Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Problem With Software Patents in the United States

Important case about patents on life can help reform the system, but there's more...

Surgery



Summary: News analysis and patent lawyers' take in light of some encouraging developments in the fight against algorithmic exclusions

THE past year has brought a lot of press coverage that's hostile towards software patents. Increasingly, people are being informed and are brought into the side of real justice, not what's written on paper because some lawyers (typically politicians) help fellow lawyers.



"You really can receive a software patent for almost anything these days," says this new article from CNET. The context is this: "This time, Facebook is countersuing Yahoo, charging that Yahoo violated 10 of its patents. This move, of course, comes less than a month after Yahoo sued Facebook for allegedly infringing on 10 of its patents.

"Facebook's countersuit shouldn't surprise anybody; it was always going to fight fire with fire, especially since Yahoo started this unnecessary fight. It's the same reason Facebook purchased 750 patents from IBM last month -- it needed more ammunition in a patent arms race that is quickly escalating.

"But I'm shocked by some of the patents over which these two companies are suing each other. One of Yahoo's patents focuses on the "optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage", while Facebook has two patents that cover a "system for controlled distribution of user profiles over a network." Yahoo owns the patent for a "method to determine the validity of an interaction on a network", but "generating a feed of stories personalized for members of a social network" belongs to Facebook."

A lawyer and proponent of software patent seems concerned about the following new development:

Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a curious decision in Ergo Licensing, LLC v. CareFusion 303, Inc. This decision should send chills down the spine of everyone who has patents in the software space, and needs to be carefully considered by all those who draft patent applications in the software space.


It does seem like, provided more people are made well-informed about software patents, the lawyers who run for office will need to deliver real change and remove software patents. Engineers never approved the emergence of such patents, it was never really for them but for the leeches.

With this good news we return to Easter idleness. More patent news will come soon.

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