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- From: Lee Anne Phillips <email@example.com>
- To: xml-dev <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 22:52:06 -0800
At Monday 1/24/00 06:33 PM -0600, Len Bullard wrote:
>The lesson is: patent as fast as you can. MPEG does and they
>are going to make money. Someone has to pay for the stock bubble.
The other lesson is, if you're a developer (or hire them), get yourself (or
each of them) a hardbound lab notebook with numbered pages, about US$50 or
so at your local stationer, and every time you (or your employees) think of
something interesting that seems like a new idea, write it down in detail
and have at least two witnesses sign and date it. That way, you too may
have something to argue with when someone claims that there is no prior art
and it may even be worth hiring an attorney if you hear that someone has
patented "your" idea.
Half the software patents I've seen seem to be "clever" restatements of
ideas that have been floating around for years, like patenting a doorbell
because you put it on the flap of a tent, which no one had ever done before.
I strongly object to the whole idea of patenting software, which uses the
legal fiction of a metaphorical machine to get around the fact that they're
really patenting ideas and algorithms in thin disguise. The LZW "method" is
an algorithm, not a machine, and should be no more patentable than the
binomial theorem, which could just as easily have been swathed in a cloak
of "machine" frosting and sold to the highest bidder if our acquiescent
patent office had been around to cozy up to at the time. Feh!
The way to get rich off ideas is to have more of them and better ones, not
throw up moribund fossil thoughts as a barrier to further innovation. IBM
has one of the largest patent libraries in the world, which surely accounts
for the fact that they're not exactly at the forefront of software
development today. Having too many patents laying about is like hardening
of the arteries; it will kill you sooner or later.
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