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Schneider Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Opto 22
I've taken this from the ARC Automation News headline website.... Given the recent discussion on the sale of intellectual property, patents, and enforceability, this should be an interesting one to watch. ...
By Jeff Dean on 5 March, 2001 - 12:26 pm

I've taken this from the ARC Automation News headline website... Given the recent discussion on the sale of intellectual property, patents, and enforceability, this should be an interesting one to watch. Schneider Electric's Automation Business unit claims that Opto 22's Ethernet Brain products and associated industrial automation systems infringe on Schneider's 1998 US patent 5,805,442 purchased in 2000 from the original inventor Ken Crater of Control Technology Corporation. Schneider claims that the lawsuit is part of its policy of vigorously protecting and pursuing patent rights. Opto 22 claims that this lawsuit has caught them completely by surprise and is totally without merit. Opto 22 questions the validity of the patent, and Schneider's motives when the whole automation industry is Web-enabling their products. More complete story and ARC commentary (may require filling out a form): http://www.arcweb.com/arcweb/IndNews/indnews.asp?News=3DA#32200194123

By Alex Pavloff on 6 March, 2001 - 11:43 am

More info on their patent is available at: http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US05805442__ Here's the abstract: ----------------- "An integrated control system comprises one or more controllers each equipped to perform a control function and to gather data (ordinarily from sensors) relevant to the control function. Each controller contains computer storage means, such as computer memory, for storing the relevant data and instructions, associated with the data, for causing a remote computer to generate a visual display incorporating the data in a predetermined format; and a communication module for establishing contact and facilitating data interchange with the remote computer. The remote computer, in turn, also includes a communication module compatible with the controller-borne module, and which enables the remote computer to download the data and associated instructions from one or more controllers. The remote computer also includes a facility for processing the instructions to create a user interface encoded by the instructions, and which incorporates the data. In this way, controller data is coupled to instructions for displaying that data, and this totality of information is continuously accessible, on a freely selective basis, to the remote computer. " ------------------- Well geez guys -- everyone talking to their controllers over any sort of communication line had better start sending Schneider money. Since this patent lists Mr Crater as the inventor, I'd be interesting in hearing his thoughts on this.

By Ralph McDonald, P.E. on 6 March, 2001 - 12:38 pm

If I am reading this abstract correctly, then the network of Cambell Scientific CR10 Datalogers, autodialer modems, and headend software that I setup about 10 years ago might be in trouble. This was a system to monitor a group of wastewater pumping stations, report to a central sulfide control building, and control a bypass valve. What is the date of the patent? Ralph G. McDonald, P.E. Spicer Group

By Don Zunti, P. Eng. on 6 March, 2001 - 1:38 pm

If you had read more than just the abstract, you would have been aware that the patent is much more specific - it specifies that the communication interface includes a web-enabled controller module as well as communication over the internet and using a web browser. I'm not taking any position on the validity of the patent or the lawsuit, but the issue is a far cry from the comment about 'any sort of communication line'.

By Patent Lee Obvious (frees@ziplip.com) on 6 March, 2001 - 4:12 pm

All of the claims in this patent can be easily invalidated with prior art going back to the early 1990's. I expect that Opto 22 are confident about winning, although the $$$ aspect may be a different story. Of more concern is the Schneider 318 patent. Obviously many small OPC vendors want to know if they still have a business without paying for extortion to the now very predatory Schneider. What needs to happen to invalidate this patent ? Is there any publicly available prior art or legal precedence that will give the small companies some confidence ? Is the OPC foundation able to do anything stronger than revoke Schneiders membership ?

By Wallinius Mattias on 6 March, 2001 - 4:12 pm

No, but XML would lie in the risk zone and so do all selfdescribing data types. Shouldn't be to hard to get around that patent. /Mattias

By Woodard, Ken CLEV on 6 March, 2001 - 4:16 pm

Patents need to have a quality of non-obviousness, and validity is certainly a question for the patent office in the allowance of this patent. Is it invention to take the following two things together? 1. Multi-tasking, PC-based control was well disclosed and documented prior to this patent application, "Direct Control of large Processes using a Micro-Computer", ISA "Advances in Instrumentation and Automation", Volume 48, Part I, Pg 603, documented the advantages of integrated display and control. 2. PC-based web-servers were well disclosed and documented prior to this patent, and public-domain products contained means to link process data to the displays, as well as to create programs (java) for display. Therefore, it is obvious to perform 1 and 2 on the same computer.

