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Re: Strawmen and Urban Legends

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: Strawmen and Urban Legends
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 11:03:00 +0100

On 27 Dec 2006 21:07:02 -0800 wrote:

> According to those anti-swpatent folks vocoder would be unpatentable
> today...

Overstating the case (like some of the anti-swpatent folk) doesn't

Of course, a device that peforms a particular function, like a
vocorder, can be patented even if it uses a DSP chip and software. You
patent the complete device, not its components. 

By considering a general purpose computer plus an algorithm a "device",
the typical "software patent" makes it impossible to use an algorithm
on any other computer. Some of these algorithms might be worthy of
patent protection (for example the RSA algorithm, which is neither
obvious nor trivial), but many patents have been granted for algorithms
that were obvious and trivial (like using XOR to flash a cursor).

Unless the patent offices manage to understand how writing software
works, we're better off with copyright protection. 

> Well, what do you want from people who write software like a poem?
> (but still don't understand what copyright is...)   :)

Most programmers don't write software like poems. It's written much
like one would "write" mathematical formulae. And quite clearly, we
would not have seen much progress in mathematics if patents would have
been granted on Newton-Raphson or FFTs. 

One of the problems is that a lot of people discoursing on software
patents don't know what software is. 

Stefaan A Eeckels
Ninety-Ninety Rule of Project Schedules:
        The first ninety percent of the task takes ninety percent of
the time, and the last ten percent takes the other ninety percent.

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