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Speak Up On Software Patents And WIPO Rules 109

Jim Madison writes: "Today, the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is soliciting public comment in a Federal Register notice on the databases it uses to find prior art relevant to its examination of software-implemented business method patents. We've discussed this topic ad naseum, so here's an opportunity to make sure that policy-makers understand our perspective. Maybe slashdot mgmt. could even forward the top rated comments to them directly!"

And an unnamed reader points out that tomorrow is the due date for comments on the Interim Report of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, which "has some crazy suggestions such as reserving domains using pharmaceutical names and bolstering the claims of commercial entities against 'cybersquatters.'"

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Speak Up On Software Patents And WIPO Rules

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Are there any large repositories of Open Source work that are somewhat mature? I know the Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] has a lot of code, as do some of the linux distribution sites. I would think that these at least should be consulted.
  • From The US Constitution [loc.gov], Article I, Section 8:

    [Congress shall have the power] To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

    The current "life of the author (mind you, this now include corporations) plus 100+ years" for copyrights needs serious curtailing as this is not "limited" but for any human's life... eternity. And it's been extended AND EXTENDED RETROACTIVELY every time the first Mickey Mouse cartoons were about to expire copyright and become public domain.

    My solution?

    (1) Copyright is 20 years from the date of creation.
    (2) Copyright must belong to a person, not a corp. and must not be sellable or in any way transferrable.
    (3) Copyrights may be relinquished voluntarily.
    (4) Death of the author == instant relinquishment.

  • So cars and increased industrialization are the changes they dealt so well with back in 1910, eh? Do you really want computer tech and global corporations to be in a hundred years in the state that the auto industry and its factories are in today?

    "The issues haven't changed, the only thing that is different [..are the] mediums" -- The medium is the message. You can't change the medium so dramatically and expect all the same rules to apply.

    "Closed committees and closed courts need to be eliminated" -- sure, I agree.

    "Patents and copyright are GOOD things" -- I don't think so, and that conclusion does not follow even loosely from any of your arguments.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh great, another IP story!

    I can't wait until that really funny guy posts... you know, the one who always says "I have patented air and as a result you owe me all royalties.

    And then there's his friend, the one who laments the idiocy of the patent office and cites the Amazon 1-Click patent.
  • by sahai ( 102 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:23AM (#150539) Homepage
    There is a well established method for determining what is a truly novel and worthwhile contribution: peer review. The academic journals and conferences do it, and the basic principle is that the best people to evaluate a particular submission are those who actively do work in that area. It operates under the assumption that it is the professional responsibility of people to be willing to review and comment on the work of others. The right to do this could be guaranteed under law just like jury duty is protected from employers retaliation.

    If we must have a patent system, then it seems necessary that the patent applications be peer reviewed by real practicioners and academics in their fields and not just by the underpaid patent clerks at the PTO. They're not all Albert Einstein! :-) By having people who are truly skilled in the specific art evaluating the patent applications, it would be much less likely for truly obvious things to get blocked by trivial patents. The knowledge that the patent applications are going to be subjected to such strict scrutiny would probably be enough to discourage some of the most egregious attempts to patent obvious things. This would make the volume of applications much more manageable as well.

    Any additional costs imposed by this system could be recovered in the form of higher patent fees. At the current time, the US patent fees are a small fraction of the attorney fees that most of us have to pay to prepare the patent.
  • Douglas Adams didn't have live insurance?

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • First of all, not all of the dotcoms could be considered "boondoggles." Even the many that were don't really help your point. Where did those "boondoggles" get their money? That's right, from old VCs. Who's the bigger fool?

    Second, he's got a point about the people making decisions not having a good understanding of the technology they are making decisions about. They DO often believe what the lobbyists tell them. The lobbyists DO often lie. That is a problem. That's why his suggestion makes some sense.

  • There's a difference between software and source code. The code is speech. The program is math.

  • by Karpe ( 1147 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:49AM (#150543) Homepage
    Well, they requested public comment on the DMCA also [loc.gov], more than once [loc.gov], and did it work? We are dealing with too strong lobbies. Anyhow, if you are American, you better shout. Loud. This is a battle fought in every country. It only happens to be your time of action this time.
  • The same protection would be a copyright, not a patent.

    Please, Intellectual Property is a mythical beast: an amalgomation of extremely different kinds of rights granted by government.

    I understand the confusion though. I heard in a recent speech that IP is a business now! Perhaps changing the laws governing each of them would not be such a bad idea. Now is as good a time as any to renegotiate the deal that we (the public) made with grantees of such "properties".

  • Why?

    Copyright functions as a bribe to authors to publish creative works and have the potential to be able to license them to anyone you choose for compensation.

    As far as science has been able to determine, bribes are spectacularly ineffective in inducing the dead to publish creative works.

    You should help provide for your family with life insurance, with an actual estate, with pensions and saved funds that can go to them; you should not screw up the art world or deny the public who granted you the copyright in the first place their reward for their offer.
  • No, the payments of paychecks and the payments of copyrights are different.

    When you work for a paycheck, you are contractually agreed to be paid at certain intervals for the work you've done.

    The government makes no such guarantees about copyrights; you could spend your whole life making a piece of art and never get a dime for it. The government cannot compel there to be an audience for your work, or one that is willing to pay for it.

    What copyright is, is the guarantee that if someone does pay for the work, they'll be paying you, and not someone else. (unless you've done something to legally involve another of course) Again that is - if anyone cares to pay.

    But wait again! The government is specifically required to only make that guarantee on the condition that it promotes the arts and sciences. But your survivors were not artists (or if they were, they'd have their own copyrights) and helping them does nothing to cause you to do more work.

    Copyright is not only intended NOT to help anyone but the artist, or at least someone who has bought it off the artist, but is too much of a crap shoot to have your family rely upon anyway. If you're worried about them, get life insurance, and save your money, and try not to die. It works better for everyone.
  • Why not have something similar to RFP postings on the net?

    Somebody who believes that they deserve a patent should be able to approach the USPTO who will then post the patent application on the net for comment. This will be useful for exposing prior art issues.

  • Some here have suggested that patents should be peer-reviewed. I concur. They have further argued that those reviewing the patents should keep what they learn secret. I disagree.

