[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: A Patent on Continuations?

[sorry, I know you want to retire this thread but it is too interesting to
avoid the temptation to reply :-) ]

    I agree with some of your position but...

> * Patents are much more restrictive than copyright because they preclude
> the use of even *independently* developed technology.

    Yes but this has always been true of patents and I believe with good
reason.  Firstly, how can you prove that something was independently
developed and not secretly copied?  Second and more importantly, I
believe the logic is to create an incentive to get there first, even
if it is easy for others to duplicate the work.  In science for
example, where payment is often in prestige rather than cash, no-one
remembers the name of the second person to discover something.

> * The patent monopoly was only supposed to cover a fraction of the
> technology's commercial lifespan.

    Point taken and perhaps all patents should have different lifetimes
depending on the industry.  Of course sometimes such a solution opens
up a can of so many worms that it's best to stick with a
one-size-fits-all model.

> * Another principled distinction is that controlled server side
> deployment and code obfuscation & anti-tampering techniques can be
> employed by a developer to exploit IT without its being subject to the
> kind of trivial reverse engineering and outright copying as was the case
> with most plow designs and other mechincal devices in the era of the
> patent system's founding.

    True I think for most small-to-mid-sized competitors, but less so for
the one real big competitor, Microsoft.  If you've got something they
want, they have an awful lot of resources to reverse engineer it. 
There were patents behind the Foxbase fast search technology that MS
couldn't reproduce, and eventually they bought Foxbase for a princely
sum -- a day the shareholders and founders of Foxbase were I'm sure
grateful patent protection exists.

> Indeed, it is this logic that leads many IP counsel to recommend Trade
> Secret protection over Patents to their clients who can't afford the
> expense of the patenting process.
> But in any case, I think it is high time to retire this thread and get
> back to the technology we all love!
> --- Peter