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Patents etc

Hmmmm the argument about hardware companies paying 10% to intel 5% to the
capacitor folks does not stand up.  The reason is that hardware people do
*exactly* that and in return they receive the physical token (chip,
capacitor etc) that represents the intellectual property they just bought. 

Patents in the hardware world can slow evolution just as much as in 
software.  A good example is the "cats eye" papent in the UK.  Cats eyes 
are the reflective studs in the road, until the original UK patent ran 
out *nobody* did any work in the UK  to improve on the orginal design 
because the royalty burden made it uneconomic.  

Whats make software different is the ability to freely copy it
without special hardware.  This lack of a physical token is what
causes all the problems. 

IMHO What's needed is a) a good way of measuring usage and b) a realistic
attitude on the part of patent holders as to the value of their patents. 

A good example of how not to do it is the current mess that governs the
music indistry (which very similar problems with copying and incorporation
of material [sampling] all be it in a context of copyright rather than

Ted Nelson did a lot of work on this for xanadu and his ideas on 
transcopyright are worth exploring further.

John Pettitt                                          [email protected]
VP Engineering, CyberSource Corp.       +1 415 473 3065 (V) (fax 3066)