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. Scanning Patent Troll Implodes; Is the Podcasting Patent Troll Next?

    MPHJ loses and Personal Audio LLC perhaps wins for the last time since software patents are quickly losing legitimacy in the United States



  2. If CAFC is Not Above the Law, Then it Should be Shut Down Now

    A long series of abuses in CAFC may as well suggest that this court has become broken beyond repair



  3. The Latest From Microsoft Patent Trolls and Patent Partners

    Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling



  4. Microsoft Proves That Its Massive Layoffs Are Not About Nokia

    Microsoft is laying off a lot of employees who have nothing at all to do with Nokia



  5. Links 19/9/2014: Another Red Hat Acquisition, Netflix Dumps Microsoft Silverlight and Brings DRM to WWW

    Links for the day



  6. Links 18/9/2014: Windows Copying GNU/Linux, Germany Moves to Security

    Links for the day



  7. Web Site 'Patent Progress' Now Officially 'Powered by CCIA' (FRAND Proponent, Microsoft Front)

    After talking a job at CCIA, "Patent Progress" and its chief author should be treated as dubious on real patent progress



  8. Articles About the Death of Software Patents in the United States

    Recent coverage of software patents and their demise in their country of origin, where even proponents of software patents are giving up



  9. The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

    VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States



  10. More Microsoft Layoffs

    More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete



  11. ODF on the Rise

    Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments



  12. Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

    Links for the day



  13. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  14. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  15. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  16. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism



  17. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  18. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  19. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  20. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  21. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  22. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  23. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  24. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  25. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  26. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  27. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  28. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  29. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  30. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    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