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 15/7/2019: Vulkan 1.1.115 and Facebook Openwashing

    Links for the day



  2. Microsoft Office 360 Banned

    OpenDocument Format (ODF, a real standard everyone can implement) and Free/libre software should be taught in schools; it's not supposed to be just a matter of privacy



  3. Microsoft, in Its Own Words...

    Sociopathy, incompetence and intolerance of the rule of law, as demonstrated by Microsoft's top managers



  4. Microsoft's WSL is Designed to Weaken GNU/Linux (on the Desktop/Laptop) and Strengthen Vista 10

    What Microsoft does to GNU/Linux on the desktop (and/or laptop) bears much resemblance to what Microsoft did to Java a couple of decades ago



  5. Links 14/7/2019: Linux 5.2.1, Unreal Engine 4.23 Preview, Linux Mint 19.2 Beta

    Links for the day



  6. 25,500 Blog Posts and Pages

    With our thirteenth anniversary just a few months away we're at a pace of about 2,000 posts per year



  7. With WSL Microsoft is Doing to GNU/Linux What It Did to Netscape

    Embrace, extend, extinguish. Some things never really change even if they become an old and repetitive accusation.



  8. Allowing Bad Guests to Become the Hosts

    Why the so-called 'Linux Foundation', a nonprofit that acts more like a PAC controlled by proprietary software companies and people who don't even use Linux, is increasingly becoming a Linux-hostile front group



  9. Honesty and Collaboration Make Free Software Stronger, Microsoft is Inherently a Misfit

    In spite of all the lies Microsoft and its Web sites spew out on a daily basis, nothing has really changed and Microsoft is still attacking Software Freedom (mostly from the inside nowadays, helped by FUD proxies such as WhiteSource and Snyk)



  10. Patent Certainty Waning, But That's Still OK for Patent Trolls

    Patent maximalism remains a threat to everyone but patent lawyers (and patent office chiefs who measure their own performance only by the number of patents granted); best served are the patent trolls who extrajudicially attack already-impoverished parties behind closed doors



  11. GitHub is Microsoft's Proprietary Software and Centralised (Monopoly) Platform, But When Canonical's Account There Gets Compromised Suddenly It's Ubuntu's Fault?

    Typical media distortions and signs that Microsoft already uses GitHub for censorship of Free/Open Source software that does not fit Microsoft's interests



  12. Canonical is Turning Ubuntu Into a More Proprietary Deviant of GNU/Linux

    Ubuntu is becoming more 'Ubinary'; binaries without their source code available are packed up and cooked up for (or baked into) the ISO; this may be good for widespread adoption, but it's not an advancement of freedom, a capitulation rather



  13. Links 13/7/2019: Librem 5 July Update, Project Trident 19.07, KDE Frameworks 5.60.0

    Links for the day



  14. The Problem Isn't Women or Minorities in Free Software But Particular Corporations That Exploit or Steer or Hijack Their Agenda

    If technical issues are being disguised using colours and genders (among other things), then it's important to highlight who's behind it (what company/ies) rather than fling back insults at people because it makes things worse



  15. There's No Such Thing as Cloud Computing, Serverless and All That Other Nonsense

    Buzzwords. Confronted.



  16. Linux is Doing 'Well' Only for Those Who Dislike Software Freedom and Love Control Over Users

    Linux, the kernel, has become a corporate playground or a sandbox that's used to upsell proprietary software, including surveillance; freedom in Linux is gradually being diminished if not completely obliterated and it does not worry the foundations entrusted to guard against it



  17. Consultation About Direction and Future Focus for Techrights

    We invite ideas and recommendations for the future of the site, notably which topics and aspects are worth covering as a matter of higher priority



  18. European Media Continues to Ignore the EPO Crisis While Law Firms and EPO Management Cover Things Up

    The EPO crisis silently deepens because serious problems are lied about, not acknowledged, and the legitimacy of European Patents is greatly diminished, not to mention the EPO's ability to attract talent



  19. Links 12/7/2019: Alpine 3.10.1 is Out and Red Hat Loses Oliva

    Links for the day



  20. Links 11/7/2019: KDE Plasma 5.16.3 and Verifying Gentoo Election Results

    Links for the day



  21. Campinos is Already Widely Seen as Battistelli the Second, Even Among EPO Stakeholders

    The Frenchmen in charge of the EPO may have a taste (and waste) for wine, but they have no clue how to run a patent office (except into the ground); patent application numbers are meanwhile falling (a reduction in demand)



  22. The EFF Responds to IBM's Liars and Lobbyists for Software Patents Just a Day After Red Hat is Officially Absorbed

    IBM's unacceptable stance and abominable actions on the patent front continue to haunt it; IBM must quickly dissociate and reconsider its patent strategy so as to not alienate thousands of workers (the real asset of Red Hat) it has just spent a fortune on



  23. Microsoft Putting Patent Traps Inside Linux While Blackmailing Companies Using Patents Associated With These Traps

    In an effort to make exFAT (a patent trap) the 'industry standard', even inside Linux, Microsoft now wants exFAT inside the very heart of Linux and people are pushing back



  24. Links 11/7/2019: Cockpit 198, Librem Updates

    Links for the day



  25. More People Are Coming Out: Microsoft Tried to Get Them Fired for Standing in Microsoft's Way (the 'One Microsoft Way')

    Microsoft's bullying tactics aren't "old news"; the same tactics carry on to this date and they're the moral or corporate equivalent of doxing



  26. Links 10/7/2019: Sparky 4.11 and Sculpt OS 19.07

    Links for the day



  27. Links 10/7/2019: Septor 2019.4, Tails 3.15, FreeBSD 11.3 and Microsoft 'Morality Police' (Censorship of FOSS) in GitHub

    Links for the day



  28. EPO Further Harms Justice and Quality by Weakening Processes Associated With the EPO’s Boards of Appeal

    The priorities of EPO management reveal the sheer misunderstanding if not malice; either they do not know how to run a patent office or they intentionally try to make it fail (where it matters most)



  29. Links 9/7/2019: Goodbye Red Hat (IBM Takeover Finalised), Mesa 19.1.2, D9VK 0.13

    Links for the day



  30. IBM Has Just Wiped Clean Red Hat's Position on Software Patents

    Proprietary software giant buying Red Hat is not good news; but now it is confirmed and damage limitation may be in order


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

Recent Posts