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

From: Barry Margolin
Subject: Re: The patent process [Was Re: Sharing the Family PC is Patent-Pending]
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 13:43:04 -0400
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.4 (PPC Mac OS X)

In article <FI7oc.362$wB.125@newsfe1-win>,
 "Barry Pearson" <> wrote:

> But I know, from decades in IT R&D, that similar investments can occur there
> too. And it applies to software as well as hardware. (Anyone who hasn't lived
> through it may not have a clue).

I agree.  The reason that software patents seem like such a problem is 
because the law is extremely general.  There's nothing in the patent 
system that says that you can only get a patent for something that costs 
alot to develop.  The majority of software development doesn't have the 
costs of the pharmaceutical or manufacturing industries, but the output 
of these processes are just as eligible for patents.  We have to worry 
about throwing out the baby with the bathwater if we totally disallow 
software patents.

But there also seems to be a problem with the patent examiners allowing 
many software patents for techniques that many of us would consider 
obvious.  For instance, in the early days of raster graphics, someone 
patented the technique of displaying a mouse cursor or rubber-band line 
using XOR, even though this was something just about every graphics 
programmer figured out how to do on their own (I remember "inventing" it 
when I was still in high school 25 years ago, fooling around with TRS-80 

Barry Margolin,
Arlington, MA

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