|                                                     |
         |       PROGRAMMING FREEDOM  -  online edition        |
         |                                                     |
         |             June 1993  -==-  Number 8               |
         |                                                     |
         |           The Electronic Newsletter of              |
         |        The League for Programming Freedom           |
         | 1 Kendall Sq #143, POBox #9171, Cambridge MA 02139  |
	 |          Send email to: lpf@uunet.uu.net            |
         |        Voicemail phone number: 617-621-7084         |  
         |     [Notice that the phone number has changed!]     |
         |   Leave your message and we'll return your call.    |
         |  Editor: Spike R. MacPhee (spiker@prep.ai.mit.edu)  |
         |           Managing Editor: Gordon Schantz           |
         |           Layout/Design: Susan Hofstader            |
         |     Reproduction of Programming Freedom via all     |
         |            electronic media is encouraged.          |
         |     To reproduce an individual signed article       |
         |       please contact the author for permission.     |


Editor's Note, by Gordon Schantz.

What Can The Software Patent Institute Accomplish? - League for
Programming Freedom/14 April 1993

Oracle Corporation's Statement on Software Patent Policy    

Volunteer of Note: Noah Friedman, by Christian D. Hofstader

Ask The League...: How about a List of Patents Expiring Soon?

LPF Boutique - Items and info available from the LPF

Are Software Patents Patently Wrong? A Personal Perspective,
by Vern Blanchard 

LPF News Notes     

Call for articles

			    Editor's Note

The stories in this, the eighth edition of Programming Freedom,
concentrate on the issue of software patents.  While this does indeed
seem to be our favorite subject, we would be very happy if the whole
matter could be resolved in a manner beneficial to the programming
community so we could get on with our lives.  Unfortunately, this has
not yet happened...

What we have in store for you within PF #8 includes a paper discussing
the Software Patent Institute (SPI), an organization whose motives are
ostensibly to stem the flow of patents for which prior art exists.  On
further examination, however, the group's reasons for existence appear
to be far less altruistic. The SPI has been receiving a good deal of
media attention lately, and we feel that a analysis of the Institute's
possible effect on the programming community is in order.

In addition, we have a statement from the Oracle Corporation conveying
their policy on patents as they apply to software.  Finding that we
are in agreement with and are receiving support from a company of this
magnitude is a major step for the League.

A new feature being introduced is the Volunteer of Note column which
will spotlight the outstanding work being done by those people who
have been donating their time to the League over the past years.
At this time, I would also like to welcome our new members to this
newsletter and let it be known that you can receive copies of previous
Programming Freedoms via email by contacting Noah at lpf@uunet.uu.net.
Hard copies of particular issues may not be available, but if they are
required, contact us and we'll see what we can do.

Of course, if you have written an article or have any information
which you feel would be appropriate to this forum, forward it to Spike
at lpf@uunet.uu.net.  We will be happy to consider it for a future
issue.  Enjoy...

	  What Can The Software Patent Institute Accomplish?
	   by League for Programming Freedom/14 April 1993

Patents which are granted for software algorithms are hazardous
commodities which often cause unwarranted problems for people who want
to develop software, and in some cases prohibit writing a program.
Due to their relative inexperience in the field of software
engineering, the Patent Office will occasionally make mistakes and
issue a patent covering procedures which would be considered common
knowledge (or at least obvious) by one schooled in programming.  In
some cases, these mistakes can be proved based on previously published
works.  Unfortunately, this can not be said of all cases.

The Software Patent Institute is a new organization that aims to
produce a database of "prior art" -- published and known software
ideas -- to make it easier for the Patent Office and others to
ascertain if a software technique or feature is already known and thus
supposedly unpatentable.

The SPI cannot prevent all patents which harm the software field.  It
can only prevent the situation addressed above -- overlooking prior
art whose publication can be proved.  Thus, the SPI can address only a
fraction of the software patents that cause trouble for programmers.
There are other software patents which do not result from errors of
the system, but are still disadvantageous to software development. 
How much trouble a software patent causes is independent of whether it
violates the patent system's own rules.  The sheer number of software
patents causes trouble regardless of their details.

Some software patents cover matters trivial enough that a description
of the idea would be rejected by any professional technical journal. 
For example, patent number 5,049,881, issued in 1991, covers modifying
the way a data compression program uses a hash table to look up the
strings that have assigned encodings: specifically, when it has found
the hash bucket for a string being looked up, it considers only the
first string in the bucket as a possible match, rather than all of
them.  Patent number 5,140,321, issued in 1992, covers checking just
the first N strings in the hash bucket as possible matches.  (Both of
these modifications apply to a particular data compression algorithm,
and similar modifications could probably be patented for any other

To ask whether those particular variations were published before, is
to miss the point -- it is a mistake for patent system decisions to
depend on such questions.  But those questions are the only ones that
the SPI can help answer.

No matter how well the published prior art is known, it cannot include
all variations, and under current policy, many of these can be
patented.  What's more, you cannot effectively challenge decisions
about obviousness in court, because the courts presume that the Patent
Office has exercised good judgment in deciding what is obvious.
But if one supposes that the Patent Office learns to judge obviousness
better, how much good can the SPI do?  Even if this prevents a sizable
fraction of future software patents, that will not appreciably reduce
the problem that software patents cause for programmers.

Even cutting the number of software patents in half (which would be
great success for the SPI!) will not cut the problem in half.  This is
because any large software system is likely to infringe on a large
number of patents -- easily dozens.  Even if half of all new patents
were rejected, the patents which have been granted already in
conjunction with the fifty percent of newly approved ones could still
create prohibitive problems.

There is no official figure for the number of software patents we have
today, but 5000 or 6000 is a likely estimate given past numbers and
trends.  (To find them all would be a mammoth task.)  At the beginning
of 1992 there were 9000 pending patent applications in a category
which contains many software patents, which suggests there will be
many more software patents in the future.  To make software
development a safe activity again, we must do more than cut the number
of patents in half.  Eliminating 90% of the software patents that
exist today would just reach the level where further reduction starts
to help matters.  (See the LPF's position paper, "Against Software
Patents," for a more detailed explanation of why software patents in
general, even those that are not trivial, cause mainly trouble.)
While the SPI may prevent some software patents from being issued,
ironically it may also make some patents more dangerous by helping the
patent applicant design the patent to withstand legal challenges. Even
the holders of existing patents can use this information to rewrite
the patents and make them harder to overturn.  For more information,
refer to the companion paper, "What Should You Do With Prior Art?"
The SPI is supported by large companies such as IBM, Apple and DEC
that can expect to have many software patents, and by patent law
firms.  It is not likely these sponsors would support the SPI if they
expected it to prevent most software patents.

The interface proposed for the SPI's database will resemble those of
Westlaw and Lexis, and so it can safely be assumed that its target
user group would be lawyers, not software developers.  The SPI plans
to raise revenue by charging for access to the database, which
suggests that in practice it would be available primarily to larger

The operation of the SPI will not alter the overall software patent
problem.  So wish the SPI good luck in preventing a few absurd
software patents, but don't spend your time on the SPI.  Instead,
spend it telling our lawmakers that software patents are harmful and
should be abolished.

       Oracle Corporation's Statement on Software Patent Policy

[ A large number of industry-leading companies have expressed their
agreement with the LPF's stance on software patents.  One such company
is the Oracle Corporation, which has forwarded a statement to us
detailing its views on the issue, which follows.  We applaud their
position and hope that as the effects of software patents becomes more
evident, more companies will follow suit.  -- ed.]


Oracle Corporation opposes the patentability of software.  The Company
believes that existing copyright law and available trade secret
protections, as opposed to patent law, are better suited to protecting
computer software developments.

Patent law provides to inventors an exclusive right to new technology
in return for publication of the technology. This is not appropriate
for industries such as software development in which innovations occur
rapidly, can be made without a substantial capital investment, and
tend to be creative combinations of previously-known techniques.  Even
if patent law were appropriate for protection of software, due to the
large volume of recently-granted software patents and the rising
number of new applications, the current patent process would continue
to be troublesome for the software industry. Software patent
examinations are hindered by the limited capability of searching prior
art, by the turnover rate among examiners in the Patent and Trademark
Office, and by the confusion surrounding novelty and innovation in the
software arena.  The problem is exacerbated by varying international
patent laws, which both raise the cost and confuse the issue of patent

Unfortunately, as a defensive strategy, Oracle has been forced to
protect itself by selectively applying for patents which will present
the best opportunities for cross-licensing between Oracle and other
companies who may allege patent infringement.

