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Re: Patent and software ...


From: Terry Lambert
Subject: Re: Patent and software ...
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 03:42:54 +0000 (GMT)

> In USA, is it possible to take out a patent for a software or an idea ?

No.  You can get a process patent on an algorithm applied to a
particular problem.  This patent won't be recognized by the rest
of the world, per se.

Effectively, this lets you patent spacific applications of
algorithms to process.

This is generally considered a bad thing, since patent
examiners are generally not practitioners of the art.


> if a mere idea can be patented, then companies can patent all the
> unimaginable ideas and wait until have been developped by anyone else to
> have a operating monopoly or to cash rights.
> 
> Is that true ?

No.  First, you have to have the idea; then you have to apply
it to a process.  Patent law was recently reformed in the U.S.
to bring it into conformance with the World Intellectual Property
Organization.  U.S. patents are now 20 years from filing date.

Before this change, it was 17 years from date of issue.  This
let you apply for a patent, and not start the clock on it until
someone tried to use your idea for something useful (usually,
when you couldn't figure out a use for it yourself).  This was
called a "submerged patent".


> What are organizations which grant patent ?

USPTO.gov (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

WIPO.int (World Intellectual Property Organization)

Most governments have some form of patent protection mechanism.


> thank you for your help.

If you want help, you should look to the third most cited author
in all of Computer Science, Jeffrey Ullman, instead of reading
Stallman or other fringe commentators with their own agenda to
sell you; here is his 2000 Knuth Prize Lecture, entitled "Ordinary
Skill in the Art":

http://www-db.stanford.edu/~ullman/pub/focs00.html

It discusses in detail the qualifications for patents on software,
what's right, and what's wrong with the current state of affairs.


                                        Terry Lambert
                                        address@hidden
---
Any opinions in this posting are my own and not those of my present
or previous employers.



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