Bonum Certa Men Certa

Even Converting an Image to Greyscale is Now a Patent

Summary: Simple mathematics becoming patented as Fujifilm claims 'ownership' of photographic conversion to greyscale

IN my field of expertise (research profession), which is computer graphics/vision (fundamentally a lot of matrix maths), there has been a big growth in the number of patents. These are all software patents and they are typically filed in the US because the USPTO is far too permissive. This makes it virtually impossible or at least very risky to bring software to the US; almost everything in a computer program these days can be considered patent infringement and if not, then you may be forced to prove this at a court of law, at your own expense. It harms the ability to distribute software (at zero cost), not just develop software. It is a huge impediment to research and development. This only protects monopolies and giant multinationals. It makes them untouchable.



An article published the other day by a Microsoft-friendly programming-oriented site showed that even converting an image to greyscale is now a patent trap. "There are so many instances where software patents are clearly stupid," said the author, "but this one has to be seen to be believed. As long as you see it in color there should be no patent problems."

The author correctly pointed out that: "Those skilled in the art almost certainly knew how to convert an RGB image into greyscale long before the patent."

This means that such a patent should never have been granted in the first place. This system is just corrupt, defunct, or striving to maximise profit rather than serve the public.

It is worth also seeing the new article titled "The strange things you need to do to file patents in the US". The sad thing is that the EPO seems to be assimilating (attaching itself) to the USPTO over time, so computer scientists everywhere must fight back. If everything can be deemed illegal, everyone is a criminal. If every creation is "infringing", then those in power have the ability to remove anything on a whim. Patents have become a gross extension of protectionism instrumentation.

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