RE: [OT] Re: Geoworks and their patent
: Contrary to popular belief, the framers of our patent system : were well : aware that machines embodied ideas, which is why they : allowed only specific : embodiments of the basic ideas to be patented and not the ideas or : algorithms behind them. So yes, I would accept a one-click : patent based on : gears and Jacquard looms, if Amazon cared to try to patent : that embodiment : of the idea. Of course they'd have to mention Babbage's : prior art. I might : even accept a specific electronic implementation on a : particular computing : machine, but there is a level of abstraction beyond which : you can't go : without strangling the source of ideas. You can't simply patent the embodiment. That way one could get around mechanical patents by changing the materials involved. You have to patent at a more abstract level. : It works only to discourage small : innovators and protect the interests of large corporations, : who can afford the cost of initiating a patent search and application as : well as the lawsuits. This comes down to prior art I think, and perhaps that's why it's called prior art, not prior idea. The cost is a result of the legal and economic systems that are in place, not the nature of patents per se. this problem was around before software patents became an issue. : The fact that there are two systems of protecting : innovation, patents and : copyright, is the embodiment of the wisdom of the original : framers of our : "intellectual property" laws. If you wanted to protect a : machine, you used : patents and could protect and license the physical : embodiment of the idea : but not the idea itself. If you wanted to protect an idea, you used : copyright to protect your specific expression of the idea : but, again, couldn't protect the idea itself. : Ideas were always exempted from any sort of protection : because the purpose of both laws was to encourage the free expression of and : interchange of ideas. You see, this where we part company. I don't think for a second that algorithms are ideas, at least not in the hand waving, cafe-metaphysics sense of the word. Algorithms are logico-mathematical descriptions, whose described behaviour can be operationally embodied in machines. That makes them functionally distinct from ideas (or at least a discernible subset). In this sense, you can patent the *algorithm* fooSort, but not the *idea* of sorting. The problem in the US seems to be lack of consensus on the legal definition of an algorithm, or the refusal to distinguish between algorithms and ideas. : Copyright is an appropriate mechanism for protecting : computer programs, not : patent rights. But nobody bothers nowadays, since patents : are a bigger club : to thrash your competitors with. That's a societal problem. The US patent office is hardly responsible for the level of litigation witnessed in the US. : Phrased more-or-less in that way, I : have no doubt that one could have a jolly good try at : patenting doorbells : if no one at the Patent Office happened to notice the joke. Which I : sincerely doubt they would, given their history. You could, if there was as little prior art around as there was for Amazon's patent. You could possibly take the conception of a doorbell process and turn it into a sufficiently novel way of automatically ordering goods in software that it would be a distinct innovation out of doorbells and unlike the algorithm of existing systems. -Bill xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev@i... Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/ or CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1 Unsubscribe by posting to majordom@i... the message unsubscribe xml-dev (or) unsubscribe xml-dev your-subscribed-email@your-subscribed-address Please note: New list subscriptions now closed in preparation for transfer to OASIS.
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