April 1, 2009

FFII and EPO announce “Binaries-As-Prior-Art”

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Brussels & Munich, 1st April 2009 — After years of confidential work, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) today announce a radical way to improve software patent quality: Binaries-As-Prior-Art, or BAPA. BAPA combines a database of billions of compiled computer programs (“binaries”) with a powerful Cloud search engine that can find any invention in microseconds.

EPO President Alison Brimelow explains how BAPA will raise patent quality: “rather than searching hand-written prior art, examiners can now search fast because we licensed Amazon’s One-click technology. You upload the patent application and BAPA shows whether or not an invention is new.”

FFII Chief Engineer B.U. Scotty explains how it works: “we use a Just-In-Time Lisp expression parser that maps the binary object code into reverse polish notation. Using a Beowulf cluster of Babelfish we instantly machine translate the Polish into English, German or French, and finally Lojban. We use a fuzzy text mapping algorithm to compare with the patent claim. If the match score is less than 50%, we consider the invention to be original. If the Babelfish turn purple, we consider it to be inventive. When the computer beeps, that is an indication of a technical effect!”

Scotty explains why BAPA is so complex: “every other possible technique was patented. But they forgot to patent, ‘and do it in Polish!'”.

Brimelow is happy with the FFII-EPO collaboration: “after many years of fighting over whether or not software can be patented, we’re happy to say that we can now work with legal certainty. With our superior BAPA system we can accept or deny patent applications directly over the Web. We take all credit cards!”

Benjamin Henrion, President of the FFII, comments: “I think BAPA is a milestone. This puts the EPO way ahead of any technology the Americans can develop. They have Google, but we have Poland. Thank you, Poland!”

Not everyone is pleased. The European Commission was told that project BAPA was about machine translation of community patents. The Free Patent Association (FPA), which advocates Corel/GNU/Linux and the new GPLv4, still maintains that software patents are a “like land mines to programmers” according to its chairman, Richard Stallman. And Pieter Hintjens, former President of the FFII, complains: “all these people are claiming they invented BAPA! It was my idea, years ago, and but Red Hat patented the idea and sold it to the EPO.”

Industry likes the idea. IBM’s John B. Wise, Community and Patents Sourcerer for EMEA says, “IBM has always thought it was bad to blame overworked patent examiners for poor patents. Now we can blame the machines and lousy software!” IBM recently filed its millionth software patent, on “A system and method for representing discrete numerical values using two opposing bits”.

BAPA has already collected the full contents of the Pirate Bay for its prior art database. The public can submit binaries as prior art on the following website: http://binariesaspriorart.org. Commodore-64 video games are particularly welcome.

Background Information

Software is available in three main forms: as “notes-on-the-back-of-a- manilla-envelope” (NOTBOME) made by non-technical engineers who would not know a black-red binary tree from a banana tree, and as “coffee”, which when drunk by programmers, solidifies into a concrete usable third form called “binary code”. It is well known that binary code holds the essential, computer-verified contents of entire history of software technology. Furthermore, unlike “source code”, which is an encrypted and unreadable form of binary code, binary code is not often protected by copyright, and thus a perfect match for the patent system.

Advanced software factories can turn NOTBOME and coffee directly into binary code, with no intervening source code. This proves that the only valid form of prior art is the pure, computer-validated binary.

Earlier versions of BAPA were called “CAPA” and “NOTBOMEPA”, neither of which produced great results.

Contact

FFII Berlin Office
Malmöer Str. 6
10439 Berlin
Germany
Phone: +49-30-41722597
Fax service: +49-721-509663769
Email: office at ffii.org

About

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in over fifty countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.