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Open Source Patent Donations? 185

Posted by kdawson
from the fighting-the-good-fight dept.
patspam writes "As a software engineer I come up with patentable ideas every now and then, ideas which I'm not interested in pursuing myself but which I'd like to keep out of the hands of private entities/patent trolls in my own personal effort to defeat software patents. Should I patent the ideas and donate them to some sort of open source foundation? Or just blog about the ideas so that the 'prior art' exists in the public domain? What's your strategy for fighting against restrictive software patents?"
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Open Source Patent Donations?

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  • by hansraj (458504) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @04:49AM (#22938768)
    you could just blog since the system is not first to file but first to invent. Moreover it also saves you patent fees that you would have to pay if you actually try getting a patent.
    • by thegrassyknowl (762218) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @06:17AM (#22939040)

      you could just blog since the system is not first to file but first to invent.

      Since when has that pesky little thing called 'prior art' stopped the patent office granting patents, and since when has it stopped the legal system upholding those patents when they are used to sue the pants off the original inventor or anyone who is using his invention free of charge?

      • by SLi (132609) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:44AM (#22940348)
        I've been told that a common trick for large companies in some countries when they hit a thing they figure out might be patentable but they are not interested in patenting it is write a rudimentary description of it and file it as a patent. At least here they've told me that is enough to get the application published in some public PTO journal, but it won't be examined until the examination fee is paid, which they just "forget" to do. So then they have very officially published prior art to similar claims for free.
    • ...than "just blogging" about your idea. To claim prior art, an invention must be reasonably accessible public knowledge AND must not be "abandoned". You can't just come up with some blueprints or computer code or a specification document, publish it in a blog or technical journal and be satisfied that a patent will not eventually be granted to someone else.

      You have two choices regarding your patentable ideas:

      1. Fully implement your ideas in a complete, functional application and put as much effort as pos
    • Start an open source patent foundation, allow individuals to sell their patents to the open source foundation and recieve a lump sum of money. The foundation then profits off the patents themselves while keeping the patents open source. I'd rather sell my patents than give them away, and I'd rather sell them to an open source foundation where I can receive credit for the creation of it.
  • by simonharvey (605068) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @04:53AM (#22938780) Homepage

    What's your strategy for fighting against restrictive software patents?"
    Well I suppose the first would be not going to slashdot for legal advice, but then IANAL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sporkme (983186) *
      My company is vastly intrigued by your refreshing concepts. Please email all of your code to: code-stealer slashtot.org (sorry for the obfuscation... can't be too careful these days). Once our firm receives your code, we will review it for viability and email you back with our offer. IANAL but I am totally "Al." You can trust everyone online, but be aware, many profitable arrangements are ruined by "best friends" who feign suspicion of legitimate businesses like mine, only to steal the data to resell t
    • by deblau (68023)
      Well, I am a patent lawyer. Don't go to slashdot for legal advice.

      When you have a serious problem, you hire a professional in that field. People don't go to lawyers when they want code, why should they go to coders when they want legal help?

  • by codegen (103601) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @04:58AM (#22938798) Journal
    I publish to a peer reviewed academic journal or conference. In most
    of the conferences I'm involved in, we are always looking for
    more industrial contributions.

  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @05:04AM (#22938822)
    sorry mate, somebody beat you to it. the "toilet snorkel" is already patented..

    http://www.totallyabsurd.com/toiletsnorkel.htm [totallyabsurd.com]
  • Some considerations (Score:5, Informative)

    by kanweg (771128) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @05:11AM (#22938844)
    Publishing is a fine way to create prior art, effectively inhibiting any further patents for that very idea. However, make sure you add as much detail as possible to give a patent attorney as little leeway as possible.

    If you blog it, the content may get lost. Is it possible for you to (crudely) implement your ideas and put that code on sourceforge or some other repository, together with a description. In the comments of the code you can elaborate on things not implemented. In such a repository, the ideas may be longer lived, and more people may see it (and if necessary bring it to the attention of a patent office).

    Bert
    Patent agent
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by n3tcat (664243)
      I thought too much detail would in effect give the patent troll a "way out" as they can then just change one of the many details and become unique.
      • by Otter (3800)
        That's why patents are normally written in an "inverted pyramid" style, with a broad claim at the beginning that narrows to details of a specific implementation or implementations. Most of the scaremongering patent stories here are based on someone reading the first, vague claim of a patent and freaking out. (In any case, if your goal is to create prior art, not to go around suing people, who cares if someone else can scrape out a narrow patent when you have a perfectly good unpatented implementation in pla
        • by muffel (42979)

          Most of the scaremongering patent stories here are based on someone reading the first, vague claim of a patent and freaking out.

