[e2e] patents on routing algorithms

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Thu Jan 3 14:26:17 PST 2008

One should be careful that just because we speak English on this list, 
we don't all live in England.  US patent law is different from that in 
other jurisdictions.

We aren't talking about "software patents" when we refer to processes 
that involve sending messages between devices - i.e. network protocols - 
by the way.  The BGP spec is not code for a computer, nor is AODV.  In 
fact, BGP

Algorithm patents are not strictly identical to software patents.  An 
algorithm is a process.   A software program is a recipe that causes a 
device to perform a process, but it also typically has "free variables" 
so it is a recipe that is not terribly specific.   At some degree of 
non-specificity it almost certainly doesn't specify anything narrow 
enough to be patentable subject matter.

Of course, all these nouns that I am forced to use to describe 
abstractions create the illusion that descriptions are equivalent to the 
things described.

/*"Ceci n'est pas une pipe"  (see 

or, if you prefer the American Presidentialism: "it all depends on what 
is is" (Clinton).

Joe Touch wrote:
> Jon Crowcroft wrote:
>> a letter in this month's CACM reminds us that the Church-Turing Theorem
>> states that algorithms and mathematics are the same - math is unpatentable
>> so ...
> FWIW, math isn't patentable itself, but is potentially patentable when
> applied to a real problem (e.g., general path calculation wouldn't be,
> but IP packet routing would even if it's basically just an application
> of general path calculation).
> See, e.g.,:
> http://www.bitlaw.com/software-patent/history.html
> Joe

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