Bonum Certa Men Certa

Ignoring the Bascom Hype and the Federal Circuit's Built-in Bias, Software Patents Still Dying in US Courts

Software patents invalid
Credit: Robert R. Sachs



Summary: The trend which suggests software patents fade away in the United States, in spite of all the lobbying, remains largely uninterfered

AT TIMES when the USPTO does not care about patent quality (apathetic at best) and the Supreme Court is giving more power to CAFC, the originator of software patents in the United States, one must pay close attention to enemies of software development, i.e. those who promote software patents.



According to lawyers' media (earlier this week), "At Federal Circuit, Death of Software Patents Exaggerated". To quote the article's basis for this headline: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit continues to carve out a sliver of room for software patents.

"Alice is a lot stronger (Supreme Court) than most precedents and Enfish has proven to be rather useless in practice.""A three-judge panel on Monday found that a Texas federal judge jumped the gun when she ruled that software designed to filter internet content was ineligible for patent protection under the Supreme Court’s Alice decision.

"Judge Raymond Chen acknowledged that the patent claimed an abstract idea and that the claim limitations, taken individually, recite generic computer, network and internet components."

It's not just this one. Patent lawyers continue to worry about Alice killing software patents and any time there's an exception to that they leap at the opportunity, as they did yesterday [1, 2, 3] (the second one is also here) after CAFC had thrown a bone [1, 2, 3, 4]. It is not too shocking that the court which brought software patents to the US and has become rather notorious for corruption is throwing a bone to patent lawyers. Here is MIP's coverage of the case. "The Federal Circuit has found a software patent valid for the third time since Alice, ruling in Bascom v AT&T that “an inventive concept can be found in the non-conventional and non-generic arrangement of known, conventional pieces”," says the summary.

Does this mean that people can now just say Halo, Enfish or Bascom in order to overturn decisions in favour of software patents? Well, not really. Alice is a lot stronger (Supreme Court) than most precedents and Enfish has proven to be rather useless in practice. As the National Law Review put it the other day: "Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank shifted the contours of patent-eligible subject matter, district courts have wielded the two-part test set forth in that decision to dispatch scores of business method patents as being directed to unpatentable abstract ideas. In a recent example, the Massachusetts district court invalidated a patent relating to inventory forecasting software using the Alice test."

"Alice not only prevent new software patents from being asserted (or granted, if the USPTO actually decides to follow the rules rather than chase gold); it also retroactively devalues or revokes old software patents."This is generally the trend nowadays, as statistics serve to show. Software patents continue to drop like flies and there is no sign (at least not yet) of the Supreme Court reversing its course of action. Regarding Yahoo, which was destroyed by Microsoft, someone finally says the obvious about its patents, which are being put on sale. Yahoo's patents may be worthless because they're primarily software patents or in the words of a Forbes blogger: "The Yahoo patents being marketed cover a number of different technology areas, including e-commerce, search, messaging, and cloud computing. However, over 80% of these IP assets are categorized as software or business method patents."

Alice not only prevent new software patents from being asserted (or granted, if the USPTO actually decides to follow the rules rather than chase gold); it also retroactively devalues or revokes old software patents. Speaking of which, yesterday the EFF's Nazer presented the "Stupid Patent Of The Month: Storage Cabinets On A Computer" (as the name/title implies, this too is a software patent).

To quote Nazer: "How do you store your paper files? Perhaps you leave them scattered on your desk or piled on the floor. If you're more organized, you might keep them in a cabinet. This month's stupid patent, US Patent No. 6,690,400 (the '400 patent), claims the idea of using "virtual cabinets" to graphically represent data storage and organization. While this is bad, the worse news is that the patent's owner is suing just about anyone who runs a website.

