M$ to license FAT

John Macdonald jmm-TU2q2He6PgRlD5gtYiU6kEEOCMrvLtNR at public.gmane.org
Mon Dec 8 21:01:13 UTC 2003

On Mon, Dec 08, 2003 at 01:02:17PM -0500, Robert Brockway wrote:
> On Mon, 8 Dec 2003, John Macdonald wrote:
> > Does anyone have any details of exactly what is
> > patented and when the patent(s) expire?
> Patents expire when Mickey Mouse is no longer profitable, or is that
> copyrights, I can't remember.

That's copyright - control of making a copy of a work
of art.

Patents cover an idea, not just a particular work;
they last for 20 years or so.  (I think it's 19 years,
with some variation in the details if there is a long
time between when the patent gets filed and when it
is approved.)  The patent trades a monopoly on the
idea against full public disclosure of the details of
the idea so that once the patent expires, the public
can make full use of the knowledge.

One example in the computer industry is the RSA
encryption algorithm.  It was patented - the patent
expired in 2000. The underlying concept for public
key encryption had also been patented, but that more
basic patent expired even earlier.
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