I started writing a paper describing my algorithm using mathematical formulas. Sounds logical, right? But remember, it is forbidden to patent a mathematical formula. I was thus asked to describe everything using boxes and arrow, showing how an input was affecting the final output.
My job became hell on earth. I had to spend my days translating very elegant formulas into dumb boxes. Each time, I received comments like: "make it less software", "hide the fact that we are patenting a formula" or "make it more confusing. You don't want competitor to be able to implement your patent, right?".
Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor...35 U.S.C. § 101
Ask any programmer — developing software is as creative and unique as writing poetry.
Except that Yahoo!'s copyright on its own implementation of the invention (if it even has one) would be of no use here because there's no allegation that Facebook infringed Yahoo!'s copyright. Rather, the allegation is that Facebook infringed Yahoo!'s patent on the invention. This argument is like saying that criminal law shouldn't exist because victims can just sue in tort. The two areas of law protect different interests in different ways.
The wheel is actually a remarkably non-obvious invention. No one invented it in pre-Columbian America despite thousands of years of opportunity, for example.
That still doesn't make software patents anything but evil.
This is not a moral issue. It appears that Andy Baio is mad that a company acquired his company, thereby acquiring his patents, and then did things with said patents that he did not like.
That's the job of the requirements of enablement and written description: "The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same."
Besides, do you really want people to be able to claim copyright protection on the functional aspects of software? At least a patent term is only 20 years and there are no statutory damages or criminal liability.
A similar conflict of interest allegation could be made of any software developer that rails against software patents.
On review: my prior comment was over a page long, which is usually something of a warning sign for me, so I'm going to bow out. I doubt I was contributing much of anything new on the topic anyway.
The scary part is that even the most innocuous patent can be used to crush another’s creativity. One of the patents I co-invented is so abstract, it could not only cover Facebook’s News Feed, but virtually any activity feed. It puts into very sharp focus the trouble with software patents: Purposefully vague wording invites broad interpretation.
In their complaint, Yahoo alleges that Facebook’s News Feed violates “Dynamic page generator,” a patent filed in 1997 by their former CTO related to the launch of My Yahoo, one of the first personalized websites. Every web application, from Twitter to Pinterest, could be said to violate this patent. This is chaos.
1. A method of refreshing bread products, comprising:
a) placing a bread product in a device that refreshes the bread product, and
b) using the device to refresh the bread product.
2. The method of claim 1 including the step of selecting said bread products from rolls, muffin, buns and bagels.
You are paid to be a craftsman, not a poet. You should be using the same code over and over as much as humanly possible.
This why if I think about the Navier-Stokes equations hard enough I can cause simulated water to appear on a computer screen. Or if I ponder Newtonian mechanics for a while I can conjure up a physics simulation.
Since I can't actually do that, it stands to reason that there is something different about an equation standing by itself and a computer program that uses that equation to produce a useful result. That something different is called "utility," and it's a requirement for patentability.
In the foregoing specification, embodiments of the invention have been described with reference to numerous specific details that may vary from implementation to implementation. Thus, the sole and exclusive indicator of what is in the invention, and is intended to be the invention, is the set of claims that issue from this application [...] The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense.
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