The policy rationale for patent protection in many industries is
understandable.  In exchange for making an invention available to the
public, inventors are rewarded with a seventeen-year monopoly giving
them exclusive right to the new technology.  In such cases, this
opportunity to monopolize the commercial application of the invention
is justified as an appropriate reward given the capital resources
dedicated by the inventor to the invention, including time and money
spent in innovation, production, distribution, etc.

This policy, however, does not fit well with the software industry.
Unlike many manufacturing-intensive industries, the development of
software requires a minimum of capital investment.  Producing and
distributing a product is simpler, faster, and less expensive in the
software industry than in manufacturing sectors.  New developments
influential to the software industry frequently emanate from
individuals and small companies that lack substantial resources.
Software varies from manufacturing in another key aspect.  The
engineering and mechanical inventions for which patent protection was
devised are often characterized by large "building block" inventions
that can revolutionize a given mechanical process.  Software,
especially a complex program, seldom includes substantial leaps in
technology, but rather consists of adept combinations of many ideas.
Whether a software program is a good one does not generally depend as
much on the newness of a specific technique, but instead depends on
the unique combination of known algorithms and methods.  Patents
should not protect such methods of innovation.

The U.S. software industry has evolved to a multi-billion dollar
industry that leads the world in productivity, and accounts for
substantial portion of U.S. GNP.  The software industry has advanced
the efficiency of other industries through the proliferation of
computing and computer-controlled processes.  All of these gains have
come prior to the application of the patent process to software, and
consequently without patent protection for software.  There is no
justification for a policy that would not only drain capital resources
(which are better spent on software development) into patent
applications and other legal fees, and also actually serve to reduce
innovation by limiting the availability of previously-developed

In sixteen years, Oracle Corporation has grown from a start-up company
with a handful of employees to the world's third-largest independent
software producer employing 8,000 people.  Oracle filed its first
patent application in November 1991, not because it felt that its
software was suddenly worthy of patent protection; it filed that
application because of concerns that other inventors, afforded patent
protection by a flawed patent system, might find themselves in a
position to seriously weaken the Company's competitive edge by
alleging patent infringement.  Even if Oracle had developed a certain
invention first and could produce the appropriate prior art to prove
its case, thousands of dollars in attorneys fees and other expenses
would be spent in defense of its rightfully-owned technology.  Oracle
consequently believes that it must have a patent portfolio with which
to respond to potential aggressors, so as to settle with them by
cross-licensing to avoid litigation.  Oracle is forced to channel a
significant portion of its financial resources into patent protection
of its assets, rather than using those resources in further innovating
and expanding its computer software products.

Copyright protection for computer software is sufficient to preserve
the rights of software developers, who rely on the unique combination
of algorithms and techniques to produce successful software programs.
Copyright law, including relief from those who copy or distribute
copyrighted works without permission, in combination with careful
handling taken to preserve trade secrets, has afforded adequate
protection to software developers against the losses they may
encounter from the wrongful use of their software.  Compared to
adequate copyright and trade secret protections, patent protection is
excessively broad and enormously expensive.

Oracle has recommended that patent protection not be provided for
computer software or computer software algorithms, for the reasons
described above.

If software continues to be protected by patent law, however, we
recommend the changes described in the following paragraphs. These
recommendations in no way endorse the use of patents for protecting
software, but rather serve to assuage the existing problems if patents
must ultimately affect software development.

Patent law should be consistent throughout the world and, if it is to
be applicable to software, should extend for much shorter periods of
protection than exist now, unified prior art searching capabilities,
equal standards of novelty, the elimination of patent rules that allow
"patent flooding," and identical standards for prior use restrictions
(bar dates).

The evolution of software moves very quickly.  The term of software
protection should be cut back accordingly, from the current 17 years
from grant date to three years from application date (the application
period must be drastically reduced).  A balance of fifty years
protection for direct copying of code would continue to be provided by
copyright law. If the patent system is to remain an entrenched part of
the software industry, then the following changes need to be made:

- The prior art capabilities of PTO records must be vastly improved to
confirm effectively the novelty and non-obviousness of software patent
that is the subject of applications.  New classifications, as well as
an effort to record the current state of prior art would be necessary.

- Because of the unusual speed with which software innovations are
incorporated into products, the PTO's patent review process must be
made much more efficient so that it takes no more than six months from
application to registration.  In the software industry, if a patent
application takes two years to process, the patented "invention" is
often either widely used or obsolete by the time the registration is

- Examiners skilled in computer science and software programming must
be trained on the nature of software inventions, and the state of
existing art.  Qualified examiners must be hired and retained by the
PTO at much higher rates than they are today.  Compensation rates
equal to those provided by industry are essential to recruit qualified

- The PTO, in conjunction with industry, must establish additional
committees to clearly delineate the standards of novelty and
non-obviousness that will be required for software inventions to
receive patents.

		   Volunteer of Note: Noah Friedman
		      by Christian D. Hofstader

Virtually all of the LPF's activities are done by volunteers.  Our
trade show booths are organized and staffed by volunteers, this
newsletter is written and edited by volunteers, all of our artwork has
been done by volunteers, etc.  This organization would not survive
without our volunteers. In this and future columns, I will be
featuring particular members who have done exemplary work for the

I want to note that when we select a person for this column it is not
done with any intention of slighting another volunteer. There are no
politics in this decision and I hope that if you feel that you or
someone you know should be noted herein that you will make me aware of
the person and their activities, the only people excluded are LPF
officers, directors and paid staff.

For the first of these columns I have selected Noah Friedman, LPF
super-volunteer, to be thusly noted.

Noah has taken on the responsibility of handling almost all of the
on-line issues that the LPF encounters.  He is the one who reads and
responds to all of the activity on lpf@uunet.uu.net and
league@prep.ai.mit.edu. This involves everything from sending out
information to people who request it to updating our database with
change of address information.

Noah is responsible for maintaining all of the LPF's e-mail lists and
for ensuring that no one can respond to "all members," making your
mailbox less full of things that you might not be interested in
reading. He is also in charge of telling the rest of us why e-mail
bounced, making sure that our network accounts are in order, fixing
whatever is broken when we run into mailer problems and lots and lots

All of these activities add up to a lot of hours and a lot of hard
work. Without the efforts of Noah Friedman the LPF would be far less
efficient in our electronic communications and in the maintenance of
our on-line database. So when you see a message to
"lpf-all-members..." that was sent by friedman@gnu.ai.mit.edu you now
know who he is and what he does.

Noah, the LPF officially thanks you for all of the work that you put
in and hopes that you can continue for a long time to come.

	Ask The League...Subject: Patents expiring soon list?

Q: How about a list of significant patents from the late 70's that
will be expiring in the next few years?  Specifically, when do the
important arithmetic coding and LZ78 patents expire? 
--Chris Caputo (ccaputo@microsoft.com) 

A: The League has an on-line list of software patents; since this list
is maintained in numerical order (actually, the list has two ordered
parts, one for patents of which the LPF owns a copy and one for other
patents), you can just look at the patents which were granted around
17 years ago.  It is a partial list.  If you know of patents that I
haven't included, or if you have more information about any of these,
I would appreciate hearing about it.  Except where otherwise noted,
the patents are US patents.

The RSA patent, by the way, did not issue until 1983, though it was
filed in 1977.  That means it is valid until 2000.
--Michael Ernst

[The Boutique section below contains information on how one can obtain
the list.]

	  LPF Boutique: Materials Available from the League

Please send orders to: League for Programming Freedom, One Kendall
Square #143/PO Box 9171, Cambridge MA 02139. Please send check or
money order (US funds only)for full amount including shipping charges.
All shipping charges listed are for US domestic mail; for
international mail, please add $2/item ground or send email
(lpf@uunet.uu.net) to get air rates.

Buttons: The famous "fanged apple" buttons with the slogan "Keep your
Lawyers Off My Computer" are available by mail for $6/three, $2 each
additional, domestic shipping included. 

