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12.02.12

Fighting Software Patents in the US While SCOTUS Already Moves to Validate Gene Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Supreme Court US, 2009

Summary: The absurdity of software patents, the patent wars, and the coming era of patenting or privatising life’s code

ACTIVIST against software patents — a real one, not a “moderate” one — is having a go again. PolR from Groklaw has released the second part or his “Software Is Mathematics” argument, citing Stallman from the recent conference which was stacked by so-called ‘moderates’ (controlled opposition which does not seek to abolish software patents). To quote the opening part:

I argued in part 1 of this series that computations are manipulations of symbols with meanings. In this article, I hope to further explain this notion using the social science of semiotics. Its object is the study of signs, the entities which are used to represent meaning.

This article elaborates on what Richard Stallman said in the recent Santa Clara Law conference Solutions to the Software Patent Problem.

According to this report Richard Stallman described patents on software as patents on thought, which amount to patents on the use of the human brain to reason and to solve problems by the application of reasoning. This article uses semiotics to show that Stallman’s point is more than rhetoric. It is a provably correct statement of fact.

One portal covers the “biggest fighters of the patent wars”, but it misses Microsoft’s war behind closed doors and focuses on Apple (visible patent wars) instead. To quote:

The fight between proprietary software and free software is not new. Wherever there is technology and more importantly wherever there is competition; issue like patent infringements are bound to come up. Generally, infringement wars happen when more than one organizations bring out similar kind of products.

The idea of software patent is significant as far as it promotes the originality as well as innovation. But, to some extent, software patents are road blockers for novelty. Somewhere they can harm the creativity and an aspiration to create something naive.

It is found; numerous biggies in the industry are waging wars against each other over patents. Let’s explore some significant legal battles fought (or being fought), which are grabbing lime light in the smartphone industry these days…

The problem there is, Apple is all over the place and patent blackmail gets little or no coverage. One is the equivalent of going to war and another is occupation after threat of going to war against weaker countries/groups. We will deal with Microsoft’s tactics in a separate post because it merits a longer discussion.

It is worth noting that monopolies on genetics and parts of the human body are soon to be legitimised by SCOTUS [1, 2, 3] after the USPTO already granted them. The corporate press says:

The Supreme Court announced Friday it will decide whether companies can patent human genes, a decision that could reshape medical research in the United States and the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer.

There is a lot of nonsense in this article because it focuses on benefits to corporations. To people, there are no benefits, only harm. It also harms competition, which is inherently anti-capitalist in the sense that it doesn’t let classical ‘free market’ capitalism do its thing. Here is the SCOTUS Blog page and a good rebuttal to it all:

But, of course, it was just the first step in a long process. Myriad took the case to the appeals court for the federal circuit (CAFC), the notoriously patent friendly appeals court. The only surprise here was that the US Justice Department actually said it agreed that genes shouldn’t be patentable (showing a potential disagreement within the administration, as the US Patent Office was not happy). End result? CAFC decided genes are patentable because they’re “separate” from your DNA.

We wrote about it before. CAFC is also partly responsible for software patents in the US. The system has gone rogue because the most important stakeholders, the public, get ignored.

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