    Here's why: obviously (who doesn't know this? :-) a patent is a grant of a (temporary) monopoly over a technology, business model, etc. That's quite a privilege to be handing someone -- monopolies can be and are often abused. So it follows, then, that someone who is seeking such a monopoly should have to risk something. I argue that they should risk the very thing they're attempting to patent. I argue that what they're attempting to patent should be disclosed to the public as a part of the patenting process.

    This will have two effects:
    1. Public peer-review of the patent will be essentially automatic. After all, the application is published for all the world to see as the initial part of the patent application process.
    2. Because of the risk involved (the loss of what could otherwise be a "trade secret"), the applicant will bother only with those things that he believes very strongly he'll be able to get a patent on, even in the face of strong peer review. Hence, patents that are applied for will rarely be trivial or obvious, for not only would such an application be scorned by the public but the applicant would have his reputation tarnished (how important this part is depends on the applicant, of course. Some people/companies simply wouldn't care, while others would).

    Will this cause many things that are currently being patented to instead be kept as trade secrets? Certainly. But I would say that such things should be trade secrets or, more appropriately, shouldn't be patented -- if it's obvious/trivial enough that it doesn't deserve a patent, then why should the patent office and the public waste their time looking at it in the context of a patent application? If it's that obvious/trivial, then someone else can implement it easily enough.

    As for those things that are deserving of a patent but which would instead be kept as trade secrets, I'd remind you that individuals/companies already have the option of keeping anything they invent a trade secret. The system I describe would simply move the line between "better to be kept trade secret" and "better to patent" towards the former. Right now, as I believe is obvious to most of us, the line is skewed very much towards "better to patent" and the end result is a multitude of frivolous patents.


    --
  • While we're patenting things, beware if your want to sell something. I now hold the patent on exchanging money for goods or services. Using money, instead of bartering, is here by decreed as a unique and non-obvious way of doing business.

    From now on all exchanges of money for goods/services owe me a 5% royalty. This includes filing taxes. Making said exchange via the internet is subject to a 10% royalty, because it is even less obvious than doing it in person.

    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:37AM (#150550)
    If you want to protect your family's financial interests in the event of your unexpected death, you should take out life insurance like everyone else, NOT look to the government to subsidize your family by granting them an unearned copyright monopoly at the public expense.

    I would disagree with (4) for a different reason however. If copyrights expired upon an author's death, this would provide an incentive for rival publishers, and targets of copyright infringement lawsuits to murder successful authors.
  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:48AM (#150551)
    Or, alternately, zero-click shopping. Here's how it works:

    Each item on the screen has a "buy it now" icon next to it. By moving the mouse pointer over the icon, you automatically purchase the item.

    The only drawback is that one must be very careful in moving the cursor around the screen.
  • Am I the only person who doesn't like the idea of some script kiddie going in and reserving every trademarked name as soon as the new TLDs arrive? "First come, first served" is a terrible way to run anything, because some punk kid gets everything in the first fifteen minutes and then ransoms them. Yeah, it's real funny when it's Microsoft or Verizon, but what if it was VA Linux?
    Please don't show you ignorance. Patents are very different from trademarks. The major simularities are the are called IP and they are both given on a first come first server basis just like domain name. The article is about Patents not trademarks and domain names. BTW intellegent Script kiddies trademark squat these days since the domain resolution system is almost aways in favor of the trademark holder.

    remeber Walmart-sucks--this-is-not-walmarkt.com is confusingly simular to walmart.com

  • [The law requires that a patent be granted for an invention unless ...]

    Isn't that a little bit like "guilty until proven innocent?" If so, it's certainly -- metaphorically speaking -- a violation of the *spirit* of the Constitution, which was, if I am not mistaken, to *limit* the power of the government.

    This little clause seems to go the other way, saying that the government (in the form of the Constitutionally established Patent office) *must* act, unless it can be shown that there is a reason for it *not* to.

    At what point did the government move from *allowing* patents to *requiring* them?

  • [Since all software is basically textual representation of numbers and mathmatical formulas, wouldn't software patents be equivalent of patenting Math so that nobody could use formulas without paying royalties?]

    You are confusing the map and the territory. Software is *not* just "textual representation of numbers and mathematical formulas*, it is the *action* which *operates utilizing* the numbers and the mathematical formulas. By your definition, "thinking" is equivalent to "sucking your thumb" since they both use the action of the brain to accomplish a task. Clearly, to both you and me, "internal cogitation" is not equal to "external thumb wetting". Unless you externalize what you are thinking (via voice, say), it *appears* that the external action (hardware) accomplishes something and the internal action (software) does not. Thus, by your definition, thumb-sucking would be patentable and thinking would not be. But, as humans, we know that the output of thought is *just as important* as the wetting of thumbs, so your idea does not hold as much water as your thumb might. 8^D

    Okay, I've just read what I wrote (mmm...reading...software...) and I guess it might be confusing if you can't make the telelogical distinction. Let me try another tack.

    Think of software as being a machine built out of information. So is a novel. But software is a *special kind* of a machine, because it acts and has a telelogical (er, "tool-using") effect in the world that the novel does not. All the novels in the world piled up one on top of the other are just a pile of unliving paper and cannot cause as much action as a tiny software machine that can take the input of "2+2" and give you back the output of "4". Do you see the difference?

    [This gets us around the 'software is patentable *because* it can be turned into hardware' argument. Unfortunately, this argument can also be used to justify the 'therefore DNA is patentable because it *does stuff*' argument. However, in my view, DNA is *specifically NOT patentable* because it is pre-existing in nature and hence represents Nature's prior art. The mere re-combination of pre-existing patterns does not, to my view, necessarily qualify as 'something new'. If that were so, someone would have already tried to patent "sex" -- and succeeded. But I digress...]

    So, to conclude, software, to the unknowing, simply looks like a stream of letters and numbers -- hence the idea that, since it may be an *original* stream, that it is *at least* free speech. But software is *special* in that it also, situated in the proper hardware context, can *do* things (i.e. achieve a telelogical result independent of its creator). I hope that I have made myself clear; to wit, used the telelogical function of language by combining pre-existing patterns to cause a meaningful result in your brain independent of myself -- *without* therefore asserting that I have a right to patent "language". Yes?

  • (2) Copyright must belong to a person, not a corp. and must not be sellable or in any way transferrable
    (4) Death of the author == instant relinquishment.


    This follows logically from point 2, but it could have unexpected consquences. e.g. A corp might decide that if they can't own a copyright then making it public domain, through murder, is an alternative.
  • Period. Without passing upon the merits of your solution, they are irrelevant to the question at hand. Entirely.