"With few exceptions here and there (including some from CAFC) we remain quite confident that the trend remains phasing out of software patents in the United States.""The '400 patent is owned by Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. ("GEMSA") which seems to be a classic patent troll. GEMSA is incorporated in Australia and appears to have no business other than patent litigation. The patent began its life with a company called Flash VOS. This company once offered a product that allowed users to run multiple operating systems on personal computers with x86-compatible processors. The '400 patent describes a graphical user interface for this system. The interface allows users to interact with "graphical depictions of cabinets" that represent memory partitions and different operating systems."

The nice thing is, many patents that are like that and can be described in physical terms (or analogies) would quite likely be deemed too abstract to be patentable. With few exceptions here and there (including some from CAFC) we remain quite confident that the trend remains phasing out of software patents in the United States. Software patents proponents like patent lawyers would have us believe otherwise because they're trying to find customers and sell their services.

Recent Techrights' Posts

Why We're Revealing the Ugly Story of What Happened at Libre-SOC
Aside from the fact that some details are public already
Why Virtually All the Wikileaks Copycats, Forks, and Rivals Basically Perished
Cryptome is like the "grandpa" of them all
In the United Kingdom Google Search Rises to All-Time High, Microsoft Fell Nearly 1.5% Since the LLM Hype Began
Microsoft is going to need actual products or it will gradually vanish from the market
 
