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zman58
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disregard my last post. for some reason the end italics did not work properly (?) I will try again... step back stated, The machine with the turned-on (forward biased) diode IS DIFFERENT than the machine with diode in non-conductive mode. To argue otherwise is to defy the fundamental laws of physics. I would argue otherwise. I am an electrical engineer. The "machine" is designed to have the diode switch either way depending on the process or application that is encoded into it. The running program does not change that--the computer remains general purpose. The computer is a general purpose computer, no different than another computer running a different program at a different time. The program instruction set is a process encoded into the memory of the computer. It can reside at different points in memory on any given general purpose computer at any point in time depending on when it is launched. It can reside anywhere on disk or even removable memory depending on when or how it was installed. There is nothing specific or fixed about the machine that holds it--it is general purpose. For any given diode, as you mentioned, the program may cause that diode to run one way or the other depending on when the program is loaded or run. There is nothing you can stay about the state of that diode in the context of running the program instruction set. Each time it could be different. How do you patent something that is not fixed or defined? You can not define the state of the diodes in a general purpose machine. You are oversimplifying the technology to try to prove your point. Besides that, the program is written in human readable language, while the instruction set itself which provides the specific application is derived from that language and is different for any of a set of different types of general computing systems (32-bit, 64-bit, 386, 486, 586, Pentium, Athlon, blah blah, blah). The program is compiled to machine instructions specific for the target machine. So again, what is fixed here? Only the human text form of the program--which does not typically reside on the machine. There is nothing to patent because the program reads like a book while each machine execution of the instruction set comes out different. The program is nothing more than a process, a logical flow, and there is no machine attached to it until it is compiled, then it is different in a multitude of ways on each and every machine as I described. The program is a recorded process, in human readable text, that happens to be encoded to instructions in computer memory, just like an idea or process for something you might have in your own memory--encoded to synapse in your brain. Or a story in a book encoded to english print. This should not be patent worthy material.
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step back stated, The machine with the turned-on (forward biased) diode IS DIFFERENT than the machine with diode in non-conductive mode. To argue otherwise is to defy the fundamental laws of physics. I would argue otherwise. I am an electrical engineer and I have studied physics extensively. The "machine" is -designed- to have the diode switch either way depending on the process or application that is encoded into it. The running program does not change that--the computer remains general purpose. The computer is a general purpose computer, no different than another computer running a different program at a different time. The program instruction set is a process encoded into the memory of the computer. It can reside at different points in memory on any given general purpose computer at any point in time depending on when it is launched. It can reside anywhere on disk or even removable memory depending on when or how it was installed. There is nothing specific or fixed about the machine that holds it--it is general purpose. For any given diode, as you mentioned, the program may cause that diode to run one way or the other depending on when the program is loaded or run. There is nothing you can stay about the state of a specific diode in the context of running the program instruction set. Each time it could be different. How do you patent something that is not fixed or defined? You can not define the state of the diodes in a general purpose machine. You are oversimplifying the technology to try to prove your point. Besides that, the program is written in human readable language, while the instruction set itself which provides the specific application is derived from that language and is different for any of a set of different types of general computing systems (32-bit, 64-bit, 386, 486, 586, Pentium, Athlon, blah blah, blah). The program is compiled to machine instructions specific for the target machine. So again, what is fixed here? Only the human text form of the program--which does not typically reside on the machine where the instruction set is run. There is nothing to patent because the program reads like a book while each machine execution of the instruction set comes out different in many ways. The program is nothing more than a process, a logical flow, and there is no machine attached to it until it is compiled, then it is different in a multitude of ways on each and every machine as I described. The program is a recorded process, in human readable text, that happens to be encoded to instructions in computer memory, just like an idea or process for something you might have in your own memory--encoded to synapse in your brain. Or a story in a book encoded to english print. This should not be patent worthy material.
