That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Marcus Brinkmann Marcus.Brinkmann at
Sun Dec 15 13:14:12 UTC 2002

On Sun, Dec 15, 2002 at 12:46:43PM +0100, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet wrote:
> > And please also realize what you just said.  You said that everything will
> > be patentable.  Is this truely what you want?
> I don't think I said that. Patents should be available for
> all technical inventions, and I believe it makes no difference
> whether the invention is based on software. But a purely
> mental technique, or a method of doing business should not
> be patentable.

The problem is that the patentability of all pure mental tewchniques is a
direct consequence of allowing any software patents, because it is not
possible to draw the distinction you want to draw.  The term "Technical
effect" is without real meaning.

> > > That is where we differ. I believe it is illogical to say "the
> > > innovation is in the software", because using software is not
> > > an innovation. Making a machine do a novel thing is an innovation,
> > > no matter how you make the machine do it.
> > 
> > The thing is that an invention means that we learn something new about the
> > forces of nature.
> This I disagree with. I believe this is an outdated concept
> in patent law. How does it cover new medicines, for example?

Patentability of pharma products and genes is another interesting
discussion, but it is a discussion we should not have here.

> > Now, you are right in that the EPOs action is the way you described it
> > rather than me.  However, I would hope that you also agree with me that how
> > I said it is how the law requires it to be.  
> I personally believe that all technical inventions should be
> patentable, and that it should not matter whether software
> is involved. And I also believe that the criterion should not
> be whether a novel controlled use of forces of nature is
> involved, but rather whether the invention as a whole exhibits
> a technical effect. Even if the effect is not novel, or does
> not learn you anything about a new use of natural forces.

You are repeating that you only want software with a "technical effect"
should be patentable, but you keep ignoring that the term "technical effect"
is just pure bullshit, to put it bluntly.  There is no software without a
"technical effect".  So the consequence would be that all software is

And you said it yourself.  You said you believe that every patent attorney
can introduce a technical effect into a claim.

> It's interesting to note by the way that the Japan's patent act
> defines a patentable invention as a highly advanced creation of a
> technical idea utilizing a law of nature, and they allow claims
> to computer programs by themselves. So apparently in Japan creating
> a computer program uses a force of nature.

I am not familiar with japanese law.  I can not even read japanese, so I
have no way at all to tell what their law says.  However, I have heard that
no law actually allows software or logic patents, and that it is just the
respective patent offices making up the practice.  In europe the first time
governments seem to be willing to accept the responsibility of codifying
logic patents into law, which should make the patent offices very happy,
because that means the responsibility for the dramatic negative consequences
will be within the politicians rather than the patent offices.


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' GNU    marcus at
Marcus Brinkmann              The Hurd
Marcus.Brinkmann at

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