S. A. Modena samodena at
Thu Feb 4 17:31:22 EST 1993

In article <zxmkr08.728841442 at studserv> zxmkr08 at (Cornelius Krasel) writes:
>In <1993Feb3.130315.699 at> seb1005 at (Steven Brenner) writes:
>[much good stuff deleted]
>>Actually, I would argue that the very REASON that you don't see source 
>>code being distributed widely enough is that there it CAN'T be patented.

Of course, patent law varies from country to country.  In the beginning of
the software era, software patent applications were refused..but not now.
I'm speaking only of the U.S.A.

For example, I've read the entire patent describing a software/computer
system for providing automobile liability insurance premium quotations...
more or less a transposition to a computer of the traditional manual look-up 
system of actuarial tables.

>What about the lawsuits Apple filed against other developers of GUI's?

Most of the points in that law suit were finally gutted....and for what is
left, the process continues to determine damages.  The basis was "look and
feel" of an ensemble of GUI prepresentations (icons...Apple was deemed to
"owner" of the trash can icon).

>Or, similar, the lawsuits filed by Lotus against developers of 

That one is against Borland specifically for using the "Lotus" (look and feel)
menu selector bar in a spreadsheet context....not for spreadsheets per se.

>    As far as I remember, they had not patented their stuff
>but claimed something like "intellectual property", but I am not sure.
>Then I remember a posting by Richard Stallman lurking on the net
>which warned from (?) the dangers of software patenting.

Well now, did this patenting of life-forms stuff start with the General
Electric patent for a bacterium altered to enhance it's capability to
disperse (by metabolizing) polluting oil slicks?

By extension, one might argue (as they probably do) that since the
bacterium was "enhanced" with a naturally=occurring "gene" in the form of
spliced-in DNA, why not also allow one to patent the *presursors* to
*potentiallly* useful invention?  :^)

A simplistic explaination of the patent system is 'legal protection' in
exchange for _explicit_ disclosure  of the invention itself...that is not 
how it really
works, at least in the case of compositions of matter (such as syntheses of
commercially useful plastics monomers).  One attempts to make the patent as
broad as possible, covering as many classes of precursors as possible with
no regard to practical thermodynamics or economics.  Also, one attempts to
subsume the actual commercially important presurosrs and products
 that you already know how to do
or believe will emerge as important commercial raw materials or final
products, while not so stating directly.

>Just some thoughts...

I'd assume that by patenting even cDNA subfragments of actively transcribed
portions of the genome, one is staking claim--not to prevent someone else
from using it, but to assure that *they* will have to cross-license and
share the pay-back for the *pioneering* work that *you*
did...especially the part about getting all the financing and infrastruture
in place to even do the pioneering science at all.  Priority in the
literature is dandy, but it is several steps removed from obtaining
research funding 10 years from now.  :^)

>/* Cornelius Krasel, Department of Physiological Chemistry, U Tuebingen    */ 

|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
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         Lighten UP!  It's just a computer doing that to you.    (c)

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