08.19.11

Discussions About the United States Court of Appeals on Software Patents

Posted in Site News at 5:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shield on floor

Summary: Debate over whether or not software patents are dying in the United States and, if so, which ones or what type

Mr. Masnick elaborates (in relation to this) on the demise of the system as we know it (a subject wrote about yesterday) and his analysis makes it into Slashdot. The general theme is software patent potentially dying in the States following an important ruling. The reality is, the ruling is applied to only an unspecified subset and such rulings can be ignored or reversed.

Timothy B. Lee has a less optimistic interpretation. To quote:

On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected a patent on a method of detecting credit card fraud. The result was unsurprising, but the court broke new ground with its reasoning. Citing the Supreme Court’s famous rulings against software patents from the 1970s, the court ruled that you can’t patent mental processes—even if they are carried out by a computer program.

Of course, all computer programs implement mathematical algorithms that could, in principle, be implemented with a pencil and paper. So is this the end of software patents? Unfortunately not. The court ruled that the no-patenting-math rule doesn’t apply if the math in question complicated enough that “as a practical matter, the use of a computer is required” to perform the calculations.

Groklaw has a law professor telling us how to read it:

If you can do it in your head or simply with a paper and pencil, simply claiming to perform the mental task on a computer or over the internet or storing it on computer readable media will not make it patent eligible. That is the conclusion of the Federal Circuit in the recently decided case of Cybersource Corporation v. Retail Decisions, Inc. [PDF]

In its decision the Court reaffirmed the use of the “machine-or-transformation test” as one tool for assessing the patent-eligibility of subject matter, and then extended its analysis with the observation that mere mental tasks that are not tied to other patentable subject matter are not, in themselves, patent eligible.

Read on. Fascinating. Are we finally seeing a major breakthrough?

Katherine Noyes has become more active in the fight against software patents. In her second piece on this subject in recent days she quotes a fellow Canadian as saying: “The USPTO has allowed US businesses to descend into a depressing state of paranoia and mindless violence. The USPTO has issued thousands of worthless patents that can do $millions of damages per patent in legal fees and blocking commerce. … [Patents have] warped into weapons of mass destruction in the hands of corporations.”

Moreover, a new article has just been published to highlight the fact that patents are harming small businesses. Mainstream sources are finally starting to get it and they openly discuss the issue without descending to the self-justifying circle of patent lawyers. To quote part of the article:

The United States patent laws are supposed to keep the intellectual property developed by individuals or businesses from being used without compensation to the developer. Instead, these laws are being used to make money for patent owners who have no plans of actually developing the product.

They’re called patent trolls by technology CEOs in Silicon Valley and around the world. Patent trolls purchase patents from inventors and later use those patents to sue other companies who they say are infringing on the patent. Some patent trolls have tens of thousands of patents in their portfolio which can net them a lot of money, mostly from lawsuits that are settled out of court.

This is something which patent lawyers always benefit from. It is increasingly being pointed out that everyone else loses. The patent system as it stands cannot last for much longer. Unless it spreads to other countries, it will falter.

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

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

What Else is New


  1. 'Social Dialogue' at the EPO Broke Down, Team Campinos is Totally Delusional

    Team Campinos is speaking to itself, reaffirming its own decisions, but it's trying to give the impression of consultation with staff; unfortunately for them, staff isn't gullible enough and there's good understanding of the false pretenses



  2. The EPO's 2020 Impaired Vision/ViCo: Imposing Illegal Practices on EPO Stakeholders, Not Only on EPO Staff

    Corruption is contagious; we now see a growing number of EPO stakeholders speaking out against the outrageous attempts by Office management to impose illegal practices on them; they don't wish to participate in any of this



  3. Censored EPO Publication: Evidence That the Censorship of EPO Staff Representation (Central Staff Committee) Started Months After António Campinos Started His Term

    Central Staff Committee representatives explained in very clear terms how Team Campinos (soon 2.5 years in the role) was — and still is — censoring representatives in an attempt to keep staff ignorant, misinformed, and afraid



  4. Guest Post: Helping Roy Delete Debian at Work and Home

    "What we probably don't want to do is continue to support Debian or systemd, if we can help it."



  5. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 02, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 02, 2020



  6. Links 2/12/2020: Multi-Touch Gestures in elementaryOS, DXVK 1.7.3

    Links for the day



  7. Links 2/12/2020: ZaReason RIP, Rancher Now SUSE-Owned, OSI Board Director Works for/on Azure

    Links for the day



  8. [Meme] Espionage With Spyware: Slack's Data Sold to Company That Helps ICE Kidnap Children and Forcibly Sterilise Women

    There's now an additional good reason to boycott Slack's malware, which is basically surveillance of workers disguised as 'collaboration'



  9. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, December 01, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, December 01, 2020



  10. The World is Ill

    Not only Europe's second-largest institution (the EPO) is morbidly if not critically ill; the OSI is now a zombie controlled by Microsoft and friends, much like the so-called 'Linux' Foundation



  11. Censored EPO Publication: Staff Representatives Cannot Comment on the Survey Conducted by the Office's Management

    EPO management tried to muzzle EPO staff after the Office-wide staff survey turned out to be “nothing short of a disaster.”



  12. Censorship at the EPO is Counterproductive, Rendering the Censored Publications More Seductive and Censored People More Disgruntled

    The efforts to gag Techrights or to intimidate us have all been unfruitful; in a sense, they encouraged us to focus on EPO scandals even more and arguably invoked the 'Streisand Effect' at the EPO (most workers read this site, no matter what their bosses say)



  13. EPO Management Has No Plans Other Than Granting Loads of Invalid Patents (e.g. Software Patents) to Pocket Fees and Then Grift/Gamble With the Money

    The EPO does not know what the hell it’s doing; it’s more of that magical festival-like thinking, as if running a patent office is Eurovision



  14. Links 1/12/2020: KDE Plasma 5.20.4, GNU Octave 6.1, OpenZFS 2.0, and PinePhone KDE Community Edition

    Links for the day



  15. [Meme] Public Servants Who Only Serve Themselves and Their Predecessors (Who Gave Them the Job)

    The Benoît Battistelli-appointed António Campinos (an old friend of his) isn’t just covering up the EPO‘s financial scams but contributes to these; when will this house of cards (arse-covering) fall and will that take a special (independent) investigator?



  16. Censored EPO Publication: Battistelli Can Have His Multi-Billion Euro EPO Scam, So Why Can't Campinos Too?

    Mr. Campinos, seeing what Mr. Battistelli has managed to get away with (the Commission approves, having been infiltrated by friends of the ringleaders), piggybacks or follows the steps of his appointer by blasting almost a billion euros on a worthless project with no real purpose and the Central Staff Committee (CSC) warns it has "very high risk of mismanagement and fraud"



  17. Staff Representation of the EPO Explains to EPO Management That It's Breaking the Law, Robbing the Staff, and Lying to Staff

    Human rights, basic dignity and labour protections of EPO staff are routinely violated and the staff is also being robbed based on false pretenses; the staff representatives write to refute "[t]he Office’s report [which] has been made available on the Intranet"



  18. European Commission's Thierry Breton Covers Up EPO Corruption For His Friend Benoît Battistelli

    Thierry Breton is the sort of official who causes people to vote for Brexit (or similar exits from the EU); he’s enthusiastically defending EPO corruption and he also calls for constitutional violations in many member states — all in the name of patent maximalism (Team UPC’s coup attempt)



  19. IRC Proceedings: Monday, November 30, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, November 30, 2020



  20. Links 30/11/2020: GhostBSD 20.11.28, Nitrux 1.3.5, Linux 5.10 RC6, GNOME Circle, Microsoft Collapses Again in Web Server Share

    Links for the day



  21. Alternatives to the World Wide Web, to HTML, to HTTP/S, and to the Internet

    Looking around the Web (yes, the Web) for alternatives to the Web (and the stack underneath the Web), we're finding that IPFS is mature and robust enough for our needs



  22. Management of the EPO Dragged to the International Labour Organisation Over Its Assault on the Right to Strike

    Opinion on strikes challenged by the Central Staff Committee of Europe's second-largest organisation; if strike rights are almost abolished there, what hope is there for the rest of Europe?



  23. [Meme] Management of the EPO Cannot Let the Staff Breathe or Smell Freedom

    Working for the EPO means giving up on one’s human rights; that’s the sort of conclusion many workers have reached



  24. “ViCo” is Nothing New (Not Even the Acronym), Done on 9/11 Last Year, Been Possible as Long as the EPO Has Existed

    Contrary to what many people are led to believe, the EPO isn't embracing innovation, it's just embracing COVID-19 and leveraging lock-downs (de facto house arrest to some) to impose an illegal practice on EPO staff and EPO stakeholders



  25. Release: Early Letters and Documents About Financial Hoax Disguised as EPO 'Study'

    It was over a year ago that staff representation at the EPO expressed concerns about what would later enrage workers — seeing that based on unscientific fabrications the EPO would take away what had been promised to them



  26. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, November 29, 2020

    IRC logs for Sunday, November 29, 2020



  27. Managing IP: Puff Pieces Galore for the EPO's Dictatorship (Complete With Buzzwords and PR Stunts)

    By giving a platform to notorious patent trolls and ‘engaging’ with the EPO‘s dictator (whom only 3% of EPO staff trusts) Managing IP is sort of giving away its real agenda, which isn’t journalism but conducting or assisting misinformation campaigns



  28. Links 29/11/2020: Genode OS Framework 20.11, Linux 5.11 Kernel Changes, and Latest in KDE Itinerary

    Links for the day



  29. Sincere Thoughts About Outreachy

    Outreachy's role in the Free software community and inclusion in the FSF's High Priority Projects, as seen from the eyes of a female coder from a minority group; she used to work for the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and she expresses concerns about what Outreachy has become



  30. Free Software Under Tyranny of Codes of Conduct as the Western Equivalent of Blasphemy Law (Corporations as the New Religion/Sponsors as Deities)

    The free speech crisis in Free software communities has enabled expulsion of opinionated people whose opinions truly matter; in their place we now have companies that bomb people, sometimes even kidnapping children and sterilising women because nothing says “Ethics” like naked fascism and corporate domination everywhere


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