Subject: Re: [Freesw] priorart.org
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 11:55:29 +0900

>>>>> "Frank" == =?iso-2022-jp?B?GyRCJVUlaSVzJS8hISVZJU0lQyVIGyhC?=  <Frank> writes:

    Frank> Does anyone know of studies that have been done on this
    Frank> subject?

There are game theoretic studies which just say what you just did in
mathematics, and go on to look at equilibrium effects.  They do leave
signs of the parameters ambiguous; it could go either way in
principle.  Ditto for the equilibria, the results are very sensitve to
modeling assumptions.  I am not aware of any literature in economics
or referred to by economists that actually _measures_ the parameters.
(Measurement would also be sufficiently sensitive to the model that in
practice you should be able to get any measured result you want.)

    Frank> The idea that a software patent should be allowed on the
    Frank> basis that it combines two preexisting pieces of software
    Frank> in a way that is not obvious is, er, not very obvious to
    Frank> me.

Not as a programmer.  Think like an economist -- which is what patent
law has always been based on.  Putting a "|" between "ls" and "sort"
is obvious, technically.  The question is, "will it make money?" ie,
"is it socially beneficial to implement this technique?"

I don't know about software patents, but that's the only possible
justification for business method patents -- recognizing that a
technical possibility can be turned into a profit.  Business methods
are rarely, if ever, technically novel or unobvious.

That said, in practice for software and business methods IM uninformed
O the social value of "encouraging" these useful arts is less than the
social cost of the monopolies used as carrots in process.

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