          And rightly so. Because that "first, vague claim" is exactly what is being patented. (Actually, there may be several main claims in a patent.) It is usually the only thing you have to read in a patent, if you want to find out if something is patented.

          The sub claims have two purposes:

          1. To have a more specific fallback in case your main claim doesn't go through
          2. To keep someone from
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @05:12AM (#22938848)
    Patent Commons can be pooled and used defensively (aggressively in defence) to defend Open Source. A patent commons that defends one particular cause can help find infringement in order to scare off someone accusing others of infringement. It can cause a ceasefire.

    Prior Art helps block patents in general, but as we saw with the Amazon shopping cart patent it can take years and effort (from New Zealanders) to remove them.

    So Patent Commons is more powerful, but it involves the patent submission process, and it can be costly. I suggest the patent commons if you're got the resources.

    (I am not a lawyer)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JavaRob (28971)
      How much does it cost to submit a patent? From what I understand, the legal documents are extremely complicated (so you need a lawyer) and the total cost will be somewhere from $5K up to $25K and possibly beyond depending on the complexity of the thing you're patenting (though the higher numbers will only come into play for highly-complex physical devices).

      I absolutely agree that a donated patent can be quite useful -- but keep in mind that it's a sizable donation that *might* be valueless if there's some
      • USPTO Fees: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2007september30_2007dec17.htm [uspto.gov]

        IANAL, and this is not advice. But it may help you understand some options.

        The costs you quote are for paying someone else to write, file, and handle all correspondence with the patent office. Do it yourself and it's around $500 to file (basic utility filing). Get fancy, deal with a lot of responses to the patent office and it can get a bit more expensive. Have the patent allowed and pay for it to be issued is $720.
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @05:25AM (#22938872)
    To establish prior art you need to publish. The problem is that magazines and journals are fairly selective about content because they have to pay or the content has to fit their market or be interesting in some way. Then there is credibility, if you write an article about recommendations or motor control methodology, something you've done as a hobby project, a magazine or journal may not choose to publish because it can not properly verify the content.

    We need to create an "on-line" and perhaps paper "journal" that will accept all technical submissions and publish them in a way that fits the USPTO's definition of "published" to establish prior art. That way *all* ideas get covered easily.

    I've written a lot of articles and only been published a few times, its hard to get published. There are lots of would be authors out there and a lot of subject matter being written about.
    • When I worked in biotech (this was in the UK in 2000-2003) our lab books, countersigned regularly by a senior academic and archived in the institute library were considered a good enough defense against subsequent US patent applications. I don't know if this was ever tested.

      I agree there should be repositories for articles that are not necessarily of enough immediacy, impact or quality for publication, but still contain potentially valuable IP. I wouldn't be surprised if such a thing already exists. Na

    • by ortholattice (175065) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @07:16AM (#22939282)

      To establish prior art you need to publish. The problem is that magazines and journals are fairly selective about content because they have to pay or the content has to fit their market or be interesting in some way. Then there is credibility, if you write an article about recommendations or motor control methodology, something you've done as a hobby project, a magazine or journal may not choose to publish because it can not properly verify the content.

      This is highly dependent on the journal. In the case of trade journals, a lot of them are actually dying for "real" articles buried in their mass of ads, and ads thinly disguised as articles, to attract readership. In the past I have submitted many "test cases" to a trade rag on electronics test and all of them were published without question. In some cases they were patentable ideas I specifically wanted to make public domain, because it wasn't worth it to me to go through the patent expense but I also didn't want to be prevented from using them in the future. As a side effect I became well-known in the field, very helpful for my consulting work.

      On the other hand, I have submitted a couple of ideas to the "Design Ideas" section of EDN magazine. Both were rejected, even though I thought they were reasonable. I think the problem there is simply that the column is very popular and they have more submissions than they can publish, so it depends on the whim of the editor that day.

