EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.10.10

Why In Re Bilski Could Wipe Microsoft off the Map

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

John Paul Stevens, SCOTUS photo - portrait
John Paul Stevens, SCOTUS

Summary: Without software patents, Microsoft would be left toothless and clawless, not just clueless

IT HAS been a while since we last saw an update regarding the Bilski case. Justice Stevens is not around anymore, which is not good news because he was hostile towards software patents in the US. The USPTO meanwhile brags about a rise in ‘business’ (number of patents), probably refusing to acknowledge that it’s not an indication of success, it’s not supposed to be a ‘meat market’ for monopolies. If a university, for example, was to hand out degrees to anyone who requests that, it would devalue those degrees in the same way that patents are no longer a sign of invention. Many patents overlap other patents and disregard prior art. It is a mess. Now, Microsoft may brag that it has over 10,000 patents, but 85% of its patent applications are software patents. Assuming the present is representative of past filings, Microsoft would be left with just ~1,500 (none involving software) if or when In Re Bilski puts software patents right where they belong — the wastebasket.

So, where is Bilski at right now? According to Legal Times, the sessions may resume next week.

The Supreme Court handed down two relatively low-profile decisions this morning, leaving to another day some of the most-awaited cases of the term like Bilski v. Kappos, the business-methods patent-eligibility case that was argued last Nov. 9. The Court won’t be in session again until May 17.

Pogson writes about “problems in Re Bilski for SCOTUS”:

The “amicus” briefs were piled high with supporters of software patents. They were all trying to dodge the issue one way or another. Even Bilski and the opposition both skirted the issue as best they could. The patent office does not want business methods patents but does want software patents (It has issued thousands.). One argument was that adding software to a computer made the computer a specific machine even if it did not transform anything more than bits of information. Has “abstract” lost its meaning with people? Information, itself, is an abstraction, the idea that we can have an idea about ideas…

Meanwhile we find Bob Warfield explaining “the problem with software patents” and concluding as follows:

When we give broad protection like patents to software (or potentially music and books), we wall off via monopoly very large amounts of IP territory. This includes territory that the innovator never needed or perhaps intended to protect. Territory that doesn’t matter in the least to extracting the value of the invention as it was originally conceived. Such accidental monopolies are not good for innovation and are just legal lottery tickets equivalent to ambulance chasing. This kind of protection should be eliminated as there is little evidence software patents are stimulating any kind of innovation whatsoever and lots of evidence it hinders innovation.

“[T]here is little evidence software patents are stimulating any kind of innovation whatsoever and lots of evidence it hinders innovation,” argues Warfield while the FFII points to Mark Webbink’s Web site (he has worked for Red Hat and others) which contains many references on the subject. Webbink explains:

For the first two decades that computers and software were being developed one could not obtain a patent on software. That began to change with a series of court cases in the 1980′s. Among others, I do not consider those court decisions to have helped the software industry. Rather they have only served to slow down innovation. On this page I provide some of the content that has brought me to the conclusion that software patents are problematic.

Is there any compelling argument for software patents? (other than giving lawyers/trolls more business)

“Software patents have been nothing but trouble for innovation. We the software engineers know this, yet we actually have full-blown posters in our break-room showcasing the individual engineers who came up with something we were able to push through the USPTO. Individually, we pretty much all consider the software-patent showcase poster to be a colossal joke.” —Kelledin, PLI: State Street Overruled… PERIOD

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

3 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    May 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Gravatar

    Before retiring this Summer, it’s very possible Stevens might play an important role in writing up the Bilski opinion.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, but about an hour ago the FFII’s president told me: “I hope he will write the main opinion, and leave some big poison pills for the patent guys (hackers of patent law)… once Bilski will be issued, you will see plenty of workshops for patent attorneys trying to hack the decision to get swpats through…”

    The Bilski case is like SCO… never ending.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Yea.

    And speaking of the FFII, I think it was their Bilski brief that recommended that the machine or transformation be applied such that a patent would only be awarded if the innovation component coming from software was not considered in determining patentability. Essentially, they don’t want anything you create with software to in itself lead you to infringe.

