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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 01:00 AM EST

If this story doesn't get you to view software patents with fear and loathing, I give up.

Europe, are you watching? FT.com has the jaw-dropping story about European futures exchanges, brokers and traders preparing for patent infringement claims from Trading Technologies, a US software company, natch, located in Chicago -- where else? -- which has hit on what it appears to view as a pot of gold for itself by obtaining two patents on its MD Trader software product in August of 2004, patents it is now aggressively enforcing. It settled [PDF] two patent infringement cases [PDF] already, under circumstances some are questioning, for some licensing dough, and it is currently suing eSpeed, the electronic arm of Cantor Fitzgerald. eSpeed just had one of its patents ruled invalid in a patent infringement lawsuit it brought in July of 2003, after getting the patent in May, so it's been playing the patent game too. Game? It's like musical chairs. You may also recall eSpeed's Wagner patent. And they say *Linux* needs to grow up.

TT has suggested to the four main futures exchanges –- two in Chicago and two in Europe, Euronext.Liffe and Eurex –- that they should cross its palm with silver to keep it from launching patent infringement lawsuits against them.

Here's what it would like or else: 2 1/2 cents for each side of a trade, which would amount to revenue of about $130 million annually. Note that would be an eternal toll, as opposed to the limited term that patent licenses could be sold. What's the Or Else? If it doesn't get its 2 1/2 cents, the company said in an Open Letter [PDF] in the Wall St. Journal and the Financial Times "it would instead raise the price of its software and step up its litigation programme. But it also said it might accept a takeover offer if the right offer emerged." I recommend that you read their open letter in its entirety, to get a taste of their reasoning. Here's how TT phrased the offer they hope the exchanges can't refuse:

The solution that TT has offered to each of the ‘big four’ exchanges is as follows:

• TT and the participating exchange (PE) would guarantee each other level access, permanently.

• Inside the world of PE futures and future options (this includes traders, customers, FCMs, ISVs, exchanges, etc.), TT would forfeit the right to be the aggressor in any patent infringement lawsuit, permanently; in that way allowing absolutely anyone to use TT’s current and future patent protected concepts any way they desire.

• TT would receive from PE 2.5 cents per side for every PE future and future option transaction, permanently. We believe this 2.5 cent solution is in the best interest of the futures industry.

How's that for encouraging inventions and scientific progress, as patents are purported to do? Actually, it appears it is encouraging the reverse:

"In London this week, lawyers from Clifford Chance briefed a roomful of traders and other futures industry participants on the state of affairs and what they might need to do to defend themselves.

"Vanessa Marsland, a Clifford Chance partner in the intellectual property practice, said: 'In the US, patent damages can be substantial.'

"She added: 'Independent software vendors may have to reconsider the way they do business, and in particular the way they roll out new software to customers.'”

Here's the logic disjoint: patents are a monopoly grant for a term of years. Monopolies don't tend to lead to innovation. Remember Lily Tomlin's Ernestine? "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company."

TT has 80 patents in the pipeline around the world. It just got two [PDF] in the UK, by the way. So much for no software patents across the Atlantic. And would you like to see TT's threat in its baldest form? Here ya go, from their extraordinary Open Letter:

"We believe in capitalism and what it does for the world. Over the past several years, TT's innovations have been a driving force in helping create tremendous profitability for the futures industry. Yet, some in the industry still connect TT's value to our $50 million revenue and $6 million profit, ignoring the fact that TT's business plan to this point has not included maximizing profit. This is letting the trees get in the way of the forest. First, we believe that the futures industry will embrace the 2.5 cent solution. Failing that, it seems inevitable that, once thoroughly educated about TT's value, at least one well-capitalized entity in all of financial services, etc., will offer an acceptable price for TT. Failling both of those opportunities, we control our own destiny. Whenever we desire, TT, as a standalone company, could raise the price of the patent-protected portion of our software and immediately have enormous cash-flow. This would be a last resort, but we would go this route if forced to. . . .