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step back wrote, Suppose however that for one reason or another, you had been forced to strike it out on your own. To start competing against MS, or Big Blue with some new software idea you had. How long do you think you would survive were it not for the protection that patents provide for those who "truly" innovate? If MS or Big Blue didn't have software patents to trounce me with I would have no problem. I was doing just fine as was the company I work for before software patents came about. And what do you mean by "truly" innovate? Who is the judge on that one? The bottom line is that if you are good at what you do or what you make, then the goods or services you provide have value, so I would be just fine thank you. BTW it makes an interesting sentence to substitute "mafia" for "patents" in your statement. It might actually make more sense in that light. Point is that if I tried to do just about anything on my own in this environment and MS or Big Blue thought it to be a threat all they would have to do is pull a few broadly written patents from their deep portfolio and shut me down pronto, so your point is null and void. step back wrote, I'll tell you. (Because this a rhetorical answer.) Zero. You would last zero years. You wouldn't even start. Because the whole notion of striking out on your own would be a nonstarter if you could not "own" your software innovation and at least sell it to someone else. No, actually I would "own" anything I wrote because it would be mine through copyright protection and I would license it as I see fit. Copyright would suffice. Instead of having a value propped up by a monopoly patent it would have perhaps less value--depending on circumstances, but there would be far more competition throughout the market and software goods would be far better and less expensive to obtain and use--a good thing. No one or no company could loft a patent my way and shut me down. Software patents don't really protect, they threaten a corporations and individuals business health, they are used as anti-competitive and blood sucking leeching agents. Remember Blackberry $630M+ for sending email over a wireless network--by a patent troll, not an inventor. LOL look how patents protected them from a frivolous matter. With friends like software patents, who needs enemies? step back wrote, If there were no patents. You would have less value or no value at your corporate cubicle stop pit. Why should your corporation invent anything? Just wait for some sucker garage inventor to do some thing and then take it for yourself. Remember Netscape? Remember the guy who originated CPM80 --what was his name again? Hint: it wasn't Bill Gates. What about the guy who came up with Visicalc (Bricklin, was that his name?). All these are road kill because they thought they didn't need patents. They believed the system would do right by them. Well, surprise, surprise sarge --as Gomer Pyle used to say. How old did you say you were? Or is it that you were born yesterday and buy the corporate byline with sinker as well as hook? You have no idea what I would be worth with no software patents. I am worth what I get paid and that depends, on the most part anyway, on the quality of the goods and or services I provide. I had a healthy software related job long before software patents became the sore and festering issue they are today. Netscape did not die because it had no software patents. Netscape died, as many have, because they based their product on a OS product produced by an illegal monopoly organization--a recipe for roadkill. This was determined in a federal court of law and as far I can tell, not much has changed in the past 8 years. Now that same corporation hides behind its patents, threatening anyone that gets in their way. Not because they invented anything, but because they have granted monopolies--patents. An illegal monopoly organization running on monopoly patents--egads what a nightmare. For any patent you can obtain and even think you are "protected", a large conglomerate with a deep and broad software patent portfolio could waltz into your operation and shut you down in the blink of an eye because you WOULD be infringing on something they have in their pocket. They don't even have do demand payment, they could just shut you down and drag you into court. Now you prove you are not infringing. Now how is that protection and protection for who?
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fish bones stated, If music were invented which had the effect that when played it automatically put everyone within ear shot into such a deep sleep that surgery could be performed on them without any anesthetics, then I believe that it should be patentable subject matter We already have prior art on that. There are several songs in the venue of opera that would do that for me :) ..oh, I almost forgot, they [PTO] want to change the rules to first-to-apply instead of first-to-invent to make matters even worse and more unfair (easier for them), so better hurry up and apply for that one.
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Malcolm Mooney stated, They [software patents] keep a certain class of attorneys and agents employed who would otherwise be designing web pages for a living. Isn't that enough? Malcolm, no that is not enough. That is not the intent of software patents so it is not a good reason to have them. They do nothing more than redistribute wealth in chaotic, profound, and generally unfair ways. They hinder progress and innovation for the public in general--just the opposite of the stated intent of patents. Software patents also drive up the cost of computing goods and services for the general masses because they are monopolistic in practice, preventing competition. ...That certain class of attorneys and business agents you mentioned can find something else to do.
