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Slip, Sliding Away on Software Patents
Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 02:52 PM EST

You know how folks in Europe keep crossing their hearts and hoping to die that in the EU, nothing like the US system will ever be allowed and that there is no way software itself can ever be patented? In fact, supposedly that is the rule right now. So how does the European Patent Office (EPO) keep issuing what are obviously software patents?

Well, kiddies, take a look at this decision, by the Technical Board of Appeal, on an appeal by, sad to say, IBM, in which the appeal board found a way to say that maybe computer programs can be patented after all, even under the current rules. It's found in the EPO's journal for October of 1999. I thought you might like to see the EU equivalent to the US case, State Street Bank & Trust v. Signature Financial Group. Both in the US and in Europe, the beginnings were small and everyone said software couldn't be patented except in very restricted circumstances, and then the slide begins.

You might enjoy looking at the US process, explained thoroughly here in this USPTO page on 2106 - Patentable Subject Matter -- Computer-Related Inventions [R2] -- 2100 Patentability and to view some practical examples in their Examination Guidelines for Computer-Related Inventions to see where the US draws the line, such as it is, and the 1995 press release that announced them:

"We recognize the critical importance of effectively protecting software innovation," said Bruce A. Lehman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks. "The guidelines are the first step in our efforts to make the patent system more receptive to software innovation. Our guidelines will enable us to satisfy our mission of issuing valid and enforceable patent rights," he continued.

First step turned out to be a very accurate phrase, I'm sure you'll agree.

Here is an excerpt from the 2106 Patentable Subject Matter page:

As cast, 35 U.S.C. 101 defines four categories of inventions that Congress deemed to be the appropriate subject matter of a patent; namely, processes, machines, manufactures and compositions of matter. The latter three categories define "things" while the first category defines "actions" (i.e., inventions that consist of a series of steps or acts to be performed). See 35 U.S.C. 100(b) ("The term 'process' means process, art, or method, and includes a new use of a known process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or material.").

Federal courts have held that 35 U.S.C. 101 does have certain limits. First, the phrase "anything under the sun that is made by man" is limited by the text of 35 U.S.C. 101, meaning that one may only patent something that is a machine, manufacture, composition of matter or a process. See, e.g., Alappat, 33 F.3d at 1542, 31 USPQ2d at 1556; Warmerdam, 33 F.3d at 1358, 31 USPQ2d at 1757 (Fed. Cir. 1994). Second, 35 U.S.C. 101 requires that the subject matter sought to be patented be a "useful" invention. Accordingly, a complete definition of the scope of 35 U.S.C. 101, reflecting Congressional intent, is that any new and useful process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter under the sun that is made by man is the proper subject matter of a patent.

The subject matter courts have found to be outside the four statutory categories of invention is limited to abstract ideas, laws of nature and natural phenomena. While this is easily stated, determining whether an applicant is seeking to patent an abstract idea, a law of nature or a natural phenomenon has proven to be challenging. These three exclusions recognize that subject matter that is not a practical application or use of an idea, a law of nature or a natural phenomenon is not patentable. See, e.g., Rubber-Tip Pencil Co. v. Howard, 87 U.S. (20 Wall.) 498, 507 (1874) ("idea of itself is not patentable, but a new device by which it may be made practically useful is"); Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co. v. Radio Corp. of America, 306 U.S. 86, 94, 40 USPQ 199, 202 (1939) ("While a scientific truth, or the mathematical expression of it, is not patentable invention, a novel and useful structure created with the aid of knowledge of scientific truth may be."); Warmerdam, 33 F.3d at 1360, 31 USPQ2d at 1759 ("steps of 'locating' a medial axis, and `creating" a bubble hierarchy . . . describe nothing more than the manipulation of basic mathematical constructs, the paradigmatic 'abstract idea' ").

