That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Sat Dec 14 02:07:55 UTC 2002

El Fri, Dec 13, 2002 at 05:02:05PM +0100, Niall Douglas deia:
> On 12 Dec 2002 at 0:42, Xavi Drudis Ferran wrote:
> > Yes it is important. But you can't make that distiction with 
> > software. As long as all your novel and inventive stuff is 
> > software, the information and the machine are the same. 
> > That's why you can't patent software, because you can 
> > publicize information and monopolize it at the same time, 
> > and with software, machine = software = information. 
> The big problem with saying software is information is how easy you 
> can get shot down for it. Any half-witted lawyer would shred that 
> argument to pieces and all the protesting in the world will not help 
> you.
We already know we don't agree in this. 
> > So don't tell me there's no incentive to innovate, because innovate is
> > what programmers do for a living. Setting up patents to incentivate
> > innovation in knowledge economy is like granting monopoly for
> > tightening bolts in industrial economy. 
> I'd also disagree with this. Most software engineers I /believe/ work 
> in tying together other bits of software and producing a non-
> innovative work. I have no hard figures on this, but the bespoke 
> software industry is mostly bread and butter programming doing 
> nothing new and original at all.

I don't think many people are paid to reinvent the wheel. 
You either solve a yet unsolved problem (by tying together other bits 
of software, of course) or you get something already done. 
The fact that the unresolved problem is (to some) as uniretesting 
as a pay roll or as interested as eliptical curve cryptograhy
has nothing to do with the fact that it is a new solution to a 
new problem.
This would be called innovative in manufacturing, but it is 
the norm in software, and so you call it bread and butter.  

The fact that innovation in software is typically incremental 
is a consequence of the fact that it all happens inside a 
fixed formal framework. But incrementality does not mean 
lack of innovation. 

That's why I don't value blue-sky innovation so much. 

Anyway, a patent is not a stamp of technical excellence (EPO dixit)
and the inventiveness level required for any patent is way
beyond your threshold I'm afraid. 

More information about the Discussion mailing list