That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet galactus at
Mon Dec 16 17:16:01 UTC 2002

Simo Sorce wrote:
> I will gather some claims form mister Arnoud, that made me think.

I'm pleased to see you took the time to read all my messages.
However, I find it a bit difficult to respond to this collection,
because I'm not sure anymore in which context I said what.

> On Wed, 2002-12-11 at 13:06, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet wrote:
> I don't know that. Manipulating EM signals seems like using forces
> > of nature in a controllable manner.
> Yes you get the right point, "seem" is exactly the right word here,
> and what most patent attorneys do is exactly that, they make wording
> such that something "seem" something else.

Or maybe I think it *is* something else, and you disagree with me.

> The problem is that with the MPEG (or any other) signal compression
> system you do NOT manipulate EM signals, you manipulate digital
> information on you computer and than build a resulting signal.

Well, I think you *do* manipulate EM signals. You just digitize
them before applying transformations. They're still the EM signal.

> The signal fed into an DAC and convected to a membrane or a monitor
> will result into a manipulation of forces.

But making an analog signal digital, processing it, and then
feeding it to the DAC and causing a picture to be displayed is not?

> Note that "the signal" is not something you can patent!


> On Wed, 2002-12-11 at 13:06, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet wrote:
> > You're citing overturned law. This view on patentability has been
> > abandoned by the German Supreme Court.
> This is another big problem with legal people (I'm not referring
> to you), they think they are the only one entitled to play with
> the law, and that's wrong.

That's absolutely right. I'm just saying here that this decision
has no legal status, so you cannot say "decided by the Supreme
Court, so end of discussion" like you could with binding

> What you are saying instead is that the law must be modified to make
> the holes the rule, that's a very dangerous way to think, and,
> unfortunately, it's getting more and more common today.

Well, maybe I happen to think that the "holes" are what the
law should be.

> Are you saying the spirit of the law is wrong? I think not! I think past

Actually I think I am saying that :) Feel free to disagree though.

> law makers had been very wise and predicted that economical interest would
> have tried to erode common sense for the sake of profit, only they didn't
> had technical meanings to write a good law because software were not so
> common and was not well known.

I do not get this impression from reading the minutes
of the drafters of the EPC. They agree that an invention
should represent technical progress, but also that a
patentee should get adequate protection. 

> On Wed, 2002-12-11 at 13:22, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet wrote: 
> > Encouraging competition and stimulate rip-offs, yes. If a patent
> > cannot protect you against differing implementations of your
> > invention, it is of little use.
> You are saying that the steam engine patent should cover the diesel motor.

Do they operate according to the same inventive idea? Then yes.

> You are not fair, you try to fool us in false arguments but you intents
> are clear here, you want to simply patent ideas and that's clear in the
> following statement.

Of course. That's the *point* of patents. They protect
technical ideas. Not *all* ideas, just technical ideas,
which can be put to practice.

> > Other laws are already available to
> > protect against people making copies of your device. The whole idea
> > behind patent law is to give you protection for your technical idea.
> Idea! Here you finally come to your real intents, you want to twist the
> patent system to patent ideas! And that is exactly what we oppose.

Fine with me. But don't make it sound like I'm a monster
plotting to take over the world. One patents inventive
concepts. The "how to build it"s are the embodiments,
but the patent protects against variations of the embodiments
by giving you an exclusive right on the general idea.

> Should we patent a therapeutic practice because it makes people healthy
> and have the technical effect of lessening medical costs of older
> practices? 

No, because I think the costs to society (not being able
to save lives because a patent holder refuses a license
to a doctor) outweigh the benefits (disclose of the
new practice).

> Besides examples, can you explain why you use the term "technical effect"?

Because I think that's the proper criterion. If it does
something in a field of technology, then that's a sign
it may be patentable (if novel, inventive & industrially

> What is it exactly opposed to? And why if something has a technical
> effect then it is patentable on your opinion?

I believe patents should cover all technical progress, not
just "new teachings on the controlled use of natural forces".
If it does something novel and inventive in a field of
technology, it deserves a patent.

> > But surely I am still using forces of nature in a controllable
> > manner, even if my use is entirely known???
> Why a patent on *nothing* new or inventive should be granted? What's the
> gain for the society?

I am not saying "oh, it's technical, let's grant a patent". You
still have to evaluate novelty, inventive step and industrial
applicability. I'm saying "oh, it's technical, now let's see
whether it deserves a patent" and "oh, it's not technical, go
away or I'll taunt you a second time."

> Even my arm punching Xavi's nose use forces of nature in a controllable
> manner, should I patent nose punching by arm?

I don't know, I don't like this criterion. I would say you
achieve no technical effect with this claim, so I would tell
you to go away or I will taunt you a second time. :)

> > Ok, but if I program a DSP chip to realize the same phase change
> > it is not patentable? Why? What is the difference in effect
> > produced by these two things?
> Why the effect should make any difference?

Because the effect is what shows the difference.

> The problem is, do we have something new with your use of the software?
> No, it's all known art, you only made it because at some point you needed
> it not because you invented something new. 

I don't understand. Necessity is the mother of invention.
This cannot be the proper criterion, as this argument applies
to any invention in any field. "You only made it because you
needed it".

> You took pieces of known
> knowledge and put them together to make the thing you needed. And if you
> needed it you can see that you already had incentives to make such thing,
> why patents should cover you?

If there were incentives in the prior art, my invention is
obvious. But if I combine pieces of known technology to
make something novel and *non* obvious, then I deserve a
patent. The lightbulb consisted of known pieces, yet it was
a patentable invention.

Kind regards,


Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies:

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