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Re: Is anyone packaging `lame' ?

On Mon, Dec 27, 2004 at 03:39:23PM +0100, Florian Weimer wrote:

 > The existing European software patents were granted based on the
 > assumption that you can differentiate between a computer program and
 > its underlying ideas.  I think such a distinction is indeed possible,
 > and granting theese patents does not contradict Article 52.

 I am curious, what do you have in mind?

 I think granting a patent on a design for a physical object is fine.
 In your example of a garden hose, I wouldn't grant such a patent on the
 basis that -- besides being trivial -- it is a construction that can
 and does occur in Nature, making that more of a "discovery" than
 anything else.  I would grant patents on plug designs for such a
 device, though.

 On the other hand, an algorithm -- which is from my POV the crux of the
 issue when talking about software patents -- is "just" an idea.  It can
 be hard to come by, but it is still an idea.  It's expression as a
 computer program is copyrightable, but I do not think that it is sane
 to grant patents on the idea itself on the grounds of discernibility.
 There are many examples of algorithms which perform much better when
 specialized or "trivial" modifications are made to them.  How far
 reaching would software patents be?  Would these "trivial
 modifications" be allowed?  Or would they be covered by the original

 These "trivial changes" are the subject of countless papers on
 conferences.  There are such changes which do in fact advance the
 field, but then there are changes which I could perhaps describe as
 trivial optimizations.  It is perhaps that fact which tells me that
 patents on algorithms are a bad idea: if people a willing to present
 real trivialities as "advancement in the field" and reviewers all over
 the world are willing to accept these papers for publication, why
 should I be willing to accept in advance that patents won't be granted
 for "trivial ideas"?

 Back on topic, I think copyright provides the author with enough
 protection to make the development activity a profitable one.  I
 honestly do not see the need for patents in this area.


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