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The JMRI Project and software patents

The JMRI Project and software patents

Posted Dec 9, 2006 0:25 UTC (Sat) by t.brack (guest, #42122)
In reply to: The JMRI Project and software patents by coolgames
Parent article: The JMRI Project and software patents

I have reviewed the thread, and it seems that a lot of people have missed the mark. The patent appears to on the application of Queuing Theory (specifically priority queuing) to commands sent to and received from a DCC command station, and not on the actual control of a model train through software.

A quick review of the patent reveals it to be (IMHO) nothing more a legaleze encoding of the application of queuing theory to the NMRA DCC specification which existed well before the patent was apparently applied for. Queuing Theory/Priority Queuing is definately prior art and goes back to the early days of computing. There is also nothing beyond the name that is unique to a Digital Command Controller.

Beyond the terminology and the encapsulation of queuing theory on top of the (public) NMRA DCC algorithms, there does not appear to be anything new or unique being patented. I guess if you sling enough legalese jargon around something as simple as this algorithm, you're bound to confuse lay people enough to get anything past a Patent investigator.

Copyright and Plagiarism are quite another story. Here we are embarking around a situation where something that is morally and ethically wrong may in fact escape the definition of "illegality" through technicalities of the law. At very least one would expect that the source of the copyrighted sources being used by a commercial package would be acknowledged.

I am aware that in 1976, at the Univerity of Waterloo a course in queuing theory existed that utilized model railroad equipment, but of course it would not have had a DCC Command Station.


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