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Comment Re:Push for proper patent reform (Score 1) 495

So first you claim we don't have software patents. But it turns out we do, and in staggering numbers. So .... why not shift the goalposts.

1. It's not surprising that ffii claims the patents to be illegal, they're not exactly fans of the system. The implication that 30,000 mistakes somehow got through under the radar is naive at least: the EPO isn't simply granting patents by mistake. They have a large group of patent examiners who specialise in "computer-implemented inventions" (that's the euphemism they use for the dreaded softare patent), and their published guidelines specifically discuss what kinds of software patents are valid and what kinds are not.

2. It's even more far-fetched to believe that the companies who got these patents (i.e. the same ogres who apply for and enforce US patents) suddenly come over all shy about enforcing their European Patents. No sane company will spend 30k-100k to get a piece of paper in the idle hope that some day the law will change. Take a lowball estimate of 20k to get a European Patent, and that makes 6 billion spent so far on supposedly unenforceable patent rights, if your view is correct. That's not counting the annual renewals in each country (several thousand per annum per patent) or the tens of thousands of cases (and corresponding further billions of euro spent) for applications which were refused by the EPO because they actually were invalid.

3. But forget the hypotheticals. If you followed this area you would know that software patents are indeed enforced and enforceable in Europe, as long as they don't relate to business methods etc. Different countries take more or less liberal views of patentability (at present the UK courts are swinging back from a rather negative viewpoint), but in the long run, the EPO's practice on what is and what is not allowable tends to be followed by the courts across Europe. Businesses pay for and obtain software patents precisely so they can (and do) enforce them.

Comment Re:Push for proper patent reform (Score 1) 495

We don't have software patents in europe currently, and are doing perfectly fine anyway, thank you very much.

You're both right and wrong ... and I'm guessing you won't like the conclusion.

The wrong bit: "we don't have software patents in Europe currently" ... Even ffii.org (hardly a champion of the European Patent system) says that the EPO has granted over 30,000 software patents. FFII faq about software patents

The right bit: "and are doing perfectly fine anyway, thank you very much." You said it, not me.

The difference is that the EPO only grants patents for software that includes a technical advance. No business methods.

Comment Re:It's not really the same (Score 1) 135

"...betting they will get their patent anyway, and we'll see this in court in a few years." I'm betting you're wrong, simply based on the fact that we see articles like this daily on Slashdot, accompanied by "the end is nigh" commentary. Then the applications generally sink without a trace, or get granted with significant claim limitations, and either way, are never seen in court or heard of again.

Comment Not all parodies are legit (Score 4, Insightful) 272

... ignore the 2 Live Crew Supreme Court decision that parodies are new derivative works

What the Supreme Court said was that if a parody was sufficiently transformative, this would operate in its favour when weighing up the fair use factors. BA Dave is taking the position that because he created a parody, fair use applies, but the Supreme Court stamped on that theory pretty sharply:

"Like a book review quoting the copyrighted material criticized, parody may or may not be fair use, and petitioner's suggestion that any parodic use is presumptively fair has no more justification in law or fact than the equally hopeful claim that any use for news reporting should be presumed fair."

Now I've no idea how transformative BA Dave's parodies are, but this quote should at least show him that he needs to do a little more than cry "parody" if he's going to convince them to back off. Let's hope he can. And let's be grateful he is in the US where parody is given some recognition as a fair use. In the UK, for instance, it's viewed as being no more legitimate than any other form of copying.

Comment Re:Can a [money] value be put on these patents? (Score 1) 99

Yes, a money value can be put on what they earn from patents, though experts disagree wildly on the figure. A commonly touted figure for IBM's annual patent royalty income is $1 billion (that's right, spelt with a "b") - basically, some analysts consider only the straight licence income, others figure that the patents add value to sales of product and other parts of the IBM balance sheet ... but nobody puts it under &100 million p.a. http://www.iam-magazine.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=9be3f156-79b1-49f4-abf1-9bee7e788501

Submission + - Mozilla does open-source logo design. (cocoia.com)

Icon Designer writes: "You may have thought Mozilla could not open up beyond its current state, but you may be wrong: Aza Raskin, Mozilla Labs' UX Lead and Sebastiaan de With, a freelance icon designer, have completely opened up the process of designing a new logo for Mozilla Ubiquity. The second round of conceptual exploration has just started, and the popular vote is very welcome on the blog or in the comments. What's your favorite concept, and why?"

Comment Re:Please... (Score 1) 86

An accelerometer, a stopwatch and a real-time model of the solar system would provide absolute proof that you got to the moon, even if you were blindfolded throughout. One of the implications of the special theory of relativity is that an observer inside a closed box which is accelerated and decelerated (as any moon traveller will be) can absolutely detect these accelerations - the accelerations are absolute, not relative.

Comment makes you realize just how good Hubble is (Score 3, Interesting) 27

The statistic about "an amount of sky about equal to the size of a human hand held at arm's length" didn't stir me one way or t'other. But the article then says that Hubble can view the amount of sky equal to a grain of sand held at arms length. Makes you realise just how good the resolution Hubble's resolution is - all those amazing pictures of galaxies and nebulae are details that would be covered by such a tiny angular field.

Comment Re:The flavour lasts forever. (Score 3, Insightful) 86

The article suggests use as resistive RAM rather than a solid state drive. As long as it doesn't need to be a permanent memory element it might be possible to refresh periodically on a schedule that's safely less than the lifetime of the state transition, i.e. boost the phenomenon every hour or two. Shouldn't cause much of a power hit.

Comment Re:according to the discussion page (Score 1, Informative) 14

The 1947 missile game may not have been built (we only know that it was patented), though the circuit diagrams would have allowed it. Which may be why the article calls OXO the first actual implementation in 1952.

But there were other working games before 1952. Two machines for playing the game Nim were built and demoed to the public before 1952: the Nimatron http://www.goodeveca.net/nimrod/nimatron.html was built by Westinghouse in 1940 and played 100,000 games against members of the public, winning 90% of them. The Nimrod http://www.goodeveca.net/nimrod/index.html was demoed in 1951 in Germany and reportedly caused such a furore that (a) the cops had to be called in, and (b) the free beer at the other end of the hall was ignored, according to Turing.


Submission + - Chandrayaan maps Apollo missions

maheshc writes: "Chandrayaan has mapped 6 Apollo landing sites on the Moon (Apollo 11, 12, 14 15 and 17). More at this link (Times of India). Perhaps time to retire all the conspiracy theories...."

Comment Ropelike structures? Or tubes? (Score -1, Offtopic) 168

"... to form braided, ropelike structures which are collimated by coiled magnetic fields." An unnamed Senator suggested that these ropelike filament structures were "rather like a series of tubes", causing the RIAA to sue each of the world's plasma laboratories on the grounds that "there could be something illegal going on in all that plasma".

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