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Patents Science

Working Around Patents with Evolutionary Design 121

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the survival-of-the-most-original dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Using computational trial-and-error allowed a Stanford team to come up with a patent-free WiFi antenna. Patent rules are tricky to formulate as self-interest dictates that the claim is as general as possible. Patent fences effectively can build a substantive competitive barrier to markets. Using evolutionary tactics may be a way to legally and ethically bypass these roadblocks."
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Working Around Patents with Evolutionary Design

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    and then you patent the resulting design.
  • Ob (Score:5, Funny)

    by Edie O'Teditor (805662) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:06PM (#20880117) Homepage
    Intelligent design loses out yet again.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by noidentity (188756)
      Only because it can't overcome the massive stupidity that is the patent system.
    • I don't think the Stanford Team would like what you are insinuating.
    • Yeah, it is really "I'm not smart enough" design. But that's what computers are for, right? A tool to fill in for the things our intellects aren't good at.

      The scientists still design the variables that are allowed to mutate. And they design the criteria to decide which mutations "survive". So there is some intelligence still involved, and a definite goal in sight.
  • Its time to "fix" this problem by removing software and business methods from the purview of the patent office.

    • Request that patent claims has to be specific enough. A too general patent shouldn't be granted, and licensing for a patent has to be related to the amount of effort put into it. So if I design a new antenna in 5 minutes and patent it I may only license the design for a certain amount of money, say $0.5 per piece.

      Of course - it's sometimes hard to decide the amount of effort put into a design, but in general - the scale of invention is ranging from obvious to ground-breaking. In the area of antennas it's

    • Koza's Patents (Score:3, Informative)

      by jefu (53450)

      Perhaps they'll be blocked by Koza's patents on genetic programming [genetic-programming.com].

    • Patent trolls usually patent general quite obvious things. GP tend to evolve actually innovative things. If they did it, they would get some good designs rather than the very general noninnovative designs that qualifies them as trolls. However, it is quite true that after getting a good design via GP you can patent it.
    • Antenna designs are straightforward physical design patents, and have nothing to do with software or business method patents. Such off the cuff, mis-aimed ranting makes the rest of us who dislike software patents look foolish: please don't do it again.
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        > "Antenna designs are straightforward physical design patents, and have nothing to do with software or business method patents. Such off the cuff, mis-aimed ranting makes the rest of us who dislike software patents look foolish: please don't do it again."

        Guess you missed the whole "pringles can antenna" debate. According to your argument, someone should now be able to patent using a pringles can (or design equivalent) as a directional antenna to extend wifi network ranges. Sure, someone "invented" it

        • Well, yes, but that one has prior art due to the old Quaker oatmeal can wrapped with tin foil.

          Prior art and what is "obvious" are fascinating aspects of patent law.
  • What's to stop the company which is engaging in the exclusionary patenting from running exactly the same algorithm and patenting every viable permutation of "thing X" it "evolves"?

    I still think improvement in the patent system still has to be made on the level of scoping patentability, in the long run.

    BTW, I accelerated the production of this post by using Intelligent Design instead. :p
    • Wouldn't that make the patented device obvious?
    • I suspect the result would be the federal defict would be retired, we could keep Social Security solvent and still be able to afford socialized medicine with the patent application fees!
    • Two things: it costs money to issue patents, and secondly the patent office will totally collapse if they do that. Which might not be a bad thing, as it may mean that patents don't get passed in time, and it might force governments to reexamine the entire patent industry.

      I should note that evolving new drugs from existing patents is already being done in medicine [guardian.co.uk].
  • That's great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:13PM (#20880185)
    I love this part:

    Perhaps the most cunning use of an evolutionary algorithm, though, is by Dr Koza himself. His team at Stanford developed a Wi-Fi antenna for a client who did not want to pay a patent-licence fee to Cisco Systems. The team fed the algorithm as much data as they could from the Cisco patent and told the software to design around it. It succeeded in doing so. The result is a design that does not infringe Cisco's patent--and is more efficient to boot. A century and a half after Darwin suggested natural selection as the mechanism of evolution, engineers have proved him right once again.


