Patents Unleashed and the future of Java Programming

Discussion in 'Java' started by ---, May 19, 2004.

  1. ---

    --- Guest

    Hi guys,

    Yesterday EU did put a tombstone onto the free and open source
    programming in Europe, and i think open Java (and C#) as well.

    From now on, or from the final vote on, large companies will find
    a lot of earnings simply dissecting the code of open source and java
    programmers, to extract patentable ideas and put them under
    a patented protection.

    How will we, Java developers, create large systems with a language
    that can be easily decompiled to seek for patent breachings of
    very simple ideas and algorithms?

    I foresee a world of lawyers instead of inventors, since code
    dissection to search implementation of algorithms can be made
    authomatic for easy to decompile languages like java and Mono C#...


    Damn
     
    ---, May 19, 2004
    #1
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  2. ---

    ak Guest

    Yesterday EU did put a tombstone onto the free and open source
    demokratie is good.., if you can buy parliament!
     
    ak, May 19, 2004
    #2
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  3. ---

    Roedy Green Guest

    The good news in this era should be temporary. Eventually the patents
    on everything obvious should expire.
     
    Roedy Green, May 19, 2004
    #3
  4. ---

    Chris Smith Guest

    Unfortunately, no. It's surprising how often people come up with new
    motivations to patent some obvious idea. I recently spoke to someone,
    for example, whose company has patented the idea of using colored lines
    between boxes to represent relationships in a diagram generated by their
    software.

    --
    www.designacourse.com
    The Easiest Way to Train Anyone... Anywhere.

    Chris Smith - Lead Software Developer/Technical Trainer
    MindIQ Corporation
     
    Chris Smith, May 19, 2004
    #4
  5. ---

    Chris Smith Guest

    That's the theory. Unfortunately, not everyone has the money to hire
    lawyers... The unfortunate truth about software patents is that:

    1. Many companies don't pay attention to prior art, but instead apply
    for patents on everything they possibly can.

    2. Most patent organizations don't have the time or resources to get the
    kind of expertise needed to determine whether an algorithm is really
    novel or simply an obvious modification on some prior algorithm.

    3. Because of this, even more companies frequently acquire frivolous
    patent portfolios in order to fight back against possible legal attacks.

    4. There are plentiful examples of patents that are clearly not novel,
    but have yet to be successfully challenged in any court, simply because
    it's so expensive to do so.

    More details are plainly available from your average Google search.

    --
    www.designacourse.com
    The Easiest Way to Train Anyone... Anywhere.

    Chris Smith - Lead Software Developer/Technical Trainer
    MindIQ Corporation
     
    Chris Smith, May 19, 2004
    #5
  6. Do you mean that the EU has made it possible to patent ideas that are
    already part of what the lawyers call "prior art"?
    In the U.S., you can't patent something that can be proved to be
    prior art. Or, if you manage to get something past the patent examiners,
    someone else can get it overturned it they care about it.
    An EU patent on prior art would be unenforceable elsewhere.

    1) Encourage your friends to publish all their patentable ideas that they
    have already used in open source.
    2) Create new venues for the publication of those ideas.
    3) Educate the EU patent examiners about prior art.
    4) Run all your classes through the best available obfuscator (see below).

    As the author of a book on algorithm recognition
    ("Automatic Algorithm Recognition and Replacement:
    A New Approach to Program Optimization", Metzger & Wen, MIT Press, 2000)
    I can tell you that algorithm recognition of bytecode is a **VERY** hard
    problem.

    Our work did algorithm recognition based on a high level intermediate
    representation generated by an optimizing compiler. Not only did we
    have all the original content from the original source, but the analysis
    of an interprocedural optimizer as well. It was still a very hard problem,
    and we limited the scope of the work in order to achieve success.

    Byte code has lost significant semantic content compared to either a compiler
    intermediate representation or original source code. This will make it
    that much more difficult to recognize any algorithm worth patenting.

    Obfuscators can be built that will make algorithm recognition of byte code
    much more difficult than it is on unobfuscated bytecode.
     
    Robert Metzger, May 19, 2004
    #6
  7. ---

    Roedy Green Guest

    At some point there has to be political pressure to stop patent
    offices from issuing these nuisance software patents.

    I think Amazon patented one click purchasing, as if reducing the
    number of clicks was not an obvious design goal.

    By the way, one click installs are prior art.
     
