SCOTUS again reminds anyone who will listen, that merely doing something via computer is not a patentable invention.“The method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.” Since few if any computer programmes can pass this test, this is yet another huge blow against software-patents. This is just one of several layers of filters which software-patents fail to pass. Others are that abstract concepts are not patentable, and stuff that lacks novelty are not patentable. OMG! The Supremes were unanimous! World, quit being inhibited by software patents. Three of the justices even set out a couple more reasons why the subject “invention” was ineligible: “There is no suggestion in any of th[e] early [English] consideration of process patents that processes for organizing human activity were or ever had been patentable” and “As in Bilski, however, I further believe that the method claims at issue are drawn to an abstract idea.”(Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer). So, the Supremes were against the patentability and more against the patentability than split on both sides of the fence. Talk about piling on… Get on with finding, creating, modifying and distributing information to your heart’s content without fear. If a patent-troll comes calling, show him the door.
M$ has been taxing Android/Linux distributors by threatening legal suits over software patents. “A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website.” For years, M$ has not bothered to publicize the patents in question because fear is a powerful motivator. Thanks to inquiries in China, a list is now public. This will permit M$’s competitors to organize a cooperative response rather than suffering under “divide and conquer” conditions.
For a start, one of the patents in question is for differential GPS, something that has been known for decades… This is another example of re-patenting the wheel, something that is supposed to be blocked by USPTO but is not. OEMs have been paying up because it’s cheaper than taking on a patent-troll in court. If all the OEMs get together they could sue M$ collectively and cause the empire to crumble. What’s it worth to clog the courts for a decade to drive these bastards from the market? $50 million? It would be a bargain rather than paying $billions in “royalties” to extortionists.
There’s another take on an interview with Linus Torvalds focusing on programming computers.“I actually don’t believe that everybody should necessarily try to learn to code. I think it’s reasonably specialized, and nobody really expects most people to have to do it. It’s not like knowing how to read and write and do basic math.” Where I disagree with him is that programming is like maths. Everyone who works at a desk/business/technical job should know how to use spreadsheets and databases for instance. That’s a way to programme mathematical operations. That’s a way to solve problems.
The heart and soul of science is collecting data and finding patterns in it. The heart and soul of mathematics is manipulating symbols for the purposes of analyzing data and solving problems. The revised curricula in K-12 education in mathematics, science, and technology education all emphasize the ability to solve problems using IT, including some hardware and programming. See for example, Manitoba’s Grade 9 Mathematics Curriculum. Programming is like being able to read and to write and to do basic maths. I was overjoyed when the curriculum was revised in the late 1990s. Students who used to drop out of highschool over an inability to do “traditional” maths could finally excel at solving problems because they could edit and revise spreadsheets in seconds and get the spreadsheet itself to verify solutions. There was no longer an easy way to get the wrong answer. There was an easy way to get the right answer, like brute force/trying every reasonable value until the right one was found… Even weak students could understand the concept and some of them were better at that kind of maths than the “smart” kids.
Programming and IT are tools that everyone in a modern society should know something about. It’s a good thing Linus is only managing the Linux project and not all of edcuation.
See Linus Torvalds Q&A.
I am not a voter in USA. It’s just that my server is there… Still, it’s hard to avoid the destruction wrought by Hurricane Obama:“the true patent approval rates have continued to go up. Basically, in 2013, the true allowance rate for patent applications was 92% (much higher than the USPTO’s officially reported number of 54%). The discrepancy is because the USPTO’s number counts "rejections" for patents as if the patent was truly rejected, and doesn’t look at how many patents actually make it through the full process. Thus, the fact that patent applicants can keep trying and trying until they get approved is massively hidden by the USPTO’s bogus number.”
- Obama says the right things to get elected but then delivers a substandard healthcare reform act. It’s not his fault alone, the Republicans and many citizens just cannot see the light, that a single-payer healthcare system works by eliminating so much waste/duplication. Fallout includes failure of Healthcare.gov to work on time and two-year waiting lines at VA hospitals. If healthcare were $free per use by all US citizens, veterans could go where service was available instead of relying on an underfunded monopoly.
- Obama talks about boosting the middle class but then pours out millions of junk patents including software patents from USPTO so that non-practising patent-trolls can involve productive corporations in endless litigation and concerns about being sued instead of hiring people and getting the job done. The safest way to make money in USA is to invest in foreign corporations working in markets freed from USPTO.
