[ILUG] Re: ILUG sends s/w patents briefing document to Irish MEPs
ompaul at eircom.net
Sun Mar 20 21:50:03 GMT 2005
Joseph Kiniry wrote:
>> situations created is the marrying of not obvious partners, and that, I
>> am happy to say is very obvious.
> I strongly disagree with this statement. There even exists work that
> I have done myself that is non-obvious (or even moderately difficult!)
> after I have completed it.
> I use what I call the "Game Show Criteria" to evaluate a patent: You
> give me a description of the problem that need be solved in a problem
> domain in which I am a domain expert. I then get 10 minutes to
> explain every possible generic solution that I can think of. If I did
> not come up with something that has moderate overlap with the claims
> of the patent, then it is probably non-obvious.
I will admit that I did not make myself clearer in the earlier piece.
The opinion that I am expressing is that idea that something which is
not obvious or is difficult, does not in and of itself merit reward.
Doing something difficult can be rock climbing or solving a business
rules issue. However where one does something difficult being lionised
by the press for the remainder of their life is not usual, with a few
notable exceptions, Midge Ure and Bob Geldof. A lot of people know Simon
Singh for Fermat's Last Theorem but who was the guy who did the work? 
> Of course, my 10 minutes is usually 2-4 years for a USPTO reviewer...
Here you qualify the level of interaction between the person solving the
problem, and the problem.
My proposition is simply this, hard or easy the non obvious is just the
marrying of two seemingly non related areas. Try these few examples.
How about engines and software? [being done in many ways]
How about rapeseed oil and big trucks? [renewable fuel oil]
How about oil production and sandpaper? [no idea if this one has been done]
Perhaps if the game show had more time to run then the idea would become
obvious.  I think that this really misses the point I had in mind. It
seems to me that too many patents would get through that should not.
For instance in the early nineties at some computing event or other I
asked a question why could we not have software that provided a virtual
processor for another operating system to run on the same hardware. I
was told it was impossible by some very senior people in the software
industry at the time, I now point to VMware. The point I was making and
am still making is that in a single domain an expert may not see what is
blatantly obvious to someone who is new to the area with some other
> One can obtain a patent for what I consider a "reasonable" sum give
> the bureaucracy involved. In my experience the intellectual effort
> and time involved are worth far, far more than the patent application
> costs itself.
I suggest that this bureaucracy is not helpful to the parties involved.
I have an idea and now I have to invest twice to get it on the road? It
is a product let me use trade secret, NDA and copyright to protect it.
> Are you a Philosophy major? :) I have to re-read your sentences a
> few times to get their gist.
No, not in the slightest. [and oops]
> I do not cross-license my patents. I have either exclusively licensed
> them or plan on making them freely available to everyone.
> Do you believe that patents block progress in fields other than software?
Yes, here are two cases that come to mind instantly. For a very famous
example one only has to look the years of delay in the implementation of
the high pressure steam engine. Another example that is less famous is
the messing that took place when Marconi tried to establish his
"wireless" base in the US, he was threatened by several incumbent
interests who were armed with patents. Now the from where I stand the
most interesting thing here is that Thomas Edison granted Guglielmo
Marconi protection by signing over several patents he held to allow the
young Marconi proceed with the business.
> Thanks for these excellent discussions everyone!
I suppose the ultimate rebuttal of patents is the work of Stallman in
his essay "The danger of software patents".
Enjoying it already :)
 Andrew Wiles
 some of these things may be covered by patents
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