    Roedy Green, May 19, 2004
    #7
  8. The first problem is that US examiners don't know where to look for
    prior art. IEEE and ACM have been working for a number of years to
    put together a prior art database for them but it is still very
    incomplete.

    The second problem is that US examiners are required to grant a patent
    if they cannot find prior art. CS is still more of an art than a
    science and much knowledge has been passed by tradition and never
    published. The result is that a lot of techniques that everyone knows
    and uses are now suddenly being patented by unscrupulous companies who
    have wet dreams of getting a 5 cent royalty every time an array is
    indexed.

    AFA getting an issued patent overturned ... that is *VERY* difficult
    and expensive to do. It is presumed that the patent holder already
    adequately proved the case and the bar is set very high for anyone
    seeking to disprove it. No one will do it who doesn't have a lot of
    money invested in whatever the patent addresses.

    Good to know.

    George
    =============================================
    Send real email to GNEUNER2 at COMCAST o NET
     
    George Neuner, May 21, 2004
    #8
  9. ...like what?
    What exactly do you mean by 'published'?

    Published in a peer reviewed Computer Science
    monthly publication?

    Published in a 'Teach yourself in 24Hrs' book?

    Published in a web-page, or in a public forum?
     
    Andrew Thompson, May 21, 2004
    #9
  10. ---

    Roedy Green Guest

    I met a guy who worked in the Swiss patent office. He said he has
    four days to decide. The typical application is 1.5" thick.

    Consider also the authors have done the best they could to baffle with
    bullshit their simple idea making it sound amazing and novel.

    Patents were originally supposed to encourage innovation. They are
    having the opposite effect. Only a large company has enough of a
    palette to interest others in cross-licensing.

    Patent holders sit on ideas and play dog in a manger. Patent holders
    stop people from using obvious ideas.

    I think the public should be involved in patent application. When a
    patent has received tentative approval, it is published
    electronically, and the public has a month to respond. The patent
    office makes the final decision. That way the community can help with
    the prior art search.
     
    Roedy Green, May 21, 2004
    #10
  11. ---

    Sudsy Guest

    Roedy Green wrote:
    For an idea that's so simple, it's brilliant! Talk about an "appropriate
    use of technology". Anyone in a position to pitch this to the powers-
    that-be? Certainly the agencies involved have enough computing power
    for the task. Heck, if e-mail services are offering gigabyte mailboxes
    then we know that storage costs are not onerous.
    Roedy, with the writ expected to drop this Victoria Day weekend why
    not run for MP?
     
    Sudsy, May 21, 2004
    #11
  12. ---

    Jim Guest

    Here, Here. Especially in the case of software patents. I really doubt
    that there are many "really original ideas" out in software land. How
    often do you really see a really novel something like "Quicksort" pop
    up?

    Jim
     
    Jim, May 22, 2004
    #12
  13. Have you ever seen documented an algorithm for determining the number
    of '1' bits in a word? The highest '1' bit in a word? The lowest?

    When you learned to program you a) didn't care, b) figured them out
    for yourself or c) somebody showed you how and you never looked back.
    In 25 years, I've never seen these algorithms covered in ANY book or
    paper targeted for ANY level of programmer. Yet we all know how to do
    these elementary things.

    FYI, software solutions to the above are patented by NEC.

    I mean "published" as in disseminated in some (reasonably) public
    forum. For this purpose I will accept internal company efforts meant
    to educate employees but not necessarily distributed beyond the
    company. However, I disqualify "reading coworkers code", "looking at
    your coworkers notes", etc. and any other sources not meant to be
    disseminated in a general way.

    There is an enormous amount of "gestault" knowledge about what works
    and what doesn't which we all figured out for ourselves by trial and
    error, was demonstrated to us by some mentor or was grokked by reading
    someone else's code. We in turn have showed others what works and
    what doesn't. No doubt we learned by reading the published works of
    others, but our work is unique - an amalgam of our own experience
    which is seldom written down.

    Pick any non trivial problem and take a moment to think about how you
    would go about solving it. Ok, now you've though about it. So tell
    me - where did you see that solution published?

    Even the most anal retentive documentation efforts (I've worked on
    medical diagnostic instruments) fall far short of documenting the
    software algorithm used to determine whether an integer value is odd.

    George
    =============================================
    Send real email to GNEUNER2 at COMCAST o NET
     
    George Neuner, May 22, 2004
    #13
  14. It will never happen in the US. The "secret" aspect of application
    was intended to foster innovation by preventing big companies from
    monitoring pending patents from small inventors and opposing them for
    sport. Where it backfires is in disciplines like software and biotech
    which are constantly evolving and where there is no large database of
    education and prior art for examiners to query - this creates a
    knowledge vacuum where the right spin can get almost anything
    patented.

