Re: Patentability of HTML tags.

Dudley Mills (dudmills@ozemail.com.au)
Mon, 23 Feb 1998 14:02:45 +1100


Message-ID: <34F0E6D5.18A1@ozemail.com.au>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 14:02:45 +1100
From: Dudley Mills <dudmills@ozemail.com.au>
To: Benjamin Franz <snowhare@netimages.com>
CC: www-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: Patentability of HTML tags.

Hi Benjamin,

Yes, Patent Examiners are not perfect and they do have an extremely
taxing job - one I would not like to do.

The real question, as I see it, is if granting patents over computer
related inventions is in the public interest or not. The theory is that
the discloure in a patent makes the technology known to others and a
temporary monopoly encourages the development of technology useful to
the public. I, for one, would not bother inventing if I could not
patent my inventions.

Kind regards,
Dudley Mills,
30 Hutchison Crescent, Kambah, ACT 2902, Australia.
phone/fax: +61-2-6296-2639
email: dudmills@ozemail.com.au
web: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~dudmills/

Benjamin Franz wrote:
> 
> On Sun, 22 Feb 1998, Dudley Mills wrote:
> 
> > There has been some discussion in this forum about the patentability and
> > desirability of patenting inventions based on specific new HTML (or
> > SGML) tags such as in:
> >
> > At the very least the granting of these patents demonstrates that
> > inventions having a special new HTML or SGML tag or element as an
> > essential component are considered patentable by their US Patent
> > Examiners.
> 
> [snip]
> 
> The Patent Office *often* grants patents that fail to hold up when
> challenged on grounds of being unpatentable due to obviousness,
> impossibility or prior art.  For example, people slip 'perpetual motion
> machines' past them every year despite the fact the Patent Office
> *specifically* forbids the patenting of Perpetual Motion Machines (at
> least without an actual *working* model).
> 
> I seems to recall someone patenting 'unrolled loops' for software. Never
> mind people have been using them since at least the sixties and it is
> probably been 'invented' independantly many many thousands of times by
> programmers needing to speed up a piece of software with deep loops. They
> are *OBVIOUS*. So obvious that probably almost every large piece of
> software has the trick embedded into them by optimizing compilers
> somewhere. Obvious enough that computer scientists working with
> 'Artificial Life' programs have witnessed it being 'invented' by programs
> themselves.
> 
> And a couple of years ago some idiots over at AT&T patented the idea of
> 'thumbnail images' for a web browser 'page history' (A web browser (not
> from AT&T) was doing that years before their patent application). And yet
> *another* idiot tried to patent the idea of 'downloading and executing
> programs' in web browsers (only 3-5 years after they were first proposed
> and implemented and a decade or so after the idea first circulated - the
> guy actually had the balls to try and *collect* royalties - whatever
> happened to him and his 'R' something or another Mosaic-license browser
> anyway?  Didn't we come to the conclusion that Postscript would have come
> under his patent if it was valid?)
> 
> The US Patent Office is well known for its lack of cluefulness in the
> computer field. It is one of the reasons many people argue that the Patent
> Office should get out of the business of patenting software algorithms
> entirely (which is a questionable practice under the law anyway).
> 
> --
> Benjamin Franz