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Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention




Jon Kirwan wrote:

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One that I am personally familiar with is the owner of a
software games company had a very leather jacket that
made him look like Indiana Jones and was successfully
sued for having his own image on his product with a generic
background of a central American jungle scene.

Search for details on some of the Getty Museum
copyright suites. Not all of them are exact images.

Walter..



Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


On Sun, 18 Apr 2010 15:37:14 -0400, Walter Banks

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Can't find anything much here.  I've tried the following:

  +"Getty Museum" copyright suit
  Getty Museum copyright suit
  +"Getty Museum" "copyright suit" indiana jones

and so on.

I found this, but upon reading further saw it wasn't anything
close:

http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Greek-bronze-will-stay-in-the-Getty-Villa%20/20504

I did try.  Maybe your familiarity can get you closer to
something usable?  Best of all would be a court document with
a legal decision expressed, of course.

Jon

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention




Jon Kirwan wrote:

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Why should education and personal use be exempted, or
for that matter why should library of congress be exempted?


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A counter example is Alex Haley's book about Kunta Kinte.

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Missed my point partly. I gave a counter example of what can
happen if they are exercised and the truth strength of copyrights.
The choice to exercise them is not always made.

w..




Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


On Sun, 18 Apr 2010 15:46:12 -0400, Walter Banks

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I believe educational research purposes already are exempted,
aren't they?  Under "fair use," limited copying without the
permission of the owner is allowed for some kinds of teaching
and research, if I recall.  And there are exceptions also for
the (entire?) reproduction by libraries and archives, memory
serving.

Regarding personal use, I didn't mean to suggest borrowing a
library copy, copying it for personal use, then returning the
original to a library.  Though I sometimes wonder.  I was
thinking more about making a second copy to hold elsewhere
against the risk of fire or water damage, for example.  I
certainly would also consider just buying another copy.  But
I think that may be allowed.  Also, I believe there is a
commercial value consideration in law in the US, and the
courts look at the market impact of the action taken as to
whether or not it is 'fair use.'

Anyway, that is what I was thinking about when I wrote less,
before.

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I was addressing myself to your assertion about violating
"the copyright of a novel just by using the same plot lines."
A single example is enough to muddy up that water.

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By whom?  The owners?  If that's all this is about, then you
seem to be arguing that owners don't now pursue copyright as
much because they have patents, but that if software patents
are removed from the picture that owners will then pursue the
copyright violations more than before?  Is that your point?

Jon

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention




Jon Kirwan wrote:

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The comment you are referring to came in response to the
apparent joy someone made at the start of the reversal of
software patents. My arguments have been consistently that
copyright law may be tougher with a body of precedents than
software patents.

I base that on significantly longer protection and court
precedents over damage awards that could be based on
actual image copies or partial copies or similar copies of
content. Citing individual cases doesn't fundamentally
change actual  over all practice. Software patents give a
lot of IP protection for a relatively narrow range of
redefined claims for short period of time. Copyright
gives weaker protection for a very broad range of violations
for a long period of time.

Would the dropping of software patents make copyright
protection stronger? I don't but the sheer threshold of
getting a software patent made a lot of patentable
software relatively unprotected because the authors
didn't know that copyright protection could also
have provided them with a lot of adequate protection
through a court system that had dealt with copyright cases

w..





Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


On Sun, 18 Apr 2010 21:32:52 -0400, Walter Banks

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So the upshot is that because patents exist, some folks go
for that and in the process fail to consider copyright?

I must be having a bad day.  I'll re-read this tomorrow.

Jon

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


On Sun, 18 Apr 2010 21:32:52 -0400, Walter Banks

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I'm not sure I follow the semantic intent of your words here.
Each word makes sense by itself.  But not together.  So I
suppose this is why I didn't make much of this paragraph,
yesterday.

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Since I didn't get the first paragraph, this "based on" part
doesn't add much for me.

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I think I understand this.  But I don't fully agree with the
thrust.  Patents can last around two decades and in the
computer field that is "almost forever."  In other words,
about the "same as" copyright protection.  And copyright can
be "worked around."  Patents cannot be nearly so easily.

In other words, I don't place nearly as much emphasis on the
difference of duration as you seem to make of it.

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Since folks without very deep pockets (a term I read you
using elsewhere, today) don't really have access to patent
protection (I've had the luxury to work with patent attorneys
on two uncomfortable stretches in my life and in both cases
the costs were about US$60k/loose-man-month), copyright
provides _stronger_ protection, since it exists at all for
them.  As you mentioned elsewhere, individuals and small
companies actually win such cases.

For those with deep pockets, of course, I will agree that
copyright does provide weaker protection.  But I think I read
you saying that removing patent protection would cause more
teeth in copyright protection.  I'm still not following that
thread of thought and the above doesn't help me.  Yet.

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I think that is the question you already answered, expressing
an opinion that it would.

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And here is a broken fragment that I'm not sure about.  Did
you mean to retract the earlier point [by adding 'think so'
to the above?]  Or?

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And this is where I am still hung up.  It feels like you are
suggesting what I earlier thought you were and which doesn't
make any sense to me.  Let me take this slowly.

