--On 20 March, 2005 13:30:55 +0000 Paul O'Malley <ompaul at eircom.net> wrote:
> Joseph Kiniry wrote:
> [big snip]
>>> primary factor in giving evidence to void a patent on the basis of
>> "obviousness" is the frequency of its use in existing software
>> systems. E.g., one would guess that every sprite-based video games of
>> the past 20 years uses the XOR method previously mentioned. This
>> means that FOSS developers, IMO, need not be aware of each and every
>> "obvious" patent because, unintentionally, their violation of said
>> patents *supports* the case against the patent in the first place.
>> Act 1 Scene 3
> [Scene opens to Paul getting into flame proof suit]
>> Hi Joe,
>> Perhaps you would be generous enough to allow me claim that it is
> innovative to extrapolate from the last couple of lines, that you, have
> proven, without intention that, the case for any patent is flawed. After
> all once solved any problem's solution is obvious. By extension given a
> smart enough person and the right tools the most efficient answer will be
> found. All that is really going on when problems are solved or new
> situations created is the marrying of not obvious partners, and that, I
> am happy to say is very obvious.
I strongly disagree with this statement. There even exists work that I
have done myself that is non-obvious (or even moderately difficult!) after
I have completed it.
I use what I call the "Game Show Criteria" to evaluate a patent: You give
me a description of the problem that need be solved in a problem domain in
which I am a domain expert. I then get 10 minutes to explain every
possible generic solution that I can think of. If I did not come up with
something that has moderate overlap with the claims of the patent, then it
is probably non-obvious.
Of course, my 10 minutes is usually 2-4 years for a USPTO reviewer...
> However I digress. If you do patent software, at what cost can one create
> such a patent, or on the other hand defend such a patent.
One can obtain a patent for what I consider a "reasonable" sum give the
bureaucracy involved. In my experience the intellectual effort and time
involved are worth far, far more than the patent application costs itself.
> Then there is
> the case, when you come up against the large company with thousands of
> patents you must cross licence, and have your 'protected' work taken from
> you to be used by others, what good the costs you have incurred now? At
> this point the question of how do you defend your innovation must come
> into focus sharply.
Are you a Philosophy major? :) I have to re-read your sentences a few
times to get their gist.
I do not cross-license my patents. I have either exclusively licensed them
or plan on making them freely available to everyone.
> From the above it seems we can reasonably suggest that software patents
> block progress after all that is what innovation is. Perhaps patents do
> it better than the supreme soviet ever could have wished to in the days
> of USSR.
Do you believe that patents block progress in fields other than software?
Thanks for these excellent discussions everyone!
Joseph R. Kiniry
Dept. of Computer Science, University College Dublin
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