Software Patent Scares

Anything and everything that's related to OGRE or the wider graphics field that doesn't fit into the other forums.
Bill
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Post by Bill »

pjcast wrote:
Bill wrote: Well copyrights and patents protect things in different ways. A copyright will protect your stuff for your lifetime or for 50 years in the case of a corporation. There are a number of loop holes in the copyright law under the fair use clause. For instance, you can copy copyrighted materials for scolarship purposes. But the main difference is that a patent protects your idea where a copyright only protects an instance of your idea.
What's wrong with being able to use copyrighted items for educational purposes? That's how people learn... And that practice has been around long before software was around (for literature and what not)... And it's not as if a educational institute can start competing with you with your own copyrighted material.

There is nothing wrong with it. I didn't say there was. I'm quite in favor of it as I copy stuff under that clause all the time. I was just pointing out the a copyright isn't iron clad protection.
pjcast wrote:[And that's exactly right that patents protect ideas... The point is idea's should not be protected, implementation should (ie software itself), although with limits (like time limts).
This would kill off industries where the cost of development greatly outweighs the cost of manufacture. The pharmaceutical industry is a perfect example. It only cost pennies to make each individual pill, but it costs 10s of millions (some say 100s of millions) to come up with the formula. If a competitor could just copy the formula he could easily under cut the inventor because he wouln't have to cover develoment costs. The inventors of new medicines would be drivin out of buisness.


pjcast wrote:
Bill wrote: So let's say you come up with a really good compression algorithm. So you write a program and market it. M$ likes your program and want to include it in their OS. So what they do is buy a copy and reverse engineer it to figure out your algorithm. They produce a document that describes the algorithm and hand it over to a bunch of programers who have never seen your code (clean room). They produce a new program that goes in to their OS and your market ceases to exist. And there is nothing you can do about it even though your code was copyrighted.
Reverse engineering something is not against the law afaik. So they can, and will do it anyway.
Right that was my point. Reverse engineering is a proper thing to do and companies do it all the time in order to figure out how their competition is making stuff. That's why a copyright won't protect your algorithm, thus the need for a patent.

I would like to reiterate what I think are main problems. 1) That patents are given for things that they shouldn't be. 2) That access to the court system is very costly. And 3) that judgments from the courts takes way too long.

I think reform is needed rather than abolishment of the patent system.

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Post by Minion »

I was wondering how Sony managed to escape unscathed.

I guess it was a little early for me to draw that conclusion!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/20 ... 332793.htm

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Xinc
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Post by Xinc »

Sony infringed on its technology that makes a game controller vibrate in sync with actions in games
what the heck?... thats been around for ages and has been integrated into numerous controllers. This would be the same thing as MS' Feed-Back technology no?
- Xinc

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pjcast
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Post by pjcast »

Bill wrote: This would kill off industries where the cost of development greatly outweighs the cost of manufacture. The pharmaceutical industry is a perfect example. It only cost pennies to make each individual pill, but it costs 10s of millions (some say 100s of millions) to come up with the formula. If a competitor could just copy the formula he could easily under cut the inventor because he wouln't have to cover develoment costs. The inventors of new medicines would be drivin out of buisness.
Firstly, I don't recall saying all patents are bad... However, don't get me started about pharmaceutucal companies (for one...most of the initial research is done with public taxpayer money at universities)... *rant*And what gives them the rights to get patents on human genomes?? */rant*

With regards to software, though, there should be no patents... As most things written in software have concepts on other fields (Mathematicis, physics, common natural occurances, etc) and is it really good to be able patent such things just cause they are written on a computer?

Most everything patented ona computer follow the following equation...
1) take something that's been around for a while - or is common sense
2) add the word electronic or computer
3) wait...
4) ???
5) sue -> $$$

just my 2cents
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monster
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Post by monster »

Reverse engineering something is not against the law afaik. So they can, and will do it anyway.
Right that was my point. Reverse engineering is a proper thing to do and companies do it all the time in order to figure out how their competition is making stuff.
First, IANAL, but wooah! As far as I know Reverse Engineering is explicitly forbidden by many software licences.

