Summary: A roundup of patent news from Europe, the US, and some other places which suddenly let software patents be
Hartmut Pilch, the habitually-involved founder of the FFII, writes in his blog about the group's latest action which strives to tackle software patents in Europe one patent at a time, as a matter of making a point or precedence perhaps.
Meanwhile, the patent has been revoked. The Opposition Division revoked it for the second time. In 2007 it had already revoked this patent, which had been granted in 2003 and filed in 1998. However the Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) revived the patent and remitted it to the Opposition Division, alleging that the Opposition Division had failed to prove that the feature of simplification to a “single action” (one click) was not novel. In today’s hearing, the Opposition Division considered this feature novel. Moreover it also considered novel the process of ordering a gift for a friend without fully disclosing his address. However the Opposition Division doubted, whether the combination of these two features could be considered an “inventive step”.
Defining what makes a software patent is a legitimate debate, unlike what makes “good” software patents. Amazon is doing badly based on grounds of triviality, prior art, and lack of software patenting in the case of Europe. It ought to make this patent quite easy a target for the FFII.
Meanwhile in the United States, the USPTO enjoys protections from corporations and government (virtually the same under corporocracy) and one notable lawyer who is a product of this system advocates yet more patent monopolies, saying that “Patents Boost American Prosperity” (maybe for lawyers). The idea that academia, for instance, would stop innovating if no patents were offered is totally ridiculous. Masnick’s Web site is dismantling the arguments one by one, concluding:
Yes, we agree that innovation holds the key to future prosperity. The problem is that there is no evidence that the patent system actually increases that innovation, and a ridiculous amount of evidence that it does exactly the opposite. It retards innovation, diverting money from actual innovations that hit the market, to lawyers. The costs associated with the patent system far outweigh any benefits. Could you craft a functioning patent system? Perhaps, but today’s system is not it, and if Judge Michel ever spent time with actual innovators who were the victims of patent trolling, he might learn something. But, you know, that would offend his patent lawyer and patent troll buddies.
More patents boosters, again in the form of patent lawyers, debate the scope of patents:
The chart above shows the percentage of published non-provisional patent applications that include the term “means for” at least once in the claimset. Although not the only way of doing so, “means for” is traditionally used by patent attorneys to invoke the doctrine known as means-plus-function claiming allowed under 35 U.S.C. 112p6. [Soon to be renumbered 35 U.S.C. 112(f)]. As the chart shows, the percentage of applications that include at least one means-plus-function term is well under 10% and seemingly in continued decline. A decade ago, about 1/4 of all applications included this type of claim.
At the legal site Groklaw, Pamela Jones responds with: “So topic one the USPTO asks us to address covers “well under 10%” of the applications for patents. Of course.”
Well, the USPTO likes to focus on rigged debates which hardly address the real questions, as we have explained before. Those are easy to find. It’s either a stacked panel, a push polling-like tactic (dancing around distraction and disinformation), or both.
Publishing Data Management announced today that five international patents have been granted for the software engine that drives ProofPlus, its trademarked Financial Compliance and Electronic Document system. Patents have been issued in Israel, Russia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa and are pending in China, Europe and additional countries. This announcement underscores the significant commitment a company must undertake to protect its inventive efforts in today’s global marketplace.
Europe is not a “country” actually, not even with the unitary patent [1, 2]. Either way, let us hope that multinationals’ pressure (clients of patents lawyers) to make software patentable won’t spread outside of the United States where, in my humble opinion, corporations already have far too much power over the authorities. Imperialism by corporations never-endingly strives to expand for increased profit. It’s governments’ job to place boundaries and represent people, the digital majority █
“Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won’t leave you alone.”