    But who's to stop the person who wrote the algorithm to patent the solution that bypassed the original patent? Or the algorithm itself for that matter?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      divine intervention.
    • by Kamineko (851857) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:36PM (#20880345)
      In that case, I will create a patent circumvention method patent circumvention method and place it in the public domain.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by riegel (980896)

      I am not a big fan of the patent system. but...

      This example shows the patent system working to the end it was designed (encourageing innovation). If Cisco had not had a patent on design A design B may have never surfaced.

      Am I wrong?

      • by Bozdune (68800)
        Yes, you're wrong.
      • The patent, as I understand it, provided additional constraints on possible solutions (presumably certain solution characteristics had to be avoided due to being covered by the patent). This would have reduced the solution space that the algorithm could explore. Without those constraints, a better solution might have emerged (including ones better than those produced by the patent-holder). In theory these constraints could push design into an interesting area of the solution space that it would generally

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Evolutionary algorithms have been known for a while....it seems to me a reasonably obvious extension of AI search algorithms, in many ways. It's just finding an optimal solution within a large problem space. I'm being taught these things in school, so something tells me they have sufficient prior art to be unpatentable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:14PM (#20880195)
    Efficient antennas 'designed' by evolution [nasa.gov] are already in use on spacecraft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AceJohnny (253840)
      Except in the NASA case, they goal was the traditional engineering one: efficiecy. Whats particular in this case was the goal to 1) *avoid* certain design characteristics and 2) because of patents

      Remember, "the current patent system is bad, mmkay?"

      Especially as you have to "waste" engineering effort to work around it.
    • http://redcurtainmovies.com/ [redcurtainmovies.com]
  • by shanen (462549) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:22PM (#20880245) Homepage Journal
    Patents were supposed to encourage innovation, but modern patent law has evolved in a way that makes it more of a hindrance than a help. You basically have to have a large corporation and a battery of lawyers behind you to support your patent application, and the corporations aren't even interested unless they are very sure they can see a path to big profits. For the corporations the big attraction is that the patent grants them monopoly profits, and they could not care less about the social values (or harms) of the innovations themselves. From that purely monetary perspective it makes perfect sense to focus on the value of patents for blocking competitors and for lawsuits--though SCO showed that the strategy doesn't always work.

    I think the fundamental problem is that the values of patents are too highly variable, and this variability has completely overwhelmed the simple-minded idea of a temporary monopoly. There are cases where it makes sense to motivate innovation by the exclusive monopoly, but almost never for the specific period of time that is hard-coded into patent law. Some patents should lapse more quickly, though of course the companies will argue they should last *MUCH* longer, and they have a lot of lobbying money to push with. Some patentable ideas are very quick and inexpensive to develop, while others take years and lots of money, but patent law doesn't really consider such trivia.

    The bottom line dynamic is that most innovation has to start within an individual, but patents have become a team sport. If you aren't on the right team, it doesn't really matter how innovative your ideas are. You're very unlikely to succeed at the patent game without such a team.
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @02:11PM (#20881001)
      Patent law has not "evolved". It has been maliciously twisted and distorted by corporate interests. That is a very different thing.

      And if you want it to stay anywhere near halfway sane, write your Senators and tell them to vote against their new "patent reform" bill. That would change the law to award patents to the first who apply for a patent, rather than the first to invent. Talk about stifling innovation! That would give all the advantages to corporate lawyers, and our patent system would fail completely in its purpose.
      • by jmv (93421)
        That would change the law to award patents to the first who apply for a patent, rather than the first to invent.

        I understand how this may sound bad, but assuming you think patents are a good idea (I don't when it comes to software), first to file is the only thing that makes sense. Otherwise, you automatically end up in court trying to prove you invented the thing first. Can you even imagine how hard (and lawyer-intensive) it must to actually prove when you invented something? So in (crystal ball) theory, "
      • Patent law has not "evolved". It has been maliciously twisted and distorted by corporate interests. That is a very different thing.

        Ah, but it depends on the driving force, don't you think? The way patent law "evolved" and the way butterflies evolved can be arguably considered similar: there's a set of rules for what to do and what not to do, and the succesfull specimens are those that managed to follow all the rules. Just because behind one thing are greedy industries and behind the other is "nature", do w

    • by AceJohnny (253840)

      Patents were supposed to encourage innovation...


      In my book, this circumvention technique *is* innovation. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hardly "evolutionary", designing a system that designs trial and error is hardly "evolutonary", its basically an intelligent search of a search space compared against a pattern. Evolution is blind, it has no end goal.
    • Yes but saying that he intelligently designed a new antennae with the aid of software is taboo around here.
      • You can say that, but then to be consistent you'd have to be willing to also describe "intelligent design" regarding new species as nothing but the same dumb evolutionary "algorithm" running on different hardware.

        Except that of course in nature you don't need to simulate a thing - DNA/competition/etc really exist, so there is no simulation algorithm and hence no algorithm writer. Oh, well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by astaldaran (1040462)
      this is nonsense. In the theory of evolution data is mostly lost and note gained so function is lost and not gained. The only time data is added is with some sort of fluke mutation in which case the mutation alone will not help and so will be cast aside (according to evolution). This is known as irreducibly complex and is one of the biggest arguments from many scientists against evolution or at least against the standard theory of evolution. The evolution that happens here is closely monitored and desig
      • by lessthan (977374)
        Go back to sleep, troll. Intelligent design misleads the sheep no longer.
      • One problem the Evolutionary program is likely to have is each permutation is tested for efficiency, yet real evolution frequently multiple permutations running in paralell and it's not unusual for the winner at the end to have been at a disadvantge in the beginning. Without care the program will discard many ultimate winners, or bogg down running too many instances in paralell
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by unMasqre (870322)
        nonsense back to you.

        genetic mutation comes in several forms, some are more common than others and sometimes the sequence being mutated can affect the rate of its own mutation (and even this can happen either biochemically or by following genetic instructions that affect mutation rate).

        1. Point mutations.
        Clearly you've heard of this--this is what you are colloquially referring to as "mutation". This is gain, loss or replacement of a single base. Due to the degenerate nature of the triplet code, most replace
    • by pla (258480)
      Hardly "evolutionary", designing a system that designs trial and error is hardly "evolutonary", its basically an intelligent search of a search space compared against a pattern.

      Not "evolution" in the "squishy wet things having sex sense", but in the randomized state-space search sense - The use of an iterated genetic algorithm to satisfy an arbitrary fitness measure. "Natural" evolution represents merely a specific instantiation of that larger concept, but certainly not the only possible one.



      Evoluti
    • Evolution is cool precisely because, despite being an inanimate process, it does have a goal. In layman's terms, to survive and procreate. The only difference between this and "natural" evolution is the environment (and possibly procreation methods) was created by us, rather than just existing for whatever reason the rest of the universe does. And if we get something that survives in an environment of "receive these WiFi signals or you die", well that's useful.
    • "Hardly "evolutionary", designing a system that designs trial and error is hardly "evolutionary", its basically an intelligent search of a search space compared against a pattern. Evolution is blind, it has no end goal."

      No goal, but it does select based on environmental pressures. Instead of thinking of it as giving the algorithm a goal thing of it as defining what makes something survive. Instead of "running faster" our animal "receives better radio"

  • Talk of greater applications of these evolutionary algorithms has often been accompanied by fears that they will replace engineers, however, this is not the case. Most of the concerns come in the following two forms: it removes engineers from the design process and that since they didn't design it, it may not work as they expect it to.

    While engineers are not actively designing the product, their jobs are still secure as the companies will always need someone to design the algorithms and to study the pro

    • by cgenman (325138)
      higher salaries for such amazing results? When, exactly, have these corresponded? One can command a higher salary the more critical the job and the fewer people available to fill it to satisfaction. Any sort of automation or structuring that reduces the specialization broadens the applicant pool and reduces salaries. To build said antenna one would need to have the basics of antenna design and programming, not the decades of experience and volumes of fuzzy knowledge that would otherwise be required.

      Don't
  • Intended? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:35PM (#20880327) Homepage Journal
    A friend of mine once told me that this is actually an intended result of patents. Note that a patent applies to a specific way of arriving at something, not the something itself. So, the idea is that if the something is desirable, others will go out of their way to find alternative ways to arrive at something. Some of these might be better than the original. Or new somethings may be encountered along the way (inventions tend to happen by accident, yada yada). Whatever the case, patents foster innovation...in this case, by shutting the door on using what is already known to work.
    • You don't understand:
      Avoiding paying for something is good.
      Paying for something is bad.