Here's one at random;
ORACLE TECHNOLOGY NETWORK
DEVELOPMENT LICENSE AGREEMENT

"We," "us," and "our" refers to Oracle USA, Inc., for and on behalf of itself and its subsidiaries and affiliates under common control. "You" and "your" refers to the individual or entity that wishes to use the programs from Oracle. "Programs" refers to the Oracle software product you wish to download and use and program documentation.
...
You may not:
...
- cause or permit reverse engineering (unless required by law for interoperability), disassembly or decompilation of the programs;
...
Here's another one;
MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE TERMS
DirectX 9.0 Software Development Kit Update (February 2005)

These license terms are an agreement between Microsoft Corporation (or based on where you live, one of its affiliates) and you. Please read them. They apply to the software named above, which includes the media on which you received it, if any. The terms also apply to Microsoft:
...
4. SCOPE OF LICENSE. The software is licensed, not sold. This agreement gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights. Unless applicable law gives you more rights despite this limitation, you may use this software only as expressly permitted in this agreement. The software is engineered to allow you to use it in certain ways. You must comply with these technical limitations. You may not:
...
b. reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the software, except and only to the extent that applicable law expressly permits, despite this limitation,
...
You can reverse engineer for interoperability purposes, presumably so the people supplying the software don't have monopoly issues, but not so you can reimplement someone else's software.

AFAIK.

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pjcast
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Post by pjcast »

EULA's cannot remove someones rights given by federal laws :) (at least here in the states)... There are however, restrictions to what your allowed to do.
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monster
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Post by monster »

Indeed. Which is why the licence says "unless required by law for interoperability". I don't know US law (at all!) but I'm willing to bet that it doesn't allow you to reverse engineer a product so you can nick all the ideas that are contained within it.

Or does it?

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Post by pjcast »

Here's a good read: http://www.chillingeffects.org/reverse/faq.cgi#QID188 with regards toreverse engineering...

With the passing of the DMCA (which I think is a pile of ...), things become very fuzy as to what is legal and what is not.
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Post by Mawen »

Xinc wrote:
Sony infringed on its technology that makes a game controller vibrate in sync with actions in games
what the heck?... thats been around for ages and has been integrated into numerous controllers. This would be the same thing as MS' Feed-Back technology no?
Microsoft already settled with Immersion for around $21 mil.
I haven't heard anything about Nintendo, which uses it in their GameCube, and also used it back with Nintendo64 as the "Rumble Pack".

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Sydius
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Post by Sydius »

I feel sick. Software patents should not exist.

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Post by temas »

Nintendo, supposedly, specifically built the rumble pack in response to this patent. The patent only covered the internal mechanism, since the rumble pack is an external extension to the controller it is not under the jurisdiction of the patent. Apparently some companies are better at digging for patents than others.

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Longstreet
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Post by Longstreet »

I think its kind of stupid that you can pattent something as simple as a rumble pack to begin with. Lets see, put a motor with a weight and attatch a few resisters to keep it from burning up and tada... rumble pack.
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Sydius
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Post by Sydius »

They can get worse than that! I typed in “fight software patents” on Google, and it was not long before I found an article about a patent which patented the idea of transferring music from a server (such as a web server) to a client (such as a browser) by having the user specify which music to download (by clicking on a link, for example). What made their idea innovative is the fact that they intend to store the music on hard drives or CD-ROMs and transfer it over the internet. This patent was accepted, though, because it was verbose and blatantly padded with every big technical term they could think of to describe how almost every computer in existence handles a situation like that.

This thread has made me angry enough to put a banner on my site against software patents… and have been telling everyone I know to do likewise. Might not accomplish anything, but I respect people and companies who are against software patents.

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Post by Project5 »

There are plenty others that affect even broader concepts. Check out this cease and desist letter from Mr. Goldberg, who claims to have patented both multiplayer games and online ranking systems:
http://www.chillingeffects.org/patent/n ... iceID=1083

There are plenty of people fighting this sort of thing, so I suggest checking out these guys for ways to help.
http://www.eff.org

--Ben

Bill
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Post by Bill »

pjcast wrote:
With regards to software, though, there should be no patents... As most things written in software have concepts on other fields (Mathematicis, physics, common natural occurances, etc) and is it really good to be able patent such things just cause they are written on a computer?