Stickers: We also have stickers showing Liberty Empowering the
Programmer, with the League's name and address. Price $5 for 10
stickers; domestic shipping included. Post stickers at eye level and
separated from other posted articles, to make them easy to see.  The
stickers are not made to survive rain. 

Liberty Postcards: We also have postcards showing Liberty Empowering
the Programmer, with the League's name and address. Same price as

Large Liberty Posters: We have a few posters with the same image that
is on the stickers, approximately 2.5 ft by 1.5 ft.  They are $4 each
and $4 total shipping and handling in the US for the first one to four
posters, and $2 shipping/handling for each additional two.  We also
have a Postscript file of the Liberty image available at the FTP sites
under the name: /pub/lpf/articles/liberty.ps.Z for you to download;
it's a 100k file. 

Coffee Mugs: Our coffee mugs have the Fanged Apple design in full
color on one side and "League for Programming Freedom" on the other. 
They hold twelve ounces and are microwave safe.  Price $15, plus $4.00
shipping and handling. 

T-Shirts: All T-shirts have Liberty and "League for Programming
Freedom" on the front. New shipment has "Innovate, Don't Litigate" on
the back; Sizes M,L,XL are available in Yellow or Light Blue; L, XL
now available in Natural (like Ecru, except it has little brown nubby
spots--remember, it s not a bug, it s a feature--very eco-chic!)  We
also have two with  "You ll Pay For This" (with XOR cursor) in
Yellow/Medium. Price $10, plus $3/shirt for shipping and handling.
Please specify size and color; also, note alternate color in case we
are out of first choice. 

Position Papers and Memberships:  We will send anyone a copy of the
League position papers.  If you want other copies to hand out at an
event, we'll send you as many as you need.  Please discuss your plans
with us.  One-year memberships are $42 for professionals, $10.50 for
students, and $21 for others. The dues are $100 for an institution
with up to three employees, $250 for an institution with four to nine
employees, and $500 for an institution with ten or more employees. For
$5000, an institution can be a sponsor rather than a member. 

League Papers On-line:  You can retrieve LPF written materials in
TeXinfo format by anonymous ftp from prep.ai.mit.edu in the directory
/pub/lpf.  These include the position papers, all back issues of our
newsletter Programming Freedom membership form, handouts, friends of
the court briefs, and articles about the LPF's issues of concern. In
addition to the above, Joe Wells has PostScript, DVI, plain text, and
Info format versions of the papers "Against User Interface Copyright"
(look-and-feel) and "Against Software Patents" (patents) available for
FTP from the location: cs.bu.edu:pub/jbw/lpf/ 

League Video Cassettes:  We have a four-hour video tape of two of
Richard Stallman's speeches for the LPF.  If you'd like to give LPF
speeches, we can send you a copy of this tape to give you an example
to learn from.  If you'd like copies for another purpose, we can send
them for $20 each (includes $4 shipping and handling.)  They are now
available in VHS/NTSC format only.

(The following is the story of one of our members who has been
fighting, almost single-handedly, a patent-infringement suit based on
a demonstrably absurd patent.  His story illustrates how even a weak
patent can be used as a legal weapon to stifle competition through
legal intimidation.)

	       A Personal Perspective by Vern Blanchard

There is a very disturbing trend in the software industry --software
patents.  For those of you unfamiliar with patents and copyrights,
basically a patent gives you EXCLUSIVE rights (read MONOPOLY) to any
patented invention. Patents give you exclusive rights to an idea.
Copyright, on the other hand, protects the EXPRESSION of an idea.  It
is clear that software protection should, and usually does, fall under
the copyright laws.  You are protected against anyone copying your

Unfortunately, some lawyers have been able to slip what is essentially
computer software by the patent examiners and obtain patents for
software!  If this continues, it will have ominous effects on the
software industry.

I am going to detail specifics of two patents that were granted in
1984 and 1986 which should alarm you. The holder of these patents
believes they specifically patent against ANY computerized bingo game,
or bingo game-type program.  You read it right, the holder believes he

A company named Fortunet obtained those patents, whose specifications
show hand-held bingo devices. The problem is that these patents make
very broad claims. (A claim is that part of the patent which details
what the invention is, and therefore the extent of the patent). The
claims read "data input means", "data output means", "data processing
means", and various other "means" which essentially describe any
ordinary PC, calculator and even some watches!  The balance of the
claims recite various "comparison means" which play the game of bingo.

