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.NET Software, Patents (kind of OT, but I'm not sure where to ask)

P: n/a
Hi,

A quick question (please let me know a more appropriate newsgroup, if
any):

When developing a new piece of software, how does one know whether or
not the software needs to be "patented"? As you know, MSFT recently lost a
court case in which the plaintiff claimed that the idea of a "plug-in" was
already patented by their company. In other words, because Internet Explorer
supports things like ActiveX, Java, Shockwave, etc, they are in violation of
patent law.

Another example is Friendster
(http://news.com.com/2100-1026_3-5071...ml?tag=fd_top), a company who
claims to have a "patent" on the concept of creating "networks of friends."

You also may recall when a company (Yahoo, I think) claimed to have a
patent on the concept of a "cookie."...

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I'm in the process of creating
a free/shareware WinForms app which performs a task which I think is
somewhat clever, but I'm 99.99999% certain that my idea is NOT so unique
that I am the only person to ever conceive of it. What I want to avoid is a
situation where I spend a year developing the software only to have some
company say, "hey, you can't release that software because I thought of the
idea first, see, here's my patent!" What is a developer to do? I can't
afford to spend thousands of dollars on a high priced lawyer to research
whether or not the idea is "taken" by someone else?

Certainly not every idea is "patentable." For example, Napster had a
cool idea, but that didn't stop dozens of other companies from writing
software which accomplished the same goal. How does one determine whether an
idea is patentable (is that a word?) or not, specifically as the idea
pertains to software?

David
Jul 19 '05 #1
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P: n/a
As I understand it:

In the United States one engages the services of a high-priced lawyer who
specialises in Patent law.

In the rest of the world, one searches the Internet, goes to the Library
etc. and reads up on such matters.

"David Sworder" <ds******@cts.com> wrote in message
news:uO**************@TK2MSFTNGP10.phx.gbl...
Hi,

A quick question (please let me know a more appropriate newsgroup, if
any):

When developing a new piece of software, how does one know whether or
not the software needs to be "patented"? As you know, MSFT recently lost a
court case in which the plaintiff claimed that the idea of a "plug-in" was
already patented by their company. In other words, because Internet Explorer supports things like ActiveX, Java, Shockwave, etc, they are in violation of patent law.

Another example is Friendster
(http://news.com.com/2100-1026_3-5071...ml?tag=fd_top), a company who
claims to have a "patent" on the concept of creating "networks of friends."
You also may recall when a company (Yahoo, I think) claimed to have a
patent on the concept of a "cookie."...

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I'm in the process of creating a free/shareware WinForms app which performs a task which I think is
somewhat clever, but I'm 99.99999% certain that my idea is NOT so unique
that I am the only person to ever conceive of it. What I want to avoid is a situation where I spend a year developing the software only to have some
company say, "hey, you can't release that software because I thought of the idea first, see, here's my patent!" What is a developer to do? I can't
afford to spend thousands of dollars on a high priced lawyer to research
whether or not the idea is "taken" by someone else?

Certainly not every idea is "patentable." For example, Napster had a
cool idea, but that didn't stop dozens of other companies from writing
software which accomplished the same goal. How does one determine whether an idea is patentable (is that a word?) or not, specifically as the idea
pertains to software?

David

Jul 19 '05 #2

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