"Every day, exposure and damages have been accumulating. Ultimately, TT should be in a position to collect triple damages for willful infringement. . . . TT believes there is a lot of exposure floating around out there. While we are tied up during the eSpeed litigation, we may not be able to pursue other infringers. However, regardless of when we are freed up, we will enforce our rights, including the right to recover back damages."

What? You thought Darl was the only one who talks like that? They go on most charmingly to say that their software, they believe, is "an end to a process, meaning that there is no way to equal or better the function that it performs." From their Patent Q&A [PDF]:

"While TT cannot comment specifically on what it intends to do with its patents (that is a legal matter), TT can comment generally about patents. If there is an invention covered by a patent, anyone who makes, sells, or uses the patented invention is an infringer and is liable for damages dating back to the issuance of the patent. The amount of damages owed by an infringer is at a minimum based on the value provided to that infringer by the invention. Also, anyone who knowingly or willfully infringes a patent can be liable for triple damages dating back to the issuance of the patent and possibly attorney’s fees. You should check these patent rules, if you are interested, with an independent patent attorney."

They also say that they are "confident that the court system will protect our patented innovation", and sadly, they may be right about that. The way to fix that is to change the law, so patent holdups are no longer possible. Think it over.

So, now how do you feel about our patent laws?

Meanwhile, the patents commons for FOSS software has been enlarged. Computer Associates, under new leadership (John Swainson, an ex-IBM guy) has announced that they will submit some of their patents to open source developers, a la IBM, and they said they will use their patents to defend against any legal action directed at open source products. "Although CA is not known for generating patents, the company has been around for 29 years and has a substantial number of them," the article on ZDNET says.


  


So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents? | 179 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
OT Here, if you please.
Authored by: GrueMaster on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 01:19 AM EST
Please make links clickable. It isn't rocket science.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: eric76 on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 01:21 AM EST

So now, at least some of the Europeans want software patents more than ever -- to defend themselves from stupid patent lawsuits filed by U.S. firms:

In Europe, patent litigation in the futures industry is a much rarer phenomenon because it is harder to patent software inventions. But the TT case is threatening to change that. In London this week, lawyers from Clifford Chance briefed a roomful of traders and other futures industry participants on the state of affairs and what they might need to do to defend themselves.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I don't get this...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 01:31 AM EST
...How on earth can they sue here in Europe about something that does not exist
here, isn't in the laws here, and isn't illegal here?

And expect to win?

What software do they make? And isn't it time to start a Sourceforge project to
make a FOSS version?

Have fun -
The_Pirate (Still too stupid to remember my password)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Enough is enough!
Authored by: igneous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 01:32 AM EST
It is exactly this kind of nonsense which has caused me to change careers and
exit the ISV business. Someday the pendulum may swing back to a more sustainable
and equitable position, but how long will it take? And how many creative and
hard-working people will be destroyed in the process? As far as I'm concerned,
life is too short waste by attempting to deal reasonably with people (I use the
term loosely) like this.

Sorry for the rant. I'll stop now....

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: SongzillaBlogger on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 02:04 AM EST
Convinces me.

It seems to me on one hand you have the big corporations like Microsoft, who
develop vast patent road blocks to a smaller innovator's aspirations, and on the
other hand you have small or medium corporations who try to develop the one
killer patent road block... after all, they cannot expect to compete in overall
innovation given the patent mine field of Microsoft and others.

[Strangely enough] I think the problem correlates with the issue of
"sampling" in modern music: our IP laws fail to realize that the more
signficant IP can be in the way existing things are combined. The reality is
more and more 'everything has been done before' -- but not in this combination,
not applied quite this way.

In software, there is the 0 and the 1, and logic - everything else derives from
there.

