I?ve just had my first pro software patents thought.

As some of ye may know I?ve been working on a flame fractal rendering engine. Well I never had any thoughts on making money on it or anything and always intended to open source it if there ever was any interest in it.

Well I pretty much got the key anti-aliasing bit working, that?s the bit that separates my rendering technique from existing ones. Now after having gone through all the hard work of developing and refining the method, the final implementation is deceptively simple.

And after realising that if I open-sourced the program how easy it would be for people to just take my method and implement it in their own programs without giving me credit, and well for the first time I had a pro closed source, possible even pro software patents thought over an app I?d never expect to make money off of.

Now I?m thinking that if I do open source this, it?ll be under the 4 clause Berkeley-style license, as opposed to the more popular 3-clause version.

Anyway I realise this reads more like a blog entry than a post but I just felt like sharing these thought with ye, disregard if you desire.
Posted on 2005-08-12 13:57:22 by Eóin
It is true. The first person to the patent office with your idea wins, copyright license or not.
Posted on 2005-08-12 17:20:24 by SpooK
i didn't think it was that easy to patent someone elses idea?

(i assume you are in America right?)

i was under the impression that if previous work existed ("prior art") they couldn't claim the technique is new or original.

but, as you may expect, i'm not a lawyer, so .. :)

depending on how unique your idea is, maybe you could open-source it anyway and then hope to get picked up, noticed, by some nice large company. or perhaps appraoch them with the idea...
Posted on 2005-08-13 03:19:12 by abc123
Yes, but try to prove that when somebody comes up with a clever idea to make it seem like it was originally their idea. You underestimate the greediness of people, especially anyone associated with anything that has the word "corporation" in it. Even beyond that, only certain countries recognize orignial ideas from other countries.

All I am trying to say is, Eoin is better safe than sorry. You cannot trust anyone with anything anymore, especially with how open the internet is. Either find a way to make the idea completely free, or patent it yourself just to make sure.
Posted on 2005-08-13 04:32:27 by SpooK
yes, that's true, i suppose they could attempt to aalter the idea in some minor way to make it their own.

stupid patents.

i think it would be better, in some ways, if the governments totally disabled and destroyed the idea. what effect would it have? at least it would engage competition.


best of luck with it anyway, eoin, whatever you do :)
Posted on 2005-08-13 06:11:12 by abc123
America has mad patent stuff, I presume it's the Corporate fear of a truly open market like the Internet.
For instance Amazon has 'patented' one-click payments....

Software patent bill thrown out

European politicians have thrown out a controversial bill that could have led to software being patented.
The European Parliament voted 648 to 14 to reject the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive.

The bill was reportedly rejected because, politicians said, it pleased no-one in its current form.

Responding to the rejection the European Commission said it would not draw up or submit any more versions of the original proposal.

Dispute resolution

Hi-tech firms supporting the directive said it was vital to protect the fruits of their research and development.

Opponents said, if passed, the bill would lead to the patenting of software which would jeopardise the prospects of small firms and open source developers.

The vote on Wednesday was on the more than 100 amendments made to the original bill.

The original bill was written to give EU-wide patent protection for computerised inventions such as CAT scanners and ABS car-brake systems. The bill would have also given the same protections to software when it was used to realise inventions.

Software is already protected by copyright.

The rejection looks like the end for the bill as the European Parliament will also move to stop the version of the bill that has already been approved in the 25 EU member nations becoming law.

The bill was intended to sweep away individual EU nations' patent dispute systems in favour of one common procedure.

"Patents will continue to be handled by national patent offices ... as before, which means different interpretations as to what is patentable, without any judiciary control by the European Court of Justice," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, representing the EU head office at the vote.

Intellect, the UK's trade association for hi-tech firms, welcomed the decision.

John Higgins, director general of Intellect, said it was right to leave the existing framework in place.

"The current system has served the interests of the UK hi-tech industry well, giving companies both large and small the incentive to invest in research and the ability to protect the fruits of their work from exploitation by others," he said.

Dr John Collins, a partner at patent attorney Marks & Clerk said the decision was not a victory for opponents of software patents.

"Today's outcome is a continuation of inconsistency and uncertainty with regard to software patenting across the EU," he said.

"Software will continue to be patented in Europe as it has been for the last 30 years," said Dr Collins.

The anti-piracy Business Software Alliance said it would have welcomed harmonisation of European patent laws and the decision marked a time for reflection.

"The BSA hopes that the debate has cast a spotlight on the need for patent reform that is responsive to inventors large and small," said Francisco Mingorance, BSA Europe's public policy director.

Troubled history

The prospects for the bill passing diminished on Tuesday when two prominent parties in the Parliament, the EPP (Group of the European People's Party) and the PSE (Parliamentary Group of the Party of European Socialists), told the Reuters news agency they would be voting to reject the bill.

Prior to the vote Liberal Democrat MEP, Andrew Duff, said rejecting the bill altogether would be unsatisfactory.

He said: "To fail to legislate at all would leave the industry to the mercy of the European Patent Office, the courts and panels of the World Trade Organisation.

"That could be a costly, legalistic and confusing situation," he said.

As voting took place protesters gathered in Strasbourg outside the European Parliament to make their views known.

More than 1,700 Europe-wide companies, represented by the Free Information Infrastructure UK (FFII-UK), joined the plea for the European Union to reject any law which patents software.

The FFII-UK and many others feared the that the passing of the bill would lead to Europe following the US and allowing business processes to be patented.

This has led to online store Amazon patenting and protecting its one-click shopping system.

Big technology firms, such as Philips, Nokia, Microsoft, Siemens, and telecoms firm Ericsson, continued to voice their support for the original bill.


Posted on 2005-08-13 07:33:07 by eek
Personally I'm anti-patents not because I see them as a bad idea, but because I feel they are too easy to get. My ideal world would have patent but they'd only be granted for very worthy cases and they would only last a short few years.
Posted on 2005-08-13 07:46:32 by Eóin
agreed, short-term patents would be a better solution.

perhaps a standard patent period of 6 months; and then you must prove why you require a patent for longer.
Posted on 2005-08-13 17:29:26 by abc123
I think patents altogether are a dumb idea. If you think of something, and someone else uses or improves on that idea... so be it. Patents inhibit software evolution, most of the time we are trying to find less effective methods of doing the same thing.
Posted on 2005-08-13 17:35:45 by SpooK
Hi Spook,

In an ideal world that would be the case, where someone uses your idea and improves on it. But unfortunately that is not the world we live in. A company like Microsoft can use your idea and force it on the market making massive amounts of cash from it and not give you a cent. Patents help protect the investment in time and perhaps money you have put into creating an algorithm that does the job better than any other. I am pretty convinced that if handled properly software patents are a good thing but like others in this thread I find they are granted for trivial peices of code or concepts that have no right to be patented. The patent act specifically prohibits granting a patent for things like "one-click payments" as it was previously in use publically but for some unknown reason (probably heaps of cash) they are granting these useless, unenforcible patents.
Posted on 2005-08-14 10:59:21 by donkey
Then will be best to change the guys in "the power".... a but wait a minute... we can't (is his life I guess ).... lol.

By the way, you say a trivial algorithm or deduction shoulnt be patented... for example the interface for the PC result in a mouse... but for me is not a invention, is a deduction that was needed to be solved... tought there are things that take much time to see them, there exist only a little that I guess can generate a world of deductions... the ones that generate them are the real inventions.
Posted on 2005-08-15 01:25:03 by rea