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 in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2010/05/10/bilski-vs-msft/

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 22/4/2021: virt-viewer 10.0, PipeWire 0.3.26, LibreELEC (Matrix) 10.0 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  2. Links 22/4/2021: Ubuntu Release, KDE Gear 21.04, GNU/Linux on MacBooks

    Links for the day



  3. GNU/Linux Turns 38 This Year, But the (Partly) Microsoft-Led Linux Foundation Wants You to Think It's Only 30 and a Good Friend of Microsoft

    What the Linux Foundation calls “Linux” (as its PR staff members refer to it in their new press release) is 38 years old, not 30. “Open Source” as a term did not formally exist yet, so this latest waffle makes no sense at all (the press release keeps mentioning a term that’s designed to attack and replace the original). But it’s part of a broader pattern of deception, attacking software freedom and pretending GNU never existed. Did money corrupt everything and is it too late to salvage truth, let alone freedom?



  4. Richard Stallman on Paid Smear Campaigns

    Dr. Richard Stallman on people who lie about him online (4 years after the older campaign of hate and distortion and half a decade before the current one, coordinated by groups funded by monopolies that dislike GPL)



  5. Links 22/4/2021: Grafana Goes for AGPLv3, Godot 3.3 Released, Mesa 21.0.3 Available

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, April 21, 2021



  7. Behind the Curtains of Cheap and Cheesy PR the EPO is a Machine of Oppression (Against Its Very Own Staff), Tribunal to Rule on Strike Busting

    The laughable regime of Campinos is a naked emperor with nothing but diplomatic immunity (almost not a single member of staff trusts the President) and the PR strategic front is becoming worse than pathetic; it's like the place is run by infantile career-climbing sociopaths with no qualifications, trying to weaponise a sea of money against staff, inquisitive media, and states (by bribing them or hiring lawyers to intimidate/bankrupt them); while the EPO still swims in money its reputation drowns too quickly to ever resurface, recover



  8. Links 21/4/2021: University of Minnesota Blacklisted Over Defects, Red Hat Satellite 6.9 is Out

    Links for the day



  9. Links 21/4/2021: VirtualBox 6.1.20, GCC 11.1 Release Candidate, Nginx 1.20.0

    Links for the day



  10. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, April 20, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, April 20, 2021



  11. Some People Who Asked to Be Removed From the Slanderous Hate Letter Against the FSF Are Still Being Denied Removal (But Not All)

    I am aware of some people (evidence is in the public domain for all to see) who asked to be removed from the hate list; their requests have not yet been processed, or simply denied. Maybe they should ask again. There are silent and selective changes.



  12. Overt Abuse and Mischaracterisations by Bully de Blanc

    The campaign to ruin the FSF and silence its founder, Richard M. Stallman (RMS), goes months prior to the hate letter set up by Bully de Blanc, her boss, and the Microsoft-sponsored OSI; they just attack the licence (GPL/copyleft) and they try to redefine things for the corporations which fund them



  13. According to StatCounter, This Month GNU/Linux Market Share on Desktops/Laptops Exceeded 2% (Based on Sites They Monitor)

    StatCounter does not monitor everything and not every machine connects to the Web, but in relative terms, based on the chart above, no doubt GNU/Linux continues growing relative to other operating systems (chart plotted based on the latest raw data, rendered in LibreOffice Calc)



  14. At the EPO, Lawlessness Has Become “a New Normal”

    Without as much as a real consultation with those who are impacted (by the EPO's gross infringements) the management of the EPO rushes ahead again, enjoying zero oversight, no legal review, and no accountability or scrutiny of any kind



  15. Links 20/4/2021: Tails 4.18 and Mark Surman in Mozilla's Board of Directors

    Links for the day



  16. Microsoft as a Censorship Machine Working to Undermine Free Software and Code Sharing (Also Sharing in General)

    Microsoft is, as usual, a tool of destruction rather than creation; it seems to be better at ruining things and censoring things, notably things that compete against Microsoft or pose a threat to Microsoft's business model (and close partners, such as RIAA)



  17. Phoronix Needs to Exercise Caution and Stay Vigilant/Careful of Microsoft

    Taking note or lessons from the blunder of Raspberry Pi (back in February), Phoronix should be careful of Microsoft 'freebies' as they're never free and there are strings attached, destined to alienate longtime supporters



  18. IRC Proceedings: Monday, April 19, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, April 19, 2021



  19. Links 20/4/2021: EasyOS Dunfell 2.7.1, Phoronix Takes Microsoft 'Freebies', Microsoft Trying to Steal Credit for Linux on Mars

    Links for the day



  20. Richard Stallman on How UPC is a Trojan Horse for Software Patents in Europe

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, offers his analysis of the Unitary Patent (or UPC) and what it means for software patents in Europe now that the EPO increases its influence over continental law



  21. Technology Can Make Life Worse, Even in the Public Sector, Not Just the Private Sector

    There are growing concerns — increasingly justified concerns as a matter of fact — that customer service is universally going away and “COVID” has become the impenetrable shield or a cover in the face of facts, laws, and basic rights



  22. Links 19/4/2021: LibreSSL 3.3.2, OpenSSH 8.6, Firefox 88

    Links for the day



  23. Time to Move to Gemini, Wherever/Whenever Possible, as the World Wide Web is a Burden on Everybody

    A 30-minute rant about what the Web has become and the promise of gemini:// (designed to simplify everything, enable self-hosting, preserve privacy, and empower communities rather than military-connected monopolies)



  24. The Number of Signatures in the Anti-FSF Petition is Decreasing, Not Increasing

    A reader has notified Techrights that belatedly, perhaps where people’s job is at risk (we’ve heard of stories and situations wherein the employer’s view and a worker’s view diverge), the GNOME Foundation/OSI did in fact remove some people from the hate letter they had set up for their monopolistic sponsors. We do, however, still see some names in there of people who asked to be removed, so it must be a very selective process. They don’t want to lose face, so they must have made it very difficult to revoke one’s name. Exceptional circumstances? We have checked to confirm, based on the available archives, and indeed that number decreased since 10 days ago, whereas 6,415 people have thus far signed the support letter (it's still growing), so we’ve just re-plotted the chart.



  25. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, April 18, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, April 18, 2021



  26. How Many People Developed GNU (Maybe Hundreds) in the 1980s

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, explains how code was managed and contributed in the early days of GNU



  27. Links 19/4/2021: Linux 5.12 RC8, GNU Poke 1.2, EndeavourOS 2021.04

    Links for the day



  28. Proprietary Software (BT Hub) Has Ruined My Whole Day

    While we did have some plans to publish long articles, those plans were curtailed or at least delayed due to the fact our sole device at home not to be controlled by us (a so-called 'Smart' Hub from BT) decided to break itself and by doing so bring productivity to a standstill (that firmware update, silently installed without notice or any form of consent, managed to screw with the local network)



  29. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, April 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, April 17, 2021



  30. Tolerating the Intolerant and Lacking Tolerance for Opposing Views

    The person who shouted...


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