      Anyway it depends on the journal. I guess my point is that if you're going to write it up anyway, might as well submit it and see what happens, doesn't cost anything. If it does get published, you'll make a name for yourself and have something for your CV, as well as establishing prior art. For best results find a little known or start-up trade rag in the field that's 90% ads. And if it doesn't get published, you'll still have your write-up for some on-line thing as you suggested.

  • publish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nguy (1207026) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @05:35AM (#22938922)
    You need to publish your invention in an archival format. Write it up for Dr. Dobbs or some other magazine.

    Publishing it on the Internet is not enough; it doesn't count as prior art.

    Even if you publish in an archival format, companies will often still patent almost the same thing and then worry about fighting it out in court. There are all sorts of ways of basically invalidating your publication for the purpose of counting as prior art, but it's still the best chance you have.

    Patenting is pretty hopeless: it's enormously expensive, and trying to enforce a patent is even more costly. Patents are not useful for inventors or open source, they are only useful as legal ammunition for big companies and law firms to play games with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by asdjlfhgas (603713)
      Who modded this up? Publishing on the internet does count as prior art, if it is accessible via archive.org or is dated such that there is generally no reason to believe it was backdated. A dated comment on slashdot.org would constitute prior art as there is the presumption that the date was not altered for deceptive intent. It may be more transient over the course of decades as opposed to an actual publication, but it certainly would be usable as prior art if found.
      • by nguy (1207026)
        That's idiotic advice. Prior art claims are hard enough to establish anyway, and you simply don't want to spend time arguing in court about whether a blog post counts as prior art.

        There's a bunch of established ways of publishing something so that it counts reliably as prior art. Use one of them. Doing anything else is unnecessarily risky.

        (You seem to assume that public accessibility and an established publication date are sufficient to establish prior art. That is incorrect: there are additional requi
      • by XLawyer (68496) *
        USENET has by and large been taken over by the spammers and trolls, but it may be a viable way to publish: after all, Google does index it through Google Groups. It's publicly available, indexed, and even has evidence (some, at least) of publication date.
    • I can't believe that posters here are taking the original poster seriously as he is basically asking for advice on how to create submarine patents for the open source community. Hey folks, when did the ends start justifying the means?

      IMHO, criticizing the patent system when for profit corporations abuse it yet encouraging the same abuse when it is done by open source foundations shows a lack of integrity. Wake up, people!

      • by jc42 (318812)
        I can't believe that posters here are taking the original poster seriously as he is basically asking for advice on how to create submarine patents for the open source community.

        I'm not sure I follow this. The "open source community", as far as I can tell, isn't a "person" in any legal sense, and can't sue or be sued. However, I am a "person", and I can be sued. What the OP was talking about was publishing his own ideas in such a way that a corporation can't later claim to own those ideas and sue him for
    • Publishing it on the Internet is not enough; it doesn't count as prior art.

      So the 3-D "printing" idea I just published on slashdot [slashdot.org] won't count?

  • A while back I blogged on using tags and blogs as a standard mechanism for publication [blogspot.com]. Now the point of this is that while the patent act says published it doesn't specify the publication type it just says that the other people filing could have obtained the information from it and that others will have read it.

    To me this is a classic case where the internet has over taken the current laws to give us a much cheaper and simpler way of doing this.

  • I haven't seen anything on this in a while, but It passed one of our houses already.

    From what little i've tracked on it, theyre "reforming" the patent system by handing it even more firmly to trolls:

    e.g.:

    switching to first to file
    putting severe restrictions on who has standing to challenge a patent
    putting severe restrictions on the period during which it may be challenged before it can never be invalidated period.
    (goodbye EFF patent busting campaign anyone?)

    I'm sure more "reforms" have and will be added to
    • by cgenman (325138)
      Switching to first-to-file is actually kind of a good idea. The whole "*we* started working on it first, look at these suspiciously backdated memos" thing is immediately resolved if it simply rests on the stamp by the patent department.

      If it is the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (still going through) that you're talking about, it also expands protections for prior-use, and allows unaffiliated 3rd parties to petition for patent cancelation. So it's definitely not all bad. It still doesn't solve the examiner c
  • by 3seas (184403) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @05:46AM (#22938948) Journal
    ...patent ideology

    What is universally accepted as not being patentable:

    abstract ideas,
    natural law
    physical phenomenon

    Mathematical algorithms as often added to this but in essence are included in the three primary.