(1)  Copyright exists on works, today, even if you don't
register them officially.  (I think.)  One only needs a few
words, at most, with software anyway.

(2)  As you mention elsewhere, only deep pockets have access
to patent protection.  Such folks certainly have ALL the
necessary advice they need with copyright.

(3)  Parsing your words above, I gather that you are talking
about a group of people/companies that had "patentable
software" that was "relatively unprotected" because the
authors were ignorant about copyright?  Isn't that an
argument that they _use_ copyright?

(4)  You mention a "sheer threshold" regarding patents and I
take your meaning to be that this "patentable software"
couldn't reach that threshold.  Yes?  Because they don't have
enough money?  If so, the loss of software patents won't
affect them, anyway.

I'm still not following the argument about why you think that
the loss of software patents would add _more_ teeth to
software protection in the US than it already enjoys.

Jon

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention




Jon Kirwan wrote:

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A few years ago I would have agreed with you on speed
of the computer field. I don't see the speed now. We are still
selling tools for processors whose instruction sets were
developed in the mid to late 70's.

One of my current projects started in 1998 and we have
support contracts to 2016 that are very likely to be extended

15 or 17 years is is not a long time anymore. It now takes
5-8 years to launch new processors and about as long again
to get them designed in.

A major reference document that we use was written in 60's
and revised in the 70's. It has a copyright and has outlived many
patents.

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I don't agree. Patent's are far more protective of a narrow
range of claims that need to be predefined. The copyright
control of derivative works makes the copyright holder able
to control material in ways that were not even imagined
when the copyright was issued.

Had the LCD control patent been a copyright there would
still be a lot of licence fees being paid. This patent was
organized the way a copyright could have been. LCD material
requires that the average voltage be across the material be zero.
The patent author detailed essentially all the ways an LCD
display could be driven or scanned and keep the average
display voltage zero.

Once usage goes beyond fair use a copyright can be powerful
protection. In general fair use does not allow someone to
profit from the use of a copyright they do not own. (I know
there are exceptions to this)

Regards,


Walter..
--
Walter Banks
Byte Craft Limited
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Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


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You are referring here to a tiny niche market.  In the huge majority of
the software world, a couple of years is a long time.  Support contracts
lasting as long as 3 years are extra cost.  If you are a large company
and want long-term support from a small company with a great new
product, you can't rely on that company existing in a few years time -
you just buy the company.

If patents, and software patents in particular, were only given for
truly new, innovative and useful ideas, then I might agree with you
somewhat - there have been relatively few good "inventions" in software
(or processor design, since you mentioned that) in recent times.
There's been plenty of progress, but little in the way of revolutionary
ideas that justify a patent.

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Patents are typically written as broadly as the author can make it.
When Jon says you cannot easily work around them, what he means is you
can do your own development totally independently of the patent -
typically with no idea the patent exists - and still fall foul of it.
And because of the way patents are granted, and the way the courts work
in the USA, it really doesn't even matter if you wrote the software long
before the person who got the patent.  If the patent-holder wants to sue
you, it's going to cost you a great deal of money - whether you are
"innocent" or not, and whether the patent is valid or not.  And that's
just because you came up with an idea that someone else also had.

Copyrights, on the other hand, are very much narrower - they cover an
implementation of an idea, not the idea itself.  Thus you are perfectly
at liberty to do a clean-room re-implementation of the same ideas.  Thus
you are not allowed to steal other people's work, but you /are/ allowed
to do the work again yourself.

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Your example doesn't make sense.  You can't copyright an idea, or a
method, or a way to control an LCD.  You can copyright a datasheet or
instruction manual for the LCD.  Patents and copyrights apply to
different things.

Note that I don't think anyone here has argued against the idea of
patents for this sort of thing.  While many people (myself included)
would like to see wide-ranging changes to the way patents are granted,
the duration, and the way conflicts are resolved (in the USA in
particular, but also more generally throughout the world), I don't think
patents should be abandoned entirely.  /Software/ patents should be
abandoned in the USA, like the rest of the world.  But I see nothing
wrong with the inventor of the LCD (or its control mechanisms) having a
patent for that, for a few years.

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No one is arguing that copyright can give powerful protection - and that
one of the main aims is let people have use of the copyrighted material
without getting economic gain through its abuse.

The main point in this thread is that software patents are unnecessary -
copyright forms a far better platform for protecting the developers'
rights - and that software patents are directly harmful to developers,
innovators, small companies, and therefore consumers.

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention




David Brown wrote:

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I think that software patents are unnecessary mostly because they
have not been an effective method of encouraging innovation and
protecting IP.

w..





Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


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OK, we agree on that - thanks for clearing this up.  I'm think we differ
a little on the weightings for the reasons for disliking software
patents - you say they are ineffective at encouraging innovation, while
I believe they directly discourage far more innovation than they
encourage.  In other words, they are not just unnecessary, but a direct
hindrance to progress.

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


On Tue, 20 Apr 2010 12:23:48 -0400, Walter Banks

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But don't they appear to have played and still play a role
amongst large companies with deep pockets?  I remember quite
a large payout by Microsoft.

