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03.21.08

Patents Roundup: High Court Imposes a USPTO on the UK-IPO, INNOVA~1 Goes Backwards

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, SUN at 10:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME trashCourtesy of the chaps at Digital Majority there are some interesting updates on the patent situation. In short, it remains a load of rubbish.

United Kingdom

Shortly after discussing Microsoft’s possible (although very indirect) role in interfering with UK law on software patents comes this:

U.K. patent office ordered to accept software patent

A U.K. appeals court decision is causing confusion over longstanding European regulations that generally forbid granting a patent for a computer program.

This is covered here as well.

High Court says UK-IPO was wrong to reject software-related patent

The patentability of software is a controversial area of UK intellectual property law. The question seemed to be settled in a decision by the Court of Appeal in 2006 which outlined how courts should determine whether an invention consists purely of software, and therefore should not be awarded a patent.

That ruling took in two cases, one involving a company called Aerotel and another involving inventor Neal Macrossan.

Sun Con-Con-Patent

Remember the thoughts and insights from Scott Mace? It seems like Simon Phipps kept his promise and a clarification has been put in MySQL’s retired page, which used to protest against software patents. It doesn’t look too exciting and it’s hardly even a protest.

The MySQL patent program is in the process of being integrated into the Sun patent program. In general, Sun uses its patent portfolio to defend communities and indemnify customers. Check back here for further updates.

In the meantime, check out the blogs of Sun’s CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, and CTO, Greg Papadapoulos, for Sun’s view on software patents.

It’s a tad disappointing, overall.

The SCOs of the Patents World

SCO did not engage in confrontations over patents, but similar types of patterns cab be seen in this latest patent harassment, which targets the ‘small guy’, the scapegoat and the scarecrow.

I wouldn’t want to be accused of being anti-IBM but the news that online fruit store Harry & David (H & D) was suing IBM is very worrying. The case concerns patents that IBM did not own, which Harry & David bough as part of IBM’s WebSphere/NetCommerce retail software. H & D alleges that it had to buy a licence from EPOS maker NCR to cover these patent. It is also saying it paid Charles E Hill Associates for patent infringements relating to the IBM software. Whatever the outcome of the case, this looks like a patent mess. First, IBM should not have sold software containing patents that it had not already licensed or owned. Second,

Why did NCR and Charles E Hill Associates go after the customer? Surely if it was IBM’s software that had infringed their patents then they would have a legitimate claim against IBM. Ah, but IBM would be a hard target given how SCO’s patent case against IBM/Novell and the Linux community has played out. Like SCO, these companies have gone after the soft target: the end user business that bought IBM’s software, I presume, in good faith.

The Land of No Winners

A state of patents is a state where ‘innovation’ is self limiting. Imagination is restricted by law and this article from Forbes seems to confirm that the system totally lost sight of its goals.

Software patents, in particular, are performing even worse today. People thought that once the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] gained experience in these evaluating patents, then the quality would get better … and the amount of [related] litigation would go down. It hasn’t. We have no opinion on whether USP Office is doing better or worse, but we know for sure that the amount of software litigation has grown over time. The odds that a software patent will be litigated in the first four years of its life have gone up too.

Lastly, to paraphrase the guys from Digital Majority, “is this innovation”?

Qualcomm Chip Ban to Stand

Broadcom Corp said on Wednesday a U.S. appeals court let stand a lower court order barring wireless chip maker Qualcomm Inc from selling chips that infringe on three of its patents.

If embargoes are a sign of innovation, then there must also be human life on Mars. Poor Qualcomm [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20].

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