Trivial patents *not the problem* (was: Re: [ILUG] Re: ILUG sends s/w
patents briefing document to Irish MEPs)
ciaran at member.fsf.org
Mon Mar 21 13:53:38 GMT 2005
Sorry to jump in late, but much of this thread is missing the problems of
Flaws in the patent system, such as the granting of trivial patents,
aggravate the problem of software patents but be careful not to confuse them
as BEING the problem with software patents.
There are two problems:
1. The patent system excludes some software development models, due to
costs, licensing, applications, procedures, etc.
2. The patent system would specifically prohibit the writing of useful
1. There are no vacuum cleaner hobbists, no pharmacutical startups, no
companies that develop a custom in-house oven for baking the staff
dinners, and no person ever manufactures a car "because I needed to go to
Software is different.
2. Lateral innovation (developilng new solutions to previously solved
problems) is often useless in software. A word processor that can only
read and write it's own super dooper innovative file format is useless in
todays MS Word Document environment. And if users were offered an
innovative interface, their existing word processing knowledge would be
useless. To come to and to advance the state of the art, the new must
build on the old.
Remember to argue against *software* patents. Even if there were never ever
any trivial patents, those two points would stand and *they* are the reason
we fight software patentability. Arguing about trivial patents is for MS.
They want patent office reform (so they can crank them out faster and
cheaper). We want software techniques excluded.
The RSA algorithm was certainly not trivial, but if MS held the patent, they
could have made their Word Doc format encrypted, and OpenOffice, AbiWord,
KWrite, etc. would be prohibited from being useful. They might have
licensed the patent to another chummy MegaCorp so as they could claim to
they are not a monolpoly, but we know, software patents are not about
innovation, they are about control.
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