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English Court Allows Patents For "Complex" Software 132

Posted by timothy
from the first-a-trickle dept.
jonbryce writes "The court of appeal in England has ruled that companies should be granted patents for 'complex' software products. In this particular case, Symbian had written something that makes mobile phones run faster. The court case has received very little attention because of the bank crisis, but it can be appealed to the House of Lords and then the European Court of Justice."
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English Court Allows Patents For "Complex" Software

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  • Complex? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quanticle (843097) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @07:35PM (#25349301) Homepage

    I'm not sure how this ruling makes sense, given that the article didn't actually say what the legal definition of "complex" was.

    • Re:Complex? (Score:5, Funny)

      by spazdor (902907) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @07:44PM (#25349365)

      In legal context, it probably means "Any technology which you can successfully confuse a jury by explaining."

      In other news, the Church-Turing thesis has been declared false by judicial fiat. Any algorithms which are discovered to be functionally identical to any others are to be rounded up and shot in order to protect freedom.

    • Re:Complex? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alexander Sofras (1264020) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @08:28PM (#25349781)

      What's even more worrying is that the judgement of the Court of Appeal does not EVEN ONCE mention complexity as an issue. Further, it can't be 'appealed' to the European Court of Justice, only a point of law can be queried there. Also, this case already brings the UK closer in line with the EU regarding software patents, and it's not easy to appeal to the House of Lords - they only hear about 90 cases per year and generally only on areas of law that are important to the public. This case is more of an argument about facts than an argument on a point of law.

      The original High Court decision is here [bailii.org] and the Court of Appeal decision is here [bailii.org].

      Basically, Symbian was denied their patent, which revolves around faster accessing of DLLs (more details of which you can find in my first link). The patent was denied because the patent officer in question argued that what they were patenting was nothing more than a different way to call a DLL's functions and not anything that alters the way the computer's resources are managed. The High Court decided that she (the patent officer) had understated the technical merit and effect of the patent.

      The Comptroller General of Patents then appealed against the decision to grant the previous appeal, bringing us up to the case in the Court of Appeal. The general argument revolves around whether or not what Symbian have patented is merely a computer program or whether it has some additional effect - if it were just a computer program, it would not be patentable. The Court of Appeal more or less restates the edecision of the High Court, adding that the patent is not 'just' a computer program, because it has the 'knock-on effect of the computer working better'.

      Whilst everyone here will have their own view on software patents (largely in consensus here, I imagine), this is a poor summary - although I think that is largely due to the very poor write-up by the Times, which is trying to write in a way that is understandable to regular readers rather than those with a technical background. As stated, patents aren't granted for any old program, but the courts considered this to be more of a software process which improves the way a system runs, rather than a simple program that is executed and terminates. Just how correct they are in this decision is a different matter, but the Court of Appeal decision is not very long at all, for those who are interested.

      Anyway, this case wouldn't have received any news coverage even outside the financial crisis, since it's far beyond the understanding of the average person in this country - and doesn't have anything to do with a potential imminent apocalypse.

      • Re:Complex? (Score:5, Informative)

        by perrin (891) on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:58AM (#25352051)

        Every computer program can be interpreted to "improve the way a system runs", and therefore be patentable under this theory, which is exactly the point. They have been doing this slimy workaround the "mere program" rule for a long time, arguing that the invention is a combination of software and hardware components (because software has to run on hardware, duh), and it forms the very basis for software patents in the EU.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chrisq (894406)
          So you can only patent a computer program if it does something!
        • by x2A (858210)

          "Every computer program can be interpreted to "improve the way a system runs""

          Sorry, have to say it... Vista?

          • by jonbryce (703250)

            I'm sure you could argue that Vista "improves the way a system runs".

            After all, you get nice semi-transparent title bars, and it asks you to cancel or allow every time you move a desktop icon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by s_p_oneil (795792)
      How about this definition? If the software is as complex as the EULA you had to accept to install it, then it's in.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SlashWombat (1227578)
        It really seems to be a way of getting around the phones operating system taking too long to process DLL's. Doesn't sound particularly patentable, nor does it appear to be particularly novel!

