Police raid not about software patents
Posted Mar 14, 2008 1:12 UTC (Fri) by stuart_hc
In reply to: Police raid not about software patents
Parent article: Some topics related to MP3 players
I believe this is the first time I've seen someone refer to the software patent issue as stuart_hc does: the idea of patent rights covering the distribution of an invention via information transmission as opposed to movement of matter.
Personally I see no difference between an algorithm implemented in a general purpose programming language and the same algorithm burnt into a custom chip. Having spoken to patent examiners from a the UK patent office it is clear that they do see a difference. They will not grant a patent on an algorithm (unlike in the US) but they will grant a patent on a device which uses that algorithm for a particular area of industry e.g. video compression. When I asked whether I could distribute video compression software which implemented a heavily patented video compression codec, they grudgingly admitted that I could. But if I distributed a physical device, even a general purpose computer with the software installed, I would be infringing the patents. See this article for more detail on how European courts deal with software patents for two actual court cases.
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