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Re: The patent process [Was Re: Sharing the Family PC is Patent-Pending]

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: The patent process [Was Re: Sharing the Family PC is Patent-Pending]
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 09:46:27 +0200

On Mon, 10 May 2004 21:29:40 -0700
AES/newspost <> wrote:

> It only *takes away* rights from *others* that these others 
> would have had, had the patent not been granted (including in particular
> their rights to use, make, sell, or exploit the same invention should 
> they themselves independently make exactly the same invention).

Actually, it takes away the rights of others to copy
the invention and use, sell or exploit it without
inventing it. In other words, make it far less attractive
for an original mind to invest in inventing and perfecting
While one can argue the fairness of the patent process
when it comes to different people having the same idea,
and perfecting the same "device" independently, there
is no doubt in my mind that making it possible to recoup
investments (after all, not all inventions become commercial
successes, so there still is a significant risk) is a good
thing. No-one wants to invest in bringing a new product to
the market to have it ripped off the moment it is a success.

The problems with software patents are:

1. There is no need to construct a prototype and
   perfect the device - most software patents concern
   rather trivial ideas, that take little time to code
   and don't require code, as the language of the
   patent is about as far from a computer language as
   possible. This reduces the value of the "disclosure"
   to zero.
2. The patent examiners aren't software professionals,
   and the patent verbiage makes it very difficult
   for software professionals to understand the purported
   invention. As a result, almost anything can be 
3. We're no longer dealing with individual inventors or
   small companies with limited resources, but with huge
   corporations that can afford frivolous litigation as
   a means of crushing emerging competition. 
4. As said above, the value of the disclosure is not 
   related to the advantages granted by the patent. Software
   patents should require the submission of working code, i.e.
   a complete, working system clearly demonstrating the 
   invention. The archaic and ridiculous language in which
   patents are cast should be abolished, as it offers too
   much power to patent attorneys, and makes it impossible
   for skilled programmers to understand the claims.

The patent system should not merely have been extended to
software, but revamped to take into account the specifics
of software. A naive idea, obviously, as it doesn't suit the
interests of those who leech off the system (government, patent
professionals, litigation departments of large corporates).

Take care,

"What is stated clearly conceives easily."  -- Inspired sales droid

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