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This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  DeeK 12 years, 3 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #4321

    Steph
    Participant

    Well, that’s that.

    Both pro- and anti-Software Patents rejoice today: the Directive has been canned by 600+ votes to 10+.

    I’m on the pro-side (unsurprisingly) and happy because it means no changes to current EPO practice and at least some certainty for advising clients.

    I can understand the anti-side rejoicing (I’m surmising) at having ‘won’ the whole caboodle. Though in the analogous context of this pro/anti ‘contest’, that’s a bit like the proverbial hare sighting the arrival line :wink:

  • #22818

    Skyclad
    Participant

    My understanding is that nothing really changes right? And not allowing Microsoft stop other companies reading their file formats is a good thing? Does it affect the whole .gif format debacle?

    Dave

  • #22820

    Steph
    Participant
  • #22826

    bomberman
    Participant

    The gif patent was terminated in June 2003 in the US and June 2004 in Europe…

  • #22828

    Skyclad
    Participant

    (I may be wrong on some of the below as I havent followed it closely, but my understanding is something like this:)

    Say for example Microsoft are allowed patent the structure of their .doc files for MS Word. Now, any company that want to use the file format has to get explicit permission from Microsoft, and quite possibly pay them a fee. So the next time (eg) Adobe release a new version of Acrobat featuring an export to/from Word feature, they have to pay a chunk of money to Microsoft, or not provide the feature and severely dent the market value of their product.

    This is why the open source movement is really up in arms about it – Microsoft can simply completely refuse to allow and 3rd party software running on Linux (Star Office for example) to be allowed to read their Word files. Bye bye competitors, hello even easier market monopolies for Microsoft.

    Obviously this is just one example, and Microsoft have already stated that they plan to use XML for forthcoming Office releases, but by making file contents proprietary to a single application, all market competition becomes much easier to extinguish.

    The GIF issue was different not because of the file type, but because they received a patent for the algorithm used to generate the gif file. Thus, anyone using a gif file had to implement the patented algorithm. I’m not sure if I particularly agree with this either, but at least there is a distinct difference.

    Dave

  • #22849

    Steph
    Participant

    Say for example Microsoft are allowed patent the structure of their .doc files for MS Word. Now, any company that want to use the file format has to get explicit permission from Microsoft, and quite possibly pay them a fee. So the next time (eg) Adobe release a new version of Acrobat featuring an export to/from Word feature, they have to pay a chunk of money to Microsoft, or not provide the feature and severely dent the market value of their product.[/quote:0b6238927f]

    I can’t readily see anything wrong with the above example, both in a business and a legal context. From an ‘equity’ point-of-view, I can appreciate your argument, but hey… Business is business, not charity – sorry to sound the baby-eating capitalist here :wink:

    The real problem is the global omnipresence of Microsoft software, which makes any example situation based on Microsoft enforcing its rights immediately ‘extreme’, and makes envisioning the above situation for a start-up (which has also patented its proprietary file format) more difficult.

    Take the above context, and apply it to a start-up who has (say) come up with a really clever way of implementing networkability in games, through some proprietary data-processing technology that automatically makes any game asset networkable at compile. The data file corresponding to an asset, after compile, incorporates some components that couldn’t be there without their invention, SO – patent the structure of any file which incorporate their new components. Looks exactly like the same situation to me, as the one you depicted with Microsoft.

    This is why the open source movement is really up in arms about it – Microsoft can simply completely refuse to allow and 3rd party software running on Linux (Star Office for example) to be allowed to read their Word files. Bye bye competitors, hello even easier market monopolies for Microsoft.[/quote:0b6238927f]

    Yup, that’s one particular application of patents. But M$ hasn’t got any exclusivity on obtaining patents, you know :wink: – and there have already been plenty of occasions when Microsoft itself has been on the receiving end of one or more.

    Have a look at what IBM is doing to JBOSS (for example), and you’ll see why the Open Source business model is (i) idiotic and (ii) non-perpetuating.

    Obviously this is just one example, and Microsoft have already stated that they plan to use XML for forthcoming Office releases, but by making file contents proprietary to a single application, all market competition becomes much easier to extinguish.[/quote:0b6238927f]

    I would contend that “all market competition” then has to come up with something a bit more special to warrant consumer interest and purchases, rather then whinge because Microsoft would not let them release a ‘me-too’ product riding on the back of a market which Microsoft’s R&D and marketing $$$ has developed for them. :twisted:

  • #22853

    mal
    Participant

    Relating this back to video games, there’s a reason why ( on your old C64 and Spectrum tapes ) there was no nice looking, patterned border to frame your game outside of the play area ( something that was completely possible, and helped with the aesthetics of the game ): someone patented it.

    Also, when you were racing around a track, you used to get a ghost driver ( Hard Drivin, and many other games had this )… then, Sega started enforcing it’s patent.

    I think the problem with a lot of patents like this is that companies get patents for obvious gameplay related techniques ( obvious in that most game developers implementing a racing game, would probably come up with the ghost driver concept ). This restricts other companies, coming up with the idea themselves in order to further the gameplay of their titles, then can’t use it without hiring a lawyer to ensure that small print has been read, and purchasing ( probably from a limited budget ) a number of patents for their new “original” game.

    Does anyone have a link to a list of game related patents? It would be cool to come up with a game that used them all ;)

    Mal

  • #23362

    Steph
    Participant

    Does anyone have a link to a list of game related patents? It would be cool to come up with a game that used them all ;)

    Mal[/quote:f4a7e86c51]

    Working on that for the IGDA’s new IPR SIG in what little spare time I have which, having just come back from annual leave, doesn’t amount to much (not that it ever does :cry: ). Will keep you posted.

  • #24011

    DeeK
    Participant

    As an indication that it is resigned to the status quo, perhaps, the EPO has launched a new site to inform entities about the current approach to computer-related inventions.

    Here is the site address: http://cii.european-patent-office.org/

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