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The FFII and Red Hat's CEO Express Dissatisfaction with United States Patent System

My ex hat



Summary: More new calls for the elimination of software patents in the USPTO

A lot of opposition to software patents made its way into the desks of USPTO clerks last week. Heise has some new coverage of this.

Harsh words came from Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC): "Software patenting has been a scourge in the global technology industries," writes the lawyer. In his brief, Moglen argues that software is nothing more than an array of computer instructions. In the lawyer's opinion, computer programs should be as ineligible for patent protection as mathematical equations or precise descriptions of physical laws. Ciaran O'Riordan of the End Software Patents campaign, which is supported by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), also calls software patents an "economic failure and a hindrance to the progress of the useful arts." Allowing software patents has "resulted in perverse economic effects," as litigation is increasingly targeting not only developers, but also users in the general economy, said O'Riordan.


The President of the FFII points to this new interview which he described as: "RedHat CEO about software patents, nobody can write software without risking a lawsuit"

Here is the official video description:

Open software developer Red Hat is mounting a Supreme Court battle in the nation's highest court, with Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat CEO and president and CNBC's Bob Pisani.


The FFII has also just officially announced its amicus curiae brief.

The Foundation for a Free Informational Infrastructure (FFII) and IP Justice filed an Amicus Curiae Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case Bilski v. Kappos is expected to become a landmark ruling on the future of the U.S. patent system. The joint Brief explains the interlink of software and business methods, and points out alternatives to the so called Machine-or-Transformation test used for categorizing patents.


The Against Monopoly Web site has this new post which gives examples of outrageous patents. Not too surprisingly, mostly software patents are given as examples.

Examples of (at least apparently) ridiculous patents and patent applications abound (more at PatentLawPractice):

* Amazon's "one-click" patent, asserted against rival Barnes & Noble * Cendant's assertion that Amazon violated Cendant's patent monopoly on recommending books to customers (since settled) * The attempt of Dustin Stamper, Bush's Top Economist, to secure a patent regarding an application for a System And Method For Multi-State Tax Analysis, which claims "a method, comprising: creating one or more alternate entity structures based on a base entity structure, the base entity structure comprising one or more entities; determining a tax liability for each alternate entity structure and the base entity structure; and generating a result based on comparing each of the determined tax liabilities"


Even in the United States, pressure to abolish software patents is increasing. The nation's dependence on Free software may make such abolishment inevitable, but IBM, whose officer now controls the USPTO [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], is still standing in the way.

"Technology products typically consist of hundreds or thousands of patented components. It therefore is impossible for technology companies to investigate all of the patents, and pending patent applications that may be relevant to a new invention (product), notwithstanding their best efforts to do so." —Business Software Alliance, Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in eBay Vs MercExchange

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