[Haskell-cafe] US Patent for the idea of using Haskell to implement UAX #9

Brian Hulley brianh at metamilk.com
Sat Apr 17 02:36:42 EDT 2010

Daniel Fischer wrote:
> Am Freitag 16 April 2010 20:50:25 schrieb Brian Hulley:
>> revealed a link to a US Patent (7120900) for the idea of implementing
>> the Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm (UAX #9
>> http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr9) in Haskell, making use, as far as I
>> can tell, of nothing more than the normal approach any functional
>> programmer would use, namely separation of concerns etc.
> In which case the patent should be null and void since obvious ideas aren't 
> patentable, AFAIK.
> But of course, IANAL, you never know what jurists think a law means, ...

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your reply.
The main problem for me is just the fact that the legal system in itself 
is, as Charles Dickens wrote in "The Old Curiosity Shop" (Chapter 37):

     ... an edged tool of uncertain
     application, very expensive in the working,
     and rather remarkable for its properties of
     close shaving, than for its always shaving
     the right person.

I just think somehow we should be free to write any programs we want 
just like composers can compose music, (as long as we don't just copy 
other people's actual copyrighted *code* without their permission of 

After all, there is no reason why people couldn't just keep their ideas 
a secret if they don't want others to use them: at least it wouldn't 
spoil things for everyone else. Companies could even charge for *access* 
to these secrets and people could sign NDAs, but this isn't the same as 
being allowed to actually own an idea itself.

The current situation is a bit like a supermarket throwing oranges and 
apples at passers-by, then forcing people to pay if they were hit...

In any case after signing the petition I'm going to just try and forget 
about the problem! ;-)

Cheers, Brian.

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