Patent protection necessary

I read with interest the previous remarks by your reader. This kind of thing has been proposed but I'm not sure that it would make much difference. Here are some thoughts:

If the employer is paying you to do the research and development, then he/it should have the rights to the results. If a person is primarily an inventor who wants to benefit from his work, then he should work independently or with a small firm that is willing to negotiate a deal.

Much R&D is defensive in nature, so the employer may need the protection to impede a competitor even though he doesn't develop the invention himself.

There may be more important reforms to the patent system such as how long the protection should last and how patents are adjudicated. I don't actually think that this problem is all that big: it did not inhibit the guys at Google from going out on their own after they worked for Xerox on search engines.
Thomas Kiovsky Solon, Ohio

Women a boon to engineering

Comments in Senior Editor Elisabeth Eitel's May 17 eNewsletter generated several responses about the diligence and skills of females in the technical workplace. Read on and perhaps you'd like to share your own thoughts next month.

I found your article on engineer gender interesting. I probably have a little different point of view than the average cubicle engineer.

I have worked in both in-house design and as a field rep at many locations around the world over the last 35 years. Before we had many female engineers, I was faced with training many female military personnel in electronic test and evaluation. I was required to provide 40 hours of classroom training as well as on-the-job training the rest of the time. I did realize that the females back then — around 1978 to 1985 — required that the training began a little more basic.

The biggest thing was that most of them had more determination and learned faster than their male counterparts. I enjoyed working and training with many of these women from time to time, during their tours of duty around the world.

Many of them continued their education and became engineers. I was given the opportunity to train them on hardware and software for military jobs, and to help them with their studies in college courses.

We currently have many female engineers at Kennedy Space Center, and at my home office in Arizona, and they do a tremendous job.

Keep up the good work.
Jim France Cape Canaveral, Fla.

I think it is great to have women in a mostly male dominated field. They often offer what seems to be a slightly different perspective. Keep up the good work and don't get discouraged by men that feel threatened by a woman in their field.
Tim Litral
Florence, Ala.

Stay out of my fridge

Regarding your article (June 2007 “Coming soon to a node near you”), I think it's OK to have more IP addresses, but it's a really bad idea to put appliances on a network that can be breached by individuals who create harmful programs that infect computers.

I don't want someone changing the temperature on my refrigerator or screwing up the programming of my stove or HVAC system. Can't people see the danger in that?

I wish they'd put more work into making systems secure before they invite even more risk into homes. I don't think they are meeting their social obligations, which will only make the problems more severe.
Mike Rehmus Vallejo, Calif.

Keep'em coming

Just a note to say how much I have been enjoying your “In the Loop” column. I really like the way you couple seemingly unrelated topics (like DiVinci's painting technique), with engineering. Very informative and engaging.
Joseph Biondo Hoffman Estates, Ill.