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HP Patents Bignum Implementation From 1912 144

Posted by kdawson
from the can-you-spell-prior-art dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The authors of GMP (the GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library) were invited to join Peer-to-Patent to review HP's recent patent on a very old technique for implementing bignums because their software might infringe. Basically, HP's patent claims choosing an exponent based on processor word size. If you choose a 4-bit word size and a binary number, you end up working in hexadecimal. Or for a computer with a 16-bit word and a base-10 number, you use base 10,000 so that each digit of the base-10,000 number would fit into a single 16-bit word. The obvious problem with that is that there's plenty of prior art here. Someone who spent a few minutes Googling found that Knuth describing the idea in TAOCP Vol. 2 and other citations go back to 1912 (which implemented the same algorithm using strips of cardboard and a calculating machine). None of this can be found in the 'references cited' section. Even though the patent examiner did add a couple of references, they appear to have cited some old patents. The patent issued a few months ago was filed back in October of 2004, and collected dust at the USPTO for some 834 days."
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HP Patents Bignum Implementation From 1912

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  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:07PM (#30650568) Journal

    ...how many of these blatant abuses actually get overturned?

    In particular, is there any way sanity can enter the process without having to challenge it in court?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stms (1132653)
      You must be new here, sanity rarely enters the process even when it does get challenged in court.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:29PM (#30651164)

      In particular, is there any way sanity can enter the process without having to challenge it in court?

      The whole idea is not that the patent has any basis but that it is ridiculously expensive to go to court. This puts a huge entry barrier around the market and protects the large incumbents. In essence, patents are now being used to protect large corporations from small entrepreneurs - exactly the opposite of their original intention.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except for patent trolls, you know...

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:41PM (#30651254)

      Sanity has never been part of the US patent process. Here's some pre-computer examples.

      1. An inventor was able to patent a design for mule shaped bookends, while another was denied a patent on a mule shaped balloon. The Patent Office ruled that sawing a brass mule in half was non-obvious and original, while blowing up a rubber mule wasn't. In a similar area, dying coal blue wasn't novel, but dying coal blue with your company logo was.

      2. Aspirin was patented well after a similar process for making Salicylic Acid on an industrial scale was. The office decided, with no precidents, that making the same chemical in pure enough form that it was safe for medicinal use was novel. When challenged on it, the USPO said they were going through a bottle a day deciding patent claims and were not about to reject rewarding this claim no matter what the law said.

      3. A patent was once denied on a chemical process because that chemical was already mentioned in industry literature from more than a year before. The problem? What the literature said was: "It is impossible to synthesize chemical X. No one will ever do it."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pnewhook (788591)

        Patents are for the most part completely useless. We should just get rid of the entire patent process. It's not needed.

      • by Gerzel (240421) *

        It comes right down to the process is overloaded. We don't put enough people and energy into maintaining the patent system and it is geared solely toward protecting large industry and business.

        • It comes right down to the process is overloaded. We don't put enough people and energy into maintaining the patent system and it is geared solely toward protecting large industry and business.

          The question then is whether it is possible to put enough people and energy into maintaining the patent system.

          Certainly it is to the advantage of those building IP thickets that the system should be overloaded. The less time the examiner has, the greater the chance of a spurious patent getting rubber stamped. S

          • by Gerzel (240421) *

            I think there need to be legal ramifications if a patent is sumbitted, approved and then is shown to be unworthy due to prior art.

            Or at least there needs to be a prior art defence for any patent. If the accused infringer can show that there is in-fact substantial prior art and that the patent is non-novel...yeah I know pipe dream.

            • Or at least there needs to be a prior art defence for any patent. If the accused infringer can show that there is in-fact substantial prior art and that the patent is non-novel...yeah I know pipe dream.

              The problem isn't so much the defence as the expense of challenging and overturning a patent. The big players can afford to tie the case up in court for years. Meanwhile, the smaller party isn't getting any income, and are bleeding money through legal fees.

              And it's hard to see how to fix that in such a wa

        • As other posts noted, patent examination isn't about verifying whether a patent application is in fact novel.

          Instead it's about seeing if a patent examiner, who must approve a certain number of patents per week or be fired (!), can spot any obvious prior art (read: "previous patents on the same subject") in the time budgeted for examination. Which is about 10-30 minutes apart from doing the paperwork retrieve and to file a patent claim and scan for existing patents.

