04.30.07

Microsoft Beats AT&T. Are Software Patents Void Now? (Updatedx2)

Posted in Courtroom, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following new ruling will certainly lead to plenty of debates. On the face of it, Microsoft has defeated software patents in court. It makes some strong precedence.

In a stunning 7-1 decision with extremely broad implications in the field of patents and patentability, the US Supreme Court has overturned a Federal Circuit ruling that was in favor of AT&T, and has apparently affirmed Microsoft’s arguments that software coupled with the device on which the software is installed cannot be considered patentable.

You can look back at other patent complaints from Microsoft. I cannot find a particular quote that I have in mind. It is statement from the AT&T trial which I quoted several times in the past. It showed Microsoft acknowledging that software should not be patentable. It addressed a question asked by the judge. Maybe their lawyers accidentally let it slip. Palm have been on the same boat recently.

Following yesterday’s surprising announcement that patent firm NTP is taking portable computing pioneer Palm to court over alleged IP infringement, the PDA and smartphone manufacturer has fired back with a statement detailing its position on the matter

Looking ahead, there are more problems to overcome. As it turns out, Microsoft will embed .NET its Web technology, essentially bringing it (or forcefeeding it) to other platforms.

Microsoft is integrating the .Net framework into its new Silverlight browser technology for running multimedia applications on the Web, the company revealed Monday.

As we have stressed several times before, .NET is a patents-encumbered technology. Reasons to avoid Silverlight, however, go far beyond that.

  • No IDE for me – The development path is currently platform specific to Windows. Not even an open compiler or server side compiler for Linux is available. Use Expression Blend on my Mac? Not happening.
  • No plug in for Linux – Even Adobe has managed to deliver it’s modern plugin to Linux users. I only use Linux as a server platform, but with Ubuntu, etc making inroads on the desktop,it’s nice to have it as an option.

[...]

Say No to Mono

Update: I have found the document [PDF] which I had in mind.

MR. OLSON [for Microsoft]: The ’580 patent is a program, as I understand it, that’s married to a computer, has to be married to a computer in order to be patented.

JUSTICE SCALIA: You can’t patent, you know, on-off, on-off code in the abstract, can you?

MR. OLSON: That’s correct, Justice Scalia.

Update #2: Here are a couple links to support our assertion that software patents have lost much of their power in the United States.

Analysis: Less patent shield for code

Clearing the way for wider worldwide distribution of computer software code, and saving Microsoft Corp. millions of dollars in patent damages, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that it is not illegal to send Windows code abroad for copying and installing in foreign-made computers, even if the code incorporates a part of someone else’s patented invention.

Supreme Court to Patent Appeals Court: Drop Dead

Then the justices cupped their hands astride their mouths and shouted in unison: Fewer patents!

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