    The USPTO has no authority to change the term of the patents they issue. None. That is set forth in the Patent Act, and is not subject to interpretation by the USPTO.
  • Godwin's law, indeed. Remarks such as that --including the insistance that it is "legitimate" to suggest the USPTO compliance with the United States Patent Act somehow corresponds or can even be related to the Holocaust-- evidence the absence of seriousness with which some people treat the argument.

    Such offensive comments, and mindless adherence to a conclusion regardless of the merits, only lead to further marginalization of the anti-patent movement. You should be ashamed of yourself.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @01:08PM (#150558) Journal
    . . . any response to a request for comments about databases addressing the subject matter for patentability would be taken seriously at all?

    Look, the USPTO has absolutely no say at all as to the scope of patentable subject matter. None, nada bupkis. Zero.

    The United States Patent Act provides in Sections 101, 102 and 103 the criteria for patentability, and the USPTO has no authority to deviate from that. Not one inch. Nor are they given authority to interpret the statutes independently of the United States Judiciary.

    The only time they deviated from statutory requirements recently, regarding examination of means plus function language, the Commissioner had his a** handed to him in an unequivocal swat on the derriere.

    So, give these guys a break. They don't decide whether or not to examine software patents -- their only rule they applied (it was a no software patent rule!) was held improper in the Supreme Court case of Diamond v. Diehr.

    The Supreme Court and Federal Circuit have spoken, and theirs is the authoritative decision. The only way they can be overruled is by an act of Congress.

    So leave these poor bureaucrats alone. Your remarks about the propriety of granting software patents will AND SHOULD fall on deaf ears there.

    On the other hand, if you were inclined to do something usful or constructive, you could help them out by proposing decent databases from which to examine present applications, and thereby improving the quality of examination.
  • I'd be willing to bet that your opinion and mine differ greatly.

    Not true. I agree with you 100% :-)

  • Professors and students from separate Universities would be less biased then having hordes of corporate drones come up with a solution. Sure you will find many people who are biased, but I would rather see a slew of business, ethics, and legal students and Professors resolve this problem than a slew of IBM, MickeySoft, Sun employees.

  • The answer to that is relatively old, at least with respect to chemicals. Just because something would be interesting to study, does not make it patentable. I would expect the patent office to adhere to that answer until forcibly dislodged.


    There have been many patents that have passed on these notions as it stands. My argument would be to keep that in place for those who have ideas, but those who possibly don't have the resources to test it, nor the current need to test it.

    Why should big corporations solely be allowed to hold a patent if they have the resources to show proof of a concept, but say the little person @ home with an idea, be restricted because he cannot show `just cause' for his patent?

    Patents, remember were designed to provide a framework to continually go forward in technology, not something you one creates for the sake of placing their arms around it and stating "Give me one million dollars for my idea or I'll sue."
  • by joq ( 63625 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:10AM (#150562) Homepage Journal
    The law requires that a patent be granted for an invention unless USPTO can establish, typically based on prior art references, that the invention is not new or that it is obvious when viewed in the context of what is already known in the technology. Additionally, the invention must have a concrete, tangible and useful result, and how to make and use the invention must be disclosed.

    What if someone were to discover something they thought would be relative towards future improvements in technology, would they be denied a patent should they not be able to demonstrate its use?

    Sorry to say but I see the office is doing one of a few things, 1) trying to avoid doing the proper jobs they're already paid to do 2) looking to pass blame should they be criticized for something in the future. Could be they just don't understand technology enough, and with all the crappy patent suits around their looking around for an answer which could be a bad reason, for reasons following.

    Suppose programmers at IBM set out to comment on things which would typically affect the scale to IBM's interest. Wouldn't be fair now would it. Or if it were Microsoft or someone other company, contractor. Personally I think what they should do is have an educational institution of Professors, and students come up with a resolution to their problems, on both the technological side of things, as well as a legal aspect of it to avoid future scrutiny.

    Leaving it up to the community in my eyes is a bad idea, since humans being humans will generally tend to have biased views whether they realize it or not.
  • The only property worthy of the name is tangible property. If you cannot put a fence around it or put chains on it or lock it up in some manner, it does not belong to you. Once it is released to the world, it belongs to nobody or to everybody. There are tens of millions of copies of Windows and MS Office being used freely around the world right now and there isn't a damn thing Microsoft can do about it. The Brazillian goverment in now using patented AIDS drugs to help AIDS victims without sending a cent to the patent holders. Information (ideas, music, software, formulas, inventions, writings, etc...) wants to be free and will be free. There is no stopping it.

    IP owners must rely on powerful police states to force people to comply. Only big-brother type governments can enforce them. The only way to defeat IP laws is to copy it all, download it all and use it all for free! I especially recommend that all third world nations completely and immediately disregard all intellectual property laws that have kept them enslaved to the first world. We are one world sharing one planet. Let us share a little with our brothers and sisters. Let us stop being so damn selfish for just a little while.

    You may ask, "what are artists, inventors and programmers going to do for a living?" My answer is that the system must be changed. What is everybody going to do when AI and advanced robotics replace everybody? We need a system based, not on labor, but on everybody being guaranteed an inheritance in the earth, a piece of the pie, an estate if you will. What we do with our piece is up to us. Such a system would ensure a totally free market, the way it was supposed to be. No more slavery, no more sucking up to those who exploit us. Real freedom!

    Demand Liberty! Nothing less!
  • Not sure how you don't understand?
    Here's an easy analogy:
    When was the last time an author's book was protected under Free Speech? That's right, they all are.
    How about the last time an author's novel was patented ... Bingo.

    -Mith

    --
  • I'm not so sure this is in earnest - I'm under the impression that the government stopped caring about patents a long time ago.

    However, if they ARE going to be accepting public input on prior art, this is absolutely wonderful. Finally, a weapon against Stupid Patents©.

    What possibilities for abuse are here, though? Could someone not forge prior art to debunk a legitimate patent? Especially with the digital, things get a little slippery there.
  • Nonono...you've got it wrong. You need to be suing the people who patent Stupid Patents© - I haven't patented anything that I know of.

    Besides, I'm sure I can find prior art on your Stupid Patent©...not that it'll make any difference.
  • The public. Give the public one week to find prior art before awarding the patent. Since it takes months to years to get a patent you don't really have to worry about anyone stealing your idea.

