Interesting talk about patent trolls on The Inside Track

Dylan McCall dylanmccall at
Thu Feb 26 00:12:41 UTC 2009

I heard the tail end of a talk on CBC's The Inside Track. It was
shockingly relevant to something the software industry deals with!

The idea is that organizations gather undocumented traditional medical
treatments from foreign countries, turn them into pills and patent
them. Patent offices rely on the knowledge of their patent officers,
which is never ideal.

Of course, this means that the tradition is then locked up into a box;
the people are no longer free to apply their traditions where the
patent exists.

Remind you of something?

The issue is (hopefully) being solved in this case with a project to
document all those quiet, traditional medical treatments so that the
patent office can't be taken advantage of; now they can be aware right
away whether an idea has already been implemented.
A quick search tells me there have been a few attempts, but weren't
there recent rumblings of such a thing for free software, too?

This feels like a losing battle to me. It's nice that they care, but
can't they see yet that the issue goes deeper? Governments can either
plug holes like this forever, or they can use their heads; patent
enforcement as we know it fails to account for the fact that the
registration of the patent was subject to human error.

Anyhow, the episode should appear on the Inside Track podcast in a while...


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