Subject: Re: Novel anti-software-patent article
From: Crispin Cowan <crispin@cse.ogi.edu>
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2000 19:33:31 +0000

Russell Nelson wrote:

> Well, in the 1700's and 1800's, science (pure research) was a hobby of
> the well-to-do.  Oh, and if you found out something really unique,
> like volts, or amps, coulomb, or newtons, you got the units for
> measuring it named after you.  Now there's RSA, Duff's device, Karn's
> algorithm, and the Gilmore box (well, I just made that one up; John is
> too humble to name his DES-cracking box after himself).  No reason why
> more of that can't happen, and it sure seems to me like attention
> these days turns into money.

Speakinf of RSA & co., is it purely coincidental that all the really useful public key
algorithms were developed after algorithm patents?  Are we really sure that people will
continue to invest in crypto algorithm research motivated by fame, glory, and
first-to-market?

I'm also not so sure about the "first to market" claim.  If you manage to keep your
algorithm secret until you go to market, then sure, you'll be first to market.
However, if you accidentally disclose it in public, or you disclose it to other
cryptographers for that much-valued peer-review effect, then people with deeper pockets
than you very well might beat you to market.

To be clear, I'm as offended as anyone at the *stupid* patents that are being issued
for stuff that is painfully obvious.  My questions pertain only to legitimately novel
algorithms.

Crispin
-----
Crispin Cowan, CTO, WireX Communications, Inc.    http://wirex.com
Free Hardened Linux Distribution:                 http://immunix.org