CCT206 Assignment 1: Discussions on patent history, Copyright Laws or any other subset of intellectual property protection, appeal to those who have a particular interest towards it. To some, it is interesting to know when the first patent was prescribed and on what terms. Subsequently, what type of content is patentable under the law and if a particular content is disapproved, then on what bases is it rejected. The underlying reasons that instituted the idea of protecting intellectual property, where solely geared towards creating economic incentives and to motivate the common to produce innovative ideas, products or services. Early patent laws stemmed from Italy in 1474 under the authority of the Republic of Venice who stated that “encouragement was held out to all who should discover any new refinement in luxury, the profits arising from which were secured to the inventor by patent for the space of a year” 1. One of the main purposes of the copyright in the United States was to encourage the progress of science and art by giving the producer sole control over their invention or discovery2. Copyright is a subcategory of Intellectual property; both provide the creator with legal rights over their inventions for a specified period of time. These rights can only be granted for selected articles including “...a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; ideas, discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs”3. Concept of Intellectual Property has the implications as the earlier French law that states "All new discoveries are the property of the author; to assure the inventor the property and temporary enjoyment of his discovery, there shall be delivered to him a patent for five, ten or fifteen years”4. The concept of protecting work of the author was heavily widespread after the invention of the printing press, which was responsible for the mass publication tradition of books. Authors wanted protection on their works so transgressors could be held accountable for reaping unauthorized profits off the creator of the works. Copyright Infringements are quite arduous at times, since there is a set criterion upon what is protect and more importantly what aspects of works are protected under the law. If one writes a journal on a psychology theory, that journal within itself is copyrightable; however, the theory itself is not copyrightable, due to the fact that it is an idea, which is exclusion under the copyright law and protection. Nevertheless, the works of the creator can be judged under the context of “striking similarity” between the copyrighted work and the original production, under which they can impose the law and take preventative actions. Invention of computers brought forth two principle components; Hardware and Software. Hardware produced by various companies or individual creator was effortlessly patented, since it was physical object engineered by a concept, which was “non-obvious”. Patents on computer software are unconventional, since computer software is a mixture of algorithms, which are categorized under “abstract ideas” and considered non-patentable. Since software comprises such a conceptual characteristic, it is difficult to determine its patentable degree. The process of software, how it operates and the results it delivers, ultimately creates inconsistency in the law at times. For instance, Section 101 of the United States Code
states subject matters that can be patented: “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefore, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title”. In respect to this, software which creates a new useful process should be patentable under this section of the code. However, title 17 from the United States Code, Section 102 states “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work”. It is here, where the argument stemmed, since software are composed of algorithms, procedures and processes, which create an end product that can be of “useful purpose”. This exposes the inconsistency in the law, where one section of the law states to grant a patent to any creator that creates something of “useful purpose”, yet the other section states to abstain from granting copyright protection to any author whose work is an “idea, process, procedure…” There are few major cases which respectively illustrate this conflict. Of importance, is the Gottschalk v. Benson trial. In this case, a request for a patent was asked on a method, which created binary-coded decimals numerals into pure numerals. This patent request was denied numerous times, plainly because a patent was being request on a procedure or a process of converting something, which under the law was prohibited. Ultimately, the decision in the court was that software within itself cannot hold a patent; however, a process could be patented if “claimed either a transformation of substances or was implemented with a newly devised machine”. In this case the court did make an exception to the algorithm factor, mainly so technology can prosper and not be at a halt due to this factor. Patents and copyright have a common goal ultimately protect the hard work of the producer. Patents broadcast to the world that an idea has already been developed and it cannot be claimed, while copyright assures the creators work is not copied, rather compensated for. Software copyright and copyright infringements have been a core issue notably in the 21st century primarily because of the heavy advancement in technology. Copyright Infringement best known as “Software Piracy” abstains the end user from the following: Selling copies of the purchase software in mass publication Reproducing a copy of the software and forwarding it to some other individual or entity. Creating a copy as a back. This is an act of copyright infringement in some countries, however, the law had be modified in 1993 after the MAI Systems Corp. v. Peak Computer, Inc. to allow end users to make a backup copy of the software in the event of a computer crash or misplacement of the original software5. Renting of the software, this act is also an infringement, since the original investor must only utilize the original copy.
