07.01.10

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Dan Ravicher Suggests Organising for Chance of a US Patent Overhaul

Posted in America, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The SFLC’s analysis of In Re Bilski does not neglect to make suggestions for those who pursue abolishment of software patents in the United States

BILSKI’S patent did not bring about any major change, but it did get thrown out. The SFLS[how] spoke [Ogg] to Dan Ravicher, the legal director at SFLC. Having looked at the full SCOTUS text and drawn some conclusions, he states that the current administration is of no use when it comes to abolishing software patents because it’s already in the pocket of the pro-patent interests [1, 2].

“[W]hat we really have to start do, if people are outraged by this, they need to start acting that way and refuse to transact business…”
      –Dan Ravicher,
Instead, suggests Ravicher (around minute 42 from the start), “what we really have to start do, if people are outraged by this, they need to start acting that way and refuse to transact business and encourage people to collect their voices together in unison and we actually need to make this a policy issue that we care about.” Here is the audiocast/oggcast as HTML5 embedment:

Rather than talk about the defeat of Bilski, Florian Müller ‘injected’ his opinion (e.g. [1, 2]) that it’s only a loss to opposers of software patents, despite the fact that there are good sides to the ruling. As the Washington Post put it, “Supreme Court ‘Bilski’ ruling doesn’t rule out software, business-method patents,” but this does not mean that these are validated. In fact, based on Ravicher’s interpretation, Scalia still distances himself from the patenting of software (as he did when he addressed Microsoft lawyers some years ago).

Speaking of judges like Scalia, David Boies is going to battle against Microsoft yet again, this time over the issue of software patents:

Get ‘em, Boies: Salesforce countersues Microsoft

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff says Microsoft is a patent troll. Looks like it takes one to know one. On Thursday, the company answered Microsoft’s charges of patent infringement with patent-infringement charges of its own.

For context, also see:

Here is what a Windows news section said about the Bilski ruling (bias expected):

Upholding an appeals court ruling in the closely watched Bilski v. Kappos case, the U.S. Supreme Court denied patent protection to a specific business method for energy trading. But the Supreme Court chose not to clarify the lines that define patentable subject matter.

The disallowed patent claim describes a series of steps for hedging against the risk of price changes in the energy commodities market. It was rejected by a patent examiner because it was an abstract formula not implemented on a specific device.

The “device” loophole/trick is being used by Microsoft in other parts of the world, including Europe. Someone really ought to resolve this ambiguity (the Supreme Court even contains two ambiguities in one statement about software, regarding the future of what qualifies as “invention”).

The US patent system is out of control. Choudhury’s yoga patents are a great new example of this. From this week’s news:

American attempt to patent yoga, puts Indians on their toes. Last week, Open Source Yoga Unity, a San Francisco-based non-profit group of yoga enthusiasts, filed a federal lawsuit attacking Choudhury’s patent on 26 yoga postures.At the center of the suit is the question. ‘‘Whose yoga is it anyway? ” The saying, “What’s in the past, should stay in the past” – doesn’t work here.

Here is Ravicher commenting on gene patents — another class of outrageous monopolies. How far will patents go when lawyers are put in charge to maximise their own profit?


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