Posts Tagged ‘EPO’

Prof. em Donald E. Knuth, the algorithm pope, sent an Amicus Curiae letter to the European Patent Office in the case G03/08 and expressed his desire to “innovate in peace”:

Dear Ms Brimelow,
A friend in Europe just told me that you are interested in “amicus curie” letters to explain why so many computer scientists around the world have long been alarmed about patent trends, and that you hope to receive them by 30 April. I hope this letter reaches you in time; I could not send it by FedEx, having no complete address. Enclosed is a copy of a letter that I wrote to the US Patent Commissioner in 1994; I believe it is self explanatory- Also enclosed is the transcript of a talk I gave at the Technical University of Munich in 2001, where I gave a somewhat more nuanced view of extremely unusual cases in which algorithms or even mathematical constants might conceivably be patentable in my view. IThe latter remarks occur near the end of a rather long lecture; I have highlighted the relevant information, on page 324, for your convenience.

Basically I remain convinced that the patent policy most fair and most suitable for the world will regard mathematical ideas (such as algorithms) to be not subject to proprietary patent rights. For example, it would be terrible if somebody were to have a patent on an integer, like say 1009, so that nobody would be able to use that number “with further technical effect” without paying for a license. Although many software patents have unfortunately already been granted in the past, I hope that this practice will not continue in future. If Europe leads the way in this, I expect many Americans would want to emigrate so that they could continue to innovate in peace.

His and many other Amicus Curiae (~90) Amicus letters are published on the EPO website.

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