    There were some countries that used to have opposition periods - not
    sure what has happened what with the EU taking countrol - but it was
    expensive to oppose or even comment on a pending patent. The process
    wasn't really "public" in that everyone involved had to sign NDAs to
    protect the rights of the filer (who may have disclosed other
    protected matters in the course of the application). Therefore very
    few pending patents were ever opposed - most companies chose to wait
    until the patent was public and then fight it openly.

    George
    =============================================
    Send real email to GNEUNER2 at COMCAST o NET
     
    George Neuner, May 22, 2004
    #14
  15. No. I did a quick search on Google groups and
    my most specific searches failed to unearth
    that exact algorithm.

    My more general searches showed 1000+ hits, so
    I did not pursue it further.

    Which brings me to the specific question.
    Do you consider usenet in, or out?
    Should usenet be considered a form of publishing?
     
    Andrew Thompson, May 22, 2004
    #15
  16. ---

    Roedy Green Guest

    It should be. It is far easier to search than printed works.

    It documents the "obvious" stuff that newbies ask that never gets
    published.
     
    Roedy Green, May 23, 2004
    #16
  17. Which is where I am coming from. There would
    be _very_ few things that were not both asked
    and answered in public forums.
     
    Andrew Thompson, May 23, 2004
    #17
  18. Patents should never have been allowed for algorithms or code. That's
    what copyright is for.
     
    Knute Johnson, May 23, 2004
    #18
  19. I don't have the cites for the patent numbers. They were granted
    several years ago. I had some correspondence with various members of
    ACM regarding them and the prior art database, but the mails are on an
    old hard disk in my closet. If I can scare up an uninterupted hour or
    two I'll see if I can fish them off.

    I said previously that I would accept web pages - but now thinking
    about it some more I would have to say not. My position on this
    extends to Usenet as well.

    The problem with Usenet is the sparsity of archiving. Many Usenet
    groups are not archived at all and the ones that are have an epoch
    beyond which searching is impossible. Only a few moderated groups are
    fully archived and searchable in their entirety. The oldest archives
    at uu.net go back only to the 80s (Usenet began in the 60s) and have
    you ever tried to find something in there? Google's coverage is good
    but uneven: the indexes are windowed by storage and are weighted
    toward more popular groups, many groups are simply not indexed at all
    and the earliest stuff available is circa 1989.

    The Web is even worse because there is virtually no attempt being made
    to preserve it for posterity. Links vanish, content is "refreshed" or
    "updated", pages are reformatted, static content becomes dynamic, etc.
    - all with amazing rapidity. It's been estimated that at any
    particular time, 40-50% of the cited URLs are broken. And I've read
    guesstimates that up to 90% of the total web is completely unindexed.

    This dynamism greatly affects the ability to do research. One of the
    more important precepts of publishing is that edition X doesn't
    obliterate edition X-1 ... the previous edition is always there for
    comparison. When something is written in a book, you have a pretty
    good assurance that, barring the end of civilization, the book will
    always be somehow available (at least for the last couple of centuries
    and even if you have to physically visit the library that entombs it).
    You have virtually no assurance for anything on the Internet unless
    the particular content you reference happens to be in a deliberately
    maintained library. Even then there is the question of whether any
    privately maintained library will still exist umpteen years from now.

    I would like to consider the Internet publishing - but until there is
    some, probably government sponsored, effort to mirror and organize all
    that content, I really think that, in general, it simply can't be
    considered publishing.

    George
    =============================================
    Send real email to GNEUNER2 at COMCAST o NET
     
    George Neuner, May 23, 2004
    #19
  20. A really simple way to determine the highest '1' bit in a word is to
    keep right-shifting it until it becomes 0. Similarly, a really simple
    way to determine the lowest '1' bit is to keep right-shifting the word
    until it becomes odd, or 0 (in which case there were no '1' bits).

    Are you telling me that if I implemented those algorithms out in actual
    code, I would be stealing NEC's intellectual property?

    --
    /-- Joona Palaste () ------------- Finland --------\
    \-- http://www.helsinki.fi/~palaste --------------------- rules! --------/
    "Parthenogenetic procreation in humans will result in the founding of a new
    religion."
    - John Nordberg
     
    Joona I Palaste, May 23, 2004
    #20
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