By Frank Iwanitz on 7 March, 2001 - 3:36 pm

Hi, two questions. First one: The patent is dated 1987. Technology comparable to the one claimed by the patent has been used over years since then (DDE, ActiveX controls, OPC, ...). Why did nobody mention the patent???? Second one: If the patent only describes the invented technology in a way as shown above, then this technology was already known years before the patent was born. What's about all these DCS (DISTRIBUTED CONTROL system) and SCADA (supervisory CONTROL and DATA ACQUISITION system) manufactured in the 80'ies? TDC 3000 by Honeywell and so on ... A number of the vizualisation companies (Intellution, Iconics, ...) have been founded in the beginning of the 80'ies. What have they implemented in their products, if not collecting data from controllers, sending them to applications on pc's and displaying it? Schneider has obviously taken information from the OPC foundation Web site and is sending Mails out to listed end-users demanding money from them. This patent is not the first one, that should be used to collect money from industry. I guess it will not succeed as others before. o.k. As you know, the opinion above is only my opinion and so on and so on .... Regards, Frank Iwanitz

By Patent Lee Obvious (frees@ziplip.com) on 11 March, 2001 - 2:23 am

To make sure there is no confusion, the patent involved in the suit against Opto22 (5805442) was filed in 1996. It was the 318 patent that was filed in 1987.

By Ken Crater on 12 March, 2001 - 11:35 am

Yes, my name is on the patent as inventor, since I originally filed for it back in May 1996 (not 1998, which was the issuance date). The patent has since been sold to Schneider Automation, who is free to enforce it as they see fit. Anyone who thinks this incongruous should understand a few things: First of all, there is a great amount of patent activity and patent enforcement in our industry. A common practice among the major players is to protect their turf using patenting strategies, carving out areas of practice and keeping smaller companies from making compatible products. Usually, this activity is all "behind the scenes", since neither the patent holder nor the infringer wants the marketplace to know what's going on. Anyone in business cannot ignore this, or they will get killed. The only thing different in this case is that Schneider has elected to let some light into the process. Anyone who has any doubt about the prevalence of patents in our industry only has to go the US Patent and Trademark Office website and do a search on any company in our industry as "ASSIGNEE". The bigger the company, the more patents you'll find. Secondly, this is actually a case where the patent system worked as intended -- to protect an inventor against larger commercial forces. Here's the classic small business invention scenario: 1. Small company develops significant new technology or a significant new application of a technology. 2. Small company struggles for years to develop a growing market for new technology, and finally starts to gain a foothold. 3. Big company(s) copies technology outright, contracts with a Taiwanese firm to produce huge quantities at a very low price, and drives the small company out of business, thanking it for doing the expensive pioneering work of creating a marketplace. In the case of this patent, however, we tried an alternative scenario: 1. Small company develops an approach, unique at that time, that seems to hold great promise and files for a patent. 2. Patent issues a couple of years later (the USPTO wheels grind slowly). Small company immediately sends out polite letters offering licenses to all major companies in our industry. 3. Small company interprets resulting silence as "Why don't you go ahead and sue us. Heh." 4. Not having $1.5 million (not counting appeals) to pursue a patent suit, small company develops plan B, and opens discussions with a couple of major companies regarding outright sale of the patent. After a long negotiation process, this produces an agreement with Schneider Automation and small company receives large sum of money, along with rights to use other Schneider Automation networking patents. A couple of people on the list have questioned the judgement of the USPTO in this particular patent under "obviousness" provisions of US patent law. Keep in mind that when the patent was filed in 1996, this was hardly the case. We had an advantage in being well versed in Internet technologies, in that we were working with early beta versions of NCSA's httpd and thinking about how the concepts could be brought into the industrial realm before most of our industry even heard of the Internet. At the time the early work on the patent was well under way, I was giving seminars at industry conferences teaching automation folks which side of the "@" sign to place their username. Complaints of "obviousness" always occur after the fact, because every idea that comes into widespread use may seem "obvious" to those who are using it, since it has been integrated into their experience. Ultimately this gets sorted out by the USPTO and the courts. Is this a good system? No, it kinda sucks. But it's the system that is embodied in law today, and any small business person who ignores it soon becomes an ex-small business person. I would be overjoyed if the system were changed, and some initiatives are underway to do so. But it's going to be a major uphill battle, since the patent system is embodied in the laws of dozens of nations and in international treaties. There is also the commercial pressure of billion-dollar patent portfolios in multinational companies that will attempt to maintain the status quo. In the meantime, we have to deal with the reality of the laws and economic forces that exist, since ignoring them doesn't produce very good results <g>. Ken Crater ken@control.com

