07.30.10

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“No One Understands Computer Programs or How They Should be Patented,” Argues Lawyers’ Site

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 2:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anti software patents
India too is fighting against software patents

Summary: Alison Brimelow’s referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EU) is discussed again and the US continues to demonstrate the failure of systems with software patents

SOMEONE has just mailed us this article (which we missed) because it covers the Brimelow referral [1, 2, 3], discusses the conflict of interests, and also provides some historical background to software patents in Europe. It says that “About 40 years ago, when the founding fathers of the EPO began considering seriously the wording of a European Patent Convention, one of the questions they had to consider was what to do about patenting in the fledgling computer technology scene. At the time no one could really have understood or appreciated how computing would develop or how the patent system might cope, and trying to build a comprehensive system was probably beyond their bounds. So computer programs were lumped in as exclusions together with games, business methods and mental acts, a magnificent loophole was inserted and they presumably concluded that a few decades of technical and legal development would allow a more comprehensive answer to the problem. On May 12 2010, the Enlarged Board of Appeal, Europe’s highest IP tribunal, issued an opinion that proved conclusively that the draftsmen all those years ago had been absolutely right. No one understands computer programs or how they should be patented.”

Europe ought to learn from the United States’ mistakes. The market there is being harmed by software patents, large victims of which include Facebook.

Reuters reports about the expensive failure of such issues, which only seem to benefit lawyers/litigators in this case.

Facebook Inc won a legal fight on Wednesday over claims its hugely popular social networking website infringed a patent owned by Leader Technologies, but the little-known company said it would ask the judge to set aside the verdict.

Software patents are being trashed one at a time in the US and TechDirt has this to say, noting that East Texas is part of the problem (trolling tourism).

The jury has declared the patent invalid. Clearly, the only explanation is that the jury was also made up of idiots. Next time, Leader Technologies should file the lawsuit in East Texas where they know how to make juries, rather than Delaware.

Why is it that Europe hardly has any patent trolls? Maybe there is indication here that abstract ideas in computing have no place in patent offices. The EPO will hopefully never emulate the USPTO. Programmers in Europe are put in a position of advantage as long as software patents stay away and the Shazam story is a recent example of this [1, 2, 3] (this Dutch developer did not need to censor his work).

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