Courts have expressed a concern over "preemption" of ideas, laws of nature or natural phenomena. The concern over preemption was expressed as early as 1852. See Le Roy v. Tatham, 55 U.S. 156, 175 (1852) ("A principle, in the abstract, is a fundamental truth; an original cause; a motive; these cannot be patented, as no one can claim in either of them an exclusive right."); Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co., 333 U.S. 127, 132, 76 USPQ 280, 282 (1948) (combination of six species of bacteria held to be nonstatutory subject matter). The concern over preemption serves to bolster and justify the prohibition against the patenting of such subject matter. In fact, such concerns are only relevant to claiming a scientific truth or principle. Thus, a claim to an "abstract idea" is nonstatutory because it does not represent a practical application of the idea, not because it would preempt the idea.

Of course, in the IBM case in Europe, the appeal board had to do quite a bit of contorting and dancing around to accomplish the slide, but in the end they decided this:

"In the view of the Board, a computer program claimed by itself is not excluded from patentability if the program, when running on a computer or loaded into a computer, brings about, or is capable of bringing about, a technical effect which goes beyond the 'normal' physical interactions between the program (software) and the computer (hardware) on which it is run.

”'Running on a computer' means that the system comprising the computer program plus the computer carries out a method (or process) which may be of the kind according to claim 1.

”'Loaded into a computer' means that the computer programmed in this way is capable of or adapted to carrying out a method which may be of the kind according to claim1 and thus constitutes a system (or device or apparatus) which may be of the kind according to claim 14."

I know you like me to explain legalese, so here goes: this means that in the EU, you can't patent computer programs, except when you can, which is whenever they let you, so you might as well try. And so everyone did try, and that brings us to the present. Please don't let anyone tell you that there will be no slide toward a US-style patent system. There already has been such a slide, and here you see how it all began. The IBM decision's discussion of "technical effect", by the way, is followed closely in the European Commission's Directive on Patentability of Computer-implemented Inventions, which attempts to codify the same meaning for "technical contribution."

And for the dewy-eyed naifs among us, here's a report on the USPTO's February Patent Law Harmonization Meeting, an "exploratory meeting" as they call it "to discuss the future of substantive patent law harmonization."

And here's their Statement of Intent:

Statement of Intent

1. The Participants of the Exploratory Meeting of Interested Parties Concerning the Future of Substantive Patent Law Harmonization (“Participants”), held February 3-4, 2005, in Alexandria, Virginia, wishing to promote and facilitate progress on certain key issues under consideration in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), agree to convene future meetings to consider:

(i) substantive patent law harmonization issues, notably the Trilateral “first package,” as developed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office and set forth in WIPO Document WO/GA/31/10; and

(ii) issues with regard to intellectual property and development, including proposals for a WIPO Development Agenda and proposals relating to genetic resources,

with a view to seeking a common basis for further discussions in WIPO.

2. The Participants agree that the following parties will be invited to participate in the future meetings: all Members of WIPO Group B, member States of the European Union, the European Commission, Member States of the European Patent Organization, and the European Patent Office.

3. The Participants further agree to have regular, intersessional meetings of subgroups to address the issues referenced in Paragraph 1.

February 5, 2005

Finally, there is a transcript of an online chat with USPTO experts which yields the following:

yunsong (Feb 24, 2005 2:46:58 PM)
What are the common mistakes the independent inventors intend to make when they file a patent application without using patent attorney/agent?

USPTO Expert (Feb 24, 2005 2:48:30 PM) (edited answer)
First, the most common mistake is not doing your homework by understanding what is needed in an application. Our web site, has a wealth of information. Second, the claims are usually written as what the invention does, how it works or what it is intended to do rather than how it is made. It is important to clearly define what the invention is. Finally, the written descriptions that most often cause trouble are those that don't clearly describe their invention. You can contact our Inventors Assistance Center at 1-800-786-9199 for additional information. . . .

Harry (Feb 24, 2005 3:00:27 PM)
Whom to contact for unanswered questions ?

USPTO Expert3 (Feb 24, 2005 3:01:11 PM)
You can contact the Inventors Assistance Center at 1-800-786-9199 and also review our previous on-line chat, your question may already have been answered. . . .

beachgirllookingforaball (Feb 24, 2005 3:09:29 PM)
what do you mean by non-obvious

USPTO Expert3 (edited answer)
Obviousness is covered by 35 U.S.C 103. Under this statute, a patent may not be obtained if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains. In a rejection under this statute, it is necessary to modify a single reference or to combine it with one or more other references. The term "obvious" applies to this modification/combination. If the modification/combination is obvious, then the rejection is proper.