By Patent Lee Obvious (frees@ziplip.com) on 13 March, 2001 - 3:06 pm

Ken, None of the CLAIMS in the patent have anything to do with Internet technologies. The closest is claim 13 - "wherein communication modules connect to the Internet". All of the claims made are in fact functionality that was widespread in the industry before the patent was filed. It has to be seriously questioned whether there was any inventive step here. The patent could have been an improvement patent -using Internet technology to achieve the functionality, but no claim of that nature is made. I am glad you got some $$$ for the patent Ken, but I think its attractiveness to Schneider is not that it was patenting/protecting your development work, but that it was a patent already awarded for what is common industry practice. > A couple of people on the list have questioned the judgement of the USPTO in this particular patent under "obviousness" provisions of US patent law. Keep in mind that when the patent was filed in 1996, this was hardly the case. We had an advantage in being well versed in Internet technologies, in that we were working with early beta versions of NCSA's httpd and thinking > about how the concepts could be brought into the industrial realm before most of our industry even heard of the Internet.

By Rick Daniel on 14 March, 2001 - 4:49 pm

Actually, what it all boils down to is whether or not Opto 22 is willing to pony up the million dollars or so it's going to take to fight the suit. Schneider only has to have one claim upheld in order to win it. I got involved in one of these things about 3 years ago. Everyone I talked to agreed the patent was just plain silly, but my company was the one being sued, and none of them offered to help despite their apparent outrage.... We decided the risk of losing was just too high, with over 400 claims to wallow through, each different from the preceding one by a fine semantic hair, detectable only by a post doctorate philosopher. We caved. Rick Daniel

By Mojo Engineer on 15 March, 2001 - 1:00 am

Opto won't cave. These guys have always carried the anti-establishment flag. Not to mention the industry wide support that's behind them. Watch this one close.

By Willy Smith on 23 March, 2001 - 12:28 pm

Hi, We get posts - From: patentenforcer@hotmail.com (arg1); From: Patent Lee Obvious (frees@ziplip.com) (arg2); From: Mojo Engineer <mojo_falling@email.com> (arg3); Did I miss any? It's interesting that (as far as I can remember) patenting is the only subject that seems to attract anonymous posts. I understand the need for anonymity when you're going to form a new government, blow up a bridge, or slander somebody. I don't understand why anyone would need to be anonymous on this list. If they are somehow involved in patents or litigation that would cause a conflict of interest, then isn't _any_ participation here some sort of breach? They're not just pranksters, because they say somewhat interesting things. Is it because they might cause a political problem within their company? I'm just curious; any comments? Willy Smith Costa Rica

By Michael Griffin on 23 March, 2001 - 12:38 pm

>We get posts - > > From: patentenforcer@hotmail.com (arg1); > From: Patent Lee Obvious (frees@ziplip.com) (arg2); > From: Mojo Engineer <mojo_falling@email.com> (arg3); > >Did I miss any? It's interesting that (as far as I can remember) patenting >is the only subject that seems to attract anonymous posts. <clip> Mr. "Patentenforcer" seems to have picked a name which was intended to give him a vaguely menacing aura. I do not think this sort of anonymous gangsterism has any place here. If he intended to intimidate into silence anyone who disagreed with him he seems to have partially succeeded, as Mr. "Patent Lee Obvious" appears to hesitate to identify himself in replying to him. This does not cause me to look favourably upon whatever arguments Mr. "Patentenforcer" advances. I would not wish to usurp the role of the moderator in this matter, but perhaps we could endeavour to conduct this debate like gentlemen (and ladies of course). ********************** Michael Griffin London, Ont. Canada mgriffin@odyssey.on.ca **********************