    If they're doing this already then I'll be damned - I can't find anything on their website that lets me review patents about to be granted.

  • The problem is not that there is a lack of understanding about technology or the internet, but rather a lack of a system that is effective in consulting experts in whatever field is necessary. If you bring in experts for internet-related matters, you leave out experts in chemistry, physics, engineers, the medical field, biology, etc. As science advances, we need to have a system in place that embraces these new developments as they come out, not after they have wreaked complete havoc on our processes with their archaic way of dealing with the relics of the past.
  • Where the hell do you get off getting into domain issues. So if you go to a supermarket for a can of food you shouldn't be able to purchase it before someone else because someone says so? Discrimination asshole. Now on point with the relevant post script kiddies have nothing to do with patents jackass so post something relevant other than some jackassedly biased crock'o'shit'o'matic opinion

    Oh, I'm sorry. Did I hit are a nerve? Are you one of those script kiddies? It is descrimination, and that's a good thing.

    If you don't think it is, why don't you try posting something a little more convincing than all caps and a demonstration of how the majority of your vocabulary contains four letters.

  • by zpengo ( 99887 )
    This from the only guy whose web site is more outdated than Linus's
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:07AM (#150571) Homepage
    We've discussed this topic ad naseum, so here's an opportunity to make sure that policy-makers understand our perspective.

    What exactly is "our" perspective? I'd be willing to bet that your opinion and mine differ greatly.

    has some crazy suggestions such as reserving domains using pharmaceutical names and bolstering the claims of commercial entities against 'cybersquatters.

    Am I the only person who doesn't like the idea of some script kiddie going in and reserving every trademarked name as soon as the new TLDs arrive? "First come, first served" is a terrible way to run anything, because some punk kid gets everything in the first fifteen minutes and then ransoms them. Yeah, it's real funny when it's Microsoft or Verizon, but what if it was VA Linux?

  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:10AM (#150572) Homepage
    Nice to see the USPTO making an effort to improve things. I for one will be submitting my comments ASAP. Here's hoping they will a) listen and b) take proactive steps to improve a process we all know is broken.

    I demand that you stop using the word "proactive".

  • The consensus on Slashdot is that patents are evil tools of corporate greed

    The only consensus I've ever seen on slashdot is that we can't agree on anything. Try it at home: get 10,000 people in a room and try to find something they all agree on.


    You know how dumb the average guy is? Well, by definition, half of them are even dumber than THAT.
  • I believe it is earnest, but that we're missing the point. They're calling for comments on their source for prior art of business method, when the real problem is the _very idea_ of a business method patent. Any comment made in response to the call that was on-topic would not adress the real issue: Business Method Patents are an anathema. cheers, ric
  • It looks like the PTO is actually giving us an opportunity to act rather than just making disapproval noises!

    Do we have a open source project registry the USPTO can use when doing scans for prior art for software and business patents? Such a registry should list (a) the goals of the project, (b) relevant dates, (c) related technologies, (d) techniques used, and (e) business processes which the software automates. If the registry contained an extensive cross-references to other projects, and yes, other patents (by number) it would be even more valueable to the PTO.

    In short, if we want to do our part to stop stupid patents... we should be helping the PTO along... no? Otherwise we should just keep quiet and deal with the results.

  • If we don't have easy access to the DB, how are we gonna find out how many clicks we need to require for a customer to buy something. I know one click is too few, but if I can't access the database how do I know if two is OK?

    ---

  • Personally, I prefer the term 'synergy'
  • "The real comment I think everybody has is: Software should not be patentable. "

    The real comment I think everybody has is:
    different than your real comment.

    Lets not make big heterogenous lumps of everybody just because they read /. We do have our own opinions.
  • by ClubStew ( 113954 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:08AM (#150579)

    It's clear that any government office in the US is managed by older men and women, most of which probably don't know much more than how to turn a computer on and get email. These are the people making decisions that affect us technologically savvy people and our jobs. Lobbyists tell them what they want to know, and as we've seen with RIAA and other large groups, they get their way even if they're not telling the truth.

    What the government needs, including USPTO, is people that specifically deal with technology - people that understand this stuff like many of the fine people that use Slashdot everyday. We can't know everything about all the patents for technology, but we might have better insight as where to start.

    I've only used the USPTO databases (rather, the public accessible databases) a few times - just for curiosity's sake - but I know that the information dealing with technology can be gotten. You just have to know what you're looking for. Joe Smith who uses AOL might not understand the technology behind the patent pending technology, so he's not going to know where to start. Now, CowboyNeal sees the technology and investigates it further (or perhaps already knows about it because of the fast-paced Slashdot News service) and know exactly (or close to) where to start looking.

    This isn't a be-all, end-all solution, but it's something the government definitely needs to think about as a whole. We need people that understand technology making policy on technology lest we patent and put a stop to everything technological so that no one can innovate ideas based on current innovations or use technology to better this world (like multilingual DNS [slashdot.org]).

  • The answer to that is relatively old, at least with respect to chemicals. Just because something would be interesting to study, does not make it patentable. I would expect the patent office to adhere to that answer until forcibly dislodged.

    Something needs to be actually useful, not just potentially useful.

  • Please don't confuse "useful" with "made it." You can get a patent on something that has never been made if you can explain how to make and use it such that ordinary people in the field have the benefit of the invention.

    The idea of usefulness in patent law is darn minimal. For a chemical, it can't be "if you make a brick of it, it can be a doorstop", but if you know your chemical discovery could 1) be a great research opportunity, and 2) used as kitty litter, you can patent it as the second and not the first, even if it did cost $10,000 an ounce to make. (Note: you can patent the chemical qua chemical for all applications as long as you provide ONE utility.)

  • I just ran across this story [law.com], which pretty much lays out the debate in the biotech area.
  • by StevenMaurer ( 115071 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:25AM (#150583) Homepage

    Having a combined 10 patents and patents pending, I think I have some perspective on this.

    The best change to the prior-art system would be to open up potential patents for examination by the public before they are granted, and give some limited public comment time for identification of prior art in the public domain. (Please note, prior art not in the public domain is a whole different kettle of fish, I won't go into here.)

    That said, such a change in the system would certainly exceed the authority of the USPO to do on its own. It would have to be done as an act of Congress.

    Within the limited scope of just database management issues, I think the USPO could reasonably argue that Web Search Engines are extremely useful in finding prior art, and that at the very least, these should be consulted prior to issuing any patent.