      Patents help make sure people have to pay.
    • by r6144 (544027)
      I wish patents work more like copyrights in this aspect. If there are likely a huge number of ways to accomplish something, someone can patent one method he has found and others will not be allowed to copy it without permission. If there is only one correct (efficient) way to do something, the corresponding parts of the claims get filtered out.
    • by rabtech (223758)
      Although patents may fulfill this function, their original intent was to get rid of the whole trade guild / trade secret situation, where only one company or a small group of people had some particular bit of knowledge or new invention and they refused to share it with the rest of society, as well as to provide incentives to inventors to create new inventions because those inventors know their risk and hard work won't be immediately ripped off.

      In exchange for sharing that knowledge with the world you get a
    • Re:Intended? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @01:31PM (#20880695) Homepage
      That's the theory, that it protects one way to the goal. In practise, if you read software patents they're never that way, try for example reading some of the portable music player patents Apple had to pay for. It was basicly "method for hierarchies, filters and multiple sort columns applied to a portable music player". It's like walling off the goal, because you've basicly described how it functions and it doens't matter how you achieve that functionality.
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      A friend of mine once told me that this is actually an intended result of patents. Note that a patent applies to a specific way of arriving at something, not the something itself. So, the idea is that if the something is desirable, others will go out of their way to find alternative ways to arrive at something. Some of these might be better than the original. Or new somethings may be encountered along the way (inventions tend to happen by accident, yada yada). Whatever the case, patents foster innovation...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ant P. (974313)
      You could say that Cisco... patented themselves into a corner this time.
    • So, the idea is that if the something is desirable, others will go out of their way to find alternative ways to arrive at something. Some of these might be better than the original.

      That doesn't make sense. If an alternate method really is better, then that fact alone is enough incentive. If the new method's benefits are not enough of an incentive, then adding patents to the mix only creates artificial incentive which is economically inefficient.

      Or new somethings may be encountered along the way (inventions tend to happen by accident, yada yada).

      That would be a very poor justification for two reasons -

      1. discoveries sometimes happen by "accident" in pure science, but inventions are applied science and happy accidents are much more rare there
      2. a policy of encouraging random accidents wo
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:36PM (#20880339)
    "Using computational trial-and-error allowed a Stanford team to come up with a patent-free WiFi antenna. Patent rules are tricky to formulate as self-interest dictates that the claim is as general as possible. Patent fences effectively can build a substantive competitive barrier to markets. Using evolutionary tactics may be a way to legally and ethically bypass these roadblocks."

    Two problems:

    1. For the past 10+ years I keep seeing various articles talking about evolution design and they are all about antennas and simple analogue circuit designs. Antennas are certainly susceptible to evolutionary design, but if we'll be driving the industry forward we'll need to throw lots of R&D to develop evolutionary design algos that can design something more complex. My point is, it's hugely promising, but it's still not here in a big way.

    2. The bigger problem, and which is what caused my exclamation in the title: there's no way to avoid overly broad patents. Evolutionary designs in fact often arrive at designs that match exactly various patents. Which means, when your super computer arrives at a working design, you still need to go through all the tedious work of verifying it's not patented, and if it is, start the algo again and hope for the best.

    And the limit for rerunning the algo plenty of times to get patent-free design is the same such as manual design: we don't have infinite time, and the solutions to a problem are sometimes finite, and not that many.

    I think patents should be left in place, but their running period should be shortened. The industry is developing at such an amazing pace that we make more progress in an year, than what took 10 years before. The original lawmakers never intended their law to run unmodified in such circumstances.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qengho (54305)

      Evolutionary designs in fact often arrive at designs that match exactly various patents.

      According to TFA the particulars of Cisco's patent were fed to the program for the purpose of excluding those features. Presumably this would work for other problems.

      • I think the important part of the GP's point was that this would require you to go through all the tedious work of verifying it's not patented. By including the constraints in the algorithm, you have to do all of this tedious work before searching for solutions and you have to do this for all relevant patents, not just those that look related to the solution you found. And translating a patent into a series of constraints doesn't strike me as particularly easy to do. Aside from avoiding a particular pate

    • by Crizp (216129)

      Antennas are certainly susceptible to evolutionary design, but if we'll be driving the industry forward we'll need to throw lots of R&D to develop evolutionary design algos that can design something more complex.

      Didn't someone create a sort of CPU using such evolutionary processes? I couldn't find it on Google (the article also mentioned that weird-looking NASA antenna) but I distinctly remember one of the weird things about this chip: It had some circuits that were not connected to anything, yet if the

    • by tkw954 (709413)

      For the past 10+ years I keep seeing various articles talking about evolution design and they are all about antennas and simple analogue circuit designs. Antennas are certainly susceptible to evolutionary design, but if we'll be driving the industry forward we'll need to throw lots of R&D to develop evolutionary design algos that can design something more complex. My point is, it's hugely promising, but it's still not here in a big way.

      The genetic algorithm is used for optimizing a lot of complicated d

    • by ErikZ (55491) *
      From http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/genalg/genalg.html [talkorigins.org]

      For example, a genetic algorithm developed jointly by engineers from General Electric and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute produced a high-performance jet engine turbine design that was three times better than a human-designed configuration and 50% better than a configuration designed by an expert system by successfully navigating a solution space containing more than 10387 possibilities.

      G.E. used GA years ago to improve on the jet engine. It increased
  • shhht.... dont give em ideas, the patent holders will use evolutionary algorithms themselves in their next patents to make them ever broader
  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @12:52PM (#20880443) Homepage Journal
    > A century and a half after Darwin suggested natural selection as the mechanism of evolution, engineers have proved him right once again.

    I would challenge the assertion that entering the design parameters and working out which is the best result isn't proof of the origin of the species suggested by Darwin.

    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      I would challenge the assertion that entering the design parameters and working out which is the best result isn't proof of the origin of the species suggested by Darwin.

      In such a big discussion, you'll often hear idiotic claims by both sides.

      You know, it's kinda like the people attacking Microsoft on Slashdot. Even if Microsoft has real issues, people would rather opt for tired cliches and bullshit arguments, since it's easier.

      Bottom line is, you can never convince someone who's on the extreme side of a di
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alsee (515537)
      Digitally implemented evolution like the article's examples do not prove evolution as the historical explanation for biology on earth (there is of course other proof of evolution as historical fact such as the complete and continuous Foraminifera fossil record), but digitally implemented evolution like the article's examples *do* prove that Darwin was right that his proposed process *works*, that it does indeed have the creative power to produce new information such as new inventions or new genetics.

      -
    • > A century and a half after Darwin suggested natural selection as the mechanism of evolution, engineers have proved him right once again.

      I would challenge the assertion that entering the design parameters and working out which is the best result isn't proof of the origin of the species suggested by Darwin.

      I think you're taking that way too literally. To be more specific, genetic algorithms use natural selection (along with crossovers and mutations) as a means of evolving the genes in a population. So in this sense the author is correct in stating that natural selection can be used as a mechanism of evolution, not that they have proved Darwin's assertions of how life arose on Earth.

      • by DrSkwid (118965)
        A writer in a technical publication should be careful when using the word "proof". A demonstration of viability is not a proof.
    • I would challenge the assertion that entering the design parameters and working out which is the best result isn't proof of the origin of the species suggested by Darwin.

      Did you know that Darwin's book was called not 'The Origin of the Species' but 'The Origin of Species' (or 'On the Origin of Species by [blah blah blah]')? I don't think the book is about what you imagine it to be about, but then again, nor do I think the word 'proof' here is used in the way you imagine it to be used. Ironically enough, h

      • by DrSkwid (118965)
        Why are you bringing theism into this ? This isn't the 19th Century! What's the bible got to do with anything ?

        That a set of axioms in engineering called evolution have a set of assertions that is mathematically provable is *not* proof of anything but the relationship between the axioms.

        It certainly doesn't prove that "natural selection as the mechanism of evolution" nor that it is proved "once again".

