Patents vs. auto-generated 'inventions' - diyAudio
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Old 1st August 2012, 08:52 AM   #1
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Default Patents vs. auto-generated 'inventions'

In another thread some of us have been discussing how to create computer programs that auto-generate digital crossover filters meeting specified criteria for roll-off, ringing, latency etc. with little reference to conventional filter design theory.

In other posts we have also been discussing the variety of 'conventional' filters that are out there, including the Thiele NTM36 and NTM52. There's a patent attached to those filters http://www.pat2pdf.org/patents/pat6854005.pdf that seems to cover the filters in both analogue form (with circuit diagrams etc.), and also, an unspecified digital form.

It occurs to me that it is highly likely that a digital filter generating program could create exact equivalents to those filters spontaneously, without any knowledge of their internal construction i.e. no 'intelligent designer' involved. The resulting filter might well be considered an infringement of the patent. But what if the filter generating program itself was released, with a user-interface that allowed the user to specify criteria for roll-off etc. that made it possible for the computer to create such a filter spontaneously 'in the field'? Must the author of such a program become an expert on existing patents and 'mask out' certain areas of the potential numerical space that contain patented filters? (It's not completely unlike DNA I suppose.)

And the same for other potential inventions that could conceivably be auto-generated by a computer these days, but which, a few years ago might have seemed like science fiction.
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Old 1st August 2012, 09:33 AM   #2
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The usual "I'm not practicing law" disclaimers apply...
Seems to me... the patent is for a "filter system and method" so if neither are copied there's no infringement, ie does the software use the mathematical procedure outlined in the patent abstract?
"Exact equivalent" probably needs to be further defined.
Suppose someone wrote an automatic random schematic CAD program. Is it infringement if a patented circuit shows up on screen? I'm doubting it.
Remember also that a patent doesn't grant exclusivity, merely the legal standing to seek damages for unauthorized use of the patented idea. For non-commercial end-users, it's fairly wide open.
I'm in the USA. Things may be different in your jurisdiction.
I'm not sure what your last sentence means. But then, I always took "information economy" with a grain of salt. Make that a shaker full. A recipe will never feed the hungry.
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Old 1st August 2012, 10:47 AM   #3
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Suppose I have a 16,384 alphanumeric character random generator, and the output is posted on my website as it emerges. It is certain, given time, to violate numerous copyrights. Should random character generation code be legally restricted?
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Old 1st August 2012, 07:38 PM   #4
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I suppose what I'm saying is that the Thiele patent is really just a small bunch of numbers. Obviously, a lot of genius went into assembling those numbers, but the end result could have been automatically generated by a computer program without needing to know much in the way of filter design or maths. It occurs to me that in such a field, there's only a relatively small number of useful sets of numbers and, in theory, a computer could be set the task of finding them all.
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Old 1st August 2012, 09:27 PM   #5
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You could always blame it on the monkies, and take their typewriters away.
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Old 1st August 2012, 10:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
You could always blame it on the monkies, and take their typewriters away.
The idea of computer-generated designs in general seems to provoke bafflement and bemusement, which is fine by me. But did none of you ever have the 'wow!' moment when you finally twigged what evolution was all about? And another when you realised that you could run your own accelerated evolutionary experiments in a computer..?

Just me then!
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Old 1st August 2012, 10:15 PM   #7
SY is offline SY  United States
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Originally Posted by CopperTop View Post
But did none of you ever have the 'wow!' moment when you finally twigged what evolution was all about? And another when you realised that you could run your own accelerated evolutionary experiments in a computer..?
Dave has not. I have (thank you, Ernst Mayr!), though my exposure to computer simulation (inspired by reading Dennett) was far less surprising and "wow!" inspiring.
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Old 1st August 2012, 10:28 PM   #8
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I did once toy with the idea of using a genetic algorithm for an optimisation problem, but in the end I used particle swarm instead.
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Old 1st August 2012, 10:30 PM   #9
SY is offline SY  United States
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You're feeling particularly diplomatic this evening.
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Old 1st August 2012, 10:55 PM   #10
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Just don't want to push my luck with the Mods, or hijack the thread.

Talking of computers, I am currently watching a fascinating programme on BBC4 which is about an ancient Greek eclipse predictor called the Antikythera Mechanism.
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