The patent rights model seems to be very linear. It may have made sense for the
Industrial Age, but not for the Information Age, where innovation is more about
pulling something new out of an existing chaos, designing a new take on the old,
rather than inventing a new feature for a mechanical device.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 02:05 AM EST
to get things started:

     Here's would it would like or else

is probably supposed to be

     Here's what it would like, or else

- Anthony, not logged in

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, are all documents going to be like this?
Authored by: KarlJorgensen on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 02:08 AM EST

I have to hand it to them - that document creates the unique mix of a too-good-to-be-true spam letter and a note from the protection racket.

It must have taken a lot of careful drafting (most of in isolation I guess) - choosing words such as "inclusion" rather than "fee" really finishes things off nicely. Other gems include:

  • liberal use of emphasis on important phrases
  • friend: the mafia guy who could beat you up, but won't. For now.
  • Level Playing Field: everybody pays us
  • Innovations: Our Products
  • Competition: Something for our customers, not competitors
  • Undervalued: Owed
  • Willfull Infringement: Having read this
  • Introductory Offer: It will cost you a fortune later
  • Your opinion counts: Bend Over. or else.

We need a dictionary somewhere to spot this sort of thing in the future.

And yes: I did attempt to run this letter through my spam filter, but ps2ascii didn't like it...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Allright!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 02:22 AM EST

Where is the PIPE deal? Getcha free cup of coffee if there
aint one.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Allright!! - Authored by: knala on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 09:38 AM EST
Remember who is fighting against us
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 02:22 AM EST

I think it is wise to remember who are the main lobbyists who are trying to force software patents in Europe. Here is a list with the best known companies Patents4innovat ion

Computers
Apple
HP
IBM
Intel
Dell

Printers
Canon
Epson
Lexmark

Software
Adobe
Microsoft

Electronics
Fujitsu
Sony
Panasonic
Philips
Samsung
Sharp
Texas Instruments
Toshiba.

Cheers,
Daniel

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 02:47 AM EST
I didn't realize how utterly stupid this is until I read the abstract for Patent
number 6,828,968 I'll be shocked if someone can't dig up prior art. I showed
they had two other pantents also. I haven't looked at either of them yet. But
if they are anything like this, I'm going to be sick. Here's the abstract.

A computer-implemented system for generating and displaying a table of data
incorporating one or more color patterns includes a computer system. The
computer system accesses a plurality of data records that include one or more
fields containing data. The computer system generates a table for the data. The
table includes multiple rows corresponding to data records and multiple columns
corresponding to fields. The rows intersect the columns to define a cell at
where they intersect. Each cell contains data for the data record and field
corresponding to the intersecting row and column, respectively. The computer
system incorporates a first color pattern into the rows such that a color of
each row substantially differs in hue from a color of adjacent rows. The first
color pattern provides visual connectivity among the cells within each row. The
computer system incorporates a second color pattern into the columns such that a
color of each column substantially differs from a color of its adjacent columns
with respect to at least one of key value, saturation, and luminescence. The
second color pattern provides visual connectivity among the cells within each
column. The computer system provides the table for display to one or more
users.

Ok lets take each thing one line sentence at a time.

Sentence:1
A computer-implemented system for generating and displaying a table of data
incorporating one or more color patterns includes a computer system.

Translation: A spread sheet that uses colors. Big deal.

The computer system accesses a plurality of data records that include one or
more fields containing data.

Translation: There is a database on the computer. Wowsers

Sentence:2
The computer system generates a table for the data.

Translation: Unnessary.

Sentence:3
The table includes multiple rows corresponding to data records and multiple
columns corresponding to fields.

Translation: Unnessary -- hmmm what if I made the columns the data records and
the rows the fields? Would I still be infringing?

Sentence:4
The rows intersect the columns to define a cell at where they intersect.

Translation: There is a cell where the columns and rows meet. Well I don't
suppose It would be a TABLE if there wasn't. REDUNDANT

Sentence:5
Each cell contains data for the data record and field corresponding to the
intersecting row and column, respectively.

Translation: Now that we've built the table for the data, get this, we are
actually going to PUT THE DATA IN THE TABLE! Brilliant!