Perhaps the reason for the anonymous posts is some form of direct involvement in the issue, perhaps an employee of one of the two companies who fears for his job if identified. While i think maybe anonymous posting here is out of order, I can certainly see the reasons for it on the Internet. I maintain an account at mail.com (under engineer.com) and another at hotmail.com and when I do anything on the Internet which asks for an email address, I always put in my hotmail account. It's a good means of spam control, as I don't need the people who watch newsgroups and email lists finding my work address and spamming me with porn. As I said though, this does not apply to the list, but i would have to assume there is a reason for them to go anonymous.

CK

By Diana Bouchard on 23 March, 2001 - 12:52 pm

Many people use different Internet "identities" for different purposes. Someone may be nervous about his job situation, or simply not want to associate the name of his employer with any arguments he might advance. Or he just wants to maintain a separation between different types of correspondence. Choosing a name which sounds intimidating is something else altogether, and can well have the effect of stifling open discussion. Diana Bouchard Pulp & Paper Research Institute of Canada (Paprican) Pointe Claire QC Canada

By Jeff Pinegar on 23 March, 2001 - 1:38 pm

Stifling open discussion???????? What are people afraid that an e-mail is going to jump out to the computer and beat them about the head and shoulders based on the name of the author? An author that is afraid to use their real name! Jeff Pinegar <pinegar@compuserve.com>

1 out of 1 members thought this post was helpful...

Anonymity is nothing that one should be berated or chastised about. I am quite sure that few of you "SIS Listers" know that the IEEE Standard 500-1981 (not sure of the date) related to the gathering of failure-rate data for the nuclear industry, was developed anonymously. BTW, I agree with Mr. or Ms. "A". I too, am concerned about the bigger fish gobbling up the little ones via patent molestation. And, it happens without equitable compensation. It is not done tastefully, but it is "legal." Furthermore, I am not a member of any "right-wing conspiracy." Wake up, people! On a distantly related subject... in a recent class action suit against one of the credit card companies, 1.8 million card users were allotted $3.57, each. The law firm that brought the suit received over $2,000,000. Yes, justice is really "blind." Regards, Phil Corso, PE (Boca Raton, FL)

By patentsarejunk on 27 March, 2001 - 4:07 pm

> Stifling open discussion???????? What are people afraid that > an e-mail is going to jump out to the computer and beat them > about the head and shoulders based on the name of the author? No. It might be that we are afraid of lawyers jumping out of Massachusetts and beating us over the head and shoulders with a screwed up legal system based on who we work for. Especially because we haven't done anything wrong.

By patentsarejunk on 23 March, 2001 - 12:39 pm

Willy, I can't speak for all but my want for anonymousness is: FEAR Mr. PatentEnforcer, probably an employee of Schneider, is out there with a big pot of money and and a bunch of Massachusetts lawyers looking at these posts and maybe trawling for Schneider's next victim. I don't want to be that next victim. Does anyone think it is a coincidence that their first target is a small maverick company that builds I/O (the most profitable part of a PLC)? We can all do the industry a service by expressing your displeasure with Schneider's use of the legal system to stifle innovation by not buying their products. These patents aren't protecting innovation. Schneider's actions are anti-innovation and are being used to give them breathing space so that they don't have to innovate. Why buy the products of a company that's more interested in eliminating choice than in improving their own products? A boycott would seem appropriate. While this is not exactly a call for a revolution, it is provocative enough to make anonymousness useful. I am conflicted about Ken's use of the same legalized robbery system to protect himself. Should I admire his foresight in building a patent portfolio to protect his interests? Probably. (Is it really foresight or just serendipity that selling the patent to a company inclined to sue people rather than innovate provided the defense?) Should I be angry that his patent is now going to be used as a club on the rest of us? I am. It wouldn't make me happy to see Ken in the same boat as the rest of us but its a shame that a more productive use of the legal document could not have been found. We shouldn't blame Ken anymore than we can blame the guy that invented gunpowder for war. Blame Schneider for using it. I guess we'll have to start thinking about patents instead of customers. What a shame.

