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Improvement of a machine? Not if it is the same machine | 756 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Improvement of a machine? Not if it is the same machine
Authored by: bugstomper on Thursday, July 19 2012 @ 06:11 PM EDT
An improvement of a machine would have to be a change made to the machine. That
is a machine patent, as opposed to a process patent. That's the whole point of
this article which questions the validity of the arguments that a software
patent can be a machine patent because computer + program = a new improved

There is no question that the patent law you quoted says that an improvement to
a machine may be patentable. There is no question that the law you quoted says
that a process may be patentable. The article is about the proposition that
software on a computer may be patentable as a machine patent by virtue of it
making a new improved computer. Legal precedent says yes, logic says no. So far
legal precedent trumps logic.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Else, why write and install the new software?
Authored by: nsomos on Thursday, July 19 2012 @ 06:18 PM EDT
Parent asks ...
"Else, why write and install the new software?"

Probably for the same type of reason that one might
drive their car to someplace or other. They want the
result or the effect that they will get when they do so.

Unless you really think that simply driving a car to one
location versus another, changes that car magically into
a new machine.

In the same way that driving the car elsewhere doesn't
really change the machine that is the car, loading
new software doesn't really change the machine that is
the computer. But it can produce desirable results.
Just like driving the car somewhere can be useful to you.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Fine, then its new and useful improvement thereof... - Not!
Authored by: PolR on Thursday, July 19 2012 @ 06:23 PM EDT
What the article explains in technical details is that loading software in the
computer memory is not an improvement of the computer. The computer remains the
same machine.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Write Software Only for Patents?
Authored by: lnuss on Thursday, July 19 2012 @ 09:02 PM EDT
**Else, why write and install the new software?**

It sounds as if you're saying that it's only worthwhile to write software if
it's patentable. This is FAR from true.

Larry N.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Why write software?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 19 2012 @ 11:09 PM EDT
In order to solve our own problems. In order to help others solve their
problems. In order to show off our technical skill (e.g. via one's github
account). In order to socialize with other programmers who have common
interests (e.g. Stack Overflow... yes, I have written programs for people on

In short, there are a great many reasons to write software and software patents
are not one of them. Did you realize that you do not need working code of any
sort in order to get a patent? The fun thing is that you merely need to
describe what the software should do. You never actually have to produce a
working program of any sort. You never have to disclose any source code.

And software patents are a powerful disincentive for people like me, who fear
getting sued for making software freely available, even though I would never
dream of using the obvious crap people disclose in their patents. (You used
linked lists, but it was on a *phone* instead of a regular computer?
Patentable!) I write and share my own software, I neither need nor want the
incomprehensibly written nonsense they put in software patents, which are
written for lawyers, not coders.

In other words, what I'm saying is that software patents exist for and because
of patent lawyers. They do nothing for people like me who write and share code.
Given that the express purpose of patents and copyrights is to promote
progress, you'll forgive me if I find something a bit off with that arrangement.
While rewarding authors and inventors is a fine goal, we coders are already
rather well rewarded by very strong market demand for talent, and the patents
actually benefit lawyers and hinder us.

As such, I believe that the system should be reworked to better accomplish its
stated goal.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

I feel I need to make this point clearer.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 20 2012 @ 10:43 AM EDT
There are different ways you can improve a system. (Note I didn't say

Adding capabilities.

Improving usability of existing capabilities.

ie. You can make it do something new, or you can make it easier to tell it to do
something it already does. (Note that you may need to make it do new things in
the process of making existing things easier, that's not the point)

Software is the second catagory. It adds no new *capabilities* to the system,
it just makes it easier to tell it to do something.

I would like to ask someone more knowledgable than myself which of those
improvements is allowed by patents. (And I know a few usability consultants who
would probably quite like every piece of work they do to be patentable, since
all they do is make systems easier to use)

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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