24 Sep

The White House – Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents

The patent office’s original interpretation of software as language and therefor patentable is much closer to reality and more productive for innovation than it’s current practice of issuing software patents with no understanding of the patents being issued.

Under the patent office’s current activity, patents have been come a way to stifle innovation and prevent competition rather than supporting innovation and competitive markets. They’ve become a tool of antitrust employed by large companies against small ones.

To return sanity to the software industry – one of the few industries still going strong in America – direct the patent office to cease issuing software patents and to void all previously issued software patents.

via The White House – Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents. Why haven’t you signed this petition?

24 Aug

NYTimes.com – Its Gene Patents Upheld, Myriad Genetics Moves to Protect Its Secrets

Myriad Genetics retained its monopoly on a lucrative genetic test for breast cancer risk when a federal appeals court recently upheld the company’s patents on two human genes — and the validity of gene patents in general.

But it is only a matter of time before the company’s business faces severe challenges, some experts say, because that $3,340 test is technologically outmoded, incomplete and too costly.

“Science has moved beyond what these folks do,” said Mary-Claire King, a professor of genome sciences and medicine at the University of Washington. “It’s not good for the science and it’s not good for the patients and their clinicians if they cannot have the most complete, up-to-date information.”

via NYTimes.com – Its Gene Patents Upheld, Myriad Genetics Moves to Protect Its Secrets. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the idea of patents on genes, the fact that these patents are forcing patients to undergo a more expensive and less effective procedure should give anyone concern.

19 Aug

Ars Technica – Does not compute: court says only hard math is patentable

On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected a patent on a method of detecting credit card fraud. The result was unsurprising, but the court broke new ground with its reasoning. Citing the Supreme Court’s famous rulings against software patents from the 1970s, the court ruled that you can’t patent mental processes—even if they are carried out by a computer program.

Of course, all computer programs implement mathematical algorithms that could, in principle, be implemented with a pencil and paper. So is this the end of software patents? Unfortunately not. The court ruled that the no-patenting-math rule doesn’t apply if the math in question complicated enough that "as a practical matter, the use of a computer is required" to perform the calculations.

In order to justify this result, the court gives the most thorough defense of software patents that we’ve ever seen from the judiciary. We don’t think the line they draw—between ordinary math and math that requires a computer—makes much sense from either a legal or policy perspective. But the ruling at least signals that, for the first time in over a decade, the courts are thinking hard about how to apply the Supreme Court’s old software patent cases in the modern world. We’re hopeful that as the confusion in this week’s decision becomes more obvious, we’ll see further progress.

via Ars Technica – Does not compute: court says only hard math is patentable. It’s nice to see the courts limit patents somewhat, but the logic still has a real problem which is that practically speaking all math can be performed by a human being it may just either be tedious or time-consuming. The other question becomes raised if the math is complicated enough that a computer becomes required does that mean that the math itself is patentable (which the courts have said no math isn’t patentable)? The court seems to be trying to not rule against all software patents while acknowledging they are broken and need to be reformed.

The core of the legal problem with software patents is that they are just algorithms, logic and math, neither of which is patentable. Combine the two and describe a possible computer program and bam, that logic and math is now patentable. Ignoring all practical aspects of patents and software patents in particular, legally speaking software patents seem to me to be indefensible.

18 Aug

Groklaw – Google Reexam Requests Devastating to Lodsys

On Friday, August 12, Google filed inter partes reexamination requests with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the two patents asserted in patent infringement claims by Lodsys against, among others, several Android developers. The patents subject to these requests are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,222,078 and 7,620,565.

We have had a chance to review the reexamination requests, and after that review we believe Lodsys is in for a rough time. We have seen reexam requests before, but when we saw these, the above quote came to mind. Lodsys, you shouldn’t have brought a knife to a gunfight.

And for all of those naysayers who have shouted Google is not doing enough to protect Android app developers and that Android app developers should cave to the Lodsys demands, you need to reconsider your position.

via Groklaw – Google Reexam Requests Devastating to Lodsys. What’s interesting about this story is the suspicion that Google and Apple had not previously filed re-examination requests because their agreements with Lodsys prevented such an action, apparently not so at least for Google.

02 Aug

This American Life – When Patents Attack!

Why would a company rent an office in a tiny town in East Texas, put a nameplate on the door, and leave it completely empty for a year? The answer involves a controversial billionaire physicist in Seattle, a 40 pound cookbook, and a war waging right now, all across the software and tech industries.

via This American Life – When Patents Attack!. Not upset enough about patents, spend an hour and you’ll get even more upset.

01 Aug

The Economist – Intellectual property: Patents against prosperity

At a time when our future affluence depends so heavily on innovation, we have drifted toward a patent regime that not only fails to fulfil its justifying function, to incentivise innovation, but actively impedes innovation. We rarely directly confront the effects of this immense waste of resources and brainpower and the attendant retardation of the pace of discovery, but it affect us all the same. It makes us all poorer and helps keep us stuck in the great stagnation.

via The Economist – Intellectual property: Patents against prosperity. Yet another in a long line of articles decrying the patent system.

22 Mar

PLATO History – Yet another PLATO innovation ignored, this time patented by Google

Today the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent to Google for its Google Doodles feature, wherein the company’s home page logo is customized on certain holidays or days to commemorate a certain person, place, or thing.

Problem is, this is not Sergey Brin’s or Google’s invention. It is PLATO’s. (And who knows, there might have been prior art even before the early to mid 1970s when the practice was commonplace on PLATO’s "welcome page.")

via PLATO History – Yet another PLATO innovation ignored, this time patented by Google. Even Google submits stupid and ridiculous patents, for stuff already “invented”.

12 Jan

BBC News – Microsoft seeks to block Apple ‘App Store’ trademark

Microsoft has said that it has asked US officials to block Apple’s attempt to trademark the words "App Store".

Apple submitted an application for the phrase – used for its iPhone, iPad and Macintosh download services – in 2008.

But Microsoft has now told BBC News that it has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject the application.

The company says the term is too generic and competitors should be able to use it.

via BBC News – Microsoft seeks to block Apple ‘App Store’ trademark. Right there with you Microsoft.

03 Jan

ConceivablyTech – The Ultimate Patent Troll Patent: Get Sued When You File A Patent

This patent reads a lot like a late Christmas present for Paul Allen (or the entire smartphone industry for the purpose of general entertainment), but there seems to be a deeper meaning in this patent. Some genius at IBM simply collected all the experience IBM gained from filing more than 100 patents virtually every week throughout the year and assembled that into a chart, which was then turned into a patent filing. Essentially, IBM could claim to have patented the …. patent. It covers very broad strategies how to file and protect a patent. So, this particular patent is, in fact, approved by the USPTO, and you file for a patent in the future, you may want to contact IBM, because you may infringe on at least on ingenious idea IBM laid out in its filing.

via ConceivablyTech – The Ultimate Patent Troll Patent: Get Sued When You File A Patent. Just when you thought patents couldn’t get any more stupid, IBM comes through.

27 Aug

TechCrunch – Google, Facebook To Microsoft’s Paul Allen: Your Argument Is Invalid

The entire Internet (aka Facebook, Google, Apple AOL, Facebook, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube) has just been served with a vague and vast patent violation suit from Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen. As patent suits are notoriously unpopular, the response from tech pundits has been apprehensive. Now the companies named are starting to punch back, a representative from Facebook told TechCrunch, “We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously.”

via TechCrunch – Google, Facebook To Microsoft’s Paul Allen: Your Argument Is Invalid. Oh software patents how worthless you are.