By W W Wagner on 3 April, 2001 - 2:42 pm

I think the FactoryCast technology from Schneider Electric is extraordinary. I have worked with Allen-Bradley and Rockwell Software tools for several years. In fact, I have done some wild things with their systems beyond what they thought they could/should do. However, over the past year, I have come to love the new Java-based components that I can use in the FactoryCast web server from Schneider. I think boycotting Schneider would stop the innovativeness that could come from working with the Schneider FactoryCast web server and the backplane communications it provides. I know there are a large number of developers who should focus on components that can take advantage of Schneider's product as opposed to abandoning it in some goofy boycott. Keep the progress going!! Let Schneider and Opto fight out whose system will support the Java-based components we develop and use.

With regard to anonymous postings, First off, I feel justified in my anonymity. It is not because of any internal company politics, there are serious commercial interests here. I do have a fear of what Schneider can do (is doing), and I am concerned at the uncertainty and doubt this has put on progress and future product development. I do not wish to publicly indicate the company I work for. It is a small company not currently involved in litigation, and we do not have the resource to defend any patent lawsuit. There are many industry people who are lurking on this list, but never post their comments or opinions. I have just gone one step further and posted some opinions that would not be there unless I could remain anonymous. This is nothing to do with acting like Ladies or Gentlemen, this is discussion that would not be possible unless anonymity was available, and there should be more of it. I do feel strongly about this issue and wish to express my personal opinions. I also believe and have been told my opinions are widespread among the very many small automation companies. Thankyou also Mr Patentsarejunk for saying many things I also believe should be said. I do not feel intimidated by Mr Patent Enforcer (give us some more of your comments Mr Enforcer), it is Schneider who are acting in an intimidating manner and misusing their market position - and now being less friendly that their auction has not been well received, with new letters going out suggesting companies rethink on their (lack of) bidding for licenses. If there was any justice then Schneider would desist with action and put the ownership both of these patents into the public domain. Lets just hope that the revenue that they gain from this exercise is exceeded in the other direction by loss of sales as people look less favourably on the company. In my small sphere of contacts I know of companies taking that attitude, on a global scale it surely must exceed the $8M bid listed on the Ipex site. And one last comment in the wishful thinking category, considering the approach Schneider originally took with the auction. Maybe we could take an open source approach to establishing the value of these patents. That is openly and publicly debating each and every claim until we determine exactly what does or does not infringe - hopefully with the outcome that nobody would even have to consider going to court or making settlements. OK, back to reality. Schneider want royalties for something they didn't invent. Patent Lee Obvious (frees@ziplip.com)

By patentsarejunk on 29 March, 2001 - 10:27 am

> I do not feel intimidated by Mr Patent Enforcer (give us some more > of your comments Mr Enforcer), it is Schneider who are acting in an > intimidating manner and misusing their market position ... I don't feel intimidated by him given that I am anonymous as he is. I'd be surprised to see him post again. I don't think the Schneider lawyers would appreciate such postings. > and now being less friendly that their auction has not been well > received, with new letters going out suggesting companies rethink on > their (lack of) bidding for licenses. These letters are analogous to the guys with no necks going to the local merchant and threatening to break his legs if he doesn't pay "protection". I guess when lawyers do it, its OK. > If there was any justice then Schneider would desist with action and > put the ownership both of these patents into the public domain.... I know you don't seriously think that this will happen -- unless some users start complaining non-anonymously. But, in a way, Schneider is simply reacting to a legal environment that enables this kind of blackmail. They are not the cause of the problem. The root cause is where the laws are written that allow this kind of thing. Nobody wants to hear about the ugly "p" word here. But, sooner or later those jack booted lawyers are going to shut down the company where you work. And, you'll have my sympathy too. But if you want to stop it you have to make changes politically. The "p" stuff IS going to force itself into your life whether you like it or not. It is an inescapable fact of the modern world. This patent stuff is only one obvious aspect of it.

