02.20.17

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No, Doing Mathematical Operations on a Processor Does Not Make Algorithms Patent-Eligible

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” —Marshall Phelps

Summary: Old and familiar tricks — a method for tricking examiners into the idea that algorithms are actual machines — are being peddled by Watchtroll again

I COME from a professional background of computer vision and I am also familiar with (and trained in) processor technology, so when I say that software is inherently mathematics I am not just merely repeating what other people are saying. In fact, having debated this in length with Watchtroll a couple of years ago, it became abundantly clear that he (Mr. Quinn) does not know that the heck he is talking about; he could not even name any computer program he wrote. It’s astounding that people who want to believe that software is patentable take him seriously*.

I therefore worry that Watchtroll is seen by many as some sort of ‘authority’ on the subject; it’s a site by and for law firms, or a propaganda mill for their pockets (software patents). They do a lot of lobbying and also shaming of officials like the Director of the USPTO (they never even mention the EPO).

“The latest Watchtroll piece wants people to think of computer programs as computers; as if putting something that is akin to prose through a processor magically makes it patentable.”The latest Watchtroll piece is titled “Operational Mathematics on a Processor is not an Abstract Idea”. They are mixing two things here; processors are not abstract but mathematics is a whole different thing. They cannot just magically link two things to make them look like the same thing. In our view, which was consistent over the years, the processor itself can have patents associated with it, and we don’t object to that. But algorithms are not processors and they are rarely if ever embedded in gate level. The computers are programmable. That’s what Manchester innovated after the (second) World War and what the Computer Science department here — the department which I studied in — became most renowned for.

The latest Watchtroll piece wants people to think of computer programs as computers; as if putting something that is akin to prose through a processor magically makes it patentable. Clueless or just lying to oneself?

We often wonder how many of the software patents proponents who write for Watchtroll actually come from Computer Science and can comprehend computer programs/code. We cannot recall even one. “Peter also works as a patent engineer in patent prosecution,” says the disclosure in the above article. What the heck is a “patent engineer”? That makes it sound like the act of patenting itself is an engineering task? Can they patent the process of patenting too? I once dated a girl who said she was a “nail engineer” (later it turned out she meant manicurist), so here again we have these artistic semantics.

“Sadly, based on what we heard, the above-mentioned pattern of deception (combining or blurring the gap between machine and code) is often used to trick EPO examiners into granting software patents; they can mislead themselves into thinking that they don’t grant software patents, but they do.”“Operational math on a processor is a switching device and not an abstract idea,” Peter writes. The processor just takes an instruction or a set of instructions (input) and produces some output, yielding something that can be processed for visualisation, sound etc. But the processor is not the program itself. The programs are stored in memory or in registers, which themselves resemble a book and are already covered by copyrights, not patents, just like a book. We could go on and deconstruct the whole piece from Peter, who is an Electronic Engineer, not a software engineer (far from the same thing).

Sadly, based on what we heard, the above-mentioned pattern of deception (combining or blurring the gap between machine and code) is often used to trick EPO examiners into granting software patents; they can mislead themselves into thinking that they don’t grant software patents, but they do.
____
* Well, here is Mr. Watchtroll being treated as some kind of guru on the subject [1, 2] just a few days ago.

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