> Let me guess - you dont understand software
ROTFL at the irony. You didn't notice who you were replying to, did you. Hint - you're talking to a kernel contributor, and an Apache contributor.
> Patents are not meant to provide a means of extorting other businesses nor are they meant to last for ever. ... Patents are also required to be unique
> We dont allow patenting mathematical constructs because they are far too logical and replicable.
A common misconception. We don't allow patenting the laws of nature of of mathematics, because they predate their "invention" - mathematical equations which are "true" are discovered, not actually invented. On the other hand, using a few pages of newly created math to say, detect and eliminate Slashdot trolls, is patentable. 1 = 2 -1 isn't patentable because it's a mathematical fact. On the other hand:
trollscore = sin(posts) / cos(points) ... days * replies .... blah blah
isn't mathematically true, it would be a newly invented way of rating trollishness, and therefoe patentable.
> Anyone looking to do the same thing will logically take the same path with no knowledge of any prior art.
We can quickly determine whether or not that's true. Consider how you'd make a captcha, a web device to prevent bots from posting spam all over slashdot al day long. If you know anything at all about programming, in about 30 seconds you can sketch out how you might do that in your head. if you're intellectually honest, take 30 seconds to think about so we can see if you're right that you and I come up with the same implementation. I'll wait a few line feeds while you do that.
30 seconds later ...
Having seen a captcha before, you might have imitated prior art and make a really annoying captcha. This is what I came up with:
In testing, everyone has been able to quickly solve my captcha while standing ten feet away. It leverages a skill that's been very finely tuned for millions of years - spotting attractive women. Did you come up with the exact same thing? Of course not. ChickCAPTCHA is a new invention. It happens to be implemented in software.
Gears and pulleys can be put together in the same old ways to build the same old machines. Gears and pulleys can also be used to make completely new inventions. The same is true of for loops and if statements - most of the time, they are used to build traditional software. Occasionally, they are used to build entirely new inventions which are much better than what was available before. ChickCAPTHA is an example - it's much, much less annoying than old fashioned captchas, much quicker and easier, and therefore better.
It took significant R&D time to figure out what humans are incredibly good at, much better at than computers. (It turned out we're very, very good at spotting hot babes). Then more time figure out just the right way to use that so it was really easy for humans, but hard for computers. (Subtleties in the images make it harder for computer vision than you might think). I think it's fair than instead of Microsoft or Google ripping off my research, they have to throw me a bone if they want to start using ChickCAPTCHA on gmail. (WIth a reasonable time limit, as you said.)
PS - if any readers think ChickCAPTCHA is cool, don't steal it, contact me. I'll do a very reasonable license if contacted. If you steal my R&D/idea, I will ask my friendly lawyer to help me find some truly evil lawyers.)