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06.09.10

Patents Roundup: In Re Bilski, Amazon, WebM, and Biotech Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Patents at 6:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Biotech

Summary: Important news from all around the Web, regarding patents (monopolies) on software and on life in particular

In Re Bilski Delays

AS we noted yesterday, the important decision on the Bilski case is not here yet. Patently-O commentators believe 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.”

Progressive people at the Against Monopoly Web site opine that “the Court is waiting until the end of the term to release” this decision:

They are probably right to be. A delay this long in the decision most likely means that the Court is waiting until the end of the term to release it – which they traditionally do for what the Justices consider to be their most important and/or far reaching decisions of the year.

It may also be the case that there are either important dissents or concurring opinions on the case, thus prompting a delay with back and forth rewrites and revisions to the final decisions. (Though one should recall that at oral arguments, the Justices seemed universally critical to the idea of broad-based business method patents.)

Feld's contribution to the good cause is mentioned alongside very long comments here and here.

Reforms or revolutions that actually support the interests of the populist movement — so to speak — are rather rare. The patent system has been perturbed and perverted beyond recognition now that even biology becomes a person’s monopoly.

Amazon Still Misguided

Over in the United States, the company behind the notorious one-click shopping patent is now trying to patent “online orders with a nod or a smile,” to put it the way TechFlash did: [via]

Amazon.com is famous for its 1-Click ordering system. But what about 1-Nod ordering? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seeking a patent on a system that would let people make purchases with a nod, a smile or even a raise of the eyebrow.

Called “Movement recognition as input mechanism,” it envisions a computing device that could interpret certain facial expressions and enhance or potentially replace “conventional input devices such as keypads and touch screen.”

The many managers that Amazon hired from Microsoft are hopefully not ruining the company from the inside.

WebM and Software Patents

It is still being argued that Google has not resolved patent issues around WebM. LWN had what is now an out-of-date discussion considering that Google resolved the issues around the WebM licence. Alastair Otter and Linux Journal wrote about this too.

Patents of Life or Death

It is looking iffy for patent law in Australia, where software patents are mostly possible to sneak into the registry and gene patents too become a controversial debate. One Australian reader/contributor told us that in the Australian press there is a major discussion on the subject. From the ABC Web site (the Australian ABC, not the US-based one):

ELEANOR HALL: Australia’s biotechnology industry is warning that the court challenge being launched today against the patenting of human genetic material could kill off investment in the industry.

Lawyers have begun legal action against four biotechnology companies, which co-own the patent to the breast cancer gene.

They say companies shouldn’t have the right to commercialise the human body.

But representatives of the biotechnology industry say the landmark legal case could stifle innovation and investment in important medical research.

Malicious companies like Monsanto have a stake in it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. These patents impede development, they don’t facilitate it. These patents facilitate massive profits (hoarding) by impeding competition.

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