software patents - Page number 5

Is software too abstract to be patented?

The serious problem of proliferating bad software patents was not solved by the Supreme Court's Bilski decision, but now it's looking like it may be part of the solution. The early case law applying Bilski is much more encouraging than expected. The new Bilski test focuses on whether an application attempts to patent “an abstract idea.” That new test has already been applied to reject applications for quite a few bad software patents, and with more lawsuits, it could invalidate a lot more.  To advance on this, we need to figure out out better ways to explain what software is and show when it is an unpatentable abstract idea. » Read more

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The PTO addresses Bilski and software patents

When the Supreme Court decided the Bilski case, it didn't speak directly to the issue of software patents.  But the Bilski majority  emphasized that abstract ideas are not patentable, and recognized that allowing patents for abstract ideas could hinder innovation.  Thus there's still room for discussion of the legal standard for when, if ever, there should be patents on software.  » Read more

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Eben Moglen on what it takes to keep defending FOSS

Eben Moglen's keynote address at LinuxCon last week, "Doing What it Takes: Current Legal Issues in Defending FOSS," called for a strategic shift in the free software movement. Moglen, the founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and one of the principal drafters of the GPLv3, said the economy of sharing and the economy of ownership are not mutually hostile, but mutually reinforcing, then outlined three steps for ensuring the continued coexistence between the free software and business communities. » Read more

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New Zealand rejects software patents

Recently the NZ govt announced that it was to remove software from the list of items that can be patented. This decision came after hectic lobbying from the open source community on one side and the proprietary vendors on the other side. » Read more

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Bilski and software patents

The Supreme Court case of Bilski v Kappos was billed as a case over business methods, but at its core it was over an application for a patent on software, and the denial of that application sets a good example that may lead to the denial of other software patents. » Read more

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Initial thoughts on Bilski

The Supreme Court finally issued a decision in the Bilski case today [PDF]. For those troubled by the problems surrounding software patents, the opinion will be disappointing, because it does not resolve those problems. But it would be a mistake to view the opinion as a victory for the proponents of expanding software patents. In fact, there are some aspects of the opinion that auger well for the future. » Read more

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Fighting patent aggression the open source way

One of the most important aspects of the recent trial victory for Red Hat and Novell was a finding that the asserted patent claims were invalid.  This meant that the jury was persuaded by clear and convincing evidence that the patents were improperly granted.  Getting to this decision involved collaboration that demonstrated the power of open source to defend against patent aggression.


For the open source community, it's worth noting with pride that a substantial portion of the prior art used in the case was identified by community members. » Read more

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Total victory for open source software in a patent lawsuit

The jury verdict last Friday in favor of Red Hat and Novell in a case based on bad software patents owned by "non-practicing entities" is an important victory for the open source community.  Those in the business of acquiring bad software patents to coerce payments or bring lawsuits should be worried.  Two such businesses were plaintiffs in our case, and they did their best to confuse the jury in one of their favorite locales, eastern Texas.  But it didn't work. The jury unanimously found that the patents were not infringed, and, even worse for the plaintiffs, that the patents were invalid.

» Read more

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Gene patenting and free software: a breakthrough

Last week, to the surprise of patent lawyers and the biotechnology industry, advocates for technological freedom won an enormous victory against socially harmful distortions of patent law.  The Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York held invalid patents owned by Myriad Genetics on diagnostic testing for genetic susceptibility to the most common hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer.  By "patenting" the right to determine whether the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are present in the relevant mutated form in a women's genome, Myriad Genetics has been able to exclude all other laboratories from conducting the test.  Patients and their insurers have paid much more, and women and their families have waited crucial weeks longer than necessary for information relevant to treatment and potentially affecting survival.   » Read more

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Calling a troll a troll

At the Linux Foundation counsel meeting in Palo Alto last week, I had a chance to talk with attorneys for some leading tech companies about the threat to open source software from patent trolls. Some still politely avoid calling a troll a troll and substitute the more anodyne “non-practicing entity.” I find the uglier term more fitting, because it's an ugly business. » Read more

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