[cryptography] patents and stuff (Re: NSA's position in the dominance stakes)

Adam Back adam at cypherspace.org
Sun Nov 21 03:32:13 EST 2010

Hi James

I think, a bit of ranting aside, what people dislike is that software
patents are a net lose to the economy, software progress and meritocracy. 
The patent mine-field isnt good for the industry nor society as a whole as
it adds economic friction, uncertainty and therefore holds back progress.

That the system + or - works as it is defined or not isnt really the

The problem is the way the patent system is defined has over time turned out
badly.  I have my name on a few patents.  Three of them originated when
someone asked a question and I said after literally 5 seconds of thought,
"sure you can do that".  And those are I think quality patents by the
standards.  That just cant be right.

Many of the issued patents arent even novel in the sense of "technically
slightly different" - prior art is evidently not being respected because few
are spending resources protecting it.


On Sat, Nov 20, 2010 at 10:29:45AM -0800, James S. Tyre wrote:
>At 12:11 PM 11/20/2010 -0500, Steven Bellovin wrote:
>>Let me repeat a previous question: do you have *any* first-hand 
>>experience with patent litigation?  There are a fair number of 
>>people on this list who have such experience.  There is at least 
>>one attorney on this list (who hasn't posted publicly).
>Not that anyone should doubt Steve's word, but that would be me.  
>Mostly I lurk (here and on Perry's on again off again list) because I 
>am not a skilled technologist, let alone a crypto expert.  But I have 
>represented many in various court matters, I learn from them (and 
>from these lists, among other places).
>>  Might I *strongly* suggest that people confine their assertions 
>>of fact to things that they've experienced, rather than read on a 
>>blog or mailing list somewhere?
>>As for your specific question: opposing counsel can deal with such 
>>issues with good questioning, either during a deposition or during 
>>cross-examination on the stand.  If you get the opposing expert 
>>contradicting him or herself in front of the jury, or unable to 
>>explain to the jury the bad answers in a (videotaped) deposition, 
>>the jury will come to the proper conclusions.
>The U.S. court system is far from perfect.  Having spent 32 years 
>working in it, I think I'm qualified to express that opinion.  '-)  
>But, most of the time (not always), things do work out as they 
>should.  What Steve writes aren't the only ways to separate truth 
>from fiction, and my point here isn't to write a treatise.  It is 
>simply to reinforce what Steve says here and in a few previous posts.  
>Some folks here clearly do not know of what they speak when it comes 
>to legal matters.  Such posts are no more helpful than were I to 
>write about my (hypothetical) build-a-better-mousetrap-crypto-scheme.
>James S. Tyre                                      jstyre at jstyre.com
>Law Offices of James S. Tyre          310-839-4114/310-839-4602(fax)
>10736 Jefferson Blvd., #512               Culver City, CA 90230-4969
>Co-founder, The Censorware Project             http://censorware.net
>Policy Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation     http://www.eff.org
>cryptography mailing list
>cryptography at randombit.net

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