[Linux-aus] Re: Fwd: Software patents
mpalmer at hezmatt.org
Fri Dec 23 08:22:02 UTC 2005
On Fri, Dec 23, 2005 at 10:05:59AM +1100, Andrew Donnellan wrote:
> On 12/23/05, Matthew Palmer <mpalmer at hezmatt.org> wrote:
> > On Thu, Dec 22, 2005 at 05:48:27PM +1100, Andrew Donnellan wrote:
> > > What do you all think of this?
> > >
> > > andrew
> > >
> > > On 12/20/05, Matt.Kraefft at ipaustralia.gov.au
> > > <Matt.Kraefft at ipaustralia.gov.au> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Hello Andrew
> > > >
> > > > Thank you for your enquiry by e:mail.
> > > >
> > > > The precedent we follow for computer software is that it be treated like any
> > > > method of operation. If the method produces a result which is artificially
> > > > created and is of use in a field of economic endeavour then we would say it
> > > > is patentable, subject of course to considerations of newness and inventive
> > > > step.
> > That's fine as far as it goes, except for a few things:
> > * Software invention is very low resource -- it requires less resources than
> > even the most low-tech backyard inventor (you can get access to computers
> > and the Internet for free, so you really only need a brain). Patents,
> > however, cost a pile. I can have the resources to create amazing things,
> > but have no hope whatsoever of getting a patent. So the patent powers go to
> > all of the big guys. This wouldn't be a problem except that the only patent
> > defences in common use appear to be Mutually Assured Destruction. Court
> > time is a no-hope.
> Inventing a new software idea
> * relatively smart person
> * a cheap $500 computer
> * internet access (optional but recommended).
Not even that.
* relatively smart person
* Free computer at the library
* internet access (free from the same library)
Sure, you probably can't work quite so effectively on the library computer
as on one of your very own, but I'd say it's practical to develop some
revolutionary new web application that way (free web hosting is simple to
get). In fact, there's a whole recipe for getting everything you need for
your startup for free:
> > * The use of patents in general (not just software patents) to essentially
> > destroy a market segment (ref: the rsync patents) is utter stupidity. There
> > should be a "use it or lose it" policy with regards to patents.
> A lot of companies R&D divisions patent a lot of things for the sake
> of patenting them, I think.
Oh, absolutely. "We might market this later", "the more patents we have,
the more 'value' we have", and "they'll be good defensively" would be common
reasons, I'd imagine. None of them are particularly helpful to society,
though, and the general concept of patents is that they're a bargain --
society grants a limited-time monopoly because it's in the general interest
to do so. So if society isn't getting an overall gain, then the patent
system isn't working.
> > > > For example, we would generally say source code itself is not patentable (it
> > > > properly belongs under copyright) because there is no demonstration of
> > > > economic utility in source code itself.
> > Uhm... WTF? I'd say that the economic utility of a concrete expression of
> > an idea (source code) is far greater than an abstract expression of that
> > same idea (a patent).
> Yes, except that source code is kept secret (proprietary source, that
> is), where as patents require full disclosure.
If the source code has no economic utility, then there would be no reason to
keep it secret...
New Yankee Workshop isn't a "how to" for home hobbyists, it's "Baywatch" for
-- Geoff Kinnel, ASR
More information about the linux-aus