IDEA (was: Re: Decryption problem)

John Watson John Watson <>
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 16:51:59 -0400

I don't think that algorithms are patentable under US Patent law either.  However, the
US Patent office is broken, and has been broken for some years.  The US Patent office
has been regularly giving out patents on unpatentable items such as algorithms
and 'Save As' dialogs. :)

To be patentable, an invention must be one of the 4 following:
a process, a machine, a manufacture, or a composition of matter.

The algorithm is undoubtably being placed in the category of 'process'.
This is an incorrect interpretation of the 'process' as described in
US Code Title 35.  (process is definied in Part II, Chapter 10, Section 100).

Until the patent code is revised to take into account these relatively recent
advances in technology, we will continue to see bogus patents being awarded.

Normally, you would hope that any 'patent-infringement' of such patents will
fall down in court if you ever get in trouble with the patent holder.  Does anyone
know of any legal cases in which the judge ruled in favor of the holder of
the questionable patent?


Remco Post wrote:Intresting is that European law states that computer algorithms are equivelant

> to mathematical algorithms, which CANNOT be patented. Therefore I doubt that
> these patents would be hounored in Europe. Then again, who amongst us is
> willing to test this in court?
> Only a specific implementation of an algorithm is protected by copiright laws,
> and therefore the author can ask you for a "right to use". This is the only
> reason I know that we actually have to pay for software, not the patents (if
> any) but copyright.
> Remco.
-- // John Watson // Software Engineer -- STScI Archive Team --------------------------------------------------------- The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money. -- Alexis de Tocqueville