Patenting Basic Knowledge

Steve Grube grube at
Sun Aug 15 22:26:03 PDT 1999

Nathan Newman wrote:

> To get some sense of the radical changes in patents in the last decade or
> so, this article notes how basic algorithms and mathematical formulas can
> now be patented, as long as some useful application for such formulas can be
> demonstrated.

It's not just a formula, it's a whole software program based on a math model for doing valuations. But what's curious is that it was being explored in the early 90's so it seems that it was in the public domain already, even for use in similar apps as to what it was granted for. Also, if Columbia U is making it available to various investment houses [for a fee], it will lose any edge it may have in doing finer, more accurate valuations of those pesky derivatives. AND also, it seems dubious that it passes the "non obvious" test for a patent. Background: Something for patent has to first fit a statute category, then it has to have utility, then it has to be considered new and novel and finally, the toughest category is that it has to be "non obvious" to someone else practiced in the art [sounds like it WAS being explored by those in the art]. AND finally, there is an interesting feature to patents that is not known by most people: The granting of a patent gives you no right to practice under the grant or say manufacture your widget. It only gives you the right to exclude others. -Steve Grube =============================

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