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From Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Subject Re: [definitely OT] LZW patent [was Re: MathML package structure?]
Date Sat, 19 Jan 2002 00:20:16 GMT
"Andrew C. Oliver" wrote:
> On Fri, 2002-01-18 at 06:30, Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:
> <snip>
> >
> > I think there are just a few software patents that really deserve their
> > status (the RSA encryption algorithm, for example) but there are *TONS*
> > that don't. Or, at least, I would *personally* have came out with if I
> > had to build a system of that sort. Almost all speech recognition
> > patents are dumb, but they use very complex math so they scare the crap
> > out of the patent office! like using convolutions to match signals! wow,
> > that's non-obvious! NOT!
> >
> > good for Cauchy and Cantor that aren't here to witness the result of
> > their geniality :(
> >
> > Patents aren't the problem: the incredible ignorance of the US patent
> > office is!
> >
> I dunno.  Personally I agree with the author of this page, that it
> equates to a theorem and I don't think that mathematical laws should be
> patentable.  At the very least I think the patents run for way too
> long.  US Patent laws were base on the idea that you'd have to build a
> big factory and ramp up for production in order to profit from an
> invention or sell it to someone who can.  This isn't necessarily the
> case for software.  

Oh, here I totally agree! Two years should be plenty to get enough
visibility to become big and healthy enough, without stopping everybody

> Next, a 6-12 months cycle can be a lifetime in
> software, let alone several years.  I'm a bit leftist on software
> patents.  I think they stifle innovation.  I think progress is a
> community effort.  We'll have to agree to disagree on the idea of
> software patents.

I think that protection of intellectual property is not a bad thing, per
se. The concept that 'information wants to be free' is screwed: for the
first time in the history of mankind, the marginal cost of copying
information is *zero*, not 'low' or 'low for big numbers' but *zero*.
This changes the picture a lot (see napster and friends), but doesn't
mean that people shouldn't be rewarded for the brainwork they did.

note that *rewarded* doesn't mean 25$ per CD or 3% of your software
revenue per 15 years!

I give away my software and my patents (yes, a few things in Cocoon
could be patentable) but I get *rewarded* with respect, fun, knowledge,
vibility, better code and new ideas.

And most of these things you can't even buy with money!

the people must understand that 'reward != money'... interesting enough,
europeans seem to appreciate this disequation much more than
americans... probably because wellfare give europeans benefits without
always having to pass thru money exchanges.

ah, well, getting too off topic, I guess :)
> Lastly, from a practical standpoint -- it would be very difficult to
> apply them intelligently as you suggest.  Maybe as the economy melts
> down, it will get easier.  The truth of the matter is what software guy
> who is general enough to understand all of the different kinds of
> software patent submissions he gets in and yet smart enough to be able
> to understand the more complicated ones would want this kind of boring,
> thankless, probably low paying job?  I'd hate to be the guy/gal that
> staffs that office.

Yes, but I'd love to be part of an open and meritocratic community of
'patent rejection'. Wound't you?

Stefano Mazzocchi      One must still have chaos in oneself to be
                          able to give birth to a dancing star.
<>                             Friedrich Nietzsche

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