[Wikipedia-l] Re: Patent idea

Tim Starling ts4294967296 at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 5 03:27:09 UTC 2004

Walter Vermeir wrote:
> Imran Ghory <imran at ...> writes:
>>Actually given that Ward Cunningham now works for Microsoft and Microsoft
>>is developing their own wiki software, it might be a good idea to get a
>>patent on some of MediaWiki's unique features.
> ... and maybe recieve a donation form Microsoft to WikiMedia for use of those
> unique features. 
> Walter

You seem to be forgetting that the Wikimedia Foundation does not own IP 
rights to MediaWiki, except for perhaps the Yahoo XML feed. Some of it 
was placed in the public domain by Lee Daniel Crocker, the rest is owned 
by the developers who contributed it. Whether or not our code is 
patented is our decision. Personally I'm not fond of the idea of calling 
code "open source" but requiring that people get permission if they want 
to use it.

Even if Magnus Manske (or whoever it was) wanted to patent the language 
code thing, it couldn't be patented anyway, because it is not new. From 
http://www.bitlaw.com/patent/requirements.html :

Novelty (Newness) Requirement: In order for an invention to be 
patentable, it must be new as defined in the patent law. This novelty 
requirement states that an invention cannot be patented if certain 
public disclosures of the invention have been made. The statute which 
explains when a public disclosure has been made (35 U.S.C. Section 102) 
is complicated and often requires a detailed analysis of the facts and 
the law. The most important rule, however, is that an invention will not 
normally be patentable if:

     * the invention was known to the public before it was "invented" by 
the individual seeking patent protection;
     * the invention was described in a publication more than one year 
prior to the filing date; or
     * the invention was used publicly, or offered for sale to the 
public more than one year prior to the filing date.

Although the United States grants the one year grace period described in 
the last two rules above, most other countries do not grant such a 
period. Therefore, it is almost always preferable to file a patent 
application before any public disclosure of the invention. Most patent 
attorneys will try diligently to file a patent application prior to any 
public release or announcement in order to allow international patent 

[end quote]

-- Tim Starling

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