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Software patents

This is a discussion on Software patents within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I know this may spark a debate here that may require moderators to stay on their toes, but the current ...

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Software patents

    I know this may spark a debate here that may require moderators to stay on their toes, but the current state of software patents is simply driving me (and only me, I'm sure) nuts. This one* from engadget just piqued my interest in the topic, again, and while I know it's not the most absurd one, I just can't wrap my head around how anyone would even consider patenting something like this. I mean what ever happened to being new, useful, and non-obvious? Is the patent department really having trouble distinguishing "non-obvious" from "too trivial to bother implementing at this time"? I mean does the first person who chooses to implement a trivial feature on their platform automatically get the sole right to use it now?

    I often wonder what side I'm "supposed to be" standing on being in software development. These patent wars want to convince everyone that they're protecting the developer, yet they seem to go against every moral idealism that so many developers say they strive for.

    ** Please note, by the way, that I understand this is just an article about a patent application, but from the patents out there today, I wouldn't be shocked if this one got full approval.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 09-20-2012 at 02:45 PM.
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    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    [s]Software[/s] patents are a disease.
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    RoD
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    Speaking directly about the link you gave, what is your problem with it? I guess I'm missing your point because patents exist for a reason. Software, kids toys, cars, who cares people have a right to protect their intellectual property and anything that comes as a result of it.

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    Programming Wraith GReaper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoD View Post
    Speaking directly about the link you gave, what is your problem with it? I guess I'm missing your point because patents exist for a reason. Software, kids toys, cars, who cares people have a right to protect their intellectual property and anything that comes as a result of it.
    The problem is, like with any property, people ( like apple ) often get greedy and who knows, we may end up at some time in the future when everything will be patented. That's not a world I want to live in. ( Good thing those patents have expiration dates )
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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    The problem I have with patenting trivial ideas is that it discourages innovation from new developers. Most new developers don't have the capital to patent their ideas before they start making money off of them. It's only worth it to lay out the money or to find financiers if you can say (or prove) with some certainty that the idea will, on its own, generate enough revenue to cover both the costs and a reasonable amount of interest on the investment. Could we say for sure that, as a stand-alone application the idea presented in the article would make money? This puts large corporations as an advantage to literal buy exclusivity and it's the reason we have so many oligopolies these days.
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    RoD
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    Quote Originally Posted by GReaper View Post
    The problem is, like with any property, people ( like apple ) often get greedy and who knows, we may end up at some time in the future when everything will be patented. That's not a world I want to live in. ( Good thing those patents have expiration dates )
    Eh it should actually cultivate innovation and progress.

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    RoD
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom View Post
    The problem I have with patenting trivial ideas is that it discourages innovation from new developers. Most new developers don't have the capital to patent their ideas before they start making money off of them. It's only worth it to lay out the money or to find financiers if you can say (or prove) with some certainty that the idea will, on its own, generate enough revenue to cover both the costs and a reasonable amount of interest on the investment. Could we say for sure that, as a stand-alone application the idea presented in the article would make money? This puts large corporations as an advantage to literal buy exclusivity and it's the reason we have so many oligopolies these days.
    See above

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    I agree with the OP here. What's going on these days is an attempt to acquire rights to a mere concept (an "effect", in essence) rather than some particular mechanism. Patenting a specific design for an airplane, for instance, makes complete sense - patenting the idea itself of a "flying machine" does not.

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoD View Post
    Eh it should actually cultivate innovation and progress.
    Right, the concept of patents should cultivate innovation, but it doesn't and I think I was pretty clear why. The real problem is that these corporations aren't patenting them to protect their intellectual integrity, they're just doing it to hold leverage over their major competitors... unfortunately, the smaller developers (and even the consumers) become collateral damage.

    This is really an issue solely in software patents because it's a real grey area and the patent office doesn't know how to draw clear lines as to what is true innovation and what is not. Additionally, when they're unsure, usually they demand a patent so specific that competing companies only have to change the most minute detail in order to circumvent it which protects no one.
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    [s]Software[/s] patents are a disease.
    while(++this);

    Amos ([Edit]Leaving this because I'm honestly not sure how I typed that!?[/Edit])

    [Edit]
    And by the way, obvious to someone with field experience is not the same obvious to someone with no field experience.

    The clerks don't generally have enough experience or other special record necessary to realize that something is triviality wrapped up in context. This is why a patent on matrix multiplication exists.
    [/Edit]

    Soma
    Last edited by phantomotap; 09-20-2012 at 10:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoD View Post
    Speaking directly about the link you gave, what is your problem with it? I guess I'm missing your point because patents exist for a reason. Software, kids toys, cars, who cares people have a right to protect their intellectual property and anything that comes as a result of it.
    The problem is that many patents are owned by 'patent trolls', (like Intellectual Ventures ) who do not create, market or sell anything.

    These companies buy patents and then sue anyone working in similar areas. They are a tax on companies actually trying to innovate.

    Another issue is the application of laws created before the computer age;

    Fixing Software Patents By Actually Applying Existing Patent Law | Techdirt
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    They are a tax on companies actually trying to innovate.
    while(++this_also);

    Soma ^_^;

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    RoD
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    Quote Originally Posted by novacain View Post
    The problem is that many patents are owned by 'patent trolls', (like Intellectual Ventures ) who do not create, market or sell anything.

    These companies buy patents and then sue anyone working in similar areas. They are a tax on companies actually trying to innovate.

    Another issue is the application of laws created before the computer age;

    Fixing Software Patents By Actually Applying Existing Patent Law | Techdirt
    See this is a great example of an intelligent, educational, meaningful response.

  14. #14
    and the hat of copycat stevesmithx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarin View Post
    [s]Software[/s] patents are a disease.
    Meh no. The real beneficiaries are lawyers, not doctors.<J/K> Seriously, the only clear winners of this patent mess are the lawyers. To quote Woz, "I hate it".
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    while(++this);
    assuming (this) is a real data type with a finite number of bits, this code will loop until (this) overflows and ends up back at zero. in C, this code will compile without error or warning (unless some elevated level of warnings complains about the semicolon with no braces), but in C++, since (this) is an implicitly const pointer, and is only valid within the context of a nonstatic class or struct member function, it would certainly not compile.


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