Microsoft prohibits GPLed work via licensing of CIFS standards

Josef Dalcolmo dalcolmox at
Thu Apr 11 08:52:29 UTC 2002

Joerg Schilling wrote:

>>From my understanding of patentable claims (may be this is different in USA), 
>you cannot get a patent for anything that has been around before.
>So if a skilled engineer sees that the claims of a patent are things that
>are already available in any other product, the claim is void.
This is certanly different in the USA. At least there, patenting is 
related to publishing. The purpose of filing for a patent is to make the 
idea publicly known (versus to keep it a proprietary secret), with 
simultaneous protection of the inventor (who otherwise might prefer to 
keep his solution secret).

Patents allow the inventor to publish his idea without fear of getting 
ripped off, and allows others to build upon and improve on the idea. 
Others can then file patents that refine or expand on the original idea.

So, patents are seen (at least in the USA) as a way to prevent solutions 
from being kept secret, which serves the public as a whole. If however, 
someone chooses to keep a solution secret (as is the case with many 
proprietary solutions), he or she risks the loss of the patent to 
someone else, who might come up with the same solution.

Obviously, publishing a solution is another way to make it available to 
the public. That is also why it is possible in the USA to publish 
something and then file for a patent (within a year). One can also file 
for a temporary "public pending" status, which is very simple to do, and 
costs just a small fee in the order of $100, but gives only any 
protection if one files for a proper patent within a year.

In all these cases, the public gain and therefore the publishing is the 
goal and the protection of the inventor is the means to it. If you keep 
your solution secret, you risk loosing the rights to it to someone else.

The goal of public gain through publishing is actually quite similar to 
the idea of Free Software. Only Free Software goes a lot further giving 
the public not only the solution, but also the rights to it (except the 
authorship of course). Free Software just favors a different business 
model than patents, which is why it appears threatening to some.

- Josef Dalcolmo

More information about the Discussion mailing list