[Insight-users] Patents / Copyrights and how they damage innovation.

Luis Ibanez luis.ibanez at kitware.com
Sun Mar 26 16:42:25 EST 2006

Hi Rodrigo,

Patents are the mechanism for defining Intellectual Property of "Ideas".


Copyright are the mechanism for protecting the "Expression of Ideas".


The *Concept* of "Fuzzyconnectedness" as a segmentation method is what
is covered by a patent. Any implementation of this idea will infringe
the patent if you don't have a license from the patent holder.

The implementation on ITK is copyrighted by the Insight Software
Consortium (ISC), just as any other code in ITK. The ISC grants
everybody an automatic BSD-like license for using this code.

Copyright protection and Patent protection are orthogonal.

This means that for you to be able to use piece of source code
with peace of mind, you should be aware of whether the concepts
implemented in the code are covered by a patent or not, AND you
should know what the copyright holder of the code is granting
you as a license (if any).

You can use copyrighted material without a license from the
copyright holder if you limit yourself to the activities that
are defined as "fair use":


As you pointed out, it is very common for researchers to first
file for a patent and then proceed to publish it (many times
"forgetting" to mention that the method is patented). This is
a very detrimental practice for the research community and it
is a serious block for the development of ideas an innovation.

Variations of a Patented idea are considered to be Derivative Work
and are also restricted by patents. With the agravation that most
"good patent lawyers" will make sure that the patent covers as much
as possible, even in fields where the idea has not even be attempted.

If you want to learn more about Intellectual Property, you should
read the following sections of the Wikipedia:


and we will strongly recommend you the following Books:

     "University, Inc.:
      The Corporate Corruption of American Higher Education"
       by Jennifer Washburn

     "Knowledge and Money:
      Research Universities and the Paradox of the Marketplace"
      by  Roger L. Geiger

     "The Future of Ideas" by Lawrence Lessig



rvivanco at cs.umanitoba.ca wrote:
> Hi Luis,
> is the concept of using fuzzy connected algorithm as a segmentation 
> algorithm
> itself patented, or the implementation. I believe fuzzy connected 
> segmentation
> has been described in the literature many times, and there are many 
> variations
> of using fuzzy connected segmentation. That's the problem with software
> patents, how far does it reach? Can someone improve an algorithm and not
> infringe on the paptent?
> -rodrigo
> Quoting Luis Ibanez <luis.ibanez at kitware.com>:
>> Hi Kuang,
>>   FuzzyConnectedness is covered by a Patent.
>> In order to use this method you must:
>>  1) Enable  ITK_USE_PATENTED in the advanced
>>     options of CMake when you configure ITK.
>>  2) Obtain a license from the patent holder
>>     The University of Pennsylvania.
>> I would suggest you to *avoid* using methods that
>> are Patented. You will find many other segmentation
>> methods in ITK that are not infected with Intellectual
>> Property issues.
>>   Regards,
>>     Luis
>> --------------
>> kp wrote:
>>> hello insight-users:
>>>     i have compiled the itk and its related software with the 
>>> sequence as follows:
>>> InsightToolkit-2.6.0 , vtk-5.0.0 ,fltk-1.1.7, 
>>> InsightApplications-2.6.0. but, after compiling them , I found that 
>>> one example of InsightApplications named "FuzzyConnectedness" didn't 
>>> be compiled in, why ?
>>> detailed information:
>>> 1. use CMake 2.2 to compile them under the VS.net
>>> 2. when compile the InsightApplications-2.6.0, the option radio: use 
>>> VTK, use LTK is on.is it correct?
>>>         kp
>>>         kuang_ping at 126.com
>>>           2006-03-25
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Insight-users mailing list
>>> Insight-users at itk.org
>>> http://www.itk.org/mailman/listinfo/insight-users
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>> Insight-users mailing list
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