    There are actually a host of other data gathering mechanisms that aren't http based that the USPO could also use as data sources for prior art. I think these could be adopted within the normal bounds of federal administrative guidelines.

  • the Patent Office be given access to a group of technologically-savvy individuals who could aid them in making decisions.

    Hell yeah. Like how all my supervisors are always asking my opinion on hardware and machinery before they buy expensive things that they're going to ask me to make work.

    Oh, wait. They never ask me. Well, poop.
    ------------------------------------------- -------
  • I havent read the RFC, and am not addressing the merits of this, but I was an examiner in the PTO starting in 1973. As indicated, software patent applications had been routinely rejected as not patentable subject matter under 35 USC 101 for years. One applicant, Benson, appealed the PTO's Board of Appeals Affirmance of the Examiner's rejection to the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (who's jurisdiction was assumed by the then newly created Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit around 1981). It was the CCPA, and successor CAFC that has been the driving force to change this position of the PTO, and they reversed the PTO's rejection. Now, the PTO convinced the Justice department to Appeal the CCPA reversal, a relatively rare occurance. The Supremes took the case, and reversed the CCPA, thus upholding the PTO's rejection.

    The CCPA was not to be defeated; they looked at US vs. Benson as narrowly as possible, and , when several successive cases arose, they reversed the office almost every time this issue came up. There was no way that the PTO would be allowed to take every case up to the Supremes, and a much slimmer chance that the Supremes wanted to revisit Benson, so, case by case, Benson was whittled away. When the governing authority says you lose, you lose. So, the PTO just bent over and took it.

    The only way to change this is by changing the law, i. e. Congress. Got cash? A lotta cash?

    Of course, given that the current state of US patent law favors software patents as patentable subject matter the software still must comply with the anticipation issues under 35 USC 102 and obviousness under 35 USC 103, and my comment does not address this.
  • I can't wait until that really funny guy posts...And then there's his friend, the one who laments the idiocy of the patent office and cites the Amazon 1-Click patent.

    The funniest thing about this comment is the very next comment jokes about one-click. Man, we are geting too predictable! =)

  • Most hardware shouldn't be patentable either.

    It's the "obvious" principle that gets me. Take a class of grad students in the appropriate field, describe to them the problem, and let them work on it a day. They'll come back with one main solution, two or three lesser ones, and a couple off the wall. The one main solution and two or three lesser solutions qualify as "obvious" and shouldn't be patentable. We've all seen cases where such solutions were patented anyhow.

  • Several years ago at a previous job I had to go to a law conference given by a big firm in downtown Chicago that was getting into the internet law business.

    There was some discussion about the patentability of software - at the time (1995?) software patents weren't easy to come by. (At least that's what it seemed like - I was the only non-lawyer there, and I'm still a programmer.)

    The argument posited by a young attorney there basically was as follows:
    Software is basically programmable hardware - i.e., anything that is stored as software could have also been burned directly into the circuitry of a computer. Circuitry and computer hardware -is- patentable; hence, any person that wanted to patent software could in principle place it into the circuitry in the hardware. The fact that a program is stored on magnetic disks is simply a convenience for updating the software.

    So his argument basically came down to the notion that if you could patent hardware that did the same thing as software, patenting software makes sense for everyone.

    Interestingly, noone at the conference had any questions after his presentation. I don't think anyone had even considered the ramifications of what he was talking about - or even cared back then.

    I'd be interested in counterarguments to this line of reasoning . . .

  • The law requires that a patent be granted for an invention unless USPTO can establish, typically based on prior art references, that the invention is not new or that it is obvious when viewed in the context of what is already known in the technology.

    Ok..so here we have one of the big problems: who gets to define what the above bolded phrase means?

    They are looking for prior art sources for business method patents with the above stipulations; however, things that those of us here on /., as well as academicians and others, might consider _painfully_ "obvious when viewed in the context of what is already known in the technology" might not be considered obvious by either the Patent Monkey(tm) that decides on whether the patent should be granted or the politicians that draft the song for the hurly burly that the PM dances to.

    Additionally, the invention must have a concrete, tangible and useful result, and how to make and use the invention must be disclosed.

    This is pretty much along the same lines. I'm not sure how a PM can make a determination about the usefulness of a "one-click"-like "invention" (BTW, I've come up with a one-fart online shopping system where controlled percussive explosions from the rectum are used to activate an onscreen goods transaction service....where's my patent? This is perfect for shoppers who just can't let all that bathroom time go to waste). It's hard enough for the marketplace to do make those evaluations with the speed of change these days. What about all the crap the failed plopcoms may have patented that turned out to be unviable? Does that mean that the patent office was in error in granting patents for those "inventions"? And we've all seen how "clear" some of these companies make the section in the applications about "how to make and use the invention" which pretty much gives them a King Kong-sized (sorry about all the monkey references) umbrella under which to sue others for infringement.

    Wouldn't some sort of distributed peer review process be a much more sane way for "software-implemented business method patents" to be scrutinized, rather than a database entry and a PM with a typewriter?

    Luckily, the inevitable Technology Assessment Committee(tm) (read: lobbyist super-party-disco-fun-time(also tm)) that the politicians will put together to decide on these issues will straighten eveything out for us.
  • The consensus on Slashdot is that patents are evil tools of corporate greed ...

    I'm not quite sure where you've drawn THAT consensus from. I think the consensus here would be that *SOFTWARE*, *ALGORITHM*, and *BUSINESS MODEL* patents are evil tools of corporate greed.

    If you wanna patent your shiny new universal threshing machine, be my guest. I think most people here would agree with your statement that patents are a good thing - we just need to apply some common sense to the patent process.

    Oh, and BTW, I have to agree with the fellow that you berated as "completely ignorant". I think he has a point. He's not asking that young, boondoggling dot-commers make up his proposed government task force -- he's simply asking that the Patent Office be given access to a group of technologically-savvy individuals who could aid them in making decisions.

  • I thought I read these words [slashdot.org] once before on /.

    You know, if you're going to simply cut and paste your previous rants, you might at least use some cute fake html tags.

    But, nitpicking aside, you're "Intelectual Property is bunk" position still fails to address the obvious question of what will motivate organisations such as drug companies to develop new treatments if they cannot recover costs, let alone make a profit.

    And as someone said before "Since you can't put a fence around your bank balance, does that mean that I can have it?"

    Man I hope I didn't just waste my time feeding a troll...

