07.30.14

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Ruling Against ‘Abstract’ Software Patents is Already Derailing Patent Attacks on Linux and Free Software

Posted in Patents, Samsung at 3:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patent litigation against Android/Linux impeded by the introduction of arguments that cite the Supreme Court

Dr. Mohan Dewan, Dr. Niti Dewan and Adv. Sahil Ahuja say that “Alice v. CLS Bank [is] another blow against software patents” (the headline of an article just published in a legal site). This is part of exciting developments around software patents. As a result of this ruling, which is still quite fresh and is reportedly impacting USPTO guidelines (Groklaw’s Pamela Jones broke her silence and came back to point this out), the patent cases against Linux, FOSS and other entities or projects like Android will be severely impeded. Samsung is in fact striking back against Apple using the precedence above:

When the US Supreme Court decided the Alice v. CLS Bank case last month, it was a signal that courts should be throwing out a lot more patents for being too abstract to be legally valid. Groups seeking patent reform and tech companies rejoiced, hoping the decision would knock out more of the patents wielded by so-called “patent trolls,” whose only business is litigation.

[...]

In legal papers (PDF), Samsung argues that both patents are attempts to “claim an abstract idea, implemented with generic computer functions that do not state any technical innovation.”

The search patent describes using “heuristics,” which an Apple witness described at trial as simply being “good ideas,” to “locate information in multiple locations.” Slide-to-unlock, meanwhile, “covers nothing more than the idea of moving an image to unlock the device.” Everything else in the key patent claim is generic computer language. “This simply is not enough to qualify for patent protection post-Alice,” write Samsung lawyers. “Both claims are invalid as a matter of law.”

Many thanks to Joe for his report. Nobody else appears to have reported this. Some people don’t agree with Joe’s “troll” classifier, but overall he is one of the best reporters out there on patent issues.

This is great news that shows how software patents were all along a major barrier to FOSS. Unlike Tesla with its PR stunts, FOSS backers do not play ball with software patents (Microsoft is a FOSS foe). As one site put it the other day:

Beware Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk’s patent pledge, say experts

[...]

Unlike pledges from other companies like IBM and Red Hat, Musk did not explicitly say that his promises were intended to be legally binding or irrevocable.

Microsoft uses a similar type of promise against Mono, reminding us that Microsoft uses “Open Source” for marketing purposes. It is not a FOSS supporter but an opponent.

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