketing dollars and distribution channels of these long-established industry players we were unable to compete, despite the fact that our solution was still a couple of years ahead of what was being offered.

You tell people how to do it, and yet you don't have anything to back it up? If you wanted to license this to the companies, make an implementation - tell how to use the technology, and license it. Make it worthwhile for them to use your implementation instead of rolling their own - ofcourse, this is all history and everybody is always wiser after decisions have been made...

My problem with patents, is probably that I am a consumer. I don't care about large corporations, how they make money and what not. What I do want, is the best possible product, best quality for the right price. More competitors make this more true than a monopoly. Patents are a legal monopoly. Nothing more, nothing less.

Getting back to the patent process, as you said yourself: The patent process is flawed. But why the hell do we then use it??? - Fix it, then use it. Patents can have a seriously profound impact on the whole industry! We don't turn on a flawed nuclear reactor do we?
We CAN fix the process, so we should. The last 10 years hasn't seen anyone trying to fix it...

My rant Smiley

Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #21 - Posted 2003-08-30 05:36:39 »

Quote


No, and I'm not even sure how you derived that from my statements. However I will point out that there are no economic entities (including Red Hat which sells Open Source software) who does not have or is acquiring a patent portfolio. I'd also like to point out that there are MANY individuals who own patents as well.


right here:
Quote
A world without patents would be mostly devoid of innovation as the larger players would simply outmaneuver and out price their competitors and the people who actually innovated would get no real benefit from their hard work. That is not beneficial for consumers.


AFAIK, all gnu software doesn't have any patents in them. Thus they're devoid of innovation and outmaeuvered by the large companies?
IMO, GNU software is beneficial for consumers, it does produce money for companies and some of the stuff is quite innovative.

Patents are just a pure excuse for having a small monopoly...

Let's just imagine here. We remove ALL patents in the whole world. Would the world break down? Would companies start to break down? No ofcourse not. It would just mean that now ALL companies would have to compete on the same terms. If you have a product that is really ingenious, you just make sure that you're product has the best implementation, and the right price. If you haven't got that, why do you then want to enforce the consumer to pay money for a crappy implementation, just because you're the only one? (assuming that consumers *need* that implementation).

Making an analogy to copyrights, I have to wait 3 months extra AND pay more money for a region 2 dvd, than a region 1 dvd.  I don't need the content on region 2, I am totally content with the region 1 dvd, yet I can't have it. Stupid stupid stupid. Give consumers a choice, and they'll reward the best product.

Competition is a good thing, isn't that really the core mantra of capitalism? Why do we then do the exact reverse thing?

Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #22 - Posted 2003-08-30 05:45:35 »

Oh, forgot one simple thing...
good thing no one patented:
UDP, TCP, IP, IPv6, SNMP, ICMP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, NNTP,  and so forth, oh and browsers...

food for thought, had some of those core technologies of the Internet been patented, we'd probably not be where we are today...

/me goes off to patent "posting text to an online forum"  Roll Eyes

Offline Jens

Senior Duke




Java for games!


« Reply #23 - Posted 2003-08-30 06:24:01 »

I think the point is that obvious, widespread things shouldn't be patented, for instance scrollbars, progressbars, the concept of webportals, browser-plugin-technology, certain website layouts and a lot more. As AThomas and Greg pointed out patents can be useful in their traditional sense.


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Offline William

Junior Duke




No Exit


« Reply #24 - Posted 2003-08-30 06:35:14 »

Quote
To be honest, the only people I've ever talked to complaining about patents/copyrights were people who believed that everything should be free - ideas, software, music etc. and that we should all get along and paint our CD covers with pansies and bunnies.

You mean like the Oracle Corporation? or all the signatories of EU patent protest (like Opera software)?

The ideal world (where even small software firms are allowed to develop software without fear of patent bullying) may not exist, but it is our job to try to make our politicians get us as close as possible.

I also think this statement from the linked page sums up quite well why even people who believe in competition may get patents:
Quote
Oracle filed its first patent application in November 1991, not because it felt that its software was suddenly worthy of patent protection; it filed that application because of concerns that other inventors, afforded patent protection by a flawed patent system, might find themselves in a position to seriously weaken the Company's competitive edge by alleging patent infringement.
...
Unfortunately, as a defensive strategy, Oracle has been forced to protect itself by selectively applying for patents which will present the best opportunities for cross-licensing between Oracle and other companies who may allege patent infringement.

I am sorry to hear that Athomas failed to make money off his invention, but that's no excuse to implement a monopolistic system that lets big companies tax all small companies who develop software.
Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #25 - Posted 2003-08-30 06:39:21 »

Quote
I think the point is that obvious, widely spread things shouldn't be patented, for instance scrollbars, progressbars, the concept of webportals, browser-plugin-technology, certain website layouts and a lot more. As AThomas and Greg pointed out patents can be useful in their traditional sense.

They are widespread BECAUSE noone patented them! - had they been patented from the start, they would not have become widspread - thats exactly my point!

Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #26 - Posted 2003-08-30 06:41:48 »

Quote
As AThomas and Greg pointed out patents can be useful in their traditional sense.

Yes, just as gasoline can start my BBQ, but that doesn't make it the right tool for the job.

Offline Jens

Senior Duke




Java for games!


« Reply #27 - Posted 2003-08-30 06:56:30 »

Quote

They are widespread BECAUSE noone patented them! - had they been patented from the start, they would not have become widspread - thats exactly my point!


You can drop the "widespread" in my sentence. The emphasis was on "obvious".  Wink

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Offline gregorypierce

Senior Duke




I come upon thee like the blue screen of death....


« Reply #28 - Posted 2003-08-30 12:24:57 »

Quote
Oh, forgot one simple thing...
good thing no one patented:
UDP, TCP, IP, IPv6, SNMP, ICMP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, NNTP,  and so forth, oh and browsers...

food for thought, had some of those core technologies of the Internet been patented, we'd probably not be where we are today...

/me goes off to patent "posting text to an online forum"  Roll Eyes


I'll just pick one of those because I'm exceedingly famillar with it. There are SEVERAL patents with respect for browsers all coming from the original Mosaic folks. In fact Netscape was sued back in the day for violating some of them. Don't assume for a minute that most of the Internet protocols don't have patents associated with them.

As to patenting "posting text to an online forum", if you can find a new, useful, novel and non obvious way to type text into a form field, more power to you Smiley

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She builds, she builds oh man
When she links, she links I go crazy
Cause she looks like good code but she's really a hack
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Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel


Medals: 56
Projects: 11


Monkey for a head


« Reply #29 - Posted 2003-08-30 12:34:20 »

Quote

As to patenting "posting text to an online forum", if you can find a new, useful, novel and non obvious way to type text into a form field, more power to you Smiley


Mind control! I'll just nip down and patent that, then sit back and watch the money roll in in several years time Grin

The worrying thing is that the requirement of having a working implementation seems to be largly ignored judging by recent US patents Shocked

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