Buying the software under a different title and reselling the software to another. For Instance, buy the software as a student under a discount price and reselling it for a different price is also considered an infringement of the software. Recording software on CD-R, hard-disk loading and Internet infringement were and are some of the most popular forms of infringement.
Questions still remain as to what is exactly covered under copyright law beside these overlapping unlawful methods of sharing software. Some of these questions can be addressed by reviewing some eminent cases of software infringements, why they were considered an infringement and what the final verdicts were. The first case is between “Apple Computer v. San Francisco Canyon Co”. Apple Computer hired San Francisco Canyon Co to develop Apple’s QuickTime code; however, when the company was contracted by Microsoft and Intel, San Francisco Canyon Co, used thousands of lines of Apple’s generated code to make their video player faster replicating Apple’s. All of Apple’s QuickTime player code lines are copyright since Apple uses a particular code method to make their systems perform faster than contemporary PCs. Apple’s lawsuit was that Microsoft purposely contracted San Francisco Canyon Co, so that they may aid them in stealing Apple’s source code along with the “Look & Feel” lawsuit, which stated that Macintosh’s entire operating system has a copyright for its own look and feel, and that Microsoft copied as many as 189 GUI elements6. The final verdict on this case was that Apple and Microsoft threatened each other for either multi-billion dollar lawsuits on Apple’s behalf and Bill Gates threatening to cancel Microsoft Office for Mac. Both companies decided to drop all lawsuits against each other; since neither company would have prospered in the end.7 Another case of Apple Inc is with Psystar Corporation. It successfully sued Psystar Corp for selling Intel-based system with Mac OS X pre-installed in them. This was not allowed by Apple’s own “shrink wrap license” as Apple claimed it violated the software licensing and copyright law8. The final case brings into perspective the stringency of certain software copyright laws through the case between Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc. In this case, Borland Int’l, Inc produced a spreadsheet product whose menu replicated the “structure” of the Lotus 1-2-3, a competing spreadsheet. For this, they were enforced to change the structure of their spreadsheet menu since even that was under the software copyright law. The interface, look & feel, structure, subjects, codes, methods are all applicable for protection under the copyright law. Despite the simple nature of this case, it illuminates the strictness of copyright laws in its entirety. Upon reviewing of various cases, I firmly believe that software should have extremely rigid protection of intellectual property. Such hard work, dedication, creativity, management and investment are implemented into the production of these products and should therefore be protected accordingly. In current times already, the software industry is witnessing massive levels of software piracy, with very limited ability for them to hold transgressors accountable for such acts. At the
very least, if another software producer replicates a copyright idea, then the law should be enforced accordingly in all fairness of the situation.
Works Cited "A History of the Patent Law of the United States." Ladas & Parry - Intellectual Property Law. 5 Feb. 2009 <http://www.ladas.com/Patents/USPatentHistory.html>. "Apple Sues Mac Clone Maker Psystar - NYTimes.com." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 5 Feb. 2009 <http://www.nytimes.com/idg/IDG_002570F3005978D8002574870067E25A.ht ml?ref=technology>. “ Charles Anthon, A Classical Dictionary: Containing An Account Of The Principal Proper Names Mentioned in Ancient Authors, And Intended To Elucidate All The Important Points Connected With The Geography, History, Biography, Mythology, And Fine Arts Of The Greeks And Romans Together With An Account Of Coins, Weights, And Measures, With Tabular Values Of The Same, Harper & Bros” 1841, page 1273. "MAI SYSTEMS CORP. v. PEAK COMPUTER, INC., 991 F.2d 511 (9th Cir. 1993) (LOISLAW)." Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. 5 Feb. 2009 <http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/991_F2d_511.htm>. "Microsoft to invest $150 million in Apple - CNET News." Technology News - CNET News. 5 Feb. 2009 <http://news.cnet.com/MS-to-invest-150-million-in-Apple/21001001_3-202143.html>. Nimmer, David. Copyright: Sacred Text, Technology, and the Dmca (Exemplar Juridicum: American Thought on Global Legal Issues). New York City: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2003. "U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Notice (Circular 3)." U.S. Copyright Office. 5 Feb. 2009 <http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ03.html>.