  • You should help provide for your family with life insurance, with an actual estate, with pensions and saved funds that can go to them

    So if you were to die today would you expect your family to recieve you last paycheck? The work was done therefore there should be some replayment.
    I do agree that the lenght of time on a copyright need not be so long. I think that 10 - 20 years is more than ample.

    MG

  • What copyright is, is the guarantee that if someone does pay for the work, they'll be paying you, and not someone else. (unless you've done something to legally involve another of course) Again that is - if anyone cares to pay.
    Well I'm going to assume that you know more about copyright than I do. And yes I understand that copyright doesn't guarantee the payment. However, if people are still willing to pay for the work then I would think that the artist or his family should benift from it.
    Example. My brother has recently published a book. He has no intention of supporting his family with this writing. But on the other hand if he was to die tomorow I would hope that the profits made by the sale of his book and the use of his work would be reimbursed. Yes the copy right should expire. No I don't know how long that should be. Personaly I think that is something that is hard to decide. I for one am not willing to say that people should no longer have to pay for your years of work after X number of years. But thats just me.

    MG

  • (4) Death of the author == instant relinquishment
    I would have to disagree with this part. If I publish a book and then die the next day, my family should benifit from the work I did...

    MG

  • "Maybe slashdot mgmt. could even forward the top rated comments to them directly!"

    Submit all the +5 Funny comments, I can see it now. I'm sure that's likely to spawn a senate oversight committee. How come I can't rate the stories too? Just the comments... :)

    ---
  • by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @12:11PM (#150596)

    Okay, I'm generally pretty cynical, but there was a UK request for comments six or so months ago. I spent a few minutes filling out thier questionaire and, eventually, their patent office issued their official recomendation and my name was on the list of contributers. Pretty cool.

    Of course, there are differences.

    • That was on the question of software business patents as a whole not just comments on the database for searching those patents.
    • The UK version actually had a web form where you entered you opinions and received a confirmation. (Obviously, it could have been bogus, but at least you didin't get the impression that some clerk tossed it in file 13 because you didn't write your comments on a lobbiest's letterhead.)

    I guess if I get around to commenting on this I'd push for a database that allowed the very least amound of flexibility in how a business method patent could be interpreted. In other words, don't let companies fish for related applications for thier (IMHO) bogus business applications.

    Second, make sure that the database links to whatever databases already exist in the patent office so that any application that comes through that is basically a copy of some "real world" patent but has the words "computer, internet, wireless, or web" attached to it is immediatly tossed out the window.

  • I think the consensus here would be that *SOFTWARE*, *ALGORITHM*, and *BUSINESS MODEL* patents are evil tools of corporate greed.

    If you wanna patent your shiny new universal threshing machine, be my guest.

    But what if this threshing machine is just like any other threshing machine, except for a nifty little software algorithm control system that makes it far better than anyone else's threshing machine? I've done algorithm development for industrial equipment before, and there was nothing unique about the equipment used or the objective of the device - the key advance was in the algorithms. In fact, in many hardware patents, I would guess that there is a significant amount of algorithm description involved, since it's not what chips you use that matters, but what you do with them. Not all "software" patents are without merit, some are just the result of the logical progression of technology from hardware-based to software-based.

  • For heavens sake slashdot make up your mind! I cant count the number of times that it has been repeated again and again that code is artistic expression. Slashdot insists that it is Free Speech and should not be restricted (ie DECSS). Now that it is convenient for Code to be "fancy math" with just the whim of a moderator or to Code turns into "fancy math". So which is it slashdot: Math or Free Speech?
  • "The code is speech. The program is math."

    I would think it is just the opposite.

    The code is just algorithms (math) but the program is the art (speech). Take DECSS, the code is just an algorithm but the program is making a statemnet hence it is speach.

  • Finally, a weapon against Stupid Patents©.

    I own the patent on Stupid Patents©. You should be hearing from my lawyer by morning...

    -----
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @12:03PM (#150601)
    Please shut up, since you are completely ignorant.

    Advances in technology are nothing new. As amazing as computers are, there were far more societal changes between 1880 and 1920 than 1960-2000. Do you think leaders in 1910 fully understood the implications of increased industrialization and new technology like telephones and cars??

    Young people with no experience and little sense are not in charge of things for a reason (witness the dotcom boondoggles) Not understanding how to operate a computer or code a website does not mean you are an idiot.

    The issues behind intellectualy property have very little to do with technology and very much to do with power and influence.

    Piracy of movies, books, academic papers have been around since these mediums came into existance. The consensus on Slashdot is that patents are evil tools of corporate greed; but patents were put in place long before the notion of a corporation even existed in western society. The issues haven't changed, the only thing that is different is that the speed and storage capacity is greater than most other mediums.

    The only way to assure that the rights of society as a whole are protected is to shine the light of truth on all aspects of lawmaking. All interactions between lobbyists and lawmakers should be published on some permament medium. Closed committees and closed courts need to be eliminated from society.

    Patents and copyright are GOOD things, as long as the influence of big money is reduced through legislative action.

  • Since all software is basically textual representation of numbers and mathmatical formulas, wouldn't software patents be equivalent of patenting Math so that nobody could use formulas without paying royalties?

    Just thinking outloud again.
  • I'm sitting next to that guy actually... He's still waiting for his check(s).
  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:49AM (#150604) Journal
    Maybe CmdrTaco, Roblimo, Jamie (or some other editor) would like to do something like the following:

    Add a Update to this posting and invite the following:

    Users can submit a comment, as AC or under there normal account, with a Subject of "petition"

    Then each user adds there comments they wish to be included.

    Each user signs his/her name && address (city/province/country would suffice). Possibly including some credentials (education/experience/knowledge/position-at-work)

    Then our faithful editors will do a "select body from comments where topic = '%this_story%" and subject = 'petition'" (or somesuch). Our Editor friends can then print out these comments, collectively write a thesis outlining the major points against the USPTO land grab, a description of Slashdot (its purpose/history/reputation/etc). Append our 'petition' comments and fire it off to the USPTO..

    I know were not supposed to take this site too seriously, but all 'preaching to the choir' that goes on here I believe is not very productive. This could be an opportunity for Slashdot's forums to actually try and amount to something - other than our amusement. Not everyone will take the time to write a major article and mail it to the USPTO - we know that... but based on the responses that this article will likely illicit, maybe we can get the Slashdot editors to agree to do something constructive on our behalf...

