Donald Knuth on Software Patents (and Microsoft to patent emoticons)

According to Groklaw, Microsoft has filed for a patent on the smiley face. Yes, the emoticon. I have no word for commenting this, I let Donald Knuth, author of “The Art of Programming, doing it:
My personal opinion is that algorithms are like mathematics, i.e. inherently non-patentable. It worries me that most patents are about simple ideas that I would expect my students to develop them as part of their homework. Sometimes there are exceptions, e.g. something as refined as the inner point method of linear programming, where one can really talk about a significant discovery. Yet for me that is still mathematics.
I come from a mathematical culture where we don’t charge money from people who use our theorems. There is the notion that mathematics is discovered rather than invented. If something was already there, how you patent it?

I cannot wait till the day micro$oft will be just history: “do you remember that global monopoly called microsoft?” “which one, the one that tried to patent emoticons?” “yes that one, when did it run out of business? was in 2007, right?” …

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