Software Patents Challenged … Again

Bilski mis-fired, but now EFF, CCIA and RedHat are asking SCOTUS to pronounce precise limits to patentability of software. Without such limits the courts are being swamped by lawsuits and innovation is being stifled rather than promoted by patents. An appeal to a lower court was declined, so this is an attempt to have the SCOTUS correct the lower court. A decision could have a huge effect.

The lower court does not seem even to understand the meaning of “abstract”:
The Federal Circuit admitted that “the mere idea that advertising can be used as a form of currency is abstract,” yet found that when that idea would “likely” require “intricate and complex computer programming,” it was no longer abstract.
Lawyers, “more abstract” is not the same as “concrete”… Sigh…

see H-online – US Supreme Court asked to review software patents ruling

Ars has another opinion piece showing that software patents “don’t scale”. That’s true of course. They reproduce pain and suffering geometrically while the world produces lawyers and courts linearly.

see Opinion: The problem with software patents? They don’t scale

I said the same thing for other reasons before: Patents may have had some use for inventors of devices like machines with a few moving parts but the concept of a patent on hundreds of thousands or millions of lines of code in the software of a smart phone is absurd. It does not scale. It does not scale for the complexity of the device nor for the billions of copies one presumably can sell. After the first million or so, the return on investment is huge and the purpose of patents has been met. The rest is abuse.

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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2 Responses to Software Patents Challenged … Again

  1. Andrew says:

    Robert; the way many of us in the university look at decisions coming out/from the USA legislature is bogus because of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    One of the subjects we had studied when in grade school was what makes an individual. When George Bush declared corporations had equal rights as individuals we were astonished and puzzled at that decision. Furthermore that they were not to be held liable as a normal individuals which makes it even easier for abusive conduct.

    Among the things that make up an individual are:
    1: Intellect
    2: Sentiment
    3: Volition

    There is no way on earth any corporation would ever acquire these attributes. The others are biological.

    As we understand it, patents cover inventions that are tangible, not ideas, much less mathematical algorithms. That’s akin to trying to patent language and pretty much falls under the purview of copyright if anything, not patents. Renaming it intellectual property is an oxymoron.

  2. Andrew says:

    IMHO software patents and accompanying litigation may be its own downfall, at least outside of the US. Most people on the street that speak of software patents or copyright violations say, “This company sue that company for an icon or rounded corners or sliding a phone case open…”, they don’t speak of details just whatever they read in the headlines of blogs.

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