To determine if a modification/combination is obvious, three basic criteria must be met. First, there must be some suggestion or motivation, either in the references themselves or in the knowledge generally available to one of ordinary skill in the art, to modify the reference or to combine reference teachings. Second, there must be a reasonable expectation of success. Finally, the prior art reference (or references when combined) must teach or suggest all the claim limitations. See MPEP 2142.

More resources on their how to search patents and Patents Organization chart pages. And here's the page where they provide the manual, section by section (see also this revision to the manual [PDF]), on how they decide whether to grant a patent or not. What? You didn't think they just rubber stamp them all, did you? Or did you?


Slip, Sliding Away on Software Patents | 107 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Now why can't patents be affordable like copyrights
Authored by: dhonn on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 03:14 PM EST
This all makes sense but patents are not easily attainable. It really sucks when
some big company steals your idea then patents it, then uses it against the


[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here.
Authored by: Woad_Warrior on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST
So PJ can find them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Slip, Sliding Away on Software Patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST
In the workshops they are having in Europe regarding the
new patent regulations, the question should be raised:

If the the new patent regulations get enacted in their
current form, which patents already in existence will
automatically get invalidated?


[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: Woad_Warrior on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 03:31 PM EST
So that the main thread isn't all cluttered up with unrelated gibberish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Slip, Sliding Away on Software Patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 03:39 PM EST

You know, business will be business, but I truly believe it is possible to run a
business and be profitable without being a brood of vipers. People just have to
have faith that if you love freedom (IF = Intellectual Freedom .. coin the
phrase) and respect others, you can still be successful.

Until the grassroot people can make an impact or stir revolution, you can be a
good gambler guess outcomes in these matters by understanding these business
principles (i use business and corporation synonymously)..

1)Business shall use all mean possible to extract all the money possible from
its customers as long as it can get away with it.
2)Business Competion means utterly destroying or enslaving all those who
threaten your profitablity or power, not actually to compete based on your own
merits and capabilties.
3)Image is reality/truth .. give whatever image to the public and government
that will cause diversion or help you achieve your goal (see 1 and 2).
Truth/Lies is relative.

Be suspicous around hungry lions, and realize that business (for the most part)
is not your friend.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Slip, Sliding Away on Software Patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 04:01 PM EST
> In the view of the Board, a computer program claimed by itself is not
excluded from patentability if the program, when running on a computer or loaded
into a computer, brings about, or is capable of bringing about, a technical
effect which goes beyond the 'normal' physical interactions between the program
(software) and the computer (hardware) on which it is run.

I only wish they understood that this statement is a contradiction in terms.
Software is composed of a fixed set of operations defined in the CPU, executed
by the microcode on it. The closest I can make any sense of this is if they
were adding brand new things to the microcode or perhaps had some sort of FPGA
device on one... but even then, I suspect these are just weasel words for
allowing patents whenever they wish to (e.g. almost all the time).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Slip, Sliding Away on Software Patents
Authored by: David Tomlinson on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 04:05 PM EST
I spoke to a UK Patent Examiner who told me that the Trading Technology patents
were "a mistake".

"And that the UK Patent Office tries to avoid issuing purely software

We shall have to wait and see what happens with regard to the two patents.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Elephant in the Software Patents room...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 04:33 PM EST
is IBM... I say it again :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

One idea for trivial patents
Authored by: dcarrera on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 04:44 PM EST
I have an idea, and I'd like to hear some comments on it.

Suppose there was a new law that said that before you can sue someone with a sw
patent, you first must demonstrate that the patent is truly non-obvious and

Okay, I know this is not the ideal, by a long shot. But if this could be well
implemented (ha ha), it would at least block most *trivial* patents. Not
software patents per se, but trivial patents. And you see, the patents that pose
the most risk to FOSS and small businesses are the trivial ones. Those are the
ones that are nearly impossible to avoid.

