[ODE] Quickstep and patents

John Miles jmiles at pop.net
Thu Jun 7 15:52:48 MST 2007

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jon Watte (ODE) [mailto:hplus-ode at mindcontrol.org]

> I'm glad you back up your comments with sufficient evidence

You're typing on the 'evidence.'  Look around your desktop.  Almost nothing
you see owes its existence to patent protection.  Practically everything you
see *does* owe its existence to open communication, open publication, and
cooperative development.

When the foundations of modern computer graphics and networking were laid,
the concept of applying IP protection to software was either illegal,
unimaginable, or both.  Yet some people seem to think that now's a good time
to throw up artificial barriers to entry in the software engineering world,
since progress was obviously not being made without it.

Patenting software is like standing on the shoulder of a benevolent giant
and strapping on a pair of metal cleats.  What if Bresenham had patented the
use of rational arithmetic?  What if Gouraud had patented 2D color
interpolation, followed by a patent by Catmull and Smith covering texture
mapping?  Would that have "promoted the progress of the useful arts," or
would it have set the entire industry back 20 years, as happened when people
started patenting basic data compression algorithms?

-- john

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