Location: United Kingdom

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

patenting the patently obvious

The Register is reporting that SUN can patent a reduced set of bytecode. Apparently this is deemed acceptable as long as they don't actually call it a method. The 'invention` reduces the current instruction set from over 220 to a smaller number.

For instance there are currently four instructions for loading an array depending on the element size. The innovative new ALoad instruction reduces this to one as it reads the Array Header to determine its size.

I don't know about you but I do recall something called operator overloading has existed in C++ for quite a while now. And I'm sure there have been code optimizers around for a lot longer. For instance in BASIC the four byte string PRINT can be reduced to a one byte token to save on menory and load time. Talk about patening the blindingly obvious.

"The invention provides a reduced set of Bytecode instructions that can nevertheless effectively represent the complete set of operations performed by the conventional Java Bytecode instruction set"

"It is hereby declared that the following (among other things) are not inventions for the purposes of this Act ..a scheme, rule or method.. or a program for a computer."

"The invention has nothing to do with how that computer program would be structured or how it would be written, but with what the program must do," - Hearing Officer Stephen Probert

What if anything is "what the program must do" but a METHOD.

Software patents – Obstacles to software development - Richard Stallman


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