          The USPTO largely relies on the public

        • by AlecC (512609)

          More relevantly, does the patent process serve society as it now exists? The process was invented about three centuries ago, when the pace of progress was much slower and research tools were much weaker, so that it was plausible to protect at least some inventions (e.g. industrial processes) by keeping them secret. It intended to protect society against two ills: people not bothering to make or exploit inventions because they would be ripped off by others, and people keeping inventions secret to they were n

      • by quantumplacet (1195335) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:13AM (#30651458)

        [citations needed]

        very badly since you seem to be the only person on the entire internet to have ever heard any of these stories.

        • Sorry, sir, I changed my sig because of folks like you. It reads:

          Citation War - A1: Correct, NotCited. A2: Correct, Cited. B1: Wrong, NotCited B2: Wrong, Flawed Citation.

          Because all of slashdot seems to hide when I start a reply, you made me open seven tabs to compose this. But here we go.

          ----
          Section A - you vs. poster above you.

          You said: "[citations needed]very badly since you seem to be the only person on the entire internet to have ever heard any of these stories."

          Calling his comment some 75% correct, th

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rxmd (205533)

            Your comment directly says his post was not long enough, so to discard the requested length below is a red herring.

            No, it doesn't. It says he should have provided some references for his three stories. It's possible to provide references in a short, concise way. You don't do that either, making your post unnecessarily teduous to read.

            Section B - Poster's comment #2.

            "2. Aspirin was patented well after a similar process for making Salicylic Acid on an industrial scale was. The office decided, with no precidents, that making the same chemical in pure enough form that it was safe for medicinal use was novel. When challenged on it, the USPO said they were going through a bottle a day deciding patent claims and were not about to reject rewarding this claim no matter what the law said."

            Your discussion on the chemistry, production and product history of aspirin is very lengthy, but does not constitute a substantial reference either for or against the GP's claim. It says nothing about the patent status of different *production methods*, only that they were different, which

          • so to sum this up, you "opened seven tabs" and spent clearly considerable time to ultimately prove that one of the posters three claims was unverifiable and at best an exaggerated anecdote, though no evidence exists that anyone other than the poster has ever told said anecdote before. oh, and you threw in a bizarre claim that challenging an assertion on a message board is libel, and made up numbers to go with it. nice work, and definitely time well spent.

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        That essentially means that the patent office is a bunch of morons where people ends up when they for some reason can't get a productive job but still can't be put into unemployment since it would make the government look bad.

        Maybe it's time to invalidate all patents and start over with a new set of rules for patents. Let a patent be valid for at most 12 months from the date of the application. That would keep competition on it's edge.

        Today too many man-hours are wasted on patents and the process around pat

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        I'm largely convinced that the USPTO is doing much harder stuff than a bottle of Asprin per day, based on the experience I've had up to this point with the system (And I HAVE had experience, based on prior filings done by myself...).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:09PM (#30650584)

    I guess that there is some good news in this article. The patent hasn't been issued yet, it is only being reviewed right now. And this review is accomplishing what it is meant to: showing that the patent claim is ridiculous. Yeah, HP shouldn't try patenting this, and the USPTO probably should have thrown this away in November of 2004, but still it was caught and (hopefully) won't be issued. The system is working, kinda, and this patent at least will hopefully not be issued. We will only need to get out the torches and pitchforks if the USPTO grants this patent anyways despite the outcry and prior art.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by martijnd (148684)

      "A few minutes googling"

      Less than 10 years ago it would have taken multiple trips to (several) libraries by a very persistant person to find this information. (The kind of person who would read an obscure mailing list about patent abuse).

      Most likely a cursory review by a bored patent clerk (as he is working on the next E=MC^2) would have turned up nothing, and the patent would have passed.

      Now any Slashdotter with a minute to spare can find the same information.

      Its interesting to see how we are getting to grips with information ove

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tragedy (27079)

        Sorry, wasn't this in The Art of Computer Programming? That is not in any way shape or form an obscure text in the field of computer science. In any sane world, any patent examiner dealing with patents in computer science would have the set on their desk.

        • Sorry, wasn't this in The Art of Computer Programming? That is not in any way shape or form an obscure text in the field of computer science. In any sane world, any patent examiner dealing with patents in computer science would have the set on their desk.

          The Art of Computer Programming is a pretty big book. I have the first three volumes on the shelf behind me; they have my scribbles all over the margins. But I couldn't tell you from memory every algorithm that's in there. This is just one of the many places where searchable hypertext scores over flattened dead trees.

