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Re: libdts patent issue?

On 7/19/05, Raul Miller <moth.debian@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 7/19/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> > I think you're missing Arnoud's point.  It's not math, it's an
> > application of math to the problem domain of message encryption.  That
> > makes it statutory subject matter for patenting, which math as such is
> > not.
> "it" is rather unclear here.

Sorry.  "It" = "the patentable subject matter of the invention".

> There's several values for "it", one of which includes the math, and the
> other which includes the physical process of encrypting messages.

The "physical" part is IMHO a Platonic, dualist hang-up.  What matters
is the application to a practical problem, such as hiding the
information content of message A from people who don't have key B.

> Furthermore, "xor" is a rather trivial transposition cipher (at the bit level),
> so regardless of whether or not laws can say whether or not the method
> is patentable they do, existing law seems to say that this would not be
> patentable.  [This would not be the case if bits themselves were non-
> obvious, but for that to be the case you'd have to be dealing with
> people from a different field of activity.]

Arnoud's example is of course not patentable -- but on obviousness
grounds, not statutory subject matter grounds.  It could, however,
easily form part of a patentable invention in which the nature of key
B is specified -- and if you had a novel way of generating
cryptographically strong pseudo-random bitstreams and wanted to patent
its cryptographic applications, that's exactly how you would do it.

> If a court has ruled that the patent is valid Nathanael's point that the
> court having problems recognizing the facts of the case is indeed a
> salient point.

Judges do not wade into highly technical areas unaccompanied.  You
might find Alex Kozinski's speech at
http://notabug.com/kozinski/claimschief informative.  He was the first
chief judge of what is now the US Court of Federal Claims, which is
the court of first instance for all intellectual property claims
against the United States including appeals from administrative
decisions of the USPTO.  The Federal Circuit, which handles all
appeals from the USCFC as well as appeals from district courts
involving the validity and scope of patents, has an even more
formidable army at its command.

- Michael

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