On Sun, 11 Jul 2004, kevin lyda wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 11, 2004 at 06:25:32PM +0100, Paul Jakma wrote:
>> On Sun, 11 Jul 2004, kevin lyda wrote:
>>> none of those are patented.
>> Which says nothing of the argument against software patents.
>> actually, yes it does. my point is that the software industry has
> progressed quite well w/o patents.
Patent idealogues would say it would progress far better with
software patents and would perhaps point to fact that greatest
innovations to date have been public sector funded to show the need
How would Rivest, Shamir and Adelman have made their money without
being able to profit from their work by way of their patents? (they
did quite well out of patenting math/algorithmn..)
> um, yes it is.
>> patents exist as a tool for governments to encourage innovation.
> if innovation is already occuring in a field w/o patents, then the
> tool is not required.
See above, majority of software innovation to date has not been borne
out of private sector R&D. The internet, HTTP, email, etc, were all
funded by public sector, directly or indirectly. The only other major
software innovation, eg Unix (which obviously drew from what had gone
before), also did not arise from competitive private sector.
Surely this lack of private sector software innovation is precisely
why there *is* a need for software patents?
> the argument that pro-software patent people make is that software
> patents are required for innovation. that argument is demostrably
I'd agree, but I dont see it being something specific to software.
> uh, you're not getting the point. yes, a patent is a gov't granted
> monopoly. however it is granted with the goal of encouraging
Yes, obviously. That is the other side of the coin. It's a compromise
made for the greater social good.
> however the software field was already generating a huge amount of
> innovation before software patents even existed.
How much in the private sector though?
> uh, no. the link you point out has a few flaws. first, the
> credited inventor of the spreadsheet is not the person who got the
> patent - all the way back in 1961. second, visicalc came a while
> after that patent expired. i doubt visicalc's creator even knew
> about the patent.
Right, so? The original inventor didn't make use of his patent, so
when it expired, someone else did. If you invent something, knowledge
of or, more specifically, lack of knowledge of an existing applicable
patent has no bearing on the applicability of that existing patent.
"ah, but i didnt know of it" makes no difference :)
> they demonstrably have not been.
I'd agree actually. Or at least it needs reform.
> we coulf go into long, technical discussions as to why, however the
> request was for a letter describing the issue for a layman. the
> links already presented go into much further detail - and i suspect
> a few minutes into those links enda kenny's eyes would glaze over
> and he'd move onto more important issues.
But on the other hand, I doubt a politician will be convinced by
"software is different! cant patent it!", least not if they think
about it. Especially not when the arguments, as i stated before,
essentially are general anti-patent arguments. So I dont think those
kinds of arguments are worth making *at all*. (Colm Mc's point i
Stick to "The vast majority of the european software industry is
against them" and/or "the european software industry would be better
off without patents", and detail why without getting tangled in *any*
anti-patent arguments is what I'm suggesting.
The big business execs and the politicians and civil servants who
have MBAs have all had "Patents == innovation" drummed into them, I
dont think it'd be fruitful, for a short-term goal, to try use
arguments that fundamentally challenge that with such people (or
people advised by such people).
I'm not even sure what arguments actually would work.
>> That's an argument for state funding of innovation in software. Never
>> going to fly in the 1st world :). The whole point of patents is to
>> make investment in R&D attractive to the /private/ sector, and not
>> have to have state funding.
>> first all that funding WAS from the 1st world.
Indeed, and it will continue. However, the argument would be that
without software patents private sector "innovation" would not be
tenable, and public sector would be only way forward (as opposed to
both innovation being funded through _both_ private and public
sector, as in other industries).
> second i was describing the ways gov't has benefited the software
> industry in a positive way. i wasn't saying it should continue, i
> was merely pointing out that not all government interaction with
> the software industry is unwelcome - just software patents.
(though, I disagree simply because of the crappy state of the patent
system in general. If there were reform, I could agree with software
patents, eg if they had very short terms.)
> again, that's a recent phenomenon.
not that recent..
Paul Jakma paul at clubi.iepaul at jakma.org Key ID: 64A2FF6A
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