    • I see the patent grab as being indicative of the fucked-up state of the patent system, not as abusing it. A defensive move. Hell, I wish more big corporations would scoop up common-sense shit and release them as open patents [wikipedia.org]. It's in everybody's best interest as long as patent trolls exist.

      Better HP than some "IP Firm" taking it to the East District of Texas.
      • by LOLLinux (1682094)

        You mean except for the fact that HP has used the East District of Texas to file patent suits?

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      There is another reason to patent something besides to sue people.
      It is to keep you from getting sued. If you own the patent of something then it is a lot harder to get sued when some "IP" holding company patents something that you have been doing for years.
      In the industry I work in an IP company got a patent on sending text over a serial connection to a terminal. It didn't matter that several companies had been doing that for years in this industry. The IP company didn't go after any of the software compa

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:14PM (#30650602) Journal

    I think this is the first time I've heard of WikiPatents at all, and I don't think it's been featured on the front page yet.

    I'm thinking this would be very useful in the patent approval process, not just after the fact. Suppose it worked like this: The second you file a patent, it would be published. Before it could be approved, it would have to be public for some length of time, during which anyone could present prior art or arguments for "obviousness".

    On the other hand, I think they're being entirely too kind. From their FAQ [wikipatents.com]:

    Patent Examiners do an excellent job reviewing patents in the limited amount of time they are allotted to review patents. However, no single individual can accumulate all of the most relevant information to review a patent within 10 hours, 100 hours, or even 1,000 hours.

    On the other hand, based on the "quality" of the patents which get through (like this one!), it really doesn't seem like Patent Examiners even bother to Google it before approving.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      On the other hand, based on the "quality" of the patents which get through (like this one!), it really doesn't seem like Patent Examiners even bother to Google it before approving.

      It's worse than that - this isn't something you Google, because as soon as you are able to understand what the patent is saying, you will also understand that it is obvious in an especially egregious way. The patent examiner cannot have understood the patent and still have granted it. It is much like the Russian patent on bottles a while back. If anything, NOT doing what the patent is suggesting is the non-obvious thing.

      • Google is, however, one way to understand what the patent is saying, at least enough to examine whether there might be prior art.

        I suppose in an ideal world, they'd at least skim the summary, then fire an email off to whoever filed the patent asking "How is this different than <list of patents>?"

      • by Ciggy (692030) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:58AM (#30652962)

        ...The patent examiner cannot have understood the patent...

        Errm, patents are supposed to be usable by someone skilled in the art to produce the invention; no? If the patent examiner can't understand what the patent is about then either:

        • a) The patent examiner isn't skilled in the art; or
        • b) The patent isn't disclosing the [full] details of the patent [clearly enough for a skilled person];

        or both. In the case of (b), the patent should be instantly rejected as it doesn't fulfil the criteria of disclosing details for a limited monopoly,

        In the case of (a) the examiner should refer to someone who is [so skilled] to give guidance and to fail to do so is negligence (and so either personally or the USPTO should be liable for costs incurred in defending against such a patent when the patent is shown to be issued wrongly).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      I'm thinking this would be very useful in the patent approval process, not just after the fact. Suppose it worked like this: The second you file a patent, it would be published. Before it could be approved, it would have to be public for some length of time, during which anyone could present prior art or arguments for "obviousness".

      That's brilliant. Why, change "the second" to "within 18 months after" and you just described the USPTO. All patent applications are published and public for some length of time before approval, during which anyone can present prior art or arguments for "obviousness".

      You knew that, right? I mean, you're not just griping about something without actually researching it, right?

    • by dasmoo (1052358)
      You do know the patent system sucks not only for companies being trolled, but also for inventors right? There are so many big companies infringing on the little guys who just don't have the resources to fight. Even if they did fight, they could be labeled trolls because they don't have the capital to produce their idea. Publishing the patent before approved could give big companies two years of royalty free access to their idea, making it so that everyone already has widget x and doesn't need one anymore, o
  • by mysidia (191772) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:15PM (#30650618)

    On finding the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle.

    Scope of the invention:

    For right triangle with length of two sides denoted by A, B, the length of the hypotenuse denoted by C:

    C^2 = A^2 + B^2

    and

    Abs(C) = Sqrt(A^2 + B^2)

    Oh yes.. and my patent on trigonometric functions.. These things I like to call "Sines", "Cosines", "Secants", "ArcSecants", "Tangents", and "ArcTangents".