Since receiving the patent, Fortunet has filed suit, or threatened to
file suit, against any competitor who has tried to market a similar
product. This has included hand-held bingo game devices, networked
computer games, computer pull tabs (a game that is similar to lottery
scratch off tickets--which wasn't even contemplated by the original
patent), and most importantly to me, a generic computer network which
happens to play bingo, which brings me to my story.

A couple of years ago, I was developing a real estate property
management program for a group of managers and investors. Since I had
once owned a management company, I had the inside track on what would
be a successful product. In early 1991 a bingo hall manager was
referred to me by one of my clients. We met and he detailed for me the
bingo industry, and the opportunity for someone to enter the
electronic bingo business.  Although the property management program
was 75% complete and would yield $75-100,000 in sales the first year
and $30,000 per year in service contracts, the electronic bingo market
had the potential for my company to be a million-dollar company within
a couple of years! 

I've always been an entrepreneur.  There was substantial risk in
deciding to develop a bingo program - no customers as yet, no pay for
the development time, no guarantees of success, etc. I just knew I
could program (of course my ego said I could do a much better job than
any one else could ) This was a major decision in my life. I had
just come off a divorce and nasty custody battle (which I won!), my
grandmother's death, my father's fight and eventual loss to cancer.
It took about four months to get a prototype completed. I had to learn
the game of bingo, which is not the simple five-in-a-row. The gaming
version of bingo is much more complex. I talked to bingo degenerates
and asked them what they would like to see in a computerized bingo
program.  All in all, I did the homework necessary to develop a top
notch product. (incidentally -- all this was done with me getting NO
PAYCHECK! I lived on borrowed money.)

Fast forward to April 1992. We had fully tested, improved, and sold
the system to the Isleta Bingo Palace in Albuquerque, NM. We finally
had a product that was the best on the market. We had better graphics,
performance, features, ease of use, etc. The hall manager had seen
Fortunet's system and said we were far superior. Life was good! 

Winter of 1992 brought a patent suit.  We were charged with infringing
on two of Fortunet's patents.  Here is a good time to describe the AMS
Video Bingo System.  I wrote the system using Borland C++ for DOS. 
The caller uses a clone 486 PC ISA Bus, standard VGA, IDE hard disk,
Artisoft Lantastic network, and a touch screen. The players use clone
386's, standard VGA, Artisoft Lantastic network and light pens.  All
equipment is standard vanilla PC. We even assembled one unit from
CompUSA. How generic can you get?

You are all probably saying that I have no problem.  There couldn't
possibly be any patent infringement.  I believe you.  The problem is
our opinion doesn't count.  Only the lady in the black robe's opinion
means anything. (Note:  while I am about to gripe in a major way about
the outcome so far, I don't blame the judge personally. I sat in her
court for some time. Most of her cases are federal drug cases.  She
probably hasn't ever had a patent case, much less an intellectual
property patent case.  The patent office, which is supposed to have
expertise, erroneously granted the patent.)

Fortunet moved for a preliminary injunction restraining me from
selling, servicing, etc. any AMS Video Bingo Systems.  Thanks to the
League For Programming Freedom, we found PERFECT prior art. (If one
can show that the invention was used by another prior to the filing of
the patent application, the patent is invalid) Marshall Midden and
Steve Peltz found a networked bingo game played on the Plato system in
the 1970's.  The judge, who has little technical experience, granted
the motion because she believed that a time-sharing system playing
bingo is substantially different than a networked system playing
bingo. I am now out of business.  The problem with fighting software
patents is that it is EXPENSIVE!  Fortunately for me, I went to law
school and was able to do the bulk of the leg work. My attorney is
working with me, and the experts we have been using have let me slide
for the time being (Thanks Nick!)  Even so, I am into this lawsuit
with all my savings and most of my lines of credit!  (The other side
has spent over $150,000 so far) 

By the way, I understand that Fortunet was counting on me not being
able to fund the lawsuit.  They  have similarly intimidated other
companies out of the business because the cost of the suit.  Sometimes
you just have to stand up for what is right, regardless of the cost
(OK, you're ALWAYS supposed to stand up for what is right)  The cost
of litigation is giving companies like Fortunet illegal monopolies. It
just isn't right.

The next step in my suit is that we have asked the judge to reconsider
her decision granting the injunction. The LPF filed an amicus ("friend
of the court") brief on my behalf.  She was persuaded enough that she
has ordered a full evidentiary hearing on June 10.  She has
conflicting "expert" opinions. Fortunet has an expert  who has stated
some outrageous opinions, but has an impressive five-page resume. We
have presented experts as well. The hearing will determine who she is
going to believe.

 I am still out of business though.
How can you help?  When LPF puts out requests for prior art, take the
time to respond.  It's easy to let things slide when you have a good
job.  But what if some absurd patent puts your company out of
business?  (If you think that can't happen, I suggest to you that you
are violating at least three patents I know of -- backing store, XOR,
and scrolling windows) You can help me, and others who are in patent
fights, by joining in any amicus briefs the LPF submits on the victims
behalf. (Call or email me if you are moved to help me) Those of you
who are already in software patent litigation, you are welcome to call
me. I have become a reluctant "expert" on the subject.
I presume you have all read the LPF's "Against Software Patents." I
also urge you to read the amicus brief the LPF filed on my behalf in
my case. Imagine if a patent had been granted to cover "word
processing means."  There could be only one word processor -- a legal
monopoly granted by the government. Regardless of your favorite
spreadsheet, everyone would now have to use VisiCalc instead. You get
the idea. Software patents are bad.

(Vern's June 10 hearing ended with the judge saying she would render a
decision in  about three weeks. If you want to know what happened,
call or send email to Vern (numbers below.)

Vern Blanchard, American Multi-Systems, 539 Steffy Road, Ramona, CA
92065. Phones: (619) 789-2442 (Voice + Fax); (800) 756-0816 (Voice
email: 70760.434@CompuServe.com



The League has new telephone numbers: (617) 621-7084/voice, (617) 
577-1209/fax..  The voice number is answered by an answering service
during the day and voice mail at night.  If you are sending us a fax,
please be sure to address it clearly to the League for Programming
Freedom, otherwise we won't get it (this is a shared fax number).

POSITION AVAILABLE:  The LPF is looking for a new part-time
administrative staff person to replace Susan Hofstader, who will be
starting law school this fall (don't worry, she's not into
intellectual property...).  Members (and interested nonmembers) in the
Cambridge area who can devote 10-20 hours per week to taking care of
the League's day-to-day administrative matters are invited to apply.  
Duties include: picking up the mail at One Kendall, entering updates
to membership file, depositing checks for LPF, distributing mail to
League officers, answering routine requests for information,
responsibility for LPF Boutique items including ordering stock,
mailing orders, packing boxes for trade shows, newsletter layout,
responsibility for ordering and picking up printing of position
papers, newsletters, postcards, stickers, and other printed matter.

Requirements: In addition to time, applicant should have computer with
modem (we can open an internet account for you if you don't have one). 
Should have access to a vehicle on an occasional basis for picking up
T-shirts, printing jobs.  Important qualities: organization, ability
to work with little or no supervision, honesty, dedication,
responsibility.  Experience: Secretarial /Clerical preferred;
Pagemaker experience a plus.  

Pay is $10/hour on a consulting basis (i.e., activist wages).  You
will also have the satisfaction of knowing you are the backbone of
League operations and will have the undying gratitude of the Board and
membership for your good work.

You can apply by email or by sending a letter and brief resume
(emphasis on clerical experience) to the LPF address, ATTN: Chris
			  Call for articles

We invite you to submit anything you think may be of interest to the
membership--opinion, case studies, current events,
absurd-patent-examples and other relevant humor, etc.  Email
submissions can be sent to lpf@uunet.uu.net, attn: Programming
Freedom.  If we receive it by the deadline and our editors deem it
worthy, you may see in one one of our upcoming issues:

Next issue (note change)

July 9    draft articles due
August 11 newsletter issue 9 mailed