By Patent Lee Obvious (frees@ziplip.com) on 29 March, 2001 - 4:54 pm

Well, Fisher Rosemount recently donated patents to the Fieldbus Foundation. It does not seem that Schneider are being very friendly with the OPC Foundation though. > > If there was any justice then Schneider would desist with action and > > put the ownership both of these patents into the public domain....

By Blunier, Mark on 13 March, 2001 - 4:23 pm

It looks like the UK Patent office has gotten it right. Lets hope the USPTO can Figure it out too. "19. The Government's conclusion is thus to reaffirm the principle that patents are for technological innovations. Software should not be patentable where there is no technological innovation, and technological innovations should not cease to be patentable merely because the innovation lies in software." The full link: http://www.patent.gov.uk/about/consultations/conclusions.htm Mark Blunier Any opinions expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the company.

By Lynn Linse on 13 March, 2001 - 4:13 pm

Actually, there's probably a trivial way to counter any Ethernet or "Web" patent as new as this: Per a Don Lancaster article "Patently Horrible" at http://www.tinaja.com/glib/patnthor.pdf "You don't need any prior art to bust a patent. All you have to do is show that it would have been reasonably obvious to a 'practitioner in the field'." Opto-22 should just offer a $1000 bounty for every University Thesis or Degree Project brought to it's attention which proves relevant to this case by showing "Prior Art". These are all published and available in each University's library system and students will do a LOT of searching for $1000 pocket money! Since industry is usually a FEW YEARS (or even a DECADE) behind the Universities when it comes to the Web, I'd be very surprised if hundreds of "Prior Art" examples DO NOT show up using Web pages to peek inside & even control devices. And the nice thing about these "published records" is that both the students who submit them and the faculty who receive them *MUST* formally sign and file papers with the University as part of the degree paperwork. These declarations should stand up very well in court as legal "date of publication" records. In fact, the "book" I wrote for my Masters at the U of Minn has such a declaration dated and signed by me & the faculty reviewers bound in as the first page. regards - Lynn Linse

By Dick Caro on 13 March, 2001 - 4:15 pm

Responding to both Lynn's and Ken's messages: Obviousness of putting a web server in a controller is not the issue. I agree with Ken Crater that in 1994, when they were doing a lot of this work, only a few of us had ever had experience with the Web. I have been accessing the Internet for years with Telnet and using Gopher, Archie, and Veronica searches. Pretty primitive compared with Google on my Internet Explorer or Netscape browser page. My argument is that in the patent, there are no claims on the benefits of locating the web server in the controller that would not be obtained by locating the web server anywhere else on the network. In the 19th century there was a patent application which stands the test of time in which the application was for a pencil with an eraser on the end. The patent office denied this patent since the pencil still wrote, and the eraser still erased, and there was nothing new or NOVEL about the location of the eraser with the pencil other than convenience. I think that Opto22 can use this precedence to show that the patent is invalid since there is no novelty introduced. Patents are denied not only for obviousness, but are awarded for novelty of an invention. In my own humble opinion, there may be some novelty in locating a web server in a controller, but the patent did not claim any such novelty not achievable by locating the server anywhere else. I could be wrong, but that's my opinion after reading the patent. Dick Caro ============================================ Richard H. Caro, Vice President ARC Advisory Group 3 Allied Drive Dedham, MA 02026 USA Tel: +1.781.471.1123 Fax: +1.781.471.1023 E-Mail To: RCaro@arcweb.com Web: http://www.arcweb.com ============================================

By Ed Mulligan on 13 March, 2001 - 4:16 pm

How about http://www.bountyquest.com/? Ed Speaking for me, not for Starbucks. . .