- Obama talks about deposing the criminal against humanity, Assad, in Syria, and does nothing to prevent the loss of Homs and Allepo to indiscriminate bombing of civilians by chemical and explosive munitions of all kinds. It would have been a modest cost to shut down Assad’s air-power and properly arm the free Syrians but instead we now have Crimea usurped by Putin and Ukraine to follow. Obama knows history but refuses to learn that one doesn’t gain anything by negotiating with tyrants. Force is all they understand. Now, Qatr and Saudi Arabia see Obama as a traitor and unreliable partner and Israel figures they can keep Palestine forever. Way to go, Obama.
- Obama talks about dealing harshly with “terrorists” but refuses to call Putin’s infiltrators, Boko Haram (murdering bastard scum bandits in Nigeria), and the Israeli government terrorists for all doing the same things: targeting innocent civilians to gain/hold power. The whole world is watching, Obama, and they see you have no clothes.
I’m not angry, really. I’m just disgusted. It is the duty of all humans who have the ability to help the weak and disenfranchised. That’s what humanity is. For more than a decade USA has been terrorizing civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq and actually empowering the terrorists they entered those countries to combat. Every civilian they killed spawned hundreds of recruits to Al Qaida and the Taliban. The thing they sought to contain and extinguish is now more powerful than ever and spreading rapidly. That’s disgusting. Thanks, Obama. You promised to end the stupidity but still prolong it. The troops you tie up in Afghanistan for no purpose could be used in Ukraine to restore order and to keep Putin at bay but, no, you keep messing things up with much help from the Republicans. Rather than supporting the right of Palestinians to claim statehood, you continue to sponsor the illegal occupation by Israel and keep Palestinians imprisoned in refugee camps for generations, spawning counter-terrorism. I guess USAians are getting the government they deserve. Nothing else makes sense of this mess.
When the Supremes beat the patent-troll over the head with obviousness and lack of novelty, we can expect that they will shoot him down.
“JUSTICE KENNEDY: Well, let me put it this way. If you describe that to a second year college class in engineering and said here’s here’s my idea, now you go home and you program over this weekend, my guess is that that would be fairly easy to program.
So the fact that the computer is involved, it seems to me, is necessary to make it work. But the innovative aspect is certainly not in the creation of the program to make that work. All you’re talking about is if I can use the word an “idea.””
What Justice Kennedy is going on about is that with just the idea, anyone reasonably skilled could solve the problem without referring to any software or patent-application. That’s sort of what I have been harping about for years now. Putting anything into a computer does not add any novelty or creativity. It’s logic, maths, language… not invention. Hence, software is not patentable. It’s a writing after all, something you claim copyright, not letters patent.
I’ve been waiting years for US Supreme Court to do its job and kick out software patents. It’s about to happen.
“The flood of software patenting that began in the 1990s has included many thousands of patents with vague and uncertain boundaries that create major litigation risks. A Supreme Court decision recognizing that software patents are essentially abstract could eliminate many of those risks.
The Alice Corp. case is scheduled for oral argument on March 31. The Court will issue a decision before it ends its term in June. It’s possible that the Court will issue a course correction that removes a major barrier to technology innovation.”Hearing this month. Decision in the middle of summer. It’s going to be a great year. It would be absolutely wonderful if manufacturers of */Linux devices could shake off the last vestige of M$’s “tax”.
Just in case any of the supremes read this blog, perhaps I will close with yet another reason software patents are silly. Is a patent application patentable? That would be silly. Anything that just describes an invention is not patentable. That’s obvious and abstract. Well, software is just like a book. It’s a writing, a list of abstract ideas/information/bits. The software itself, the code, the machine-instructions are just the book, contents and words contained in the software. No one can patent that. It’s abstract. It’s mathematical. It lacks any kind of innovation, although there may be some skill involved in a good productions. Let’s get over this silly idea that software is patentable. It’s not. Putting some ideas about how something is already done in the real world into a machine and calling it an invention is not patentable either. It’s obvious to anyone skilled in the art. If not, the software would not work because computers only work on obvious things, ones and zeros, truth and falsity. Supremes, go for it!
