Subject: Re: what defines source code in (A)GPL ?
From: John Cowan <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2010 23:33:51 -0400

Wilson, Andrew scripsit:

> Note this illustrates why SW patents in general are considered
> toxic by engineers, because engineers have no way to know which algorithms
> in source code they read are patented.

It's actually worse than that.  For one thing, independent reinvention is
no defense, so even an algorithm Alice makes up herself can be already
patented by Bob.  Worse yet, even Bob's patent doesn't necessarily give
him the right to use his technique, because a necessary underlying
technique may already be subject (all unknown to Bob) to a patent
by Charlie.

Indeed, because of triple damages for knowing violation, it's safer for
a programmer not to attempt to discover if an algorithm is patented,
but simply to remain in (and claim) ignorance.

John Cowan
If I have seen farther than others, it is because I am surrounded by dwarves.
        --Murray Gell-Mann