By Lunnon, Robert on 12 March, 2001 - 2:14 pm

The concept of applying patent rights to software AT ALL is a silly idea. Patents -were developed to protect inventions with gestation times of years, in order to foster improvement after the period of exclusivity expires. For example drug development costs millions and takes years of work from highly qualified practitioners and had an approval process also several years long. With software development any kid can knock up a reasonably unique algorithm in his garage in twenty minutes and of course Software has a life cycle far shorter than the exclusivity period, this makes patents useless for protecting software. Those US citizens on the list shouldn't be lobbying against this particular patent but should instead be lobbying against the whole concept of patenting software algorithms or at least lobbying for modifications that make the forced disclosure good for the industry rather than a tool to extract $$$ from any passing developer. EG: Exclusivity limited to 2 years Forced disclosure of source code Anyone want a patent now ?

By Walt Boyes on 12 March, 2001 - 3:43 pm

I make my living now mostly from what I know and what I write. While any kid can knock together software, can any kid properly debug it, understand the applications it was supposed to perform, and have the liability insurance to back it up when you use it? It takes on average, more than an hour per line of code to write, test and debug a software product for a finished product. If you don't give the developer some means of "extracting $$$" so he or she or they can eat, who will develop software? Not I. I will dig ditches, or wash cars. The idea that intellectual labor isn't hard to do, or should not be rewarded is silly. Why, it is the same argument that says that since you as an engineer don't need to get paid for what you know, I should hire you and pay you what you'd get at McDonalds. Shouldn't you be entitled to the fruits of your labor, at whatever the traffic will bear? Walt Boyes --------------------------------------------- Walt Boyes -- MarketingPractice Consultants walt@waltboyes.com 21118 SE 278th Place - Maple Valley, WA 98038 253-709-5046 cell 425-432-8262 home office fax:801-749-7142 ICQ: 59435534 "Strategic marketing, sales and electronic business consulting for the small and medium-sized enterprise: http://www.waltboyes.com" ---------------------------------------------

By Blunier, Mark on 13 March, 2001 - 4:57 pm

Walt Boyes wrote: > I make my living now mostly from what I know and what I write. While > any kid can knock together software, can any kid properly debug it, > understand the applications it was supposed to perform, and have the > liability insurance to back it up when you use it? No, thats probably why most of them put say that they are not liable for any damages. If you have any integrity, the reading of most shrink wrap liscense that comes with most software will make you sick. > It takes on average, more than an hour per line of code to write, test > and debug a software product for a finished product. > > If you don't give the developer some means of "extracting $$$" so he > or she or they can eat, who will develop software? Not having software patents wouldn't keep you from getting paid for writing software. I don't know any software writers that hold patents on software, but I know a lot of people that get paid for writing software. > Not I. I will dig ditches, or wash cars. > > The idea that intellectual labor isn't hard to do, or should > not be rewarded > is silly. You will still be rewarded, you will still be paid. But you shouldn't be able to stop other people from doing 'intelluctual labor' becuase you have a patent. > Why, it is the same argument that says that since you as an > engineer don't need to get paid for what you know, I should hire you > and pay you what you'd get at McDonalds. I don't get paid for what I know, I get paid for applying what I know. But if my employer thought that the 'would you like fries with that' guy can do my job, he would have hired him. > > Shouldn't you be entitled to the fruits of your labor, at whatever the > traffic will bear? Usually, but not always. The guy that has a heart attack at a ball game would probably be willing to pay a lot more for a doctor's care to keep him alive than what the doctor charges (but he'll still complain when he gets the bill). Mark Blunier Any opinions expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the company.

