Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:I own a patent. (Score 1) 189

Sorry, but that's utter nonsense. A patentee in posession of a granted patent is the householder - not the burglar. The trouble with 'you programmer and IT types' is that you continually and conspicuously fail to develop a sophisticated understanding of what the patent system is all about. You whine about 'patent trolls' amd 'low quality' patents etc. but you never bother to look up the patent system economics literature; think clearly about why these deplorable things happen (hint: it's inevitable!); or consider the rationale behind the patent system in the first place.

  - actually, almost everyone of course!

Comment Re:I own a patent. (Score 1) 189

But whether that's good or bad depends on other factors - mainly the validity of your patent. If you just patented an idea that would likely occur to other people and sat on it until someone else did think of it and then sued over it... That would be bad. You've contributed nothing and caused a destructive effect. [...]

The answer to the question of whether you have the right to sell the patent, is actually more, do you have the right to a patent. I.e. did you come up with something genuinely original, either through your unique genius or more likely careful testing and research,

It's futile and neither rational nor ethical to place a moral burden on individual patent owners like this. If you own a patent you have the right to it and to do with it whatever is in your own best interests. Period. Patents are grants of powerful monopoly exclusion rights by definition. They intrinsically can have destructive effects, and insofar as it is even possible to decide objectively what is a "good" and "patent-worthy" invention individually, that is a matter for the legislators, POs and Courts. The consequences of the folly of granting patents too easily; for inappropriate subject matter etc. are deplorable but it's not the fault of the patentees.

Comment Re:LISP a bad choice as a starter language. (Score 1) 330

Good points, fair criticisms...

However, I do think the situation is improving (a bit too slowly perhaps) and I don't think its importance is now past and nothing's being done about it. It's certainly not popular - never really has been and may never be - but it still is important to some (including in real-world, commercial settings of course) and I think it will continue to be. (At least I hope so).

If you hadn't come across it last time you looked CFFI is the FFI of choice now and I think it does have fairly good documentation (at least it's a lot better than many Lisp libraries ;-)).

Comment Re:LISP a bad choice as a starter language. (Score 2, Interesting) 330

rely on crutches like IDEs [...] t has a lot of unncessary and redudant parenthesis that do nothing except clutter up code, making that crap near un-readable [...] Algol-like languages have a better mapping to mathematical functions. foo(x) vs (foo x)

IDE? A programmer's editor is all you need. In the Real World (TM) I suspect most programmers are already 'reliant' on such ubiquitous crutches!

The parentheses are necessary and are not redundant - the necessary minimum in fact - and do not "do nothing except clutter up code". Far from it. One of the first things someone new to Lisp should know - especially if they are used to languages bogged down in complex syntax and so ironically initially view the parentheses as a distraction instead of as an aid (as more experienced Lispers will) - are the great advantages of having the written code in the form of a simple tree structure. The fabled power of Lisp macros - something many people have heard about and which may have attracted them to Lisp in the first place - is facilitated by this simplicity.

"Better mapping to mathematical functions"? I can't even guess at how you arrived at that judgement. All I can say is that, of all the programming languages I've tried, Lisp is by far the most pleasingly congruent with my mathematical aesthetics, conventions and habits of thought. (And no, I don't like Haskell - I've heard it said how "mathematical" it is but I suspect that in this case the programmer and comp. scientist view may be at odds with the generalist mathematician's view.)

PS. It's confusing and cluttery bad Lisp style to put the closing parentheses on lines by themselves. ;-)

Comment Re:Correct me if I'm wrong.. (Score 1) 196

The first ~380,000 years are all glow, yes: and galaxies take some time to form after that too. Note also that if the light from an object we are seeing now has taken ~13 Gyr to get here, that object is actually considerably further away than ~13 Gly because of the expansion of the cosmos.

Comment Re:Abstract... (Score 2) 314

If a web developer themself has no clue at all what this patent is talking about, then who is it referring to?

The web developer's patent lawyer(s) of course. Surely every web developer is aware by now that they might very well need to employ a patent lawyer? Exactly the same goes for the electronics manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, and software development is no different from any other patent eligible field of technology, don't you know? ;-)

Comment Re:Actually a case for stronger patents (Score 1) 325

Counter-intuitively, this actually presents a case for stronger patents.

It portrays - anecdotally, in narrow circumstances, and hypothetically - just one potential (benefit side) effect of such a change, which even if realised still only might lead to an overall improvement in the performance of the patent system - and might just as easily do the opposite.

Just saying. ;-)

It would be nice if cases for change could be made so easily in patent system economics, but the system is complex and they can't.

Comment Re:Patentability issues (Score 2, Insightful) 238

I thought even US law said that purely mathematical algorithms couldn't be patented?

They can't. But what is a "purely mathematical" algorithm? Can you find one which, for some reason, could never have any useful application whatsoever? The RSA algorithm wasn't patented - it's use in encrypting "messages" was.

This is why the typical programmer argument against software patents, "But it's just math!", is futile and justifiably derided by the typical Patent Attorney. The proper (and extremely powerful) argument to use aganst software patents is an economic one.

Comment Re:/. fails again (Score 1) 120

"I can explain exactly how the claim isn't nearly as broad as the summary."

I really appreciate the work you put into that but I'm afraid I don't think you've succeeded - at least not from the perspective of the ordinary programmer or entrepreneur etc. I don't want to start quibbling about the degree and practical significance of each of the narrowings you identified - although in light of claim 21 at least one of them seems /entirely/ moot! - I just don't think those perfectly valid and patent-lawyerly-proper distinctions make the broadness that most of those reading this article would've initially perceived go away.

Comment Re:/. fails again (Score 1) 120

While you have a point about the general level of comprehension of patents and patent matters on /. (and you're hardly the first to make it) I'd say this was a very poor choice of article against which to raise that criticism - unless you can explain exactly how that claim "isn't nearly as broad as the thing posted in the summary".

Comment Re:Big Software Corps (Score 1) 278

The standard of non-obviousness has never been particularly high (in all fields, not just software) and, for various reasons (desirability of examination objectivity; demand pressure; ...), is never likely to be. A low standard of inventive step isn't the only contributor to contraindications such as a high rate of independent (re-)invention anyway.

You've correctly identified the fundamental rationale for granting patents in the first place, and seem to have recognised that it is primarily a question of economics, but you've made some assertions / indicated some implicit assumptions which don't really stand up to economic scrutiny. Have you read e.g. Machlup or any of the more recent literature on patent system economics - and the wisdom of allowing software as patent eligible subject matter in particular? It's really not so clear that there is a baby in the bath. ;-)

Slashdot Top Deals

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley