Software Patents! Stop it Already!

Yet another company figures it has re-invented the wheel, this time buying stuff via a smart phone over the Internet and is suing just about everyone connected to smart phones including M$.

When will it end? SCOTUS, please chuck software patents. The only thing original about this idea is the patent application itself. What was USPTO thinking?

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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9 Responses to Software Patents! Stop it Already!

  1. Richard Chapman says:

    Good point about storage and comparing. Those with addition are all performed by the CPU. If you strip a computer down to its most fundamental components that’s what you have: Add, compare, store, list. Every computer and its assemblage of programs are simply and amalgam and layering of those simple components.

    Something that bugged the hell out of me back in the early 90’s was when I first started hearing the word “technology” being applied to an application. It still bugs me. Software is not technology. It may be a part of a technology but by itself it’s no more technology than the latest Bob Dylan song.

  2. Ray says:

    You left out bit manipulation.

  3. They also store stuff and compare stuff.

    The storage part is what confuses people. Because I can list the steps of some process on a piece of piece of paper does not mean that paper is patentable. A computer’s programme is nothing more than an electronic piece of paper on which the steps are listed.

    e.g. I once wrote a computer programme which was run on a computer that was part of the control system for a cyclotron. That programme checked that all the conditions were right before permitting power supplies to turn on or valves to open or doors to open and lights to turn on. There were several processes involved: interaction with users’ commands, feedback to users, control of the lights on the control panel and control of doors providing radiation protection. So, the programme controlled the computer that controlled lots of equipment but the process of making radiation or whatever was the process, not the execution of the programme and not the existence of the programme. So software is not a process. It is an analogue or textual description of the process. In fact, I have used cyclotrons that had no such computer and they worked just fine. In that case, the “programme” was in the knowledge between the operator’s ears, just an idea and not patentable.

    I first programmed a computer in 1968 and I have never seen any programme that was patentable. They all were just lists of steps I wanted the computer to take to do some maths or logic. Usually no real matter was changed except black marks on paper or some power supplies turning on or off. Software is not a process, material, composition of matter or anything that can be patented. Software can be copyright, however. One does not copyright patentable matter and one should not patent copyrightable matter.

  4. Richard Chapman says:

    Computers add. That’s all they do. Everything else, subtraction, multiplication, division, is all a variant of addition.

  5. Ray says:

    “Nope. Software is a list of mathematical/logical operations, not the process it emulates.”

    It’s also a process of mathematical/logical operations. At this point, it’s much easier to bring it though the legislator, then to convince the courts it’s not valid.

  6. Nope. Software is a list of mathematical/logical operations, not the process it emulates.

  7. Ray says:

    “The law, as written does not allow software-patents.”

    Software’s a process, therefore it is patentable.

  8. The law, as written does not allow software-patents. That is an invention of lower courts and USPTO and a host of lawyers. Software needs to be part of a machine to be patentable. In principle I could patent a machine to do X that included software but it is silly to patent software. The idea of patents is to stimulate inventiveness by rewarding inventors and publishing their works. Software patents don’t need to be published because with the mere idea of some result any student of programming 101 can make it happen. That’s not an invention just logic/maths. Those are not patentable. Too few legislators, judges and lawyers understand that and the result is everyone with an invention is suing everyone else for everything, stifling industry and inventiveness, the opposite of the intended purpose.

  9. Ray says:

    You’re blaming it on the wrong person, they’re just following patent laws. If you really want to end them, get them through the parliament.

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