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12.24.09

Patents Roundup: IBM Patents Patent Harvesting, Bilski Still in IBM’s David Kappos Hands to Decide

Posted in IBM, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

High Court in Bangalore

Summary: IBM continues to be part of the problem (choosing patent pools over abolishment) as the Bilski case takes another step towards clarification

EARLIER THIS year we wrote about IBM’s role in the Bilski test, lobbying for software patents, and direct impact on the USPTO which it uses to defend a cash cow that’s a patent portfolio (tax on IBM’s competition). IBM makes billions from patents alone, so it is not surprising that IBM’s Irving Wladawsky-Berger, for example, seemingly defends software patents inside an advisory body for the government.

According to this, IBM continues to be part of the problem, not the solution. It wants an intellectual monopoly on the management of intellectual monopolies.

theodp writes “Before leaving a long IBM career last summer to head the USPTO, David Kappos managed Big Blue’s patent and trademark portfolios. Last Tuesday, the USPTO awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,630,915 to IBM for its inventive method of Managing an Intellectual Property Portfolio.”

That almost sounds like a business method. Et tu, IBM?

From the Bilski case we finally learn this:

US Patent Office tightens the screws on software patents

A decision from a key panel at the Patent Office builds on last year’s Bilski decision to place new limits on software patents. Just running some algorithm on a PC and claiming that you’ve built a patentable “machine” may not work any more.

The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI), a key panel within the Patent Office, has tightened the rules for American software patents. The recently-released decision builds on last year’s landmark ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case of In Re Bilski. In that case, the Federal Circuit focused on business method patents and had left key questions about the patentability of software-related inventions unanswered.

The new ruling will give thousands of American patent examiners guidance about how to apply the holdings of Bilski in software patent cases.

But software patents should just be abolished; IBM will of course not allow this and neither will Microsoft. It’s the monopolies/conglomerates that stand to gain from patents.

As Glyn Moody puts it:

As long-suffering readers of this blog will know, one of the reasons I regard software patents as dangerous is because software consists of algorithms, and algorithms are simply maths. So allowing software patents is essentially allowing patents on pure knowledge.

Here is yet more scientific/academic proof that patents reduce innovation. [via Glyn Moody]

We recognize that patents have two effects (ignoring “invent around” and “revealing secrets” both of which are of at best minuscule significance): increasing innovation by increasing incentives to innovate, and decreasing innovation by making it more costly to innovate. This paper gives us a pretty clean measure of the latter effect: the benefit of being able to access existing ideas without negotiation or licensing raises innovation by around 20%.

There are reasons for optimism when it comes to elimination of business method patents, but less certainty on the subject of software patents.

Score Two Wins Against Software Patents

[...]

I am an optimist. And I am optimistic that progress will be made against software patents and for a Startup Visa in 2010.

Many laws are simply created to please the very same big businesses that fund and essentially run the government. This ought to change.

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