[ILUG] Re: ILUG sends s/w patents briefing document to Irish MEPs
Niall O Broin
niall at linux.ie
Sun Mar 20 13:50:12 GMT 2005
On 20 Mar 2005, at 12:30, Joseph Kiniry wrote:
>> No. Because so many patents are held on what would otherwise be
>> basic techniques (eg: the XOR trick to highlight an area of the
>> it is extremely difficult to write unencumbered software. The trouble
>> with the current system is that patents are held on many methods and
>> devices which are trivial yet essential.
> How does this contradict my point? Even the technologies covered by
> "basic technique" patents are easily implemented in other, innovative
The problem with "basic technique" patents is that they ARE so basic
and are often NOT easily implemented in other, innovative ways. The XOR
trick is a very good case in point (though that patent was granted in
1978, so I presume it's expired by now) because it is so basic, obvious
and simple to implement, and importantly when it started being used,
very cheap in CPU cycles. I don't know if sprite based systems infringe
that patent, because I think many of those use a hardware overlay
plane. I do know that Autodesk was a licensee of that patent for
AutoCAD, and I imagine other CAD vendors and other large visible
targets using this idea were too.
> Note that I *do* think that the existing US patent system is extremely
> broken, particularly with regards to software and business patents.
Indeed - one click comes to mind straight away. I grew up as an
engineer being told that a patent was on the implementation of an idea,
not on an idea, but those halcyon days are gone.
> History has shown that existing trivial patents are voided once they
> reach the courts or once an enormous corporation forces the USPTO into
> a review. Of course, this is often a quite costly process.
Exactly. And in the U.S., where in the majority of cases AIUI each
party pays its own court costs, simply being threatened with a court
case will make most companies cave in, because even if you win the
court case, you lose financially. I wonder what's the general practice
in patent infringement cases in Ireland, where in general in civil
cases the losing party pays the costs of both parties.
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