        The fact is, the original patent examiner seems to have made the correct decision. It is probable that the speedup method has prior art, although perhaps not in the context of phone operating systems. (Patenting something to speed up operations in your own companies crappy operating system seems a little narrow anywa
        • by dwater (72834)

          > your own companies crappy operating system

          You really think you'd get away with that? Did you really think we wouldn't notice? Is it a deliberate troll?

          It's "company's", not "companies".

          Apologies to Not The Nine O'Clock News...ref: "Not the Parrot Sketch" :

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UBOb7ar3qQ [youtube.com]

          (Also, I personally don't consider Symbian to be "crappy". The SDK is a pain to work with, but the OS is pretty good, IMO).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fluffeh (1273756)
      Not to be daft, and certainly not to promote a pro-patent view on /. but isn't this pretty much the exact purpose of a patent rather than the vague bland ones that seem to be making the way in droves? I say if you develop some tricky algorithm to make phones "work faster" than you should be allowed to patent it, and flog it off to the carriers.

      If you ask me, it's the IBM Patent space Patent [slashdot.org] patents that we should all be worrying about. It someone invents something, power to them. If you patent something
      • The problem is lawyers - they will argue that all software "makes the system work faster" or better or whatever ... then you will have people patenting the blindingly obvious ...

        Common sense and the law do not mix ...

      • I would be in favour of software patents given two constraints:
        1. Their lifespan should reflect the speed of the software industry. 20 years is far too long. Five should be a maximum, and it should be very expensive to make them last more than three. Three years of monopoly gives a huge competitive advantage in the software industry.
        2. They should have very high standards for novelty. This means that someone who is an expert in the field should not be able to come up with the specified solution.

        The probl

        • I'm not in favour of software patents at all, and I'm fast coming to the conclusion that the whole patent system (software or otherwise) is flawed for one very simple reason:

          The patent infringer may not have gained anything at all from the original "invention" - in many cases they aren't even aware of it.

          If you invent something and I take your invention and build upon it then maybe you deserve some compensation since you have saved me some development costs. On the other hand, if I invent something complet

      • by jc42 (318812)

        I say if you develop some tricky algorithm to make phones "work faster" than you should be allowed to patent it, and flog it off to the carriers.

        Well, I say that if they have a tricky way to make my phone "faster", I don't want it in my phone. I'd rather hear the voice on the other end at the speed it was spoken, thank you very much.

        Really, WTF does "work faster" mean in this case? If the phone can make calls and transfer data both ways as it's spoken, why would it need to be faster?

        Granted, it'd be good

      • Why can't people just use their common sense when it comes to patents?

        Because for every one brilliant invention like the telephone, that is completely revolutionary, there are hundreds that seem obvious -- once you have been exposed to them.

        Also, it's unfair for an inventor not to know the limits of patent law before they invest a lot of time/money in the application process.

    • A stupid idea.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      Sometimes really simple ideas are the hardest to come up with.

      What's wrong with patents is when they allow ideas that any competent person would come up with in a couple of minutes if they ever needed to do it, ie. the only reason nobody "invented" it yet is that nobody ever needed it.

      Example: "Compact text encoding of latitude/longitude coordinates" - Patent 20050023524

      (Guess who patented that one...)

      Basically it's just base-64 encoding of lat/long coordinates.

      It may be "new" (in the sense that it was neve

    • by drsquare (530038)

      I'm not sure how this ruling makes sense, given that the article didn't actually say what the legal definition of "complex" was.

      Not that I have much faith in the English justice system, but I'm pretty sure that judges will base their rulings on the actual law, rather than an article about the law.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by E5Rebel (1103761)
      There is a very good take on the issue by Glyn Moody, a really thoughtful UK blogger, who says that the ruling will be disastrous for developers. He also highlights the absurdity of an government organisation effectively appealing against itself... Well worth a read. http://www.computerworlduk.com/community/blogs/index.cfm?entryid=1395 [computerworlduk.com]
  • write to your MP (Score:4, Informative)

    by johnjones (14274) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @07:40PM (#25349339) Homepage Journal

    seriously what patenting simple things is wrong while complex things are good

    software patents are simply not right for the patent system

    if you live in the UK (only if so)

    write to your MP simply by using this service
    http://www.writetothem.com/

    regards

    John Jones

    • by pipatron (966506)
      Somewhat off-topic, but what is a 'deltic'? Google only gives me locomotive links. :(
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oliverthered (187439)

      mathematical patents are simply not right for the patent system

      There fixed it for you, since all software is just maths.

