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 A Question of Patents: Prime Numbers

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TheSleepingDragon

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PostSubject: A Question of Patents: Prime Numbers   7/2/2010, 00:33

It turns out that a mathematician has patented two prime numbers. This is not for personal gain, but in order to show the flaws that exist in the United States patent law system.

Consider the patenting of two prime numbers. Does this patent apply to operations applied to those prime numbers? If that's the case, since I can easily derive the number 1 from the numbers doesn't that mean that the patent applies to the number 1? And since the number 1 is connected to all other numbers doesn't that mean that he effectively has patented all numbers in existence?

The patenting of a natural item, seems to me to be quite ridiculous, especially of mathematics. Can you imagine the sheer amount of royalties accrued every second by someone simply teaching their children how to count?

At any rate, he does not use them for personal gain and has no interest in garnering anything than attention for his cause with the patents. Happily enough.

What do you think? Should people be able to patent numbers, mathematical concepts, and/or algorithms?
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PostSubject: Re: A Question of Patents: Prime Numbers   7/2/2010, 01:14

This is interesting. Upon the first portion of your article being read I thought "no, he should not be allowed to patent numbers. Only things that men and women discover or create should be patented." Then at the end I realized, someone has to discover algorythms for example- but math isn't something that was created by human minds. Perhaps the words we use for it are, but I'm of the opinion that though it would not be expressed without sentience the principles exist in the natural world, i.e. they are already there. Ergo for anyone to patent mathematical concepts such as numbers, algorithmic, etc. is tantamount to someone patenting a fruit they discovered. Though, I do believe due credit should be shared, such as how we document who discoveries new species or naming theories after people.

I'm all for giving credit where credit is due, we are entitled to the fruits of our work and recognition for our work. However, though we can expect recognition for discovering something no one had before, we cannot claim ownership over something we did not create.
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TheSleepingDragon

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PostSubject: Re: A Question of Patents: Prime Numbers   7/2/2010, 01:19

Here we come to the argument of the Platonists versus the Non-Platonists.

I, personally, am strongly in the Platonist camp. But both sides are very strong on the philosophical debate as to whether or not mathematics is created or discovered.
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