    The reason these are so universally accepted as not being patentable is that its near impossible to enforce patents against such things.
    i.e. patent on gravity... you cannot use gravity without paying me royalties. But if you try and avoid gravity and walk off a cliff, paying royalties to some fool is teh least of your concerns.

    How these applies to software:

    Abstract ideas is rather obvious as software is the art of abstraction creation and use if anything is to be considered an art of abstraction.

    Natural law is that abstraction is naturally a characteristic of human ability. Without it we could do nothing more than preform like any other animal incapable of developing technology, medicine, clothing, etc..

    Physical phenomenon - thru the application of non-physical based abstraction we cause physical movement. If I tell you to go to the store and get a gallon of Mayfield milk, I have used abstract ideas communicated and received by you to act upon. If I/we did not have such ability, Mayfield milk would not exist to begin with.

    Now many claim that software is in essence mathematical algorithms, but the basis of computer technology, the way it works, defines this constraint as a computer is based on "calculating" defined in terms of numbers (binary based). However, a radio station (fm or am) uses a carrier signal that cares not of what is carried over the signal, be it music, news, talk, noise, etc... And in the same way this basis of computing can as well be used as a carrier of abstraction far beyond math. Yet the carried its still inherently made up of the three primary things universally consider not being patentable.

    This software patent fraud that has been going on has, as any attempt to contradict physics and nature, very bad effects, only due to the inherent nature of abstraction the skill of abstraction manipulation (human use and ability to deceive via abstraction manipulation) there are those who have remained fooled by such deception and unfortunately are in positions to indirectly tell people they have to walk off a cliff rather than recognize they are human with inherent abstraction skill and as a natural human characteristic it is to be expected and even encouraged to be what we are and make the best of it.

    There is a way to not only prove all of this but in so doing build up a foundation of common knowledge solution direction of anyone "skilled in the field", non novel, and other aspects supporting non-patent-ability.

    Humans can be deceptive for a long time and in an environment that even proves otherwise. This might be called the "human denial factor". Examples of this are well known, ie. Galileo and teh exoneration in the early 1990 of his views. But a lot of good such exoneration does Galileo now. Likewise the Hindu-Arabic decimal system took three hundred years to over come the far more mathematical limiting roman numeral system. Lets face it, only a fool would think nothing cannot have value (re: zero place holder), yet accountants using roman numerals were elite.. (sound familiar?)

    Anyways, this idea of asking for funds/donations for to support software patents, regardless of the claimed intent of obtaining such patents, is supporting dishonesty and does not help to resolved the real issue of genuinely recognizing the honest nature of software.

    for more see: Abstraction Physics [abstractionphysics.net]
    • by samkass (174571)
      Software is a machine. It executes in a virtual mathematical environment, but in its domain it's every bit as much a constructed machine as a lever, airplane, or telephone. Giving physical machines some sort of exclusive status as "patentable" while rejecting the patentability of software makes no sense to me. Yes, it executes on mathematical principles, but so do all the physical machines that have been patented.
      • by Kadin2048 (468275)
        You're ignoring that software is already protected via copyright. So particular implementations of a new idea are automatically protected -- and not for a mere few decades, but for more than a century.

        Personally I'd be up for one or the other: software patents would be acceptable if you couldn't copyright source code (and actually this would be pretty nice, since it would dump everything into the public domain in a relatively short period), but having both -- being able to copyright a particular implementa
        • by samkass (174571)
          You're ignoring that software is already protected via copyright.

          No I'm not. That's a completely separate issue. The source code is protected via copyright, and rightly so-- source code can be very creative.

          However, that's completely beside my point: software is a machine. Once you admit that, it's obvious that it should also be patentable. Yes, it's a machine made of copyrighted text. Blueprints can be copyrighted and the device they describe can be patented. Software is no different.
    • Considering the way patents are issued and cases pursued, if I had a lot of money it might make sense to patent respiration as a business process.

        "lower chest diaphragm, expanding chest cavity... ... additionally as a separate item, aids in business communications via sonic variable frequency energy transmission..."

      But alas, I wouldn't have the assets to pursue the cases against the main violators, and they all are busy in their own court cases anyhow...

  • by realkiwi (23584) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @06:03AM (#22939004)
    Send your ideas to me I'll look after them free of charge!