  • by B4light (1144317)
    But that doesn't mean Adobe should be allowed to patent software with the ability to edit raster images...
    • by PCMX (1029966)
      Overlooking the other flaws in your statement, even if photoshop were to be considered "complex", editing raster images is most certainly not. And since in this respect patents are protecting a process, their raster image editing process would have to be patented, not photoshop itself.

      Now, if you were to in fact create an innovative, more desirable method of editing raster images, you surely should have some IP rights over it since it has market value...
      • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @08:51PM (#25349973) Homepage

        that's a poor way to grant patents. just because something has market value doesn't make it an innovation or an invention. anything that is useful has market value--especially if you're able to patent it and force others to pay you licensing/royalty fees to use it. the ultimate goal of the patent and copyright system is to promote public good and societal progress. public interest should always be placed above economic interest, not the other way around.

        one of the inherent flaws with most patent systems is that once something is patented, even if someone else with no knowledge of the patent filing independently invents the same idea, they will either, be forced to pay royalties to the first inventor, or simply forbidden from using their own invention. it's a means of excluding others from the use of the patented idea, essentially giving the patent holder a monopoly. but why should someone be prevented from implementing an idea they invented independently just because they came up with the idea later? should being born 10 years earlier give a person the right to monopolize an obvious concept?

        software patents exacerbate the problem when companies are allowed to patent mathematical algorithms or trivial/obvious functionality. things like UI interfaces, JavaScript popups, portable e-mail, etc. should not be patentable. these patents do not benefit society in any way, and they have hindered technological progress rather than promote it.

        at the very least, non-commercial uses of patented ideas should not be prohibited. give the first inventor exclusive rights to commercial the idea, but if someone else comes along and re-invents the same concept for personal use, they should be free to do so. otherwise the patent system is just restricting free expression and stifling innovation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by PCMX (1029966)

          that's a poor way to grant patents. just because something has market value doesn't make it an innovation or an invention.

          Notice that my statement started with "...create an INNOVATIVE, MORE DESIRABLE method of..." The fact that it had market value came as a consequence, though I see that the end of the sentence makes it seem that market value gives causality to IP rights. What I did mean was that an innovative better process has merit and deserves some kind of recognition. Whether the system in place is the correct one is a different point altogether.

          the ultimate goal of the patent and copyright system is to promote public good and societal progress

          While I agree that should be the ultimate goal, it is simply not the way

          • by Belial6 (794905)

            The idea of a patent is to grant rights over non trivial/obvious things. I am not claiming the system works as it is intended to, but it is certainly is not meant to give rights over the obvious/trivial. The flaw here of course being the perception of what is/isn't obvious/trivial.

            It seems to me that if it is thought up by multiple people independently, then it is obvious/trivial.

        • by Rutulian (171771)

          the ultimate goal of the patent and copyright system is to promote public good and societal progress.

          More importantly, patents function as an incentive to inventors so that they will take significant risk bringing an invention to market, knowing that they will be granted a temporary monopoly on production of that invention. As much as I dislike drug companies, I recognize that patents on most drugs are deserved because there is a lot of time and development cost associated with bringing a new drug to the market, and the risk of a new drug failing before it can make it to market is substantial. I just don't

  • What is the actual technique that the patent is being granted for. If this is something like a compressin algorithm or an application of compression to mobile phones, I call shenanigans on the Judge.

    • by spydir31 (312329) *

      AFAICT without reading actual patent, they are creating a library with fixed stub functions(eg. a printf() stub that calls _printf()).
      since all external function addresses are now known, there's no need to resolve them by name, etc.

      • by spydir31 (312329) *

        btw, here [tinyurl.com]'s the actual patent application.

      • by argent (18001)

        You mean like the way classic vector-based libraries worked all the way back to BCPL in the '60s?

        Sounds like this one's got prior art oozing out of all its orifices.

  • UK != England (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12, 2008 @07:45PM (#25349379)

    The article was very clear, no wait, extremely fucking clear that this is a UK matter:

    Court ruling strengthens patent protection for UK software

    Technology companies will find it easier to safeguard their innovations in the UK after a court ruled that software should receive wider patent protection.

    The Court of Appeal said today that complex software such as programmes designed to make mobile phones and computers work faster can be patented in the UK.