        I suspect you think I am looking for disproof or are making assumptions of what my opinions are. I'll let y
  • Using this method we found this
    http://critticall.com/ArtificialSort.html [critticall.com]
    Makes a lot of people quite angry and nervous, but the real question is - does it work?
    It works fine, thank you!
    - Thomas
    • Doing a thorough analysis of several unique sort when you were trying to push it on Wikipedia revealed no asymptotic advantage over basic bubble sort. I'm not going to repeat the analysis with this algorithm, but I'm inclined to be skeptical based on that experience. Also, perhaps you have a non-asymptotic advantage over quicksort (or let's say a modified quicksort without the O(n^2) worst-case complexity), but the O(n log n) bound on comparison sorting has been proved optimal.
  • ... until someone patents evolutionary design.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @01:22PM (#20880637) Homepage Journal
    Just means the orginal patent they were trying to circumvent wasnt drawn up properly.
  • We need to get our patent system working like it used to. And do prevent it from degrading even further, write your Senators and tell them to vote against their "patent reform" bill.

    If this became law, it would award patents to the first person who filed for the patent, rather than the inventor. This is such a travesty that I cannot believe that it even passed the House... but it did. If that were to pass, you could say goodbye to innovation in the United States. The corporate lawyers would be able to pa
    • You act as if this is a bad thing. Evolution works on the scale of societies as well. If one society becomes unfriendly to innovation, it will be marginalized as it loses technical dominance. Ultimately the most powerful societies will be the ones that are friendly to innovation because the others couldn't keep up. So it works out nicely.
      • Excuse me, but it IS a bad thing, from your point of view, if idiots withing your own society are CAUSING it to "devolve" and be anti-competitive.
        • From an individual perspective, yes, especially if you're rooted to one society (otherwise just move wherever the innovation is going). But in terms of total innovation by humanity, it isn't a major issue.

          If societies tend to become complacent and pass anti-innovative policy such as this once they've achieved power, all the better; it lets other societies advance (relatively speaking), which encourages competition, which spurs innovation like nothing else.

          Thus, I'm not happy about this as an individual,

  • Genetic algorithms are the Ruby on Rails of optimization problems. If you can define a state space and a fitness function, you're almost certainly better off using (non-)linear programming, constraint programming, or a local search method like tabu search.

    To quote the AI Bible (AIMA 2e, Russell and Norvig): [It] is not clear whether the appeal of genetic algorithms arises from their performance or from their aesthetically pleasing origins in the theory of evolution.

    But because GAs are so intuitive for anyon
    • by AlXtreme (223728)

      If you can define a state space and a fitness function, you're almost certainly better off using (non-)linear programming, constraint programming, or a local search method like tabu search.

      Linear programming and hill-climbing algorithms have their place when it comes to simple search spaces, however when you have many dimensions and a vast non-linear search space none of the algorithms you named will get very far.

      In the past I had similar discussions with a prof on search spaces with dozens of dimensions. H

  • It could well be, that the University's research costed more, than whatever the patents-holder(s) would've charged for the licensing...

  • What would happen if open source organizations, such as the FSF, looked at a technology, predicted where it was going, and then came up with the most probable solutions, and patented them?

    And then offered indemnity only to those companies which published their source under an open source license?

    I hear a lot of whining and moaning about bad patents, but not a lot of people are willing to invest the mere $600 it takes to file a patent application. When you think about it, if even 1/10th of the open s

    • Yet, for all of the collective intelligence of the geek community, we'd rather sit on our collective asses and whine, rather than actually do something about the abuses of patent law.

      That's because this is a market economy, and no one wants to do uncompensated labor.

  • Is probably one of the best ideas I've heard in a while. It defeats patents, and makes our stuff better. Down with the system!
  • While it is true that evolutionary algorithms can be used to do an end-run around patents, it can also be used for new patents. In my opinion, this is what Genetic Programming, Inc. hopes to do: generate patents through evolutionary algorithms. (See, here [genetic-programming.com], for example, on genetically derived patents -- in section 2). Dr. John Koza, as far as I know, teaches at Stanford and also runs this company, and he is considered the father of genetic programming. He has patents on genetic programming [genetic-programming.com] as well.

    As far a

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