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Pen and paper patents
"Pen and paper patents" refers to the question of whether allowing patents on writing software implies that people can also apply for patents on writing other things, with a pen or pencil.
It can be an error to consider ideas from this angle. Software patents are not patents on writing software. The act of typing at a keyboard (or writing with a pencil) is not what's covered by the patent. It's the development of something which implements a method or a process. On the other hand, the EPO quote below is food for thought.
 EPO says they might be able to qualify
comparatively broad interpretation of the term "invention" in Article 52(1) EPC will include activities which are so familiar that their technical character tends to be overlooked, such as the act of writing using pen and paper.
 Economically, computers are like paper
the economic rationale behind not granting patents on thoughts applies also here: abstract ideas are, regardless of their applicability to technical problems, produced without experimentation cost, applicable to an infinite range of problems, and replicated at zero cost with no overhead to which patent license fees could be added. The division of the extra cost of patents by the marginal cost (and long-term ideal price) of information goods is a division by zero. Moreover the deal between the inventor and the public, characterised as "monopoly on commercial implementation in return for disclosure of idea", is led ad absurdum: since between the idea and the application there is no invention, any adequate disclosure of the idea in turing-complete syntax risks to become an act of patent infringement.
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
- Analyses of the patentability of specific ideas
- Software is math - what if math is so complicated, a pen and paper are required?
- Debunking the Software Patent “Pen and Paper Myth”, 14 Apr 2010, IPWatchdog
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