Sentence: 6
The computer system incorporates a first color pattern into the rows such that a
color of each row substantially differs in hue from a color of adjacent rows.

Translation: Every row in the table will be a different color than the previous
row or the next row. Kinda like an accountaint ledger. Wait I mean JUST like an
accountaints ledge. Um only on a computer... yeah so it is different.

Sentence:7
The first color pattern provides visual connectivity among the cells within each
row.

Translation: From the color you will be able to tell what cell goes with what
row. Kinda like an accountaint ledger. Wait I mean JUST like an accountaints
ledge. Um only on a computer... yeah so it is different.

Sentence:8
The computer system incorporates a second color pattern into the columns such
that a color of each column substantially differs from a color of its adjacent
columns with respect to at least one of key value, saturation, and
luminescence.

Translation: Use translation for sentence 6 but substitute the word column for
row. Keep comment the same.

Sentence:9
The second color pattern provides visual connectivity among the cells within
each column.

Translation: Use translation for sentence 7 but substitute the word column for
row. Keep comment the same.

Sentence: 10
The computer system provides the table for display to one or more users.

Translation: Now that we've made are nifty ledger, er spreadsheet, er
invention... whatever. And it is displaying nicely on the computer... Hold your
breath folks... wait for it, wait for it... here it is... WE'RE GOING TO LET
PEOPLE LOOK AT IT!!!! I'm sure no one has ever thought of that before....

Here's the scary part... reading through the patent there really isn't any
information about HOW they are going to do this. It just gives a bunch of
examples of the abstract. As a matter of fact... They say...

Although the present invention has been described with several embodiments,
divers changes, substitutions, variations, and modifications may be suggested to
one skilled in the art, and it is intended that the invention may encompass all
such changes, substitutions, variations, alterations, and modifications fall
within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

Translation: If anyone thinks of a way to actually do this. (We may or may not
have.) They will be infringing on our patent.

What they have done here is patented an IDEA and haven't even TRIED to pass it
off as a PROCESS. And they got a PATENT on it.

Mind numbing.

Regards,
Z



[ Reply to This | # ]

How do I feel?
Authored by: muswell100 on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 03:25 AM EST
Speaking as a European (er...sorry - Brit),I feel the way I've always felt about
this issue: damn glad we don't have this nonsense over here yet, and praying
like stink we never do!

The part of me that believes in the prevalance of common sense and decency
somehow can't help but thinking that some years down the line, this whole sorry
period of 'IP terrorism' in the IT industry will come to be viewed with the same
degree of shame and disgust as the McCarthy witchhunt era. Except that McCarthy
(allegedly) acted out of a perverse, misguided idealism instead of bald
opportunism and greed.

Spot which is the more perverse.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 03:47 AM EST
theres two angles on this:

the first is that the trading community is using this a way to set a loud
precedent that such tactics are ok

the second is that finally some of the important people in the financial world
will realize that this is an issue that is just as likely to bleed them dry as
it is to make them rich, and the odds are against them being in the latter
group. In which case maybe well see some anti-patent activity in the financial
world.


[ Reply to This | # ]

So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: seantellis on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 04:22 AM EST
Favorite quote:

The 2.5 cent solution would create a new era of competition for order-entry by extending TT’s intellectual property to the world, forever.

In other words, we foster "competition" by locking you in to a licensing scheme that secures our position, forever.

Well, this is another straw of absurdity to add to the ass that is the law - and sooner rather than later, a straw like this will break its back.

---
Sean Ellis (sellis@geo-removethis-cities.com)

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Forever - Authored by: Jude on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 12:26 PM EST
So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: micheal on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 05:22 AM EST
"TT would receive from PE 2.5 cents per side for every PE future and future option transaction, permanently. We believe this 2.5 cent solution is in the best interest of the futures industry."

I seem to remember a case cited on Groklaw that it was illegal to try to extend the term of a patent by means of a contract. Does this ring a bell with anyone else?

