A timely reminder for the European Commission, while it considers permitting software patents.
In the US, software patents have been permitted for years, with hilarious results. Here’s a good example.
Back in 1997-98, spam was a minor irritant, but the practice of ‘listbombing’ (forge-subscribing one’s enemies to lots of mailing lists) was more troublesome. As a result, several mailing-list manager programs like Majordomo added challenge-response to their subscription process; this is why, when you sign up for a list, you have to click on a link in the mail you get, to ‘confirm’ you really asked to be signed up. (Here’s a mail detailing how LISTSERV had this feature in March 1996.)
All very clever, and it solved the problem nicely.
Fast-forward to 2003, and we see that there are now no less than three pretty-much-identical anti-spam C-R patents which have been granted:
- United States Patent 6,199,102: Cobb March 6, 2001 (applied: Aug 26, 1997): Method and system for filtering electronic messages
- United States Patent 6,112,227: Heiner August 29, 2000 (applied Aug 6, 1998): Filter-in method for reducing junk e-mail
- United States Patent 6,546,416: Kirsch April 8, 2003 (applied Dec 9, 1998): Method and system for selectively blocking delivery of bulk electronic mail
Oops! Where’s the popcorn?
(Thanks to this posting from RFG for spotting this.)