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   RE: [xml-dev] Re: Patents on XML software, file formats, schemas, vocabu

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> Ken, the impression you give is that the UK no longer grants 
> software patents.

You'll probably find if you look at the detail that they include a standard
form of words to get around the fact that software "as such" is not
patentable: instead you patent a machine configured by software to perform a
particular task. Such circumlocutions have been disallowed by the courts in
the past, but the boundaries are unclear. (It's harder, incidentally, to use
this workaround to get patents on business processes).

> What is more to the point, do you really think that the above such 
> applications shouldn't be allowed?

I think they shouldn't; or at any rate, the rights awarded to the patent
holder should be drastically reduced. For the following main reasons:

(a) there is no practical way when writing software of ensuring that it does
not infringe patents

(b) there is more public benefit in allowing ideas to be shared and
developed than in allowing them to be monopolized. There is no evidence that
disallowing patents in software (unlike, say, in pharmaceuticals) would slow
the pace of innovation.

(c) copyright protection is adequate.

Michael Kay


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