Libre-SOC Insiders Explain How Libre-SOC and Funding for Libre-SOC (From NLNet) Got 'Hijacked' or Seized
One worked alongside my colleagues and I in 2011
Removing the Lid Off of 'Cancel Culture' (in Tech) and Shutting It Down by Illuminating the Tactics and Key Perpetrators
Corporate militants disguised as "good manners"
FSF, Which Pioneered GNU/Linux Development, Needs 32 More New Members in 2.5 Days
To meet the goal of a roughly month-long campaign
Lupa Statistics, Based on Crawling Geminispace, Will Soon Exceed Scope of 4,000 Capsules
Capsules or unique capsules or online capsules are in the thousands and growing
Links 24/07/2024: Many New Attacks on Journalists, "Private Companies Own The Law"
Links for the day
Gemini Links 24/07/2024: Face à Gaïa, Emacs Timers for Weekly Event, Chromebook Survives Water Torture
Links for the day
A Total Lack of Transparency: Open and Free Technology Community (OFTC) Fails to Explain Why Over 60% of Users Are Gone (Since a Week Ago)
IRC giants have fallen
Trying to Put Out the Fire at Microsoft
Microsoft is drowning in debt while laying off loads of staff, hoping it can turn things around
GNU/Linux Growing at Vista 11's Expense
it's tempting to deduce many people who got PCs with Vista 11 preinstalled are deleting it, only to replace it with GNU/Linux
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 23, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, July 23, 2024
[Meme] Was He So Productive He Had to be Expelled Somehow? (After He Was Elected and Had Given Many Years of Work to Earn a Board Seat)
Things like these seem to lessen the incentive to devote one's life to Free software projects
GNOME Foundation is Causing Itself More Embarrassment With Secrecy Than With Full Transparency
It also arouses suspicion and hostility towards Codes of Conduct, which gave rise to 'secret courts' governed by large corporations
Links 23/07/2024: NetherRealm Layoffs and Illegitimate Patent 'Courts' (Illegal)
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/07/2024: AM Radio, ngIRCd, and Munin
Links for the day
A Lot of GNU/Linux Growth on the Client Side is Owing to India (Where GNU/Linux Has Reached 16%)
A lot of this happened in recent years
Insulting Free Software Users in Social Control Media (Proprietary, Bloated With Opaque JavaScript) is Like Insulting Amish on TV
Why bother? Don't take the bait.
When Wikileaks Sources Were Actually Murdered and Wikileaks Was Still a Wiki
when Wikileaks was a young site and still an actual wiki
statCounter: Dutch GNU/Linux Usage Surged 1% in Summer
Microsoft is running out of things to actually sell
Microsoft's "Results" Next Week Will be Ugly (But It'll Lie About Them, as Usual)
Where can Microsoft find income rather than losses as its debt continues to grow and layoffs accelerate?
Julian Assange is Still Being Dehumanised in Media Whose Owners Wikileaks Berated (With Underlying Facts or Leaks)
Wikileaks and Free software aren't the same thing. Nevertheless, the tactics used to infiltrate or discredit both ought to be understood.
A Month Later
We're optimistic on many fronts
Links 23/07/2024: Downsizing and Microsoft and Still Damage Control
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/07/2024: Friends and Solitaire
Links for the day
Why the Media is Dying (It Sucks, No Mentally Healthy People Will Tolerate This for Long)
linking to actual news articles helps fuel the spam, too
Censorship in Eklektix's Linux Weekly News (LWN)
Medieval system of speech, where the monarchs (Linux Foundation) dictate what's permissible to say
10 Years of In-Depth EPO Coverage at Techrights (Many Others Have Abandoned the Topic)
Listen to staff
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, July 22, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, July 22, 2024
[Meme] The Latest in the Microsoft Windows Blame Game
Microsoft found the culprit and came to everyone's rescue!
Links 22/07/2024: Overworking and Performance Issues From Europe
Links for the day
Microsoft Eliminates 67% of the Building Occupancy - That's Some Truly Massive Layoffs
Half a dozen floors? Microsoft cuts that down to two.
[Meme] Signs of a Dying Patent Office
"Bribe the media to say you excel"
This Month's General Consultative Committee (GCC) Webchat ('Meeting') Covered the European Patent Office's Attacks on Its Own Interpreters
The Central Staff Committee is currently circulating a report with appendices about the GCC meeting [sic] (webchat) that took place less than a fortnight ago
A Byzantine European Patent Office Where Staff Must Beg for Help With Contraception (Worse Than the Rest of Europe)
The Central Staff Committee (EPO staff representation) has just circulated a report
[Teaser] EPO Run by Children
"Daddy, why was I born?"
Let's Encrypt About to Fall Below 100 (Capsules) in Geminispace, It's Basically in a Freefall
The "self-signed" portion keeps growing
Gemini Links 22/07/2024: Spacewalk Dies and Old Computer Challenge in the Rear View
Links for the day
For the First Time Since May Linux.com (Linux Foundation) Published Something. It's All Spam.
Can we trust the Linux Foundation to look after anything at all? Look what it turned this once-thriving site into.
Honduras: Windows Down, Android Peaking Again
Honduras does not have many stakes in Microsoft
[Meme] Twitter (X) Will Reject the Concept of a Female President
Twitter (X) is controlled by misogynists, who socially control (or socially-engineer) their fake concept of "media"
Second Family Photo of Julian Assange Since His Release (First Since His Birthday)
His wife shows the 4 of them for the first time (2 hours ago)
Protesters in Kenya Need Software That is Free (Libre) and Supports Real Encryption in Order to Avoid Capture and Torture (Sometimes Execution)
There's more to fight over than economic issues
The Ludicrous Idea That GNU/Linux is a "Poor Man's" Operating System
Seeing the trends in countries such an Norway, it ought to be abundantly clear that adoption of GNU/Linux has nothing to do with poverty
Links 22/07/2024: Internet Optimism and Kamala Harris Policies Debated
Links for the day
Something is Happening at OFTC
It looks like it shrank by 20,000 users
GNU/Linux Usage in Guadeloupe Rises Closer to International Average, Based on Web Data Collected by statCounter
It should be noted that the estimates of GNU/Linux usage are now in 4.5% territories
The Impact of OFTC's Latest Changes on the Perceived Scale of IRC Globally
IRC is still one of the more potent alternatives to the social control media conglomerates
New: Why They Really Went After Assange
Uploaded by Chris Hedges
Links 21/07/2024: Health, Politics, and Kamala Harris in Focus
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 21, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, July 21, 2024
A Drop in Half (From 208 to 104): Sharp Decline in Number of Gemini Capsules That Use Let's Encrypt CA Since December
Gemini is increasing its independence from Certificate Authorities (CAs)