    Bill G.

    oh wait maybe I shouldn't have signed...
  • Honest opinion? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dpx420 (1210902) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @06:06AM (#22939012)
    Sell out. Patenting the ideas is going to cost you time and money, whereas if they are truly worth the attention of the 'evil corporations' you stand to make a substantial gains from making them available to a company with the required resources to put them to use. Around here a higher than average subset adhere to strange personal religions that financial benefit from your own ingenuity is somehow immoral, and that the world is better off if real companies can't use these ideas and make them a practical reality (but that's ok, some guy sitting in his parents basement will knock off a buggy implementation in 10 years time, for freeeeeee man). You decide which of these outcomes you would rather see.

    There are only small number of people for which simply blogging their ideas would:
    a.) get them taken seriously, or even noticed at all,
    b.) be worthwhile for them personally in terms of personal reputation and the longer term benefits of that.
    Those are people who are already recognised within specific (usually comparatively small) technical communities, often with freelance careers for which reputation is important. I'm going to guess that you are not in this position because all this would be obvious to you otherwise. It is also rather naive to think that articles simply posted on a web page will stand up as prior art in courtroom against competent lawyers. This is simply pragmatism.

    I'm going to make another assumption, that you are posting this question out of a genuine uncertainty of how to reap the results of your own creativeness (which is something that anyone deserves). If you are simply seeking group endorsement (perhaps subconsciously) then my reply probably hasn't been of much help to you.
    • by expro (597113)

      Sell out. Patenting the ideas is going to cost you time and money, whereas if they are truly worth the attention of the 'evil corporations' you stand to make a substantial gains from making them available to a company with the required resources to put them to use.

      OK so far...

      Around here a higher than average subset adhere to strange personal religions that financial benefit from your own ingenuity is somehow immoral, and that the world is better off if real companies can't use these ideas and make them

  • build a prototype (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @06:53AM (#22939192)
    build a prototype version .0.1 with well known friends of GNU/GPL and get it licensed under the GNU/GPL-3 and release it on SourceForge, then you know it is anchored somewhere...
  • by Woodpeckeruk (1098697) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @07:44AM (#22939426) Homepage
    The best way to ensure that i) it is published; ii) that it will be available for patent searching in perpetuity; and iii) you don't have to spend too much money, is to write it all down in detail and send it to a patent office as an application. Provided you pay the initial filing fees, all patent applications are published. You can speed up publication by specifically requesting it, rather than waiting for 18 months. As an example (since I am a UK patent attorney), what I would recommend is filing an application consisting of pretty much anything at all, paying the £100 fee and then letting the application lapse after publication. Even easier than that, simply post your invention disclosure to the UK-IPO, Newport, Gwent, UK including the words "I would like to apply for a patent for the following", making sure to include some contact details, and the UK-IPO will let you know what else they need.

    If I remember right, the US has a similar 'defensive' patent system for doing precisely this, but I would rather leave the details to someone else.
    • by theantipop (803016) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:58AM (#22940456)
      This is the best answer so far in regards to the actual question. If you want your idea to be used as a defensive measure against future patents, you want it to get the most coverage by the examiners who will be searching. Previously published patents and patent applications are, with few exceptions, the primary source and the major focus in the course of the search of an examiner.

      You may think publishing it somewhere on the internet will be good enough until you realize it's not feasible to search every whackjob blog out there for claim language that you probably haven't reproduced. Also, archive.org doesn't actually archive a lot of these small, personal websites so it would be very difficult to reliably date the material.
  • I've seen some discussion on /. of creating open source patent pools to protect open source projects from patent infringement.

    I want to point out to everyone thinking about such a thing that you *do* *not* have to go to law school and become an attorney to file prepare/file/prosecute patent applications. All you have to do is pass the patent bar exam.

    A law degree is not required to sit for the patent bar exam. All you need is a technical background (which most /.ers have). There are a list of degrees that will automatically qualify you to sit for the patent bar. Included are various engineering and science degrees. Computer Science is included, but to automatically qualify, the school had to have had a certain accreditation at the time you graduated. You can also qualify with *any* computer science degree under category b option iv, but that requires a transcript along with course descriptions for 40 credits worth of qualifying courses.

    If open source projects want to start filing a lot of patent applications, then having a project member become a patent agent would be a good idea.