By Robert Lunnon on 23 March, 2001 - 12:27 pm

Walt Boyes [mailto:wboyes@IX.NETCOM.COM] wrote: > I make my living now mostly from what I know and what I write. While > any kid can knock together software, can any kid properly debug it, > understand the applications it was supposed to perform, Some can, some can't.. > and have the liability insurance to back it up when you use it? In the US probably not, elsewhere maybe > It takes on average, more than an hour per line of code to write, test > and debug a software product for a finished product. Dunno about that, I have codes that required significantly less maintenance than that > If you don't give the developer some means of "gxtracting $$$" so he > or she or they can eat, who will develop software? People who like to develop software ... Anyway, Patents simply give an exclusive right to the inventor in order to give that inventor a head start in developing his/her "invention". At the end of the exclusivity period the invention must enter the public domain for "the common good'. This process has been perverted by software companies to exclude the competition from a marketplace rather than provide for the "common good". The long period of exclusivity reflects the difficulty of producing material goods which doesn't really exist in IT. Stamping a few CD's is trivial compared to setting up a full manufacturing plant. Not only that, quite a bit of software is being distributed with claims of copyright and patent protection. The requirement that the algorithm enter the public domain at the end of the exclusivity period should terminate any copyright protection, with a requirement that the software algorithm be disclosed in full.... You cant have the cake and eat it too guys ! > Not I. I will dig ditches, or wash cars. > > The idea that intellectual labor isn't hard to do, or should > not be rewarded is silly. > > Why, it is the same argument that says that since you as an engineer > don't need to get paid for what you know, I should hire you and pay > you what you'd get at McDonalds. This argument is wrong. Market dynamics mean that you get paid for your labour on the basis of 1. Demand : How wanted is your particular skill 2. Availability: How common is your skill 3. Return: How much money do I make from using your skill Period... The guy at MacDonalds makes less because he returns less and his skill is rather common. > Shouldn't you be entitled to the fruits of your labor, at whatever the > traffic will bear? Yes, but competition is healthy. Coca-Cola holds no patents to my knowledge over the formula for its beverage yet makes zillions each year from selling it :-)

By Kipton Moravec on 29 March, 2001 - 6:44 pm

> I make my living now mostly from what I know and what I write. While any kid can knock together software, can any kid properly debug it, understand the applications it was supposed to perform, and have the liability insurance to back it up when you use it? > >Shouldn't you be entitled to the fruits of your labor, at whatever the traffic will bear? I guess my issue of it is, that if you have been doing software a long time you probably do not open up the source code to the world. You have probably picked up some tricks of the trade that allow you to do things efficiently. But if a company suspects that you may have used an algorithm that they have a patent for, they can force you to disclose your source code to them or their agents. It does not matter if you have never heard of them or their patent before. Then you could be in the position to pay them royalties for copies of software that are long sold. I know of a patent for the least squares algorithm. The author rearranged the equations so it was easy to add new points -- to have a running least squares total. If you do that you are liable to pay royalties. Another example is the .GIF picture format. The owner of the patent (I can't remember who, I think Sperry-Univac) took no action until the format was very popular, and in wide use by a number of software companies, THEN they decided to demand royalties for programs that saved images in .GIF format.

By George Robertson on 30 March, 2001 - 2:07 pm

OK, but isn't the heart of this patent the use of a PLC as a web server? How much intellectual investment did that take? Let's see, I think I'll patent the use of internal combustion engines to transport microprocessors from plants to point of sale. George G. Robertson, P.E. Manager of Engineering Saulsbury E & C

By Vitor Finkel on 4 April, 2001 - 2:07 pm

At 13:18 30/03/01, Moravec + Boyes wrote: >From: Kipton Moravec <kip@kdream.com> > >Walt Boyes wrote: > > I make my living now mostly from what I know and what I write. While >any kid can knock together software, can any kid properly debug it, >understand the applications it was supposed to perform, and have the >liability insurance to back it up when you use it? >............clipped for brevity........... >Another example is the .GIF picture format. The owner of the patent (I >can't remember who, I think Sperry-Univac) took no action until the format >was very popular, and in wide use by a number of software companies, THEN >they decided to demand royalties for programs that saved images in .GIF >format. If I understand the situation correctly, gangsters on 20/21th Century do not charge merchants for protection, or threaten them with "accidents". They invent anything silly but usefull, let it be spread to a very large market use, while keeping a low profile, then surface and collect... I can not believe the laws on Intellectual Property were invented for that purpose, but then old laws against people drinking alcoholic beverages were not intended just to make some guys wealthier... Society should take action to fix those loopholes. They are unfair, abusive, and predatory, IMHO. Vitor Finkel vfinkel@attglobal.net P.O. Box 16061 Tel (+55) 21 285-5641 22221.971 Rio de Janeiro Brazil Fax (+55) 21 205-3339