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Les stated, "Are you saying that mechanical machine patents disclose every little detail, down at the equivalent of the source code level? I think the mechanical engineering community would disagree." In most cases you can inspect the machine or physical device to understand how it works. Take a pair of pliers for example, or a bulldozer, or a lock system. In the case of software it is hidden in a black box, the software source code. So between the patent and inspection of the physical machine you can get a clear understanding. Les stated, "Also, disclosing the invention so that ones of ordinary skill in the art could make and use the invention without undue experimentation is yet another requirement placed on patentees. So, if you are blocked from improving Linux by a patent that doesn't meet that requirement, don't worry about it. Its not valid." How do you prove that it is not valid? How much money and time will that cost and what if you have to endure a shutdown, takedown, or blocking action in the process? Loss of $Millions/$Billions while the courts slowly churn along in the process? What if the patentee does not want you to "use" the idea as an anti-competitive measure? Multiply this by thousands of possible patents and you have nothing but an unmanageable mess of a system that is designed to prevent competition and advancement in the best interests of enriching the few--at the expense of the court system and society at large. This is not the intent or mandate of the patent system--it just does not work for software. Les stated, "The public benefits from the availability of software that would not otherwise have been made available because software is so obvious and if one didn't have the availability of patent protection one would be less likely to make the required investments in developing new software because as soon as its made public, the novel approaches included therein could easily be duplicated by others...who didn't spend any money to come up with them." There is no supportive basis for your argument here Les. Most of the software we use today was built before software patents were used to prevent and hinder competition. I would suggest to you that software investment and software building activity would increase significantly in the absence of software patents--on both large and small scale. In that model the best software and best innovation wins, not the biggest patent holders. If investors were to bail because software patents were invalided, that would be a very temporary situation as they would soon realise that investing in the best innovation would be the true key to successful ROI. The current situation of investing based on anti-competitive patent portfolios would take a clear back seat.
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Step Back stated, "Gee whiz Zman, how did you come up with those novel and original set of words? Did you think them up all by yourself or were they "programmed" into your head by the brain washing committee?" ..Yet step back has posted nothing here. No addition in any way. Do you have something useful or intelligent to add Step Back ? If so then please do add something useful. I have probably worked in the software industry more years than you have been here on earth. ..before you were a flicker in your father's eye. Fact is that software programmers "invent" things continually--while solving higher level problems. I have invented many process related software methods over the past 25 years--too numerous to count. I currently hold 8 software patents of which I could care less about--as in most cases these were immediately transferred to the business I work for based on an agreement signed when I hired in. Only recently have business leaned on programmers to patent their ideas. Most of the "ideas" that are patented are then immediately transferred to the business to prop up the business anti-compete program. Some businesses mandate patent quotas requiring software engineers to apply for a stated quota of software patents each year. I know from first hand experience about this. This is how technology stagnates and how business then can then do as little as possible to innovate--they don't need to innovate because they are sitting on a mountain of patents preventing competetion from happening. The patent system works just the opposite of what was meant to do in the case of software. It brings the system to its knees and keeps it there. I know, because I live it day to day. It is an inverted and silly mess because of patents. I can't say much about other industries although I have my doubts, but for software I know patents do not do what they are supposed to do. The software patent system does not help, it severely hinders and prevents innovation. So print us something useful "step back". Go ahead, I dare you.
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I have not seen one good argument on why software patents are needed to help society or to improve this art. There is no indication that investment in software development would reduce if software patents were considered null and void. I believe that the opposite would happen; we would see far more investment and far more innovation as a result of doing away with software patents. Why? because people should be free to use and share ideas related to software as they wish to solve problems for themselves and others. Just as they are with mathematics. Free, just as they are with graphic art. Just as they are with music. Ideas should not be owned and locked up and doled out for use only by paying entities. Copyright and trade secrets should suffice to protect software authors' and software inventors' interests. Let competition and innovation prevail. The software industry had no patents for most of its growth. Where will we be 20 years from now if the insanity of software patents prevails? What will it take to write and distribute a competitive software application 20 years from now? I have worked in the software industry for many years now and see nothing but unnecessary complications, burdens, and expense as the result of software patents. It will only get worse if the insanity of software patents prevails. Only the folks who have vested interests in software patents, such as software software patent lawyers, patent trolls, and corporations who have pooled patents to prevent competition are having problems with this concept. Why? because they stand to lose out, while the much greater numbers of society at large stand to gain. This is exactly why it is not reasonable that software ideas be patented. Patents should only be limited to areas where society will benefit--used in a very judicious manner in those cases. A patent is a granted form of monopoly--it should only be permitted when warranted as providing good to society at large. Patents should never be used to grossly enrich a few at the expense of all--as is currently the case with software. Software patents do not improve society in any way--they stifle innovation and prevent healthy competition.
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Great post Ciaran, You have brought up some very good points on why software patents and business process patents should not be permitted. Software patents are severely hampering and limiting the software industry in many ways. They create unnecessary expense, risk, and undue burden for all. Hopefully the Supreme court will see the light on this important topic.
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