Bonum Certa Men Certa

Hewlett-Packard Takes World Back to World War One with New Software Patent

Waging war against science



Summary: HP patents very trivial ideas about a century after their "discovery" and it threatens Free software in the process; update on Nokia vs Apple

SLASHDOT came up with this interesting finding:

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The authors of GMP (the GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library) were invited to join Peer-to-Patent to review HP's recent patent on a very old technique for implementing bignums because their software might infringe. Basically, HP's patent claims choosing an exponent based on processor word size. If you choose a 4-bit word size and a binary number, you end up working in hexadecimal. Or for a computer with a 16-bit word and a base-10 number, you use base 10,000 so that each digit of the base-10,000 number would fit into a single 16-bit word. The obvious problem with that is that there's plenty of prior art here. Someone who spent a few minutes Googling found that Knuth describing the idea in TAOCP Vol. 2 and other citations go back to 1912 (which implemented the same algorithm using strips of cardboard and a calculating machine). None of this can be found in the 'references cited' section. Even though the patent examiner did add a couple of references, they appear to have cited some old patents. The patent issued a few months ago was filed back in October of 2004, and collected dust at the USPTO for some 834 days."


Also in the news we have the following updates regarding the Nokia/Apple case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:



Nokia last week asked a federal court to block Apple from importing virtually any of Apple's current hardware into the U.S., including the iPhone, iPod and Mac lines.

The lawsuit -- the second Nokia has filed against Apple in the patent war that broke out last October -- is nearly identical to the complaint the Finnish phone manufacturer filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Dec. 29. In that complaint, Nokia also demanded that Apple be barred from bringing "all of Apple's electronic devices that infringe one or more claims of the Asserted Patents" into the U.S.


As we wrote some days ago, embargo never advances science or innovation.

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