Here are links to some earlier (non-Groklaw) articles on the same topic.

finextra27/10/04

securities industry1

Another that is about a company that has applied for patents on its technology to protect itself from TT and to provide an alternative for the futures market.

securitiesindustry2

Here is a link to an article on the eSpeed lawsuit. It is interesting since the judge seems to imply that using the patent for a year before applying for it does not invalidate the patent.

---
LeRoy -
What a wonderful day.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What we really need now...
Authored by: Jude on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 06:17 AM EST
...is for lawyers to start getting patents on legal arguments.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, How is this different from a Protection Racket?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 07:47 AM EST

Except maybe the violence?

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Colored Spreadsheets
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 08:13 AM EST
Looks like ideally for income purposes, every time I write a few lines of code
that I haven't seen before (on average, say every week), I should file a patent
on it, and get a patent attourney to rigorously enforce it. If the parent poster
is correct, this is an inane invention, on the level of patenting the process to
fold a piece of paper into a 8-armed octupus with 1 sucker per arm (where the
process to fold an 8-armed octupus is prior art). As an example, I can create a
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which does exactly what the patent describes, with
no changes to the software. In OpenOffice, this would be at best a trivial
change.

I think that the automated spreadsheet was an invention. This is fluff.

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Software Patents Bill Axed
Authored by: RogerB on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 08:26 AM EST
The EU has apparently thrown out the software patent bill, see here. I just thought I'd mention this as I haven't seen it anywhere else on Groklaw

---
- Roger

[ Reply to This | # ]

I actually feel physically ill
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 08:32 AM EST
This is government sanctioned racketeering. There's no other way to describe
it. And given that 'IP' is now practically America's *only* export, this is
going to become the normal way of doing 'business' rather than the exception.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 08:34 AM EST
What's wrong with discouraging patent applications? USPTO is flooded with
patents on what many people in the respective fields would consider
"obvious" (which patents aren't supposed to cover). In my mind, still,
this is the real problem- not that software can be patented, but that most
software patents are for trivial or obvious things. PJ (among others) has helped
convince me not that software patents are intrisically a bad thing, but that the
patent system is so badly broken that it would be better for the software
industry if patents were no longer a feature of that industry than the current
state. Yes, there would be the rare invention that might be deserving of patent
protection that would not be protected, but that cost is far outweighed by the
numerous trivial inventions that get patented that have little or nothing new to
offer to the general public.

Zimbel

[ Reply to This | # ]

What did Chicago ever do to you?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 09:18 AM EST
"Trading Technologies, a US software company, natch, located in Chicago --
where else? --"

What do you mean by where else? Explain the anti-Chicago bias here.

Perhaps we should bash your hometown next?

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 09:24 AM EST
Here is where the financial markets can fix this. Remember Lotus when they tried
to litigate their "1-2-3" and vendors just re-engineered and built new
interfaces of their own. Now with open source, the financial markets could
re-engineer a solution that does now need TT's patent with an open source
project.

ken king

[ Reply to This | # ]

Open Source Patent Foundation (OSPF)?
Authored by: chrism on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 09:41 AM EST
What possibility might there be of assembling a foundation whose sole purpose
would be to file for software patents that would then be used to protect the
open source world against patent threats, along the same lines as what large
companies do when they assemble patent arsenals (namely, arrange for cross
licensing deals)?

I imagine it would work like this. Open source developers are encouraged to
submit their software ideas to OSPF. OSPF files for the patents. They license
them freely to anyone who wants to use them to create open source software.
They only license them to companies that agree to not sue open source software
developers or users. In other words, they play the cross licensing game for the
benefit of the open source world.

Just as developers in the open source world compete with each other in writing
the best code and having one's software widely used is considered a badge of
honor, they could also compete in offering the best ideas to be patented by
OSPF.

I realize this wouldn't stop small patent-only companies from attempting
extortion, but it might stop the big companies from stomping out little
companies, and when small company patent threats against big companies are the
only thing the patent system is still good for, perhaps the whole system would
be thrown out.

