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   Re: Software patent debate: we lose round one

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 10:07:14 +0100

At 08:37 PM 5/28/00 -0400, David Megginson wrote:
>Since the U.S. phenomenon of software patents have been a hot topic
>around here (for the record, I think they're ludicrous), I'd like to
>draw everyone's attention to a recent debate between Tim O'Reilly and
>Tod Dickinson, the director of the U.S. patent office:
>  http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/patents/2000/05/24/PizzoFiles.html
>I'm actually posting this as a cautionary tale, because Tim arrives
>unprepared and gets badly whumped in the debate (at least, it looks that
>way reading the transcript; it's probably even worse in the RealAudio
>version).  If we're going to carry on this debate in any meaningful way,
>we're going to have to come much better prepared, and this debate shows
>very clearly where we need to collect a lot of good, credible evidence
>to back up our claims.

Thanks for this David,
		It should be clear from the discussion that the patent process is formal
and that "written" documentation is a key part in establishing prior art.
The patent process differs between countries, and blanket statements are
unlikely to apply to all countries. [There appears to be a significant
difference in effective practice between the US and Europe in what is
patentable at present, though some people expect convergence.]

		My purpose is to remind XML-DEV members of the importance of XML-DEV as
an archive. Anything information published on XML-DEV is effectively in the
public domain (but not necessarily the IP it relates to). HenryR and I have
been careful to make sure that the archive had some permanency in the early
stages and it has actually been published as part of a series of electronic
conferences on chemistry, and is on a CDROM which has an ISBN. Therefore
XML-DEV could potentially be of value in establishing prior art since 1997-02.

		Ideas per se are not patentable - it is the expression or implementation
of the idea - so records of this would be needed. As "moderator" I try to
take a neutral stand, but if members wish to use XML-DEV to publish in the
public domain, please be considerate about volume, relevancy to XML, and

	And, of course, choose meaningful titles! [I *still* see "Irony"
messages.] And a single posting puts material in the PD including the list
signature for XML-DEV. No need to republish it!


I think the level and importance of posting in the last weeks has been
outstandingly valuable.

Peter Murray-Rust. (CML, VHG and XML-DEV)
CMLC and VirtualXML ConCourse: http://www.cmlconsulting.com/
CML http://www.xml-cml.org/
Virtual HyperGlossary http://www.vhg.org.uk/

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