Subject: Re: The term "intellectual property" considered useful
From: Seth Johnson <>
Date: Fri, 26 May 2006 01:39:18 -0400

There are a couple kinds of abstraction: pure abstraction and
plain (or empirical) abstraction.

Pure abstraction is independent of any empirical particular. 
Math, logic, geometry are all bodies of pure abstract knowledge.

On the other hand, you can generalize that "if I use this
doohickey like this and put it together with a thingamajig like
this, then I can make froblets."  This is also an abstraction,
but it refers to empirical particulars.

Until computers came about, the two were separated intuitively,
and the distinction was not often spoken of.  But now we have
pure abstract algorithms that can also be used as and regarded as
plain abstract descriptions of (and controllers for) (ideas of)
processes that could be patented.

Patents were for non-pure abstraction, discoveries about how
things can be done with real world stuff and real world forces.

It is possible to distinguish software patents from other
patents.  First, establish a definition for "generic logic
processor."  Then, for any given application, require that
claimants sign a statement to the effect that "there are no
instructions provided to a logic processor in this invention; and
if there are, they are not covered by the patent."  Then
examiners don't have to fret over that.

In any contest, look for whether it has a generic logic processor
and then whether there are separate instructions provided to it
for execution (in whatever medium, RAM, FPGA, hard circuitry,
etc.).  Those instructions are pure logic and are not covered by
the patent.


> "David H. Lynch Jr" wrote:
>           My view is that software is NOT fundimentally
> different from anything else that currently IS patentable, and
> should not be.
>           My remarks above are my SPECULATION as to why
> software developers beleive that software should not be
> patented.
>           That said there is some truth to it. Software
> development - despite efforts to force it otherwise seems to
> compare more favorably with
>           processes such as art, music, architecture. The core
> to those processes is essentially a solitary act, or at best a
> small colaboration.
>           Software developers have spent decades trying to
> figure out how to make software development scale. While
> important advancements have been
>           made - and OpenSource developers appear to have come
> closest to succeeding at creating a scalable colaborative
> software development process,
>          it is still essentially true that adding people to
> software projects increases the odds they will fail.
>           I would sugest that adding managers, lawyers and
> paperwork will pretty much ensure failure.
>           The fact is (in the US) software is patentable, at
> this point the patent office may have issued more software
> patents than any other kind (no I do nto have hard facts, but I
> think that is a reasonable guess). And yet the software
> development process as a whole even in the US (with a few
> exceptions) is conducted completely oblivious to the existence
> of software patents.
>           That is a huge train wreck waiting to happen.
>           Accepting the assumption that software should be
> patentable. Software developers may well get what they want by
> causing the system to fail.
>           Corporations are bitching about the problems of
> Sarbanes-Oxley. Any serious effort to conform US software
> development to proper patent
>           due dilligence would be orders of magnitude worse.
>           I would even speculate that alot of offshoring may
> have be atleast partially motivated by patent liability issues
> - I am not suggesting it is a well thought out response.
>           Regardless, at best my personal view is that the
> intellectual property system does not actually work.
>           That clothed in whatever semantics you choose, it
> boils down to the ownership of ideas and that that is not
> workable.
>           That the ownership of ideas does not work in theory
> and can not be made to work in practice.
>           That the only thing that is actually different about
> software is that the distance between whatever the semantic
> legal construct we have deluded ourselves into beleiving
>           we are allowing to be patented - sort of the actual
> idea, is less than most other fields. Engineering patents are
> not less offensive, but there is more distance between the idea
> and the patent.
>           Though arguments have been raised (and continue to be
> raised) inside the engineering community about the true
> effectiveness of patents.


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