This isn't a solution, but if it were implemented it'd be a step towards

Yes, I realize that the chances of the Corporate States of America are almost
nil. But they sure seem higher than any alternative I can think of.

Daniel. volunteer.

Make a difference. Join Join OOoAuthors today.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Technical effect rubbish
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 05:35 PM EST

When they say:

"In the view of the Board, a computer program claimed by itself is not excluded from patentability if the program, when running on a computer or loaded into a computer, brings about, or is capable of bringing about, a technical effect which goes beyond the 'normal' physical interactions between the program (software) and the computer (hardware) on which it is run."

They are talking absolute rubbish, of course. Computers are consisted of two parts: processor and memory (sometimes you don't even need the second part). Everything else, including the keyboard, the monitor, the CD-ROM, the hard disk and whatever else you care to attach to it that may produce the "technical effect" is not part of the computer, because it is completely non-essential for it to operate. Computers and software have absolutely no idea about those things. All they see is registers in the CPU, memory locations, interrupts and possibly I/O ports, depending on the architecture.

So, how can the software then have "technical effects" beyond the computer itself? It is not the software that is causing this "technical effect", but various machinery connected to the computer. And we're supposed to allow software to be patented?

In essence, the only thing computers can do is process information. Data (in whatever physical representation) goes in, processed data goes out. They are no different in that respect from a brain of a human when it's processing information. They do some things faster and some things slower then us, but the rest is a matter of implementation (us: carbon, them: silicon). Are we supposed to accept that infromation processing inside a human brain can be patented? If so, we should welcome poets, writers, actors, musicians, lawyers and everyone else to join the patent party.

[ Reply to This | # ]

In other words even if its obvious to everyone else it might be not obvious to the patent office
Authored by: Brendan Scott on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 06:02 PM EST
In particular, see: Application of Pardo and Landau, Decided
on August 5, 1982, by the CCPA. (citation: 214 USPQ 673).

Assume you have a list of equations some of which (because of the structure of
the equations) must be solved before others. Well, this is the invention: solve
the ones you can solve first before solving the ones you can't solve.

The travesty of this case is that, although the patent office told the court
that the patent was obvious the court refused to believe them because they
didn't support it by reference to the prior art.


[ Reply to This | # ]

A Harmonious Weasel Word
Authored by: arf on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 06:07 PM EST
Ah, Harmony! Evocative of a feeling that all's right with the world.
...except for when it's applied as in an "exploratory meeting" as they call it "to discuss the future of substantive patent law harmonization."
Then it sounds more like 'how to enforce lockstep'!

For more 'weasel words', folk might like to check out this site

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think the best strategy
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 06:09 PM EST
is trying to carve out a safe harbor for software that is available for the
public wellfare, such as GPL software, where the software is protected from
patent lawsuits.

Also, we need to keep the heat on any companies that try to use patents against
such software by vocally protesting them with tons of bad press and try to
initiate boycotts of their products and services if they use patents against
software that is available for the public wellfare.

We also need to educate countries who may follow down this road before they are
contaminated by big business's money.

And it would be a good time to start to develop preemptive lawsuits and
complaints about big business practices. Lets start nailing from their conduct
and put them in the hot seat.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software patents self-violate
Authored by: Willu on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 06:24 PM EST


In my first post yesterday, I brought up the fact that software is not just math, it is speech. Unfortunately, I posted late so I don't think many people saw the post. Anyway, after I posted I thought up another consequence...

To recap, all this discussion about software patents reminded me of Dr Dave Touretzky's fight against the DMCA in the US. In particular, he pointed out that software is simply a formal description of a process. There is no difference between a formal description of an algorithm and an executable program. The difference is only in the machine required to execute it. I give more support for this assertion below, but first let's look at some of the fun consequences.

