Re: MIPSco -- compiler technology patents? (Henry Spencer)
Sun, 8 Sep 1991 03:20:36 GMT

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MIPSco -- compiler technology patents? (1991-09-04)
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Re: MIPSco -- compiler technology patents? (1991-09-08)
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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Henry Spencer)
Keywords: legal
Organization: U of Toronto Zoology
References: 91-09-008 91-09-018
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 1991 03:20:36 GMT

In article 91-09-018 (David Keppel) writes:
>* I believe that patented devices can always be built without fee for
>personal use, but that patented items cannot be sold or given away without
>the patent owner's consent. I expect that means that patented algorithms
>can be examined, but the code that contains them cannot be given away.

It has been a while since I looked at this stuff, but my recollection is
that there is *no* personal-use exemption for patents. People who suggest
this are thinking of copyrights, which have different rules. Examining
a patented invention is okay -- the whole idea behind patents is to give
inventors an incentive to place their ideas on public view rather than
keeping them secret -- but *using* it in any way whatsoever requires a
license. I would guess that running an algorithm to explore its behavior
would be legitimate, but employing it for a practical purpose -- e.g.
recompiling your favorite utility to make it run faster -- would not.
(Caution, I am not a lawyer.)

Heroically resisting the temptation to wade into the fray, I would suggest
that further debate on whether software patents are good or bad is best
taken elsewhere, now that people have been alerted to the relevance.
Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology utzoo!henry
[Traditionally, research use is not infringement, but software and algorithm
patents are such a murky area that nobody really knows. I second Henry's
suggestion that the general topic of patents is outside the purview of
compilers. If you want to discuss specific patents related to compiler
technology, be my guest. Note that the patents themselves are in the public
domain and you can reproduce and quote them without restriction. -John]

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