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03.26.12

While Software Patents Are on the Line, Linux and the Public Continue to Suffer

Posted in Google, Oracle, Patents at 10:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Patent news of interest to the FOSS community

AN article in Groklaw reveals that the case which challenges software patents in the United States (albeit indirectly) leads to response from the USPTO. As another site (run by our reader Wayne Borean) puts it:

American Patent law is a mess. When a small section of law ends up being appealed to the United States Supreme Court so often, it is an indication that:

1. The law is badly written
2. Powerful interest groups are trying to bend the law
3. There is a lot of money at stake

This is the seventeenth patent case the court has ruled on since 2005. The Supreme Court has broad powers to choose which cases that it takes. It selects cases that it believes will have a significant impact on the law in the United States. That it has taken so many patent cases implies that the Supreme Court sees problems with the Patent System.

Thus far, the Supreme Court has failed to fix the system and it already harms Android, which relates closely to Linux. Pogson says that:

The issue of patents is similarly embarrasing as the abundance of patents in suit and claims of violation has withered to a couple of items of tiny value if anything. Is it worth 8 weeks of trial to calculate whether zero times a bunch of factors amounts to anything? The Court is thinking ~$100 million tops, with all factors being 1. The result will almost certainly be much less if greater than zero. Oracle might save money by dropping all claims and firing the people who got them into this mess.

Those costs are of course to be passes to buyers. The patent system is a real sham that harms the public and does not stimulate innovation. To strike the problem at the root we must eliminate software patents in the US.

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