    I will reply to this message below as an example to be included.

  • I think that was his point. If you consider programs to be expression under "Free Speech", then you've got to give it the same protection, that is, a patent.
    Honestly, if I spend a small fortune and a lot of time developing some software, why can't I have it protected? Should I be forced to be charitable? If so, why shouldn't all IP be removed, so that I can steal anyone's work?
  • Well, give them copyrights then! It's pretty similar IIRC anyway, apart from some differences with the actual workings and durations. The point is, if I put in a lot of effort, I should have the rights to the gains.
  • by Exedore ( 223159 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:31AM (#150607)

    I just had a great idea. I'm going to patent "1/2-click shopping". Here's how it works:

    Next to the book, CD, erotic video, or marital aid the customer wants to buy, there will be a "buy it now, damn you!" button. When the user clicks the icon, the Javascript on the page will use the onMouseDown event to submit the form, instead of onClick.

    Suck on that, Jeff Bozos!

  • Personally I think what they should do is have an educational institution of Professors, and students come up with a resolution to their problems, on both the technological side of things, as well as a legal aspect of it to avoid future scrutiny.

    when i read this i think that you have made an implicit assumption, namely that professors and students are unbiased. this is simply not true. there is a well-known bias typical(though certainly not universal) to colleges in general. namely that they are hotbeds of liberal thought and generally anti-corporate. mind you i don't believe that this is necessarily bad but perhaps we might be better served by balancing this with some corporate types and some conservative types. the best solutions usually come after vigorous debate where all sides can present their views. the left is just as capable of making mistakes as the right and any mistakes can be costly.

  • I'm under the impression that the government stopped caring about patents a long time ago.

    You bet your ass they care about the PTO! It's one of the few governemnt offices that generates it's own profits through fees accrued from patent prosecution. 75% of those fees are taken by the Govenrment for other things. That's half the reason the PTO is in the straits it's in because they could be using that money to get more and better educated examiners, but it's funnelled into other programs by the Powers-That-Be (TM).

    The other reason the PTO is so backward on software patents is because to be an Examiner, you have to have a degree in one or more of a range of 30-something "hard sciences". Computer Engineering qualifies. Computer Programming does not which means they have very (if any) few people who know anything about programming examining patents.

  • "Speak Up On Software Patents And WIPO Rules"

    Now we'll finally get to find out what the Slashdot community think about these issues! I swear, I've been around here for over a couple of years and nobody seems willing to put forward an opinion on either. About time, editors!

    (Here endeth the sarcasm...)

  • It *is* equivalent to patenting mathematical formula, and in fact you can patent math.

    Somewhere between the RSA encryption algorithm, an extremely complex application of prime number factoring, and "One Click", a painfully obvious way of setting up an online shop, there has to be a line we can draw, that can be clear to someone who isn't an expert (since the USPTO has few software or math experts).

    --Dave Rickey

  • If the USPTO improved their research capability with regard to prior art, what would all those IP lawyers do with all the free time they'll suddenly have? Once all this input is hathered by the USPTO, and they make recommendations to improve their system, they'll draft a budget with a line item for making the recommended improvements. Mark My words, Lobyists for the IP Lawyers will be out in force trying to get the budget cut, vecause after all, if they could do adequite research into Prior Art, The current torrent of IP lawsuits will be reduced to a trickle. What ever would the lawyers to with themselves?

    Here's hopeing they jump out of a top floor window.

    --CTH


    ---
  • Your "Intellectual Property is bunk" position still fails to address the obvious question of what will motivate organisations such as drug companies to develop new treatments if they cannot recover costs, let alone make a profit.

    Yep. It's strange to me to see people sweeping aside the fact that patents are meant to foster innovation, and that they have been quite effective at doing that. It takes money to do research, and it takes research to create inventions. In a capitalistic system, the primary incentive for research funding is the prospect of making money from inventions. Without some way of protecting the intellectual property, there is no longer any economic incentive to do research, and innovation declines.

    To quote the US Constitution, Article I, Section 8:

    The Congress shall have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    It made sense then and it makes just as much sense now. Except, apparently, on /.

    Tim

  • by RareHeintz ( 244414 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @10:58AM (#150614) Homepage Journal
    ...I honestly wish that I thought that commenting would do any good. I really do.

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • Right after that someone will say "I have a patent to stupid patents".

  • Nice to see the USPTO making an effort to improve things. I for one will be submitting my comments ASAP. Here's hoping they will a) listen and b) take proactive steps to improve a process we all know is broken.
  • by baptiste ( 256004 ) <.su.etsitpab. .ta. .ekim.> on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:43AM (#150617) Homepage Journal
    Yeah well, I used to be a manager. Operative word being used to. Its hard to break the buzzword habit.

    I guess I need to turn up the voltage.

    Bzzzzz I will not use buzzwords Bzzzzt

  • I agree completely. The FAA has aeronautical engineers (they can't be cheap) review aircraft safety. Why can't the USPTO have network and software engineers review patents (that potentially affect the livelihood of millions of people)? Because of COSTS? Come on people...

    As far as charging more for patent applications, that doesn't work. It crowds out the small entrepreneurs and inventors. I would rather see a system where the patent office will receive like 1% of sales of the protected item. That way, if the thing never makes money, then it'll be cheap, but if it makes a lot of money (1-click comes to mind) then the patent office will be awash in cash.

  • Yah, unfortunately you're sooo right...

    Long live America (I mean it, not just sarcastically)
  • Why not both?

    Software is math in the sense that you give it input (which at its heart is numeric) and it gives you some output (which is also numeric). Much in the same way that formulas and equations work in math. Note that I'm limiting the software to single algorithms here, which are what you'd try to patent. These single algorithms can be combined to create more complex systems (eg. games, word processors, etc.). In math, your single equations can be combined into much more complex systems of equations.

    Software becomes speech when is expressive rather than simply functional. This is really difficult to judge though. In my opinion, if it is just functional, it should be protected in the way that math is. In this sense, you could ban DeCSS. It isn't really expressing an idea, just running an decryption algorithm. So it isn't really speech. But a program that used some AI programming to create unique anti-government cartoons. While the government wouldn't like this very much, it would be much more likely to be protected under free speech.

    In the end, you can't really create laws that'll accurately apply to all examples of software. It involves the intent of the programmer and the purpose of the program.

