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02.18.08

How Poor Are Software Patents? Very Poor. Court Demands Scrutiny.

Posted in Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 4:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We recently wrote about Blackboard's trollish escapades in Software Patent Land. Watch the diagram in the following blog post.

Now that the Blackboard Patent Court Case has begun, let’s recap the main issues. Blackboard sued Desire2Learn for patent infringement. What is the patent claim and what is at stake?

Companies have the wildest of patents and a plethora of potential victims to choose from. I pointed this out when pushing for WordPress to adopt GPLv3. Blackboard currently possesses a patent that covers pretty much any CMS (content management system) that encapsulates or implements the notion of roles, to whom different privileges are assigned. A patent more insane than this is difficult to find, but Amazon's infamous one-click shopping is one which is hard to match, let alone top.

According to TechDirt, a business methods debacle has had the court call for responsible action. Apparently, the court wants the junk patents to be rubbished.

CAFC has agreed to a full court hearing to examine the scope of what can be patented. It may sound like a technicality, but it could be a very big deal. Going back on the earlier State Street ruling could effectively knock out many business model patents and software patents, restoring at least some (though, certainly not all) sanity to the patent system, especially in the technology world.

Here is another good pick [via Digital Majority]

Whether the claimed subject matter is not patent-eligible because it constitutes an abstract idea or mental process; when does a claim that contains both mental and physical steps create patent-eligible subject matter?

Increasingly, the software patent question will be raised when discussing Free software. It is foolish to ignore it, no matter how horrible it was to have such patents legalised in the first place. It is quite clear how (and why) we all got here.

No Patents in Linux

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