Posted by Jim Andrews | Thu Jan 17th 2008 8:28 a.m.

i am ambivalent about software patents. i think they're kind of interesting.
what is patentable? in principle, i mean. gives some
indication of this.

i have been making some apps the last couple of years for my own amusement
that involve the notion of multi 'nibbed' 'pens' or 'brushes'.

was curious to see what had been done already. in software and hardware.

googling around, i came across a patent owned by corel corporation: . This is a curious patent
issued in 2001. It is a patent by Corel, the software company that makes
CorelDraw and CorelPaint, which are like Illustrator and Photoshop,
respectively. Here we have a patent for "A method and system...for rendering
a brush stroke with multiple nibs which are added to a center point
indicated by a cursor, and the position and movement of each nib are
controlled based on variables which can be set by a user."

I used CorelPaint's "image sprayer" many years ago (about 1996-1999) to make
many of the images at including the Pornomorphs and an
earlier piece I did called "The Pen". The patent concerns precisely this
feature of CorelPaint. I don't believe it's a feature of CorelDraw. The
"image sprayer" lets you assign multiple bitmaps to multiple nibs, and
configure the motion of the nibs around the pen.

unrelatedly, i also came across a poetry screensaver patented by ray

now, if you think about it, one could say that the art of generative visuals
consists precisely in creating interesting software pens/brushes. if we
create software where a human interactor or the software program itself or
some combination thereof is 'drawing' on the screen, then we might as well
say that what's doing the drawing is a pen/brush of some kind, mightn't we?

and that is actually a useful programming notion. the basic abstract
entities in generative visual programming are surely the 'canvas', the
'brush/pen', and the 'paint', whether that consists of color or images or
animations or whatever. canvas, brush/pen, and paint are the three basic
abstractions of generative visual art programming, aren't they?

so of course they are not patentable. they are abstract ideas. abstract
ideas are not patentable.

good thing!

otherwise plato could have patented ur.

i would patent the letter the number 1.

i would patent love.

you want it i got it baby. sewn up.

but i digress.

given that the pen/brush is a basic abstraction/entity of visual
programming, it isn't patentable. what is?

well, quite a particular type of software pen.

not simply one with multiple nibs. that's too obvious.

we see in the patent the level of particularity required to fulfill the
requirements of patent law.

and, if you think about it, that is enough to also make patents not
dangerous to original minds.

patents are only a threat to dullards.

because they are quite particular. they're not general enough to be much of
a concern to inquiring, original minds.

so don't worry too much about them.

nor are patents about keeping secrets. at least after the patent is

i haven't applied for any, but i think it's wrong-headed to write them off
as counter-productive. they are there to help original thinkers make
something of their ideas. how often does that happen? not near enough.

Your Reply