  • Remember the Constitution by itself does not determine the way the US court system works. Instead, courts are intended to interpret the law. They allow us to make case by case decisions. So the right to freedom of speech has various degrees of strength depending on the exact situation involved. (I agree with what you're saying about protection of information. I'm just clarifying what the courts think)

    To quote the attorney that Slashdot interviewed recently:

    The amount of protection given particular speech depends upon it's content. While some speech can easily be categorized as political, commercial, verbal acts or otherwise, First Amendment analysis often looks at the speech's expressiveness as opposed to its functionality to determine the corresponding level of protection. Purely expressive speech regarding public affairs, politics and government (think "F--- the draft!" on the back of a jacket worn by an individual with no intent to cause imminent lawlessness) gets heightened First Amendment protection, while purely functional speech (think "Do you have any drugs?" to an undercover police officer or "I accept" to a party which has offered a contract) gets little First Amendment protection. This leaves speech which is both expressive and functional, such as commercial speech (think "Eat at Joe's!"), lying somewhere in the middle. Further, indecent speech (think adult porn) gets very little protection while obscene speech (think child porn) gets no protection whatsoever.

    Since source code is by its nature functional, it seems unlikely that any court would ever find that it is purely expressive. However, the courts which have addressed the issue have concluded that source code can also be expressive. In fact, in 1999 a federal court in California wrote, "While source code can be easily compiled into object code by a user, ignoring the distinction between source and object code obscures the important fact that source code is not meant solely for the computer, but is rather written in a language intended also for human analysis and understanding." Therefore, there is no universal answer to the question of how much First Amendment protection applies to source code. Rather, the issue depends in part on the particular expressive versus functional nature of the source code in question.

  • What kind of revenue stream would you generate for yourself from yourself as a result of being awarded this patent?
  • Cybersquatters is quite a broad brush to paint those that register web domains. They need to work on what exactly a squatter is and not any joe schmoe that regs something like aimster and gets in trouble because the word AIM is in there.
    By the way, you'd expect to see a WIPO troll post by now. I guess those trollers got some sense knocked into them.
  • Either some tech-savvy people should be assigned to these review these patent applications, or we should have a Geek Jury Duty that randomly chooses professional techies to do reviews for either prior art or just plain idiocy (i.e. one click patent), and force them to swear to secrecy lest they lost all bandwidth for life.
  • Personally I think what they should do is have an educational institution of Professors, and students come up with a resolution to their problems, on both the technological side of things, as well as a legal aspect of it to avoid future scrutiny.

    Leaving it up to the community in my eyes is a bad idea, since humans being humans will generally tend to have biased views whether they realize it or not.

    And professors and students aren't biased?

  • Since all software is basically textual representation of numbers and mathmatical formulas, wouldn't software patents be equivalent of patenting Math so that nobody could use formulas without paying royalties?

    No because math and mathematical relationship exists whether people use it or not, or for that matter, whether people exist or not.

    The existence of software requires people to organize ideas into discreet functioning entities. So you either need people or a roomful of monkeys and a trillion years to create programs.

    Math formulas might be different: By this argument you could say that mathematical formulas could be patentable because because it's the method of reaching the conclusion that could be valuable. But the conclusion has always existed, just as hydrogen has always existed in this universe. I don't think formulas should be patentable though.

    Brandon

  • I think professors and students can be just as biased as corporate types. People can be motivated by money or ideals or...

    That said, I think I would rather see students and professors rather than corporations fill this sort of role. I tend towards their bias more.

    Brandon

  • It involves the intent of the programmer and the purpose of the program.

    To my mind, it involves the intent of the "speaker", not the programmer. No matter what purpose the programmer intended for the code, if I give it out with the explicit purpose of dissemination useful information (and what is expression, really?), I should be protected. The constitution doesn't say anything about "functional" speech, mind you, and such classification should be reserved only for cases where it can be shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the purpose of the speech was functional, and not-- as 2600 clearly intended-- to disseminate information. It would probably be so difficult to make this determination that speech would only rarely be classified as purely functional. And I'm alright with that; the constitution intended to protect speech and expression and we should always err to the safe side of things.

  • by Pappy VanSlashdot ( 305459 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:11AM (#150629)
    I think it will. Maybe not today, or maybe not even in the next few years, but eventually someone at the USPTO will realize that what they are doing is evil.

    Maybe I'm just being the eternal optimist but I have to think that since the office is composed of, essentially, a bunch of average human being they are probably prone to the same kind of thinking that other human beings are prone to. If you sat in a room all day and rubber stamped patent applications you might not care all that much about whether you understood them or not. If you never received any feedback it would only make matters worse.

    Left unchanged that type of situation brings about that kind we are in right now, where big business can step in and influence things in the direction they want. In order to undo that problem I think the people who actually do care about patents, and who see the damage done from bad ones, need to get more involved. If commenting is the first step then I say get over there and comment. You might not stop today's One Click Patent but you might stop tomorrow's.

  • Ah but if you think software should be patentable you are posting to the wrong website. Software patents are real unpopular here.
  • by tb3 ( 313150 )
    World Intellectual Property Association? Are you sure this isn't just Microsoft Astroturf?

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • It looks like Amazon already patented using databases to hold examples of prior art, and Rambus has, actually, already patented the U.S. Patent Office.

    I envision many IP lawsuits for this story as a result.
  • Long copyrights don't bother me as much as any software patents.

    Think about what you've proposed. I think this is what will happen:

    • Douglas Adams writes a funny book.
    • Douglas Adams makes lots of money.
    • Douglas Adams' publisher makes lots of money.
    • Douglas Adams dies.
    • Douglas Adams' publisher makes LOTS MORE MONEY.
    • Other publishers move in for the cloning kill.
    • Publishers can no longer afford to advance new writers money in order to maintain their current (assumedly high) levels of profit.
    • Meanwhile, Douglas Adams' widow starves.

    I don't think that's what I want to see.
  • Their RFC announcement just says they want comments on their database. The real comment I think everybody has is: Software should not be patentable.

    Software is nothing more than fancy math, really. And the USPTO established long ago that math could not be patented. The first "software" patent was issued on a chemical manufacturing process that included a software program on a computer to control the process.

    Unfortunately, the validity of software patents was never successfully challenged, and here we sit with morons like Amazon patenting one-click shopping. And the USPTO thinks that if we can somehow find a better database to prove that someone else had one-click first, they'll somehow improve?

    Here's a database suggestion for them: Google.

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