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Comment Re:Patents aren't the problem (Score 1) 392

Right - in the mathematical sense. And as I pointed out, even mechanical and chemical inventions can be thought of as "discovered" in the mathematical sense.

You're right. Othello would not be patentable. Because it is not functional.
Any claims to othello would be properly rejected as "printed matter" under long-standing SCOTUS precedent.

I only brought it up to show that if you take this Godel number thing far enough, you can think of ANYTHING as merely "discovered".
But then mankind would be left with zero inventions (and zero original works of authorship).

Comment Re:Patents aren't the problem (Score 2, Informative) 392

I don't think its absurd at all. I think the "programmed" calculator from your example SHOULD be patent- eligible .

What you're forgetting is: THAT DOESN'T EQUAL A PATENT.

Once the hardware you're discussing (say a casio calculator) is known, it is probably pretty obvious to use it to multiply by two. Therefore, the patent would be barred by 35 USC 103 (AND NOT 101). In fact, the instruction manual would probably explain how to use it to multiple by two, in which case it would flat-out anticipated under 35 USC 102. In either case, NO PATENT.

Comment Re:Patents aren't the problem (Score 1) 392

Godel numbers demonstrate that every possible piece of software "already exists" or is "already defined", laid out on a number line.

Thank you for the explanation. This is very interesting.

While true in theory, I don't think it is practically relevant.

YES, all software is reduced to a string of 0s and 1s, and all variations of strings of various lengths are already known. BUT, you also must identify a physical processor that the string will run on to be useful. So while *theoretically* you can say that every string of 0s and 1s is sitting there waiting to be "discovered" and not "invented"... In the HUMAN sphere of things, its really not relevant. The law is much more concerned with practicality than pure theory.

You could say the same thing about any composition of matter as well. The possible arrangements of atoms in a molecule are defined by the laws of the universe. In theory, all possible arrangements of molecules are just waiting to be discovered. Does that mean that when someone finds the cure for cancer, it is merely a "discovery" and not an "invention"?

I believe the Supreme Court has stated that recognizing the utility of something is inventive (but I'm too lazy to go look up a cite).

A million monkeys with a million typewriters will eventually write Othello. Does that mean that Shakespeare "discovered" it??

Comment Re:Patents aren't the problem (Score 1) 392

I honestly didn't read the entire thing because it is *very* long, but I skimmed it and the main point seemed to be that if only the lawyers/judges involved would learn "computational theory" then the correct solution (that software "should" not be patent-eligible) would be clear.

I disagree. I think that the problem is a very abstract one - with no clear answer - no matter how much you know about computation theory. And I think that many more lawyers (if not judges) in patent law have a technical background than PoIR/Slashdot might think. And I don't think Godel's numbers help us answer any questions about Congress's intended scope of 35 USC 101 vis-a-viz software.

Comment Re:Patents aren't the problem (Score 2, Informative) 392

I'm sorry, PoIR fails.

Take this statement:

For example consider this sentence from In re Alappat:

We have held that such programming creates a new machine, because a general purpose computer in effect becomes a special purpose computer once it is programmed to perform particular functions pursuant to instructions from program software.

In a single sentence the court tosses out the fundamental principle that makes it possible to build and sell digital computers. You don't need to create a new machine every time you perform a different computation; a single machine has the capability to perform all computations. This is what universal Turing machines are doing.

PoIR completely misunderstood the court. The court was saying that by programming a general purpose computer to perform a specific task, the programmer has created a new special purpose computer (comprising the general purpose hardware and the special purpose code). PoIR responds by pointing out that a general purpose computer can "perform all computations". This is a non-sequitur. The fact that you don't need special-purpose HARDWARE is irrelevant. The programmer has created a functionally (not physically) NEW MACHINE. It has new abilities. While it is not physically different, it is functionally different. The court has NOT "tossed out the fundamental principle that makes it possible to build and sell digital computers." To accuse the court of that is frankly laughable.

PoIR fails. Miserably. Sorry.

Comment Re:Patents aren't the problem (Score 3, Informative) 392

PoIR's main point is provably false in this case.

PoIR says:

I see the situation like this. The authors of legal briefs and court rulings have enough of an understanding to feel confident they can write meaningful arguments on the topic. But yet they do not understand computers and software well enough to reach technically correct conclusions. The unfortunate result is legal precedents that do not connect with reality.

A simple google search revealed that the attorney arguing this case before the Supreme Court has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Duke, and a MS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins.
And he is arguing in favor of patent-eligibility for Bilski's method (which isn't even tied to software, remember).

True, the people *deciding* the case is a different story. The Supreme Court's decisions do indeed reflect a lack of understanding. In Benson they obviously didn't understand what a re-entrant shift register is.

But the problem here is not as simple as "lawyers don't understand computers." (no matter how much the geek community would like to pretend that it is). Its just not that simple. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this issue and there is just no easy answer.

FYI - I'm a patent attorney with a BS in computer engineering and my main practice is computer and software patent prosecution. I've programmed in Java, C, Assembly, etc. I've designed a simple pipelined (5-stage) CPU. I know what software is.

PoIR also claims that "All software is discovered and not invented" and that this is true "without a shred of doubt."

This unsupported claim begs the question - where is the line between discovery and invention. To posit that software is by definition NOT invented, and to conclude that software is not inventive, is obviously circular reasoning.

PoIR then goes on to ramble about Godel's numbers, and Turing Machines. While neat, these really have nothing to do with the issue.

Comment Re:Make way for the ambulance chaser! (Score 1) 453

But the modders violated the XBL TOS agreement first by trying to connect with modded software.

Typically if you break a contract first, you can't cry when the other side breaks it too.
Especially if the agreement explicitly says they get to boot you without compensation, which it probably does.

Throw in the fact that they probably violated the DMCA by modding the xbox OS/BIOS.

Whether these particular plaintiffs/modders were engaged in piracy or not is irrelevant.

This case is a loser. All it will do is (1) waste a bunch of money on legal expenses, thereby raising the cost of providing XBL, and (2) annoy MS and possibly encourage them to make it even harder to run homebrew.

Sony offered Linux as an OS option on the PS3 until they got annoyed by people breaking their systems and bitching about it..

If we want corporations to offer things like that, we need to take a look in the mirror and stop being such a pain in the arse as a community.

Comment Re:Pussy. There, I said it. (Score 1) 643

this is a valid objection to the use of equipment in an educational institution being used inappropriately.

Um. No.
Your inability to see the real issue here is baffling.
This isn't about misuse of equipment in schools (although that did happen).
This is about whether newspapers have a duty to protect the anonymity of "anonymous" commenters - regardless of where they post from.

To all of you who think that it's some kind of social repression to frown upon people who make a habbit of unashamedly expressing themselves in a vulgar and crass manner, I suggest you go see the movie Idiocracy, because it's about YOU.

Yeah, because that's what Idiocracy is about. Swearing. The point of the movie is that only stupid people swear.
Good job.

You kinda miss the point of everything, don't you?

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Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"