H.264 in Fedora 17!

Simo Sorce simo at redhat.com
Wed Mar 21 01:58:31 UTC 2012

On Tue, 2012-03-20 at 16:36 -0700, Adam Williamson wrote:

[lots elided]

> I was asked to reconsider my "invention" under another light: I was
> using captors to the external world. My prediction had an impact on a
> hardware product. In fact, every software patent you can think of can
> be
> reconsidered as an hardware patent. In the extreme case, isn't moving
> electron something physical?
Oh come on, this is such a ridiculous argument. Of course moving
electron is something physical, unfortunately for the author that part
is *not novel*, it's what computers do, and it is not an inventive step
you can claim as new, which is one of the fundamental criteria to award
a patent ... in theory because POs* all over the globe do not do their
job in this regard.
In fact those that still want to argue on this line become even more
ridiculous and claim their software move electrons in a special way,
different from another program ... of course for some reason they do not
patent patterns of electrons moving, but they patent, in effect, ideas
(not specific solutions, but the whole field) and mathematical formulas.

But the problem is even deeper. Software Patents very seldom promote any
kind of innovation, on the contrary they are a weapon to keep small
firms from growing into dangerous competitors in established markets.

In the EU patents just exist, they are not basing their existence on a
constitutional mandate, but the EPC** explicitly exclude software as

In the US instead patents have their root in a specific constitutional
provision that says that this kind of monopoly can only be granted if it
promotes innovation, this means there is no specific ban on software
patents but given they arguably do not promote innovation they should
naturally not be allowed, now you just need to wait for the US Congress
to realize the Constitution tells them they cannot allow patents that do
not promote innovation, good luck with that :)

Anyway, software patents are filed in the EU, and are very often
accepted by the EPO. They not sanctioned by any treaty, also thanks to a
hard battle fought by activists and the FFII a few years ago that
resulted in the first time a grass roots semi-unstructured lobbying
group was successful in overthrowing a European Directive in Parliament.

Software Patents are not good in any way, they are bad in many ways,
including the fact that even those that do not like/believe/want them
are forced to file patents once they reach a certain size to have some
defensive weapons. And this compounds the problem, because too often
these patents are later gathered by patent trolls when companies file
for bankruptcy and are forced to sell all assets they can spare.


* Patent Offices
** European Patent Convention

Simo Sorce * Red Hat, Inc * New York

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