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04.23.10

USPTO Starts Rejecting Software Patents While Germany Mistakenly Overrides the Law and Approves Microsoft’s

Posted in America, Europe, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Software patents apparently encounter new barriers in the USPTO, whereas in Europe there is a reversal which seems to contradict EPO rules

Microsoft’s business model currently depends on software patents, which is why it has hired lobbyists and recruited front groups to lobby for them all around the world. Yesterday we used Hugo Lueders (CompTIA) as an example, not a scapegoat. CompTIA has lobbies for software patents in Europe even this month.

According to Benjamin Henrion, the president of the FFII (Europe-based), having seen some months ago that the Bilski decision started killing software patents, there might be more of the same. Henrion points to this news and asks: “USPTO starts rejecting software patents?”

From the source:

BPAI Remanding Cases Involving Computer-Oriented Means-Plus-Function Claims

In Ex party Rodriguez, the BPAI rejected a patent applicant’s means-plus-function (MPF) claims as indefinite for failing to provide any corresponding structures in the specification beyond a general purpose computer. That decision followed the Federal Circuit’s Aristocrat holding that “simply disclosing a computer as the structure designated to perform a particular function does not limit the scope of the claim to ‘the corresponding structure, material, or acts’ that perform the function, as required by section 112 paragraph 6.”

This is important news because it’s a software patent on the face of it. A few days ago we saw a film about In Re Bilski being released [1, 2] and there are long discussions about it these days [1, 2]. There is increasing pressure to see the end of software patents.

Ironically, while the US seems to be moving in a better direction, Germany messes up royally by upholding Microsoft’s FAT patent after it was rejected. [via]

The German appeal court has overturned a decision by the German Federal Patent Tribunal to declare Microsoft’s patent for the File Allocation Table (FAT) file system invalid. In judgement number X ZR 27/07, handed down on Tuesday, the tenth civil division of the Karlsruhe-based court confirmed the enforceability of the company’s commercial rights in Germany. It has not yet published its reasoning, but has confirmed the decision in a short press release (German language link).

Some readers have told us about this disruptive development because it relates to the TomTom case and it affects Linux. On the face of it, Scharen is involved but it might be Richter Scharen, not Uwe Scharen, whom we consider to be in Microsoft's fold.

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