That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Wed Dec 11 00:14:29 UTC 2002

El Tue, Dec 10, 2002 at 11:49:29AM +0100, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet deia:

> I get the feeling that what you are trying to say is that doing
> something that goes against the original intent of the EPC is
> necessarily an illegal activity. This seems a bit strange to me, as
> lawmakers have the ability to override previous laws, don't they? If
> the EC now wants to override the provisions of the EPC, that may be a
> bad policy, but it's not a loophole. It's simply a new law.

What he tries to say is they're trying to ruin our law just because 
the EPO has broken it and now the Comission wants to cover the EPO 
with a new, bad law. Hopefully.
> To me, "MPEG patent" is shorthand for "patent on a particular
> technical aspect of an implementation of the MPEG standard".
> And no, it doesn't matter whether that implementation involves
> software, hardware or a combination of both.

I agrre it doesn't matter, it's still a software patent impeding 
the creation of logical works (embodied in texts, magnetic disks,
chips or a mixture of those)

> The patents do not cover the standard itself, but only
> implementations of the standard. You can copy the standard as much as
> you want (subject to copyright restrictions of course) and distribute
> information in the standard to everyone. But as soon as you start
> implementing the standard, your implementation will infringe on some
> patents. And for particular implementations there might also be
> patents which you can work around by choosing a different
> implementation.

That's like saying the patent does not cover the invention, 
you can photocopy the patent description all you want. Covering 
any implementation of a standard means covering the standard. 

But in the case of software you cannot longer distinguish 
the standard from its implementation. Many standards have a 
reference implementation, just because software is the most 
detailes description of itself, and a detailed standard should 
include software. 

Therefore, patents on software prevent the dissemination of 
the standard. Well, I guess that depends on whether program 
claims are allowed, and distribution of ifnringing programs 
is forbidden, or they are not and "only" any use of the 
programs are forbidden. But anyway, publication would be useless still.
> I don't understand this. Are you saying that patents on hardware
> implementations of MPEG should also not be permitted?

Exactly, since hardware implementations of MPEG don't disclose new
insights into the uses of forces of nature... see Dispositionsprogramm.
And if they do, they might be much more general than MPEG, possibly,
and nobody would so restrict the claims. 

> The counter argument would be that without the prospect of using
> patents to get revenue from MPEG 4 implementers, the MPEG 4 drafters
> would not have made the investments to develop the standard in the
> first place. My company certainly wouldn't have.

Some other would. All economic studies show the incentives are there. 
And some, not surprisingly, find the same for microelectronics than 
for software (if they had broken the microelectronics in logical achievements
and physical ones, it would have been even clearer).
The strong incentive of a patent can only be justified for very 
expensive research invoving experiments with expensive equipment 
in laboratories, clinical trials, etc. 
> Even to IBM most patents are not a cash cow. A small number of their
> patents bring in a lot of money, but most of them don't bring in any
> money. You may be right about pharmaceutical patents, but as most
> pharmaceutical firms have a much smaller number of patents than most
> electronics firms this seems almost inevitable.

According to people from IBM, the big value is in their vast amount 
of patents, that allow them to cross-license and access other people 
inventions, so the quality of a single patent is less important.

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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