Tom Goldstein on SCOTUSBlog has written his best estimate of who will write the decision on Bilski:
- Justice Stevens will write it
- the scope of patents will be narrowed, probably restricting software patents
- the court will be unanimous but possibly split on the scope of the ruling…
He bases this on the history and involvement of Stevens on law of patents. He has a history of narrowing patent rights. The court has a history of spreading the written decisions around and Justice Stevens has yet to write one this term. I think this view is consistent with the engagement of Stevens in the oral hearing last year.
That supports my belief that software patents will get the boot but courts often surprise. They could find a way to dodge the issue by deciding only on this Bilski case very narrowly. I hope we will know two days from now. The suspense is killing me. Cleared of software-patents, M$ is powerless to stop GNU/Linux by any legal means. I expect the stock price will drop on the news. If somehow the software-patents are allowed to live but with narrower rules, it depends exactly on what those rules are. M$’s patent portfolio could be shrunk. We shall see.
I think the court will rule that software-patents are a Pandora’s Box that should never have been opened. The mind boggles at the $billions that have been wasted as a result. It will be interesting to see all the repercussions.
Will previous settlements and cross-licensing agreements be rolled back? That would be difficult even if required. Certainly the patent fud from M$ should be toned way down. They must have earned a lot of enmity in the last year or two extorting money from smaller businesses to “settle”. Who will give M$ any respect if software-patents go down in flames?