> -----Original Message-----
> [mailto:vanilla-list-admin at us.netrek.org]On Behalf Of Trent Piepho

BTW, Thank you Dave for the article clearing up the specifics on the RSA
patent and how Universities go about profiting from the research.  I suspect
you are correct, and I suspect that even though RSA labs benefitted, so did

> I'm not talking about the patent examiners who rubber stamp
> the patents, but
> rather people like Q. Todd Dickinson, director of the PTO and
> an IP lawyer.
> It people like him who are responsible for the "patent
> everything, let the
> courts sort it out" policy of the PTO.  It's also people like
> him who benefit
> most from this policy.

I have read some interviews with Dickinson, and if I understand their
attitude correctly, basically what they are saying is unless it's something
really really blatantly stupid or poorly worded they're going to rubber
stamp it.

If you read some of the patents which have gotten publicity as being stupid,
they actually are often good ideas, it's just rather difficult with software
sometimes to determine if they are obvious.  Of course part of this is that
it might be 4 years from the time the patent was filed to when you hear of
it in the press, and by then yes it is an obvious idea because everybody is
doing it.

Personally I don't think the RSA encryption idea was obvious, I know it
would take me a couple of hours to sit down and study it to really
understand the math behind it. [Actually since the last math class I took
was 10 years ago it'd probably take a couple months of study :)]

On the other hand, uhh British Telecom's patent of hyperlinks?  Yeah, it's a
good idea, but this basically dates back to the original GUI as being
blatantly obvious.

Dickinson is just admitting that they would rather err on the side of
optimism.  That is, their attitude is that the best arena to determine
whether a patent is valid or not is in the civil courts, where each side can
bring in their expert witnesses and bash it out.

It's hard to say.  I think Dickinson is correct in what he's doing.  I would
rather a decision like that be made by a group of peers in the industry in
an open forum than behind closed doors by some person who may or may not
understand the patent or the history of the technology.

On the other hand, I'm still not sure about software patents.  I honestly
think something as complex as RSA is unique and takes enough effort to
figure it out that it deserves some limited form of protection.  I don't
think the idea of a pivot year as a Y2K strategy does.