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Article from Issue 93/2008


Linux Magazine in India

A friend picked up an issue of Linux Magazine in the US and I loved it. Here in India, Linux Magazine is not readily available, and shipping costs too much. Will you guys consider establishing a center for your magazine here in India? I am pretty sure your magazine would be blockbuster. India has lots of Linux users. If you guys could locally distribute the magazines in India, it really would be great.



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What's the big problem with patents on algorithms?

If I devise a new mechanism that's expressed in gears and levers, that, apparently, is fine. If it works using interlocking molecules, that's fine too. But a computer algorithm cannot be patented in the UK. You stand a better chance in the EU or the US, but the UK patent office won't look at it unless it has a physical manifestation of some sort. Why is that? What, in principle, is the difference?

I confess that I do have an ax to grind here. My company has developed a novel algorithm for solving certain important classes of simultaneous linear equations.

It took a huge amount of (privately funded) work to develop, and I really don't see why we should give it away. If it were a drug or an electronic device, we would be looking to build a successful tax-paying business around it.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself being lectured on software patents by an academic Linux enthusiast who, it transpired, had himself filed patents on the (taxpayer-funded) work he'd done at University.

Let's be consistent here – either scrap patents altogether, or allow patents on novel computer-based algorithms.

John Appleyard

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