    And PI itself...

    Stand back Eolas, i4i, NTP, Unisys, get ready for Mysidia.

    Muahahahahahahahahaha!!

    • by darthdavid (835069) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:20PM (#30650652) Homepage Journal
      The scary thing is that you could probably actually get away with that as long as you make sure to put "On a computer:" at the start...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "... over a wireless connection..." seems to be the prevailing trend among patents I've seen for obvious technologies.

        • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:51PM (#30650914)
          "... with one click..."
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            "...for use on social networking sites..."

          • "...with a low carbon footprint..."
      • by Tablizer (95088)

        get away with that as long as you make sure to put "On a computer"...

        I already patented that process:

        // make me rich
          h = openFile("ordinary_behavior.txt");
          while (w = readNextWord(h)) {
            if (random(0.0,1.0) > 0.96) {
              w = w + " using a computer ";
            }
            print(w);
          }

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      I wish to patent the "floor function". It takes as its input lots and lots of alcohol. The output then hits the floor.

      Using my floor function as a reference, I extend it to the ceiling function, which also accepts alcohol as an input. F(x) then becomes parallel to the floor function and faces upward. The projection is then called the ceiling function, which is a dizzying combination of periodic sine[(c)Mysidia 2010] and cosine[(c)Mysidia 2010] functions. The ceiling function is itself periodic and rever
    • by gearloos (816828)
      did someone say pie? I was told there'd be pie!
    • Context: author described "finding the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle" in English.

      Damn newbies, with an explanation as provided you will most definitely get your patent application rejected. Heck even a two year old could understand the explanation. Your mistake was using an understandable explanation. The trick is to use 'patentese' a language so arcane that even the experts have a hard time understanding what is being described. You see it is like using Shakespear's English in that you marve

      • by mysidia (191772)

        That's not the patent application.. that's the form before adding layers of obfuscation and indirection, translating to lawyerese, and inserting every possible elaborate permutation in claims.

        • by Tsujiku (902045)
          You need to translate from lawyerese to English and back a few times to get it to really work right.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Never use a big word when a diminutive word will do." (One of my Greek prof's quotes for the day.)

  • Simple solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bobdotorg (598873) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:24PM (#30650688)

    Have the patent office add a Slashcode forum so commenters from the peanut gallery can yell:

    DUPE!!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by robot256 (1635039)

      Have the patent office add a Slashcode forum so commenters from the peanut gallery can yell: DUPE!!!

      Crowd-sourcing patent review is a very good idea actually. Patent applications are normally published after 540 days [wikipedia.org] whether they've been issued or not, so putting them up for public comment *before issuance* would be in line with current policy. And since slashdotters are used to providing references, the clerks could just ignore everything else and look up the references people posted. WikiPatents.com is a start but does not seem to allow people to actually critique a patent (or application) for being uni

      • Strikes me that there is a flaw in this process.

        Let's say that the a range of software authors read the patent and comment, but the patent is granted anyway. The freshly-minted patent holder then has a ready made list of parties interested enough to read and comment on a patent, which is probably a good approximation of those that thought they might be infringing. Send the list to the lawyers and you reduce the underpants-to-profit time. The patent holder also knows that these people have read the paten

        • I see your point, but it won't always be "infringers" who will be looking for these prior arts. And even if they were, an anonymous tip on "wikiforpriorartclaims.com" would let some do-good random make the complaint anyway.

          Personally, I'd like to see it set up such that if random-joe finds prior art using publicly available information (aka 'Hey, I searched for the obvious terms A & B, and found prior art here'), then the applicant is fined, so the applicants themselves are forced to at least complete
        • by mysidia (191772)

          Anonymous/pseudonomous submissions avoid that problem.

    • by sg_oneill (159032)

      Its not the dupe guys they fear, its penisbird.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      I prefer that would-be patent applicants have to post their patents in a comment, so the dupes can be modded... -1, Redundant, by a computer scientist with mod points :)

  • 10,000??? (Score:1, Troll)

    by istartedi (132515)

    10,000??? Turn in your geek card now. Don't understand why it should be turned in? Well, there are 10 types of people...

    • by istartedi (132515)

      I read it too fast, saw a number that wasn't a power of 2, and got snarky. Not sure about my geek card; but at least I'm in line with Slashdot community values.