    I'm a first year law student, and I'm planning on taking the patent bar this summer.
    • by sharkb8 (723587)
      The patent bar is merely a test of your ability to do paperwork. It's all procedural, and doesn't cover anything substantive. You CAN file a patent for someone else after having taken the patent bar, but it won't be worth a crap until you have some experience drafting patents. No one tells you when you're studying for the patent bar why you use "comprising" instead of "consisting of" in the claims (it's because "comprising" is open ended, and doesn't foreclose any other elements being added to a claimed inv
      • No one tells you when you're studying for the patent bar why you use "comprising" instead of "consisting of" in the claims (it's because "comprising" is open ended, and doesn't foreclose any other elements being added to a claimed invention, "consisting of" limits your invention to the elements claimed)

        Interesting... other than law school, is there a way of finding out all these extremely specific word meanings?

        • by sharkb8 (723587)
          Books on patent claim drafting ("Landis on Claim Drafting" is a golden oldie), reading case law, working at a patent law firm. Or ask a friendly lawyer.
            1. Books on patent claim drafting ("Landis on Claim Drafting" is a golden oldie) - I can read that one. I assume Landis is a person's name and not an olde English word that indicates its obsolete?
            2. reading case law - Have a good site to suggest? This course of action seems endless, and a book or two is a far more finite (absent needing to know a specific answer), and thus easier for me to convince myself to do.
            3. working at a patent law firm - Not planning on leaving my job now, but I'll keep that in mind.
            4. Or
  • At the lowest possible but probably patentable level. Pretend that you're a patent examiner and include in your notes enough detail about what the code is designed to do and how it works to defeat subsequent attempts to patent the same tech, and then publish the piece as "open source software", and submit the code via the GPL to a larger project or code library such as Creative commons.

    s
    Reason being, if the technique is truly useful, it is more likely to be used in other projects and more the more projects

  • to stop software patent trolls: fight the entire concept of software patentability.

    Software is properly part of the domain of copyrights, not patents. The very idea of patenting software is an abomination.

    Just Say No.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @08:39AM (#22939814) Homepage Journal
    IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin [wikipedia.org].

    IP.COM [ip.com] provides a way for you to publish your own work and add it to their searchable prior art database.

    You may also be interested in the Patent Commons [patentcommons.org].
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Woodpeckeruk (1098697)
      Although IBM technical disclosures are a valuable prior art source for patent examiners, IBM stopped publishing a few years ago (in order to get more flaky patents granted) and it now costs money for mere mortals to access it. IP.com charge a minimum of $200 for your publications, charge more for longer documents, and do not provide a guarantee that their database will be either searched by patent examiners or that your publication will always be around. The patent system, however, is guaranteed to always
  • Better make sure your contract doesn't say anything about the company owning inventions that you come up with while you're employed by them. Bottom line, talk to a lawyer, not Slashdot.
  • As for whether you own your own ideas or not, many companies make you sign away patent right for anything you come up with (while working for them, whether on the job or not) that is related to their business interests. Sometimes very skilled or well-known people can weasle their way out of clauses like this, but for the most part you probably signed away your right to patent tech stuff when you signed you offer acceptance letter. go read it.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:34AM (#22940764) Journal
    Apparently people still don't understand. You can patent an invention, you can copyright a tangible representation of an idea, but you can not protect an idea through any IP method.

    Software is really a representation of an idea and should be copyrighted, not patented. Since patents are granted as if software were an invention you do still actually have to make the invention to qualify for a patent. I can scream my idea from the heavens all day long and that doesn't qualify as prior art, only implementing the idea would qualify as prior art.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Woodpeckeruk (1098697)
      Perhaps you should count yourself in amongst those people who still don't understand. The vast majority of patent applications describe inventions that have not been made. There is no legal requirement to 'make' the invention (the US abolished theirs over 100 years ago), only a requirement to describe it sufficiently to allow a person skilled in the art to make it. Software inventions are treated just the same as any other invention. If, as a programmer, someone gave you a really good idea about how to
      • by shaitand (626655)
        Software is an expression, not an invention. It is a mathematical implementation and therefore a new algorithm is a discovery, not an invention. But that is another debate.

        You seem to be confusing things. The US never abolished the requirement that you actually invent something. The US could no longer warehouse all the prototypes so they removed the requirement to send in your working prototype. That doesn't mean patents are now for unimplemented ideas.

        'If, as a programmer, someone gave you a really good id
  • A site exists for just such a concept. It's called the Halfbakery. [halfbakery.com]

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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