Most everything patented ona computer follow the following equation...
1) take something that's been around for a while - or is common sense
2) add the word electronic or computer
3) wait...
4) ???
5) sue -> $$$

just my 2cents
I agree with you one hundred percent here. There are a lot of patents IMO that are give for old ideas just because someone stuck "on the computer" or "on the web" after it. For instance there is a patent for making a map on the web. That make no more sense then getting a patent for making a map with a certain kind of ink. It's just silly. Yet some patent examiner thought it was original and non-obvious.

Maybe I'll attach a 2x4 to a computer and patent it. I'll call it my "Patent Examiner Whacker." :-)

Anyway, even though there patenting not origional and very obvious ideas there are still some software ideas that are out there really are original and non-obvious. For instance, I read that someone has figured out how to encrypt a message inside a picture in such a way that the picture looks the same to a human. Now that is something that I think deserves a patent.

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Post by :wumpus: »

Bill wrote:For instance, I read that someone has figured out how to encrypt a message inside a picture in such a way that the picture looks the same to a human. Now that is something that I think deserves a patent.
Then again, by now that idea "Steganography" has been around for twenty years or so,and it's unclear who came up with it first. Some company claiming it owns the rights and patenting it now would be very bad.

That leaves patents as an one of the many ideas that work great in theory but gets screwed up entirely in practice.

Bill
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Post by Bill »

:wumpus: wrote:
Bill wrote:For instance, I read that someone has figured out how to encrypt a message inside a picture in such a way that the picture looks the same to a human. Now that is something that I think deserves a patent.
Then again, by now that idea "Steganography" has been around for twenty years or so,and it's unclear who came up with it first. Some company claiming it owns the rights and patenting it now would be very bad.

That leaves patents as an one of the many ideas that work great in theory but gets screwed up entirely in practice.

Ok. Bad example. *whacks self on head with 2x4*

Nevertheless, 20 some years ago someone though up the idea and I think that would be the kind of thing that would merit a patent.

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Post by nickuci »

One author brought up a good point here - its hard to know where these 'submarine' patents will come from. You have to employ *a lot of* people looking at what you're doing and what patents are out there to avoid most of these submarine patents. I don't entirely disagree with the patent system - at the very least the ideal of patents - but we've taken it too far in the US and I agree with most of what Sinbad et al are saying. Certainly some people making sure you're on the up and up with IP is good, especially at a large company, but the resources companies have to spend to ensure this are really crazy.

As an anecdotal story to this IP mess, I will share the following:
I knew a girl who worked in a company that dealt in IP. Her job was doing some writing for them. She said they deliberately made the patents obscure and difficult to find (yet technically still accurate) so that these employees looking for submarine patents might not be able to find them, and when someone seemed to violate they would have a way to make money.

Sick I tell you!

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Post by Sydius »

Software patents, in my mind, should only be allowed on two conditions: the patent must be VERY specific, and only last, at most, 4 or 5 years.

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Post by :wumpus: »

There we go, software patents are accepted by the European Parliament.
In a second reading vote on the controversial directive on the patentability of computerised inventions on Monday 20 June, the EP Legal Affairs Committee voted to allow patents on computer-driven inventions to protect the software itself. The report was adopted by 16 votes to 10 with no abstentions.

By Monday's vote, the committee left the Council's text largely unchanged, rejecting most of amendments tabled to limit the possibility of patenting computerised inventions. As a result, MEPs have agreed that computerised inventions, such as washing machines, cellular phones or ABS car breaking systems, should enjoy protection under patent law. Moreover, the protection would generally extend to the computer program - as advocated by big software companies - although only when the software is necessary for the functioning of the invention.

The committee's debate prior to the vote mirrored the differing views within the industry. Advocates of "open source" software, such as smaller companies, want the patents to be limited to the inventions themselves, leaving the underlying software unprotected and available to other users. Moreover, these firms claim copyright already protects their inventions and are afraid that patenting would raise legal costs.

By contrast, large information technology firms are in favour of a patent regime that would protect not only individual inventions that use computer programs but also the programs themselves. They argue that patents would encourage research spending and defend European inventions from US competition. These firms will on the whole be satisfied if Parliament's plenary endorses the committee vote in July.
here

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Post by AssiDragon »

They argue that patents would encourage research spending and defend European inventions from US competition.
Yeah. My ass.

There goes the myth that european lawmakers are perhaps no less idiots than their US counterparts.
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Post by Horizon »

IIRC this was wholly expected. People are hoping, however, that Parliament will not endorse this law, see the last line of your quote.

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