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:42PM (#30650824) Homepage
    That seems to be the USPTO's over-riding theory. Approve all the patents and then if people want to scream prior art, let them scream it to a judge.
    • by russotto (537200)

      That seems to be the USPTO's over-riding theory. Approve all the patents and then if people want to scream prior art, let them scream it to a judge.

      The courts, in their turn, then defer to the USPTO and grant a presumption of validity to the patent. And so we have Microsoft successfully sued for breaking an XML file up into the text and the tags with pointers into the text. And nonsense like this. And also a new patent for a mousetrap which appears in ads in the 1920s...

      • And also a new patent for a mousetrap which appears in ads in the 1920s...

        [Citation needed]

        • by russotto (537200)

          One patent is 4,937,968. Another is 562,879. The catalog (1908, sorry, not 1920) is here:

          Mousetrap [google.com], captioned "The Mouse Trap that Catches Mice Catches Customers"

    • Say you are a developer and don't get enough funds for a project. Do you then

      A: do your job in your own time because quality is everything

      B: code what you can and shove the bugs/problems off to the next person in line?

      They are passing the buck because they don't have enough money to do the process properly, with so many patents being applied in a world that has ever more existing material, the job size increases each day. In the dawn of human history the job was easy, get patent application #2, check if

      • For the record, I'm supporter of raising taxes. There's a pretty strong correlation between higher taxes and higher standards of living.
  • by dwheeler (321049) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:43PM (#30650842) Homepage Journal

    The current patent system presumes that "everything worth inventing, that has been invented, already has a patent". That wasn't really true in the late 1700s, and is completely nonsense today.

    Eben Moglen made an interesting point about patents back in 2009 [dwheeler.com]. Today, any time the government wants to create a new rule/regulation, they must normally ensure that the public can participate/review/comment on it. Also, the government must show that the benefits of the rule/regulation exceeds its costs. All of this is courtesy of the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 (aka the APA). The APA is no garden of perfection, but it has helped. The big exception is the patent system, which predates the APA, and thus patents are exempt from the APA. In the patent system, there is no opportunity for the public to participate/review/comment on each patent, and there is no requirement to show that the benefits of granting a patent exceeds its costs. Which is weird, because patents (as government-granted monopolies) can have as wide an effect as any other rule or regulation. We need to get rid of software and business method patents [dwheeler.com], at least, but changing the patent system to require public review and a demonstration that costs exceeded benefits would help too.

  • I'm waiting (Score:2, Funny)

    by Grand Facade (35180)

    I'm waiting for Al Gore to patent the internet.

  • by butlerm (3112) on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:05PM (#30651028)

    PostgreSQL starting storing NUMERIC columns in base 10000 six or seven [postgresql.org] years ago. A nice trick, but not exactly rocket science. If you have a high school level education in computer science, you should know how to do stuff like this. Maybe that is what the patent examiners need.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Although, it looks like Tom fixed the number at base 10000 (i.e., 16 bits) where it had been base 100 (8 bits) rather than adjusting to the machine word size - perhaps the HP patent takes that additional step.

      Yep, obvious though - or at least I think so having done something similar in the 90s just as 64 bit machines were becoming commonplace. I didn't think it was particularly clever at the time and didn't pat myself on the back. I certainly didn't think it was worth a patent - although, I must admit, w
  • ... but doesn't understand what he's reading. From the summary's link:

    They claim one thing that they repeat three times. What they claim is converting a string of digits...
    The claims repeat this, first for "a method of operating a processor having a processor word size" to do the sectioning and converting each section. Then they say the same thing but don't call the sectioning a separate step, i.e., going through the input string N digits at a time as there is no reason to actually do a sectioning step. And third they repeat the wording of the first one but call it "a computer-readable storage medium storing instructions for controlling a processor" instead of "a method of operating a processor", but otherwise just repeat all the same words.

    ... and that right there identifies the author as not understanding patent law. If he were to focus on the technical aspects, he may have some authority, but he clearly doesn't understand what he's actually criticizing.

  • Nice (Score:4, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:16AM (#30651474) Homepage Journal
    It's so much easier to be a patent troll if you patent stuff that's already been invented. I don't think HP actually makes... things... these days. The only thing I've seen out of them in recent days is crappy IT outsourcing and lawsuits. I'd have thought super-expensive ink would have been more profitable than any of the above, though.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      When are the patents on inkjets gonna run out already and become a commodity? I'm tired of being jerked out of money by cartridges that find more excuses to expire early than Marilyn Monroe clones in a poppy field.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      HP provides some decent server gear [hp.com] (and network gear, now that they bought 3com)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SharpFang (651121)

      C'mon. They are world leader in printer ink cartridge lifetime shortening and protection from copying technology.