Software patents bring up the following scenario:

  1. Alice writes a formal description of a patented algorithm in English. At the time, there is no automatic process for converting her formal description into an executable program. She distributes her prose. Note: The patent description itself may qualify.
  2. Bob then comes along and writes a program that converts Alice's formal description into an executable program. In computer parlance, Bob writes a compiler for Alice's language. Note that to do this, Bob does not need to know anything about the patented algorithm; he simply needs to know the style of English Alice used to describe it. Bob distributes his program.
  3. Clarise then takes Alice's description and Bob's compiler and combines them to produce an executable in the privacy of her own home. She has her computer execute the patented algorithm.

What has happened here?

  • Did Alice violate the patent by distributing English prose?
  • Did Bob violate the patent by distributing a generic program that has nothing to do with the patent?
  • Did Clarise violate the patent when she combined the two, or is that covered by the fact that you are allowed to use patented technology for private use in your own home?
  • What happens if a web site happens to have both Alice's description and Bob's compiler available? How close do they have to be before that becomes a patent violation? What about if they're on different web sites, but a third web site has a link to both?

The point about the patent application itself is interesting. There are two cases here; either,

  • The patent description contains a complete enough description of the software that you can implement it from the description. In this case, there is no theoretical impediment to doing so automatically, as above. Or,
  • The patent description does not contain a complete enough description of the software that it can be implemented from that description. In which case, is the patent valid?

Does someone who writes a program to execute a patent description that is fed to it violate the patent?

In case anyone thinks all this is unrealistic, Dr Touretzky gives a whole series of similar examples which came to light during the litigation over the CSS DVD encryption scheme. I highly recommend his Gallery of CSS Descramblers and his description of why source code and object code are indistinguishable. Omri Schwarz has some programs that will automatically translate any 'C' program into English text, and back again. Finally, a US circuit court has ruled that software can be protected speech (see the eff copy of the decsision). Note, I'm not claiming that US courts are the final arbiter of the truth of this, just that they have recognised it in some situations.

For those who don't have time for those details, the argument is simple. An algorithm is a series of things that must be done in a certain order. That can certainly be described in English, or any other human language. If you are careful about the style of language you use, then you can use language simple enough that a computer program can understand it. The limits on how simple you have to make the English prose seem to depend only on how much time you want to spend writing the program that will "read" it.

I hope this post has been food for thought,

Bon apetite,


[ Reply to This | # ]

European Commission Practically Admits They're Seeking Software Patents
Authored by: Simon G Best on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 06:42 PM EST

(Yes, I'm still on my 'Freedom of Expression' hobby-horse :o) )

Just the other day, via the FFII website (more specifically, in the 'latest news' section), I came across this PDF of the "Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament concerning the common position of the Council on the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and Council on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions". Note, in particular, the second paragraph of section 3.1.1 ("Computer program product claims"):-

Acts relating to computer programs on their own or on carriers could be subject to proceedings for contributory infringement even without provisions equivalent to Article 5(2). The effect of Article 5(2) is thus to facilitate enforcement of legitimate rights by ensuring that such acts may constitute direct, rather than just contributory, infringements. This is particularly important in cases of infringements across national boundaries as Member States' courts do not have jurisdiction over contributory infringements occurring outside their national territory.

(Emphasis mine.)

Here is that Article 5(2):-

A claim to a computer program, either on its own or on a carrier, shall not be allowed unless that program would, when loaded and executed in a computer, programmed computer network or other programmable apparatus, put into force a product or process claimed in the same patent application in accordance with paragraph 1.

(Emphasis mine.)

In other words: at least according to the Commission, this Directive will (if accepted without substantial amendments) lead to direct software patents, where patents can be directly infringed by writing and then publishing software itself. This is practically confirmation from the Commission itself that they're attempting to legalise and/or introduce software patents.

(And here comes my hobby-horse.) As it's utterly fundamental to what software is that software itself is a form of expression, that pieces of software are descriptions (descriptive, symbolic expressions), it's interesting to note what the European Convention on Human Rights (which is binding on all 25 members of the European Union) says in Articles 10, 17 and 18:-

Article 10 - Freedom of expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Article 17 - Prohibition of abuse of rights

Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the Convention.

Article 18 - Limitation on use of restrictions on rights

The restrictions permitted under this Convention to the said rights and freedoms shall not be applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed.