Jon

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


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Yes, software patents play a role in the USA - especially amongst large
companies.  But patents were designed, as Walter says, to encourage
innovation and to protect IP, neither of which is at issue in the
majority of cases (though patent owners /claim/ they are defending
"their" IP.  The role played by software patents does neither - it's a
protection racket to squeeze licence fees out of people and sue those
who don't quietly pay up.

There's a reason companies whose businesses revolve around patents are
known as "patent trolls".  And it's not because trolls are renowned for
being innovative or protective.

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


On Tue, 20 Apr 2010 23:44:21 +0200, David Brown

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And amongst smaller companies if the leave the "living in the
cracks" and start looking like they are muscling into more
profitable territory.

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***were*** designed.  I think that is long gone.

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Yes.

Jon

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


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Only in the USA.  I don't thing SW patents are used anywhere else. IT is
also why they never will be.

--
\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
\/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills  Staffs  England     /\/\/\/\/
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Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


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I agree with Jon that it is very difficult to see what your argument is
here.

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Remember, software patents are a peculiarity of the USA (there are a few
patents issued by other countries that are arguably "software patents",
but these are not common).  You don't have to speculate about what would
happen without software patents - you simply have to look to Europe.

If the USA dropped software patents, it would become more common to
bring copyright cases to court - in a country with companies addicted to
suing each other, if software patents are removed then they will use
copyrights.  Since to some extent American courts make up the law as
they go along ("precedence"), this may lead to some changes in copyright
law, or its interpretation, in the USA.

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The "sheer threshold of getting a software patent" !?!  Have you ever
/looked/ at the sort of junk that gets patented in the USA?  All you
have to do is use long technical words that the patent "examiner" can't
understand, drown the document in soporific legalise, pay your fee on
time and you get your patent.  There are certainly some people that take
patent applications seriously and only apply for inventions that are
truly innovative and useful.  But patent offices are swamped with
nonsense patents (in all countries, but the USA more than others, and in
all fields, but software more than others).  Most are granted to large
companies that have employees specialising in making as wide and vague
patents as they can.

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Are you trying to say that there are lots of people out there writing
new, innovative and useful software, who understand about software
patents (but don't have the time, money or expertise to get one), yet
don't understand even the basics about copyright?  Have these mythical
developers never looked at any other software?  Never seen a "Help
About" box with a copyright notice?  Never read a book?  I can well
believe they don't know the rights they have with copyrights, or even
that copyright is automatic (many people think you have to register it
in some way).  But I simply don't believe that anyone capable of writing
software that has a valid claim for a software patent (by USA standards)
is incapable of googling for "copyright".

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention




David Brown wrote:

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The key to my comments are that patents require
a list of claims be defined when the patent is filed.

This not only means that the invention must be novel
but the inventor must have specific vision on how the
invention is going to be used.

Copyrights don't have the requirement of vision.

Jon, David the / redefined / predefined / typo is mine
and confused my earlier comments.

Regards,


Walter..
--
Walter Banks
Byte Craft Limited
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Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


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I see what you are saying now.

I think the confusion was at least partly because you are talking about
how the /theoretical/ requirements for software patents (it must be
novel, clearly described, and useful with a view to implementation),
while we have been talking about the /actual/ requirements to getting a
software patent in the USA (write enough words, pay the fee).

We agree that even if the patent office did a proper job, software
patents are unnecessary and provide little or no benefit to anyone.  And
because of the way the USA patent office actually works, software
patents are directly harmful.

Note that this is not really due to incompetence or other failings of
the patent office itself, or its staff.  The current USA patent system
requires the patent offices to earn money.  Since they earn a fee on
each registered patent, while any work done checking the validity of a
patent application takes time and therefore money, the obvious profit
strategy is to rubber-stamp everything that passes a first-glance
inspection, and leave it to the courts to figure out if it should have
been issued or not.  And since the USA civil courts are based on money
(with a little law on the side) rather than any requirement for truth or
justice, if you can afford lawyers you can get your dodgy patents
strengthened just by winning a game of lawyer expenses chicken.

Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention



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They are not cart blanche (sp), but under fair use, e.g. parts could be
reproduced to illustrate educational points, for analysis, for crit?que,
etc.

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Re: a computer program is not a patentable invention


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You did nothing of the sort. You demonstrated the truth strength
of deep pockets in the US. The legislation and ideology of a country
is not god-given but it is there to serve its strength, lest it perishes.
As such the fundamentalist "freedom for the rich" ideology of the US
is on the loosing site compared to the more centralist ideology of China.
Especially the situation around IP is becoming counter productive.
IP is about things that don't exist (only the expression of IP exist),
and is a poor base for an economy.

There is only so much military superiority can do to compensate for
economic weakness. Not that the outcome of a confrontation between US
and China would be certain. The US might run out of spare parts after
two weeks of fighting ;-) , and there are no businessmen in China
willing to deliver in defiance of their government (as US patriots
would).

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Groetjes Albert

--
--
Albert van der Horst, UTRECHT,THE NETHERLANDS
Economic growth -- being exponential -- ultimately falters.
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