      Wasn't that them who invented scanner-printer devices that refuse to scan if you don't have ink?
      Wasn't that them who invented ink level permanent kill switch to prevent refilling?
      Wasn't that them who invented disabling cartridges based on number of pages printed, ink level notwithstanding?
      Wasn't that them who invented printer cartridges with built in clock and killswitch to disable full cartridge

      • by pipatron (966506)

        Wasn't that them who invented scanner-printer devices that refuse to scan if you don't have ink?

        w.. t.. f..

        Is this for real or are you just making crazy things up now?

        • by SharpFang (651121)

          I'm not sure if they are all HP. I know they all were used in one or another printer manufacturer's devices at certain time.

          Yeah, the scanners that require ink were notorious. Scanning required a proprietary app that served simultaneously as printing and printer servicing app. Upon detecting empty cartridges it would only open "replace cartridges" screen and not allow to do anything else until the cartridges were replaced.

          Like with the others, I'm not sure if it was HP though.

  • I did the same thing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:31AM (#30651560) Homepage

    I used to have a VAX assembly program called "er1e9", which computed e using base 1,000,000,000 numbers (which fit into 32-bit integers). I wrote that in the late 80's, and still have it around somewhere. Multiplying and dividing using the VAX instructions was fairly trivial with that format up to arbitrary lengths. It's a pretty obvious optimization, or at least it was for a college kid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hughk (248126)
      Funnily enough HP bought Compaq who bout Digital who designed the VAX range of computers, but the VAX architecture is ~30 years old (it was announced in 1978) so they probably ended up prior arting themselves.
  • Collecting dust for an indefinite amount of time with little feedback only to be arbitrarily granted or denied in some process with impenetrable logic (if it even has any of *that*).... I just realized....

    The patent office is a perfect analogy for the iTunes app store!

  • Or a scientific article, which claimed to be original but was actually a copy of an older work, this would be plagiarism, as well as a copyright violation.

    However, if I claim a patent on an invention almost a hundred years old, I would be granted exclusive rights to it until someone sics a lawyer on me.

    Can't we make filing false patent claims a felony? It is not enough to have these patents sit uncontested unless someone can cough up the cash for a civil court case. The people who file these patents should

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @05:38AM (#30653130)

    I'm not fundamentally against software patents, so long as they follow some basic rules:

    • If prior art is found, but wasn't mentioned on the application, the person applying for the patent is shot.
    • If finding that prior art took less than 2 hours of Googling by a PhD in the field, the inspector is shot.
    • If all of the above are true, and the patent was asserted against someone, the lawyer is shot, and since corporations are "people", the entire corporation (if one was involved) is put in jail for its "lifetime" (e.g., until its incorporation is dissolved).
    • A patent is considered "obvious" if 10 top-notch PhD's in the field are put into a room (with access to the Internet), posed with the problem to be solved, and can't come up with a solution similar to the one being proposed within a week.
    • If a patent is overturned, whoever field the patent must pay all costs (including labor, and interest) to the person who did the work of getting it overturned. And must also participate in a last-man-standing cage match with Michael Tyson after having tatooed on his ass, "Mike Tyson, I'm going to make you my bitch!"
    • Patents last for 7 years.

    This would be completely acceptable to me.

    • by Golddess (1361003)

      If finding that prior art took less than 2 hours of Googling by a PhD in the field, the inspector is shot.

      You want to shoot someone who probably has zero experience with the field the patent is in, who probably has much less than 2 hours per patent (that's only 4 patents a day, which the various patent articles over the years seem to imply is much less than patent inspectors are expected to review in a single day)?

      Not saying it's right or wrong that a patent inspector inspects patents under those circumstances, just that it isn't nice to "shoot the messenger" as could probably be said about your proposed solu

      • You want to shoot someone who probably has zero experience with the field the patent is in, who probably has much less than 2 hours per patent (that's only 4 patents a day, which the various patent articles over the years seem to imply is much less than patent inspectors are expected to review in a single day)?

        Good point. On the first offense, just publicly whip the patent investigator. On each subsequent offense, kill the investigator plus all of his management chain, totally one more level of discipline

  • I, for one, welcome this.

    HP's bignum is based on regular numbers which I patented a few years back.
    So HP would have to license my patent to do anything useful with their patent.

You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer.

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