(Emphasis mine.)

I wonder what the European Court of Human Rights would make of the proposed Directive?...

FOSS IS political. It's just that the political establishment is out of touch and hasn't caught up.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Bruce Lehman
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 07:06 PM EST
let's not forget that prior to being assigned as Commissioner of the USPTO,
Bruce Lehman was a lobbist for the (say it softly) Business Software Alliance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

If you want to stop this:
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 07:38 PM EST
Start calling patents for what they are:

monopoly grants (patents)

Every one assumes a monopoly is bad, they have differing opinions on patents.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A proposal (Free Patent Foundation)
Authored by: RichardNeill on Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 09:28 PM EST
It occurs to me that we may need an alternative approach. I suggest that we
attempt to monkey-wrench the entire patent system (ideally not restricted to
software, although software is the best starting point), using a kind of League
of Nations approach.

We'd need a central reservoir of patents, all licensed such that they could be
used for co-operative defence. Eg if company C tries to sue developer D (for any
patent, valid or not, except when D originated the patent action), then any
member of the community (or D himself) could use the pool of patents to
countersue C. If the pool is big enough, then C would be very likely to infringe
upon one of them. Hopefully, we could make patent action infeasable in all
practical cases. It would also help if the GPL v.3 (for both redistribution and
usage) automatically terminated upon commencing patent action.

This would even help IBM, MS and Apple, who would also stand to benfit if the
patent system were rendered unusable. [It might not deal with trolls like Eolas

Overall, we as a community have more inventors, more time, more creativity and
more money than the various corporations. However, there is no easy way to
combine them. I propose that this would be the job of the "Free Patent
Foundation" aka FPF (unless someone has a better name!). Any inventor would
then be able to submit their idea to the FPF for patenting, and this means that
inventors/software authors do not have to waste time on legal matters, nor would
they have to fund the cost themselves.

Please tell me what you think...
Would this work?
Could it happen?
Are there any mistakes in my reasoning?
Who should do it?
Should I do it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Bribe, meet counterBribe
Authored by: Aim Here on Friday, March 18 2005 @ 07:09 AM EST
Some Finnish nutter has hit upon the idea of seeking pledges to cut the nonsense and bribe the Luxemburg presidency into stopping software patents. Okay, it's not likely to work in quite that fashion, but it might be a useful way of highlighting to the media how European democracy has been stitched up by corporate bri^H^H^Hlobbying.

For more information, and to pledge your bribe,(the French language section uses the charming name Corrupthon) see here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Slip, Sliding Away on Software Patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 18 2005 @ 09:07 AM EST
Well, kiddies, take a look at this decision, by the Technical Board of Appeal, on an appeal by, sad to say, IBM, in which the appeal board found a way to say that maybe computer programs can be patented after all, even under the current rules. It's found in the EPO's journal for October of 1999.

And for those of you who can't make sense of the legalese in this document, look at Software patents under the European Patent Convention which explains exactly how far patent attorneys can go.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Goes beyond???
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 18 2005 @ 12:42 PM EST
"... a technical effect which goes beyond the 'normal' physical
interactions between the program (software) and the computer (hardware) on which
it is run."

This is meaningless. It is perfectly normal for a computer program to control
external devices. The CRT, for example, is a device controlled by a computer
program (actually a large number of computer programs). The fact is that the
output of a CRT is controlled by a combination of simple mathematical rules.
From the cartesian coordinates used to map numbers to "pixels", all
the way to the timing used for the beam across and down the screen.

Without an external device, it is impossible for a program to have any effect
whatsoever. It'd be like an artist painting the air with an empty paintbrush.
You get no result.

Since the dawn of computing, the computer has required an input device, and and
output device. Whether the output device is for human interaction, or for
controlling a machine is irrelevant: the software is the same. A series of
mathematical ideas chained together to produce some kind of output.

So fine, patent the physical machinery; just leave the math alone!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not just software patents.
Authored by: Baldy on Friday, March 18 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST
If you think the effects of software patents are bad, just consider the effects of drug patents on third world countries. BBC Story.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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