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06.07.10

Bilski Decision Believed to be Incredibly Long or Containing Multiple Opinions

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 1:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Supreme Court bricks

Summary: A quick look at Bilski and some news about Microsoft and patents

EVERYONE wonders what’s up with the Bilski case, whose decision will have come out by the end of this month. Here are two possible explanations of why it takes so long:

Bilski Watch: Dissenting & Concurring Opinions: In discussing the timing of Bilski v. Kappos, several commentators suggested that the delay might indicate (1) that the court will issue multiple opinions (concurrences or dissents); or (2) that the decision will be especially long.

The decision may come as soon as days from now if not a week. It’s a very important case because it may determine that software patents are not patentable (unlikely) or are harder to justify/defend. Previous rulings regarding Bilski are already killing software patents sometimes.

A lawyers’ Web site (pro-software patents) explores the issue of whether Edison was a patent troll or not. We wrote about this subject before. It’s the wrong question to ask (a straw man) because there is something in between. The same goes for the leech known as VirnetX, which recently defeated Microsoft and is now coming out with a new press release:

VirnetX Holding Corporation also reports that on May 18, 2010, Microsoft filed Notices of Non-Participation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, whereby Microsoft stated that it will not participate further in the Inter Partes Reexamination proceedings of certain of VirnetX’s patents.

Had software not been patentable, the courts would not waste their valuable time with this case. Ryan recalls an example from ten years ago where a software patent impeded reverse engineering of a media file format from Microsoft. How is it beneficial to anyone in society when one’s own videos are stuck in a format only Microsoft is permitted to interpret, thanks to patent law? In the next post we’ll return to the MPEG-LA/WebM debate. It’s a similar problem.

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