[ Reply to This | # ]

i2 Technologies US, Inc Patents
Authored by: sunnyfla on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 10:10 AM EST
Here is a list of patents assigned to i2 Technologies.

I briefly scanned it, and found it interesting...

[ Reply to This | # ]

This points to the larger problem...
Authored by: Will Scarlet on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 10:31 AM EST
This is my first post so please forgive me if this should of been posted in the
OT section.

I find that this points to the larger problem not just in patent suits but in
all areas of law suits involving financial gain. That is there is no
repercussion for the person/people/company/organization/government who initiated
the suit if they are found not to be in the right. This places an undue burden
of financial responsibility on the defendant of the suit. And that is the major
problem.

The solution is to get into effect what I believe to be termed as Looser Pays.
If you loose, you pay for both sides of suit. This would cut down on many of
the frivolous law suit from being started in the first place. It would also
force defendants to settle quickly if they know they are in the wrong with no
legal loophole to get around.

IANAL, and there might just be a better solution, so I'll end with: This is just
my opinion...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Trivial Patents and such.
Authored by: God of Lemmings on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 11:11 AM EST
The problem here isn't really so much patents on software, but the abuse of
our patent system. One of the requisites of gaining a patent is that it should
be nontrivial. Of course, our overtaxed, understaffed, and underqualified
patent office seems to have no idea whether or not some vaguely described
process is trivial or not. They also seem to overlook the existense of prior art

in the software world. What really needs to be fixed here is the patent office.

Now, you could argue that software patents impede progress and whatnot,
but the same is true that an innovative software programmer may be apt to
not release their code to the public out of a need to protect their source of
income. What the patent system really should be doing is protecting a
balance between the two, not breaking in one direction or the other.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 11:15 AM EST
From best info I could find: Eolas Technologies is located in IL too. This has
nothing to do with IL, just thinking that it is a shame this falls in IL again
though.

The financial problems some software companies are having with the changes on
going within companies and corporations that are finding they need less or have
found other software. Before this change in software is complete, the smaller
ones before their demise from a lack of will to change, will provide the
litigation fire they will burn within too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: micheal on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 11:27 AM EST
I am patenting a computer program that generates all pixels in numerical
sequence. Any other program that generates a display that my program can
generate is violating my patent. :^)

Aside: Someone on another mailing list tried to patent a spherical loudspeaker
cabinet, even acknowledging prior art! He said that his patent did not cover
prior art cabinets, but no one could make cabinets in sizes that thet did not
currently make! He was pretty much laughed off of the mailing list. After
reading software patents that have been granted I am not so sure that his patent
would be denied.

---
LeRoy -
What a wonderful day.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who's the idiot who approved this patent?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 11:54 AM EST
Even setting aside prior art, all of the claims look to me to be blindingly
obvious to anyone who works in computers with spreadsheets.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Time to go on the Offensive
Authored by: mark on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 12:21 PM EST
As someone pointed out above, these exchange people are unlikely to profit
from sw patents. Therefore perhaps this would be a good case to try to get the
original case which allowed sw patents in the US overturned. After the success
Groklaw has had with the fiaSCO, I hope we will turn your attention on this
issue so we can bury tt the way sco is about to get buried. Hopefully this can
be done in a way that prevents this kind of thing in the future, using the
unique rescorces of Groklaw and the Free Software community. This would require
much cooperation from the exchange people. Can anyone contact them and see if
they will go along?

This could be the perfect case for Free Software to use to stomp on sw patents
once and for all.

Also, isn't a perpetual contract invalid?

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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: johnarras on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 12:38 PM EST
This sounds like a cross between a Nigerian 419 scam and a mafia shakedown, with
a dash of televangelist looking for seed money.

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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 01:33 PM EST
Same as before, really...

I still think they're a terrible idea.

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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: grayhawk on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 02:36 PM EST
I have been and continue to be opposed to any and all software patents and
patents on living organisms and/or derivatives of living organisms from day one.


Patents should be restricted to be applied for physical manufacturable products
for which a working prototype must exist.

Software should be copyrighted the same as any other written work. A software
program is no different then a recipe that you use with which to make a cake or
a stew. The difference here is that a computer creates the cake instead of a
pair of human hands. One produces a report and the other something you eat.
Both are creations that come from somebodies idea and can be modified to suit.
Neither is a solid object such as what a manufactured product is. Both are a
methodology that takes input and produces an output.

Patents should also not be applicable to any and all living organisms or
products of living organisms.

Methods and processes in any shape or form should not be patentable, only the
end product if it is a physical product non-living or non-celular.

You patent the cleaning product (its chemical composition) but not the recipe
you used to create it. Any other competitor's product must have a chemical
composition substantially different to not be infringing.

Those are my two cents worth and I am stuck with them :).

---
All ships are safe in a harbour but that is not where they were meant to be.

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In plain english
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 03:21 PM EST
From my good friend Luigi at the GreateR chicago organizEd benEvolence
founDation (GREED), a translation of the open letter...

"Yo, lizzen up. We believes in capi’lism ‘cause we’s into gettin’ richa.
Over da past numba o years, TT's innovations has done slipped under’ yo profit
radar. Some o you’se in da industry still tinks TT's is in da software bizness,
ignorin’ da fact dat TT's business plan to this point ain’t included maximizin
our profit at de expense o yo profit. Dat’s gonna change. Fust, we believes
dat da futures industry will pay da very economical 2.5 cent protection.
Udderwise, once thoroughly eddicated ‘bout TT's value by Guido & Vito, our
eddication guys... er I mean, our lawyers... den somebody wit da big bucks gonna
make an offer fo TT we likes. Afta all, evybody wanna retire someday, right? If
dat doan happen, den hey, we in control. You’se gonna pay one wat or da udder.
Really, we doan wanna do dis, but you’se forcin us..

Evyday itz gettin’ worse. Guido & Vito hates it wen dey doan get action
quick. We’s warned you’se, da price be goin’ up. Right now we beatin up yo
neighbor, but you’se on de list. You’se tink about dat, ok?"


Luigi admires the audacity of these upstarts and impressed by their confidence
and ability to think in the long term, but is very concerned that TT is moving
into territory previously monopolized by GREED, and is checking to see if GREED
has patented the concept and methods. Benevolence was not intended to be for
everybody.

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Enlist the Financial Services Industry Against Software Patents!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 05:21 PM EST

It is clear to me that the financial services industry would be strongly against
the aggressive enforcement of both software and method patents. Essentially,
such patents on both software and methods could allow new patent mongers,
external to the industry and with no real business, to extract monopoly tolls
from the existing members of the industry. This will never be accepted.

The financial services industry is both rich and powerful, and thus I believe a
tremendously strong ally in this war. I would highly suggest that people like
FFII and nosoftwarepatents.com _immediately_ solicit the financial services
industry in first the European fight, and then later in the U.S. fight for
intellectual property freedom.

Thank you,

-Anon

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A broken patent system reduces innovation
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 05:28 PM EST
A patent is a monopoly, which by definition inhibits competition. History has
shown competition to be one of the main drivers for innovation, so patents
promote innovation only if they encourage more research and development to
offset the reduced level of competition.

Unfortunately, a flawed patent system that grants patents too easily does
nothing to encourage research and development. As an analogy, suppose that I
want to encourage students to study harder, so I tell them I'll give them money
for good test scores. Suppose, though, that the students discover that I almost
never check their test scores, and I pay practically every student who merely
asks. Once the students realize this, is it reasonable to believe that my money
would actually make them study harder? Likewise, a broken patent system does
not encourage innovation if companies discover that they can obtain trivial
patents.

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The hack of this century!
Authored by: NilsR on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 06:45 PM EST
I have this silly dream...

What if someone managed to patent something USPTO and other patent organizations absolutely need to do their work?

Then refused them access to it, until the politicians reformed the whole mess?

You'd need to to have pretty deep pockets, to make it work though. (Hint to IBM...)

Ah well... Back to reality.

---
NilsR

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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 10:04 PM EST
Random thought.

Couldn't TT be prosecuted on charges of black mail?

After all, they are patenting an idea, with the express purpose of prosecuting
anyone that may wish to use it. They are not patenting it to protect their
invention should the need arise.

Richard.

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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: timycc on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 10:26 PM EST
Here is my idea of modifying the current patent system to get out of the nasty
patents, including all software patents.

It was triggered by the phrase Linus said about science and witchcraft. Science
was built with the open source method, while witchcraft was kept secret. In the
engineering trade we know a lot of things can only be achieved by witchcraft.
There are ways of doing things that can never be achieved unless someone gives
you the hint.

If I can remember correctly the patent system was invented to prevent such great
knownledge to be buried along with the death of witches, if they are always kept
in the closet. The price paid was the monopoly power granted for a limited
number of years. If something can not be hidden, then there is no reason why
such monopoly should be granted.

So if we can add one principle into the patent law, then I think the patent
system can be saved from the broken status today. If an invention can be
understood by just observing externally, then it is considered obvious and not
granted. This will eliminate software patents by default, since no software can
be hidden from reverse engineering.

This principle of cause will impact many things outside of software, maybe some
compromise should be made to leave some room for some ingenuity for physical
inventions. But from today's practice, I think even many of those are
controversial.

The current principle of ingenuity and obviousness are very subjective. It
involves too much human judgement. If the above obscurity principle is defined,
then it become objective. Proving a technology is externally observable does not
require too much judgement, you just have to demonstrate the way.

Although promoting innovation is good, in practice today it is ineffective for
any purpose. Just count the volume of patent applications flooding into the
patent office everyday, you will know the situation is hopeless. The patent
officers needs more effective and objective means to process patents. The
ambiguity of obviousness and ingenuity is no answer. The above principle can
solve their problems.

In practice, the sheer volume of patents owned by big monopolies today already
made technical discussions meaningless. While people are discussing merits of
individual patents, like the board here, the real problem is not even those
deserving discussions. Given the number of patents in the porfolio of big
corporations, an individual or a small business is infringing them by default.
Remember patents are reviewed and utilized by lawyers, not engineers. The
lawyers may not know the technology behind each patent, they just take the words
out of patent claims and attack. There are'nt many ways of doing things for any
technology. The lawyers can always find something barely similiar to a common
technology and declare their right against you. If you think you can argue the
merit of their claims, then you are not educated yet. Nobody has the resource
and energy to deal with tens of thousands of patents behind the lawyers. A
smaller business has better things to do than dealing with the army of lawyers
hired by big corporations. I said this out of my personal experience dealing
with the big blue corporation which is the (mostly)good guy here. Patents are
no good for innovation in any way, given the practice today.

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Patent and patents as a business model
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 24 2005 @ 11:31 PM EST
Perhaps we could try to get a patent on using patents as a business model then
we could sue SCO and others for infringing on our patent.

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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 25 2005 @ 02:33 AM EST
Unfortunately the TT story is sort of old news. There has already been a
preliminary injunction hearing, which eSpeed barely survived. The judge
believes that the patent is valid and that eSpeed is infringing it. If you want
to save the futures trading industry from TT's particular brand of oligarchy,
post prior art here, and I will make sure that it gets into the right hands.

Concerned Trader

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So, *Now* How Do You Feel About Software Patents?
Authored by: blang on Friday, February 25 2005 @ 02:37 PM EST
You are misguided.

Countries who have the "looser pays" system are not riddled with
frivolous lawsuits. It works. It is rational, and in such countries, being a
lawyer is a very respectable occupation.

Your method would only cause yet another round in court to decide if a lawsuit
was frivolous or not, with more rounds of appeals, etc. and would in the end
just generate more litigation, and increase to cost of litigation for everybody.
Putting out fire with gasoline.

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