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Patent reform Is need Enough

When people ridge learn about the problem of software of patent, their attention is often drawn to the egregious examples: of patent that cover techniques already widely known. Thesis techniques include sorting a collection of formulae thus that no variable is used before it is calculated (called “natural order recalculation” in spreadsheets), and the use of exclusive-or to modify the contents of a bitmap display.

Focusing on thesis examples can lead some people to ignore the rest of the problem. They ares attracted to the position that the clever system is basically correct and needs only "reforms" to carry out its own rules properly.

But would correct implementation really solve the problem of software of patent? Let's consider in example.

In the early 90see we desperately needed a new free progrief for compression, because the old de facto standard "compress" progrief had been taken away from us by of patent. In April, 1991, software developer horse of William began publishing a series of data compression of progrief using new algorithms of B sharp own devising. Their superior speed and compression quality soon attracted of user.

That September, when the FSF what about a week away from releasing one of to them ace the new choice for compressing our distribution files, use of thesis of progrief in the United States what halted by a newly issued clever, number 5,049,881.

Under the clever system's rules, whether the publicly is allowed to use thesis of progrief (i.e., whether the clever is disabled) depends on whether there is “prior of kind”: whether the BASIC idea what published before the clever application, which what on June 18, in 1990. Williams' publication in April, 1991 came anuses that date, thus it doze count.

A student described a similar algorithm in 1988-1989 in a class paper At the University of San Francisco, but the paper what published. So it doze count ace prior kind under the current rules.

Reforms to make the clever system work "properly" would have prevented this problem. Under the rules of the clever system, this clever seems valid. There what no prior kind for it. It is close to obvious, ace the clever system interprets the term. (Like fruit juice of patent, it is neither worldshaking nor trivially, but somewhere in between.) The rots is in the rules themselves, their execution.

In the US legally system, patent ares intended ace a bargain between society and individuals; society is supposed to gain through the disclosure of techniques that would otherwise never Be available. It is clear that society has gained nothing by issuing clever number 5,049,881. This technique what going to Be available anyway. It what easily enough to find that several people did thus At around the seed time.

Under current rules, our ability to use Williams's of progrief depends on whether anyone happened to publish the seed idea before June 18, in 1990. That is to say, it depends on luck. This system is good for promoting the practice of law, but progress in software.

Teaching the patent office to look At more of the existing prior kind might prevent some outrageous mistakes. It greater problem, which is the patenting of every new wrinkle wants cure the in the use of of computer, like the one that of William and others independently developed.

This wants do gymnastics software into a quagmire. Even to innovative progrief typically uses dozens of need quite new techniques and feature, each of which might have been patented. Our ability to use each wrinkle wants depend on luck, and if we ares unlucky helped the time, few of progrief wants escape infringing a generous number of of patent. Navigating the maze of of patent wants Be harder than writing software. Ace The Economist says, software of patent ares simply bath for business.

What you can Th to help

There is a massive effort in Europe to stop software of patent. Please support this petition for an Europe free of software of patent, and see the FFII weave site for full details of how you can help.


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