What Else is New


  1. Links 17/4/2014: Android RDP, New Ubuntu, RHEL 7 Milestone

    Links for the day



  2. Racing to 1984: Mass Surveillance, Cracking, 'Targeted' Assassinations, and Illegal Torture

    Links for the day



  3. More Microsoft Subsidies to Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures

    Microsoft hands money to Bill Gates' close friend who is the world's largest patent troll



  4. Aiding Microsoft Under the Disguise of 'Pro-FOSS'

    Not everything which is FOSS necessary becomes, by virtue of existence, a positive contribution, as we are constantly reminded by projects that help proprietary software and/or restrictions get a strong grip on FOSS



  5. Links 16/4/2014: Red Hat PR, Ubuntu LTS Imminent

    Links for the day



  6. Links 15/4/2014: Lots of PCLinuxOS Releases, Ukraine Updates

    Links for the day



  7. Apple and Microsoft Actively Lobbying Against Patent Reform in the US

    Apple and Microsoft are reportedly intervening/interfering with US law in order to ensure that the law is Free/libre software-hostile



  8. Lawsuit by Microsoft Shareholder Targets Fine for Crimes Rather Than the Crimes Themselves

    A new lawsuit by a Microsoft shareholder shows everything that's wrong with today's model of accountability, where those who are responsible for crimes are accused of not avoiding fines rather than committing the crimes



  9. Public Institutions Must Dump PRISM-Associated Software

    Another reminder that taxpayers-subsidised services should refuse, as a matter of principle, to pay anything for -- let alone deploy -- proprietary software with back doors



  10. GNU/Linux News: The Opportunities Amid XP EOL

    Links for the day



  11. Microsoft Gets Its Money's Worth From Xamarin: PlayStation 4 Now Polluted by Microsoft

    The Trojan horse of Microsoft, Xamarin, is pushing .NET into Microsoft's console competitor



  12. After Brendan Eich Comes Chris Beard

    Having removed Brendan Eich using bullying and blackmail tactics, his foes inside Mozilla achieved too little as we have yet another man (coming from inside Mozilla) acting as CEO



  13. Healthcare News: Free Software in Health, Humanitarian Causes

    Links for the day



  14. Links 14/4/2014: MakuluLinux, Many Games, More Privacy News and Pulitzer Prize for NSA Revelations

    Links for the day



  15. TechBytes Episode 87: Catching up With Surveillance (NSA, GCHQ et al.)

    The first audio episode in a very long time covers some of the latest happenings when it comes to privacy and, contrariwise, mass surveillance



  16. Server News: KVM, ElasticHosts, Other GNU/Linux Items, and Open Network Linux

    Links for the day



  17. Hardware News: Freedom, Modding, Hackability on the Rise

    Links for the day



  18. Distributions News: GNU/Linux Distros

    Links for the day



  19. GNOME News: Financial Issues, Mutter-Wayland, West Coast Summit, Community Participation

    Links for the day



  20. KDE News: Kubuntu at the Centre Again KDE Applications Updated

    Links for the day



  21. Techrights Rising

    Effective immediately, Techrights will do what it takes to bring back old volume and pace of publishing



  22. Links: Surveillance, Intervention, Torture and Drones

    Links for the day



  23. Mobile Linux Not Just Android: Jolla, WebOS, and Firefox OS News

    Links for the day



  24. Google's Linux Revolution: New Gains for Android, Chrome OS (GNU/Linux)

    Links for the day



  25. Free/Libre Databases News: MongoDB, NoSQL, and MySQL Branches/Forks

    Links for the day



  26. Open Access on the Rise: Textbooks, Journals, Etc.

    Links for the day



  27. Finance Watch (Watching What's Not Being Watched): Economic Warfare/Class Injustice

    Links for the day



  28. Climate and Ecology Watch: News About a World Being Destroyed

    Links for the day



  29. Copyright News: DRM, Censorship, Megaupload, Hypocrisy, and Impact on the Internet

    Links for the day



  30. Sharing Works: Latest News Stories About Crowd-sourcing, Sharing, Transparency

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts