Sunday, January 22, 2017

The theme of independent invention, and whether the same thing was invented

The theme of "who invented what" is explored in discussion from Benzmüller to Gödel to Leibniz to Turing.

Back in October 2013, ABC News ran a story titled Computer Scientists 'Prove' God Exists , which included the text

That is where Christoph Benzmüller of Berlin's Free University and his colleague, Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo of the Technical University in Vienna, come in. Using an ordinary MacBook computer, they have shown that Gödel's proof was correct -- at least on a mathematical level -- by way of higher modal logic. Their initial submission on the research article server is called "Formalization, Mechanization and Automation of Gödel's Proof of God's Existence."

The story got a bit of a push on 22 January 2017 [ ]

The earlier proof by Gödel was related to even earlier assertions by Leibniz. As we know in the IP game, the Newton/Leibniz "concurrent invention" of calculus arises [Prioritätsstreit ].

For example, Samson Vermont, Independent Invention As A Defense To Patent Infringement, 90 JPTOS 268 (2008)

This type of neck-and-neck finish is common. Researchers frequently converge on the same idea at roughly the same time. n10 Famous examples include the light bulb (Edison and Swann), the telephone (Bell and Gray), the integrated circuit (Kilby and Noyce), calculus (Newton and Leibniz), the periodic table (Mendeleyev and Meyer), the telegraph (Morse, Henry, and Cooke and Wheatstone), the telescope (Hans Lippershey, Drebbel, Fontana, Jansen, Metius, and Galileo--each claiming they invented it in 1608 or 1609), n11 and certain facets of the theory of relativity (Einstein and Poincare). n12 Some historians and philosophers of science believe convergence is the rule rather than the exception.

One can argue whether Edison (who taught high resistance filaments) arrived at the "same idea" as Swann.

Mark Lemley cites to Vermont in SHOULD PATENT INFRINGEMENT REQUIRE PROOF OF COPYING?, 105 Mich. L. Rev. 1525 :

To begin, the stakes are quite high. While we tend to glorify the individual inventor who makes a significant leap forward, most of the important inventions in U.S. history were made independently by multiple inventors, or at least were built on a solid base of prior work by others. Vermont identifies a number of such simultaneous inventions, including the light bulb, the telephone, the telegraph, the telescope, and the integrated circuit. n12 We might reasonably add to his list the steamboat, which was patented by different inventors in different states; n13 the airplane, which was first patented by the Wrights but independently developed and significantly improved upon by Glenn Curtis and others; n14 the laser, which was the subject of patent applications by two different groups; n15 and polypropylene, which was the subject of a 30-year interference between competing inventors. n16 The fact that so many important advances in technology involved independent invention by multiple parties underscores the significance of Vermont's argument. But it also means that if Vermont is wrong, and an independent invention defense would significantly reduce the incentives to innovate, the potential losses for society are substantial.

See also IPBiz on Lemley's myth of the sole inventor, which included Lemley saying -- And we should be denying patents on the vast majority of the most important inventions, since most seem to involve near-simultaneous invention. --

Lemley on the myth of the solo inventor

More on the Myth of the Solo Inventor

**Also on Leibniz by Charles M. Yablon, FAILED LAWYERS AND THE SOURCES OF SATIRE, 15 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 775

Voltaire's greatest work, Candide, takes aim at one of the fattest satirical targets ever presented, the astounding conclusion by the great German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz that ours is the best of all possible worlds. This conclusion was logically derived from careful contemplation of the nature of existence, which led him to an understanding of the nature of God's attributes and perfection. See GOTTFRIED WILHELM VON LEIBNIZ, Monadology, in MONADOLOGY AND OTHER PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS 148, 162-63 (Paul & Anne Martin Schrecker trans., Macmillan 1988) (1692). Leibniz, who also invented calculus, was undoubtedly the most brilliant stupid person who ever lived. Voltaire does not so much refute the argument as present it in stupefied amazement, as he piles misfortune after misfortune on Candide and the other innocent but rather dim protagonists of his story. He also manages to include numerous contemporary illustrations of intolerance, greed, and injustice among a wide variety of nations and cultures. God does not come off too well either.

Voltaire was no fan of Leibniz. At the time of the initial dispute over the invention of calculus, Newton had more proponents. The work of Leibniz was more directed to differential calculus and Newton more concerned with integration.

Other work of Leibniz pre-saged much work of Alan Turing, which is curiously cited in Ten Law Professors’ Brief in Trading Technologies v. CQG, submitted by Adam Mossoff, which includes:

“We have held that such
programming creates a new machine, because a general purpose computer in
effect becomes a special purpose computer once it is programmed to
perform particular functions pursuant to instructions from program
software.” In re Alappat, 33 F.3d 1526, 1545 (Fed. Cir. 1994) (en banc).

This statement is not merely a legal conclusion; it is technological
It is a consequence of the foundational work in computer science in
the 1930s by Alan Turing, who proved that a general-purpose computer
(what he called a “Universal Turing Machine”) executing a software
program can perform the same operations of any specific hardware designed
and built for that same purpose.

Perhaps the foundational work was that of Leibniz.

** Bell's invention also arises in the brief:

The Supreme Court expressly affirmed Claim 5 as patentable subject
matter under the predecessor statute to § 101 in Dolbear v. Am. Bell Tel. Co.,
126 U.S. 1 (1888). Applying Appellant’s version of Mayo-Alice test
invalidates this claim. Under Mayo step one, the claim is directed to
“transmitting vocal or other sounds” by “electrical undulations” (electric
current) which is an abstract idea (transmitting sounds) applied to a natural
phenomenon (electricity). Under step two, the claim does not recite anything
that was not conventional, because telegraphic transmission and electrical
circuits had been long known in the art. See CHRISTOPHER BEAUCHAMP,
CHANGED AMERICA 58-85 (2014) (recounting many prior and existing uses
of electrical currents in telegraphic communication before Bell’s invention).

The conclusion of the brief:

Amici urge this Court to affirm the district court’s decision that
Appellee’s claims directed to the use of a GUI are patentable subject matter
under § 101.


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