    Previously, manufacturers could claim commercial exclusivity for their products under copyright laws but had less legal protection for underlying technical processes.

    As a result of the ruling, developers are likely to find it easier to secure approval from the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which has traditionally been reluctant to grant patents to cover software.

    William Cook, a partner at Simmons and Simmons, said the court's decision would bring the UK's patent regime into line with Europe, which is much more open to granting software protection.

    Confusing England with the UK is like confusing California with the USA. It's especially unforgivable when the correct term is screaming at you from the page and you ignore it and write your own tripe instead. "UK" appears in that article nine times, England not once. Take the hint.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      The article also happens to be wrong. The ruling was made by The Court of Appeal of England and Wales.

    • Re:UK != England (Score:5, Informative)

      by owlnation (858981) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @08:13PM (#25349663)
      Except... that the Scottish legal system is separate and rulings in English courts do not necessary apply to Scotland, there are also some exceptions for English rulings in Northern Ireland. Thus the use of England is reasonable, though it probably should say England and Wales. In this case, the use of either the UK or Great Britain would be wrong, the summary is mostly correct.
      • The Scottish legal system may indeed be separate, but the patent system is not - and a Scottish court can still use precedent set in a court of England and Wales to reach their own rulings.
    • by beav007 (746004) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @09:32PM (#25350281) Journal

      Confusing England with the UK is like confusing California with the USA.

      Are you saying that California has become a sovereign nation, or that England has become a state of the UK, and the UK has become a country.

      A closer analogy is confusing England with the UK is like confusing Mexico with Northern America (the continent). The issue with that is that is that Northern America isn't a united kingdom.

      The correct analogy is: confusing England with the UK is like confusing 'chassis' with 'car'.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        If it was heard in a Californian state court, and it was considering state laws, then the case would not be binding in Ohio. In that case, it would be correct to talk about the Californian courts and not the American courts.

    • by paniq (833972)
      In germany, "England" is often regarded as equivalent to "Great Britain". I think this might have led to the kind of misunderstandings you find in the original post.
      • The fact that about 5 out of every 6 people in the UK live in England [wikipedia.org] is probably (at least part of) the reason for that.
        • by jonbryce (703250)

          I come from Scotland, and I put England in my summary because it was an English court that made the ruling, which is not binding in Scotland, as Scotland has a separate legal system.

          Some people in England make the mistake of thinking that the English legal system is the British legal system, but it isn't.

    • by hughk (248126)
      The legal system is for England and Wales. Scotland has its own legal system and even its own distinct ways of trying cases due to its coming late to the Union.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Confusing England with the UK is like confusing California with the USA. It's especially unforgivable when the correct term is screaming at you from the page and you ignore it and write your own tripe instead. "UK" appears in that article nine times, England not once.

      Oh simmer down, all you mexicans look alike to us anyway. :)

    • by divec (48748)

      Confusing England with the UK is like confusing California with the USA.

      Well, this is a ruling of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, so theoretically it does not bind the courts of Scotland and Northern Ireland. (I agree "England and Wales" != "England", but everyone refers to "English law", and even the Court's title did not include "and Wales" until Lord Denning got the name fixed a few years back (IIRC), so it's unsurprising if a layman speaks of "England" in this context).

      So in one sense this

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      It was heard in an English court. It is binding in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland might look at it. Scotland will not, as they have a completely different legal system.

      The article is wrong in that respect.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @07:47PM (#25349399)
    Amidst the fact that most of the world is going through a major crisis, who in world could think that what we need to do is give the corporations even more power while limiting competition? Wasn't the lesson we learned was that large corporations were bad and that you should give more power to the people? Apparently not.
    • by PCMX (1029966)
      You are absolutely right! We should just get rid of the concept of IP and eliminate personal benefit for all future innovations. That surely will motivate people to work harder and develop new products/processes so that others with better means will reap the rewards in their place! Don't get me wrong - I am very much in favor of open IP, however proper credit & benefits are due to original/innovative work. My issue with the above post is mainly that it overlooks the fact that patents do not benefit str
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 0123456 (636235)

        "That surely will motivate people to work harder and develop new products/processes so that others with better means will reap the rewards in their place!"

        People work hard and develop new products because they make money from doing so; and few 'people' who develop those products actually make money from patents, it's primarily a means for companies to keep new competitors out of their markets.