I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Nokia is producing some Android/Linux smartphones “Within Microsoft what I see happening is that the company will start backing off Windows Phone. Kendrick’s right, you see. It is too much to ask Microsoft to support two mobile operating systems, so I think they’ll slowly and quietly drop the least-profitable of them: Windows Phone.”that look and feel like “phoney 7″ smartphones. Certainly, it is interesting that Android/Linux apps will run on them, but this is just like GNU/Linux distros that look like XP or “7″. No one is very excited about those…
I don’t often disagree with SJVN but I think his argument that M$ makes $billions from Android/Linux taxes is extreme. If that were happening, there would be some mention of it in M$’s SEC filings. There’s only this, “D&C Licensing, comprising: Windows, including all original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) licensing (“Windows OEM”) and other non-volume licensing and academic volume licensing of the Windows operating system and related software (collectively, “Consumer Windows”); non-volume licensing of Microsoft Office, comprising the core Office product set, for consumers (“Consumer Office”); Windows Phone, including related patent licensing; and certain other patent licensing revenue;”. Would M$ dare risk not mentioning something substantial here? I don’t think so. Their case against Motorola is still up in the air: “Motorola litigation
In October 2010, Microsoft filed patent infringement complaints against Motorola Mobility (“Motorola”) with the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and in U.S. District Court in Seattle for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola’s Android devices. Since then, Microsoft and Motorola have filed additional claims against each other in the ITC, in federal district courts in Seattle, Wisconsin, Florida, and California, and in courts in Germany and the United Kingdom. The nature of the claims asserted and status of individual matters are summarized below.
International Trade Commission
In May 2012, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order against Motorola on one Microsoft patent, which became effective on July 18, 2012. Microsoft appealed certain aspects of the ITC rulings adverse to Microsoft, and Motorola has appealed the ITC exclusion order, to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In October 2013, the Court of Appeals ruled in Microsoft’s favor on one additional patent (since expired) and, in December 2013, affirmed the ITC’s exclusion order.
In July 2013, Microsoft filed an action in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. seeking an order to compel enforcement of the ITC’s May 2012 import ban against infringing Motorola products by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), after learning that CBP had failed to fully enforce the order.
In November 2010, Motorola filed an action against Microsoft in the ITC alleging infringement of five Motorola patents by Xbox consoles and accessories and seeking an exclusion order to prohibit importation of the allegedly infringing Xbox products into the U.S. At Motorola’s request, the ITC terminated its investigation as to four Motorola patents, leaving only one Motorola patent at issue. In March 2013, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) ruled that there has been no violation of the remaining Motorola patent. Motorola sought ITC review of the ALJ’s determination, which the ITC denied in May 2013. Motorola has appealed the ITC’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
U.S. District Court
The Seattle District Court case filed in October 2010 by Microsoft as a companion to Microsoft’s ITC case against Motorola has been stayed pending the outcome of Microsoft’s ITC case. In November 2010, Microsoft sued Motorola for breach of contract in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleging that Motorola breached its commitments to standards-setting organizations to license to Microsoft certain patents on reasonable and non-discriminatory (“RAND”) terms and conditions. Motorola has declared these patents essential to the implementation of the H.264 video standard and the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. In the Motorola ITC case described above and in suits described below, Motorola or a Motorola affiliate subsequently sued Microsoft on those patents in U.S. District Courts, in the ITC, and in Germany. In February 2012, the Seattle District Court granted a partial summary judgment in favor of Microsoft ruling that (1) Motorola entered into binding contractual commitments with standards organizations committing to license its declared-essential patents on RAND terms and conditions; and (2) Microsoft is a third-party beneficiary of those commitments. After trial, the Seattle District Court set per unit royalties for Motorola’s H.264 and 802.11 patents, which resulted in an immaterial Microsoft liability. In September 2013, following trial of Microsoft’s breach of contract claim, a jury awarded $14.5 million in damages to Microsoft. Motorola has appealed.
Cases filed by Motorola in Wisconsin, California, and Florida, with the exception of one currently stayed case in Wisconsin (a companion case to Motorola’s ITC action), have been transferred to the U.S District Court in Seattle.”
There’s not much there, IMHO. Even M$ calls Motorola’s patent charge “immaterial”. Those are on the same magnitude as M$’s patent claims are they not? The fact is that the producers of Android/Linux devices that have settled with M$ did so to avoid litigation and the amounts are likely less than the cost of litigation, $millions not $billions. Google is not backing down and could well win against M$ in a big way. M$ is not considering that revenue in its manipulation of Nokia. This is all about the applications, nothing more. That UI looks like M$’s phoney OS to me and to users. M$ doesn’t charge itself licensing fees so using Android/Linux is not about saving money on licensing just cost of production and importing apps. When they ship standard Android, then we can believe that M$ plans to migrate to */Linux one way or another, not before. That isn’t going to happen as long as Gates and Ballmer are around. That isn’t going to happen until the whole house of cards falls.
Here we go again. The soon-to-expire-of-old-age software patent on long filenames is bouncing around German courts and was ruled invalid…
“Microsoft’s FAT (File Allocation Table) patent, which concerns a "common name space for long and short filenames" was invalidated on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Federal Patent Court said in an email Friday. She could not give the exact reasons for the court’s decision before the written judicial decision is released, which will take a few weeks.”
M$ has been raking in $billions on the basis of this patent as licensing fees ~$5 per unit. That’s pretty close to the crime of the century if you ask me, but it has all been perfectly legal until someone actually challenged M$ in court. Thank you, Google, for defending folks’ right to use the hardware they own.
Finally, the uproar about software-patents has penetrated to the inner sanctum of the US Supreme Court.
They can no longer fiddle while Rome burns. Being able to repatent the entirety of human history by putting some idea into software will soon become refuse in the trash-bin of IT. M$’s last grip on Free Software will be gone. Markets for IT will finally be free to run on price/performance rather than the size of legal budgets. Apple and M$ will both be cut down to size and become normal businesses instead of gangs of thugs terrorizing the planet.
“In the Federal Circuit’s decision, five judges saw Supreme Court precedent as guiding them toward a path that would narrow what kind of software and financial services are allowed to be patented. They saw Alice Corp.’s patent on a method of using "shadow accounts" in foreign currency exchange as being the kind of "but do it on a computer" patent that should be thrown out under Supreme Court guidance. "Abstract methods do not become patent-eligible by being clothed in computer language," wrote Judge Alan Lourie.”
- “Between 2007 and 2011, two-thirds of defendants in patent litigation were sued over software-related patents.”
- “Among the most important factors contributing to patent litigation abuse are the prevalence of unclear and overly broad patents.”
- “Lawsuits involving software-related patents accounted for 89% of the total increase in defendants from 2007-2011.”
- “By "2011 patents related to software made up more than half of all issued patents," meaning the problem and challenges we face today are going to get worse before they get better.”…
The US GAO has studied the matter and software-patents stick out like a sore thumb. They just don’t make any sense in the modern world. They are sand in the gears of progress. They are knee-deep syrup on the race track. Their report does not ensure elimination of software-patents but I expect something clarifying SCOTUS and GAO findings will emerge and bring US R&D back onto a firmer footing.
Unlike some patent-trolls who do nothing but sue and threaten to sue, M$ now has a token-smartphone factory, Nokia. 2-3% share is “practising” but the announced deal is really about the patents, valid or not…
“Microsoft will have the most cost-effective patent arrangements for smart devices”. Cheaper and less-contested access to intellectual property is another major theme of the presentation, possibly signalling an escalation in the ugly intellectual property disputes that have attracted government attention in the USA and beyond.”
M$ has shown great ineptitude at actually producing what people want to buy in a competitive environment but it has taken the gloves off and will try to sue folks who are successful, either to kill or to tax the still-growing smartphone market. The profits of Nokia are nowhere near enough to justify an “investment” of $billions. This is not about buying the company but buying the patents to clog the courts and to stifle innovation. “Want to produce a smart thingy? You need protection…”. It’s an old game, one long ago developed by organized criminals. M$ is more like a criminal gang than any business.
Governments shouldn’t have to do this. It’s obvious that software is obvious and subject to copyright. Software has to be obvious or stupid computes wouldn’t be able to figure out what has to be done. Software is obvious like telephone books and recipes are obvious. They are not innovative in that they are just a sequence of data and instructions with myriad combinations. Software is subject to copyright. That’s the right way to protect the developer’s ideas.
There’s a reason we have copyright and patent law. They are two distinct and protectable realms. People who spend years creating a work should have a monopoly on its use for some years. That’s reasonable and promotes such valuable contributions to humankind. People who find a way to make a better mouse-trap should also be rewarded. The world needs better mouse-traps and few have the ability or interest to create them. Software is not a mouse-trap, however. The computer is the mouse-trap. Software is information like speech or writing. It can take seconds to create or years depending on the size of it but it is not protectable by patents.
New Zealand finally figured this out and banned software patents. What about the rest of us?
“The patents system doesn’t work for software because it is almost impossible for genuine technology companies to create new software without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents that exist, often for very obvious work”