        I used to work in an area of IT where patenting hardware elements was common; the end result was that pretty much ev

        • by PCMX (1029966)

          People work hard and develop new products because they make money from doing so; and few 'people' who develop those products actually make money from patents

          In this situation, you are speaking of a company developing a product, in which case they should certainly have some sorts of rights over it. As for the employees who actually performed the development, they did so "representing" the company and "forfeit" their "ownership" of the idea.

          As for the specifics in different industries, that is beyond the point I was attempting to make. In the situation you brought up, the fact is that digital hardware lacks a good IP system, and in a lot of situations the pro

      • You are absolutely right! We should just get rid of the concept of IP and eliminate personal benefit for all future innovations. That surely will motivate people to work harder and develop new products/processes so that others with better means will reap the rewards in their place!

        There is no reason you can't make tons of money making IP without patenting it. If software can be so easily reverse engineered to make patenting it necessary, it isn't complex enough to be able to be patented. Yes, that does mean that most software is un-patentable, but we are in about 60 years into the computer industry. Think of all the disasters that would have happened if we would have let patents in the first 60 years of other major industries. Perhaps 150 years into the future when all the basics h

      • We should just get rid of the concept of IP

        Indeed we should. The concept of thought as property is a problem in and of itself. The granting of temporary monopolies on specific implementations of ideas is one thing: holding that mere ideas can be property is something else again. I don't care what country you live in, the entire premise of "intellectual property" is amoral and fundamentally flawed.
      • On another note, you make a good point on /. not having a -1 disagree moderation because I certainly disagree.

        Mainly because disagreement is not only expected and accepted, but is the driving force behind Slashdot. If everyone agreed with everyone else, there'd be no need to post anything (preaching to the choir is boring.) We all derive considerable satisfaction by winning someone over to our side, of making them really think about things they take for granted. Goes both ways, of course ... I'm intellectually honest enough to admit when someone else has a more accurate perception than I do. That also is part of th

      • don't project your personal values onto others.

        many people like to invent things and come up with new, innovative ideas because it pleases them. they enjoy sharing their ideas with others and contributing to society--yea, it's a novel concept, i know. people were inventing ways to make life better long before capitalism and the subsequent commercialization of our society. it's in our nature to create, invent, and innovate. that's why people write open source software, conduct academic research, and create a

    • by wellingj (1030460)
      If you really want to get into it, the only entities that can actually enforce a monopoly are governments. If every one was well informed enough to not buy whatever product was monopolized, that company could do nothing about it besides get a law made. So use your currency wisely.
      • If we had true free-market or minarchest/anarcho-capitalism it would work. However, like you said governments enforce monopolies by patents and copyrights. Take away patents and copyrights and we would see a huge booming computer market, but, alas, the government as seen it fit to protect monopolies.
    • by Pseudonym (62607)
      While I agree with you, courts are not the appropriate venue to establish what constitutes good public policy. If this decision is upheld, then it's a matter for Parliament to deal with.
    • I think what we've really learned, is that while its easy to exploit people's fear of terrorism, fear of financial collapse can fill the same role several orders of magnitude more effectively.
  • Damn it Jim, your code is too simple and elogent. Add more lines, we need a patent!
    • The Judge in this case didn't grasp the difference between complicated and sophisticated. He certainly should have: the law is no different in that respect.

      Complexity is relatively easy to achieve: just implement your code in a substandard, inefficient manner and voila!, you have complexity. That should not, in and of itself, be worth a government-sanctioned monopoly.
      • by tehcyder (746570)
        I think you're confusing "complex" and "complicated". If I wrote a "hello world" program that took two milion lines of code that would be unnecessarily complicated, but not necessarily complex.
  • I am with poster "johnjones". Software patents have (as many predicted) turned out to be an abysmal mess. Software has always been protected by copyright, since the days of player pianos at least. Allowing patents has done a lot of harm, and no good that I have been able to discern.

    Not to mention the problem of defining "complex", as mentioned elsewhere.
    • by Atrox666 (957601)
      Patents were so that people who invent things would get properly rewarded to stimulate innovation. Now greedy corporations own the soul of creative people and get compensated instead of the people who actually contribute to humanity. So the current patent system does not serve a legitimate purpose. The idea that you would have to pay some government and a bunch of parasite lawyers for the right to use your own idea is utterly repugnant. If you steal my stuff or tell my I can't use the product of my own imag
      • that is a gross oversimplification of this topic. Software and physical inventions are fundamentally different in many ways, which has been recognized by the courts since around 1890, due to some landmark court cases involving player pianos. (The holes in the paper are software, see... controlling a mechanical device.)

        Patents and software do not mix properly. However, rights can be adequately protected via laws that govern copyrights and trade secrets.
  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @08:40PM (#25349889)
    Software Patents make writing software in a particular country a risky proposition. There are so many things the USPTO has let be patented, that I doubt you can write a single program without violating someone's patents. You have to wonder, if Software Patents existed in the US from the beginning, if the US Software Industry would have grown into what it is today? Easier to move to and write your software somewhere else (which now doesn't include Britain).
    • You have to wonder, if Software Patents existed in the US from the beginning, if the US Software Industry would have grown into what it is today?

      Of course not. The modern patent system would have significantly repressed such developments in this country, and it would have been left for some other, more-enlightened country to have forged the Personal Computer revolution.

      The fact that outfits like, oh, I don't know ... IBM, and Microsoft, have built gigantic patent portfolios for largely defensive purpo
      • by init100 (915886)

        Microsoft, in particular, has never shown much interest in patent litigation

        They may not have actually brought cases against anyone, but they have surely used patents to threaten competitors. And doing that is not something I consider a defensive stance. Voicing threats of patent litigation is an offensive action, regardless of whether you execute your threats or not.

    • There's a difference between software and other industries, difference is in the way of infringement. In other industries most patent conflicts are about rip off of inventions, in the software industry, most patent cases are against people coming up with the same ideas and that's the problem.

      In most other industries, the patent system means that if I invent a nice mouse trap I can get royalties from the guy with the mouse trap factory a.k.a. the producer.

      In the software industry there is no

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tim C (15259)

        In most other industries, the patent system means that if I invent a nice mouse trap I can get royalties from the guy with the mouse trap factory a.k.a. the producer.

        Or you can invent your own type of mousetrap, different to/better than that one in some way, and convince people to buy yours rather than theirs.

        That's not possible with software patents as it is the concept of e.g. "storing user preferences in a database and retrieving them on subsequent visits" that is patented, not the actual implementation.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Having one type of software run more efficiently than another is (in CS terms) described as "Big O" efficiency. There are many grades of efficiency, log(n), nlog(n), n, n^2, 2^n, etc. That two pieces of software can be completely different and produce the same result means that they are a tautology (gee, just like a mathematical expression). That one can be much more efficient than another can also be true (just like a mathematical expression). All of the 'advances' in software come from university rese

  • Ironic, isn't it, that U.K. was the spearhead of freedom of speech and democracy in the Middle Ages and now is the most advanced in repressing it?
  • by AndyCR (1091663) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @09:34PM (#25350303) Homepage
    First of all, you don't "patent" software - you patent portions of software. Patenting entire pieces of software would make no sense, as it would do nearly the same darned thing as copyrighting it. Second, what defines complex? All software ideas are complex. Is a BSP tree sufficiently complex? I imagine so, and a patent on that would have decimated the game industry early on.
  • by Martian_Kyo (1161137) on Monday October 13, 2008 @02:09AM (#25352103)

    Pity most ingenious software solutions are simple.

    This just complicates things, most complex software is combination of widely known design patterns, which part of it will be patented?

    Judges will have to be real code gurus to judge in these cases.

    Not to mention that things like this will could only stifle progress if actively enforced.

  • Patent "complex" software?

    Since they would not be patenting "simple" software anyway, since "simple" things are probably not patentable anyway, I read that as saying that they just want to allow software patents...

  • So, having used Symbian phones, I would suggest that what is really happening here is that Symbian are trying to patent a bugfix... The bug being that their phone O/S is painfully slow.

    I very much doubt that they have invented something that will make all mobile phones regardless of O/S run faster, unless perhaps we're talking about little robotic legs? That would be a cool patent :)

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      The only reason Symbian wants patents so badly is because they're dying. Google Android is going to crush them because it's a free OS where Symbian once relied to copyright for their Phone OS monopoly.

      Expect to see them sue Google in the future with this fucking stupid patent.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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