Friday, September 21, 2012 A Stack Exchange To Prevent Bad Patents

Ask Patents is a new Stack Exchange site launching [20 September 2012] that allows anyone to participate in the patent examination process. It’s a collaborative effort, supported by Stack Exchange, the US Patent and Trademark Office, and the Google Patent Search team. It’s very exciting, because it is opening up a process that has been conducted behind closed doors for over 200 years.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Problem With Software Patents

Elia Freeman writes
"Patents do not lead to innovation. In fact, I would argue that patents cause a dearth of (again, software) innovation. Software is always built in layers. One guy’s idea is used to generate the next set of ideas, of which the next guy builds on. Interested in Twitter? What if SMS had been patented. Or instant messaging. You’d never had seen it. How about Facebook? What if News Corp had patented the timeline for MySpace. There is very little invention in the software space. Almost all has some lineage to something that came before, physical or otherwise."

Source Elia Insider

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Open Source Society pleads Patents Bill amendment

There is still an opportunity to defuse a simmering dispute over the future status of software patents, the president of the New Zealand Open Source Society, David Lane, said after meeting with government officials.

 Lane met yesterday with officials from the Business, Innovation and Employment and Foreign and Trade ministries and said he was convinced they had the "best intentions". Commerce Minister Craig Foss disappointed large tracks of the software industry last month when he announced the Government would amend the Patents Bill.


Richard Stallman "The Danger of Software Patents"

Richard Stallman will explain how software patents obstruct software development. Software patents are patents that cover software ideas. They restrict the development of software, so that every design decision brings a risk of getting sued. Patents in other fields restrict factories, but software patents restrict every computer user. Economic research shows that they even retard progress.

Location Paris, France - Ecole Supérieure de Management à Paris - Groupe ESA (ESIAE) - 9 rue Vesale - 75005 Paris, Franc

The [New Zealand] Patents Bill

The intent of the bill has been that software not be patentable. This is the case in Europe, and there is a lot of evidence that software patents have been stifling innovation, not fostering it. Actual software code can be copyrighted, but under the proposed law change, software will not longer be patentable. This is welcome by most of the local ICT industry. It stops patent trolls and the like.

However some NZ companies such as Fisher & Paykel Appliances said that software embedded in an appliance should still be patentable. The select committee and the Government agreed to this. The problem has been how to define it.

Source Kiwiblog

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Santa Clara Law: 2012 Solutions to the Software Patent Problem

Normally, an academic-oriented conference would debate the merits of software patents. This conference is different. Rather than having another debate, this conference will use a premise--that software patents are a problem--as a springboard for discussing ways to address those problems. In rapid succession, patent experts at the conference will present innovative proposals (ranging from abolishing software patents to company/industry self-help), debate their relative merits, and discuss how they might be implemented.

To extend the discussion, many of the speakers and other interested experts will publish short essays in describing their proposed solution and advocating for its adoption. We hope conference attendees and readers will embrace the best proposals and catalyze real action towards solving the software patent problem.

Organizers: Santa Clara Law Professors Colleen Chien and Eric Goldman

Mobilisation against the return of software patents in Europe

In the next few days, the legal affairs (JURI) Committee of the European Parliament will discuss on the next actions regarding the project for a unitary patent. Behind what looks like a technical text lies a crucial issue: who decides on what is patentable and what is not.

As software patents are coming back in international news with the Apple/Samsung case, we need to ensure that such aberrations cannot happen in Europe. April calls for a general mobilisation to contact all MEPs, so that the European Parliament finally tackles the issue of the software patentability.


Online petition against software patents in New Zealand

A group of New Zealand software developers lave launched an on-line petition against the proposed change to the patent bill.

The Problem

In 2010, a Select Committee unanimously recommended that software be excluded from patentability. Clause 10A(1) of the Patents Bill will achieve this.

Unfortunately, the Government has decided to add clause 10A(2) at the last minute. While intended to preserve the availability of patents for inventions containing embedded software, this clause actually undermines the intended exclusion of software patents.

The Remedy

In order to preserve the exclusion of software patents, but still preserve patents for inventions containing embedded software, we request the following replacement for clause 10A(2) of the Patents Bill:

Take Action

If you agree with the proposed remedy, and you are a New Zealander-based software developer or a supporter, please add your signature to the list using the form [on their site].

Monday, September 03, 2012

"Clueless" Minister stifles software sector - New Zealand Labour Party

Our growing innovative software industry has been dealt a cruel blow which will compromise and stifle its potential, says Clare Curran, Labour’s communications and IT spokesperson.
The National Government’s decision to open the door to the patenting of computer software winds back a simple but vital change to our little known patent law, which has undergone its first review since 1953.

Craig Foss’s decision is a major back-down on the stance taken by the previous Commerce Minister Simon Power to back the unanimous decision of the Commerce Select Committee, following clear advice from officials.

The Patents Bill proposed to exclude computer software from being patentable, because like books, movies or music, it can be protected under copyright law. This was a ground-breaking position which has been generally applauded by the burgeoning New Zealand ICT sector.

The Select Committee accepted that new software inventions are regularly built on existing software, and that software patents were often granted for “trivial or existing techniques.”
The Committee found that using intellectual property in a fair and reasonable manner would promote Kiwi innovation and build advanced industries.

“The last minute amendment by the Government so that software “as such” can’t be patented, but inventions that include software can be, opens the door to widespread patenting of software.  The Minister has caved in to pressure from big corporations which fear competition from smaller players.
“That’s a slap in the face to the local industry, and many innovative Kiwi software firms will now face real challenges to develop new software.

“The Minister should have stuck to his predecessor’s plan to get the Intellectual Property Office to develop guidelines for inventions that involves ‘embedded software’, or software that is built into a physical device.  That would have been a reasonable solution which would have promoted innovation in one of New Zealand’s emerging industries.

“Labour’s policy is to enact and implement the Patent Bill excluding computer software. That will give our software innovators the best chance to succeed,” says Clare Curran.

Source New Zealand Labour Party released under Creative Commons licence CC BY ND NZ

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Guess who supports [the NZOSS] fix to the Patents Bill?

"As you probably all know, Fisher & Paykel Appliances (FPA) has been the only prominent NZ company opposing the Patents Bill, on the grounds that it might prevent patents on its appliances containing embedded software. That may be a reasonable concern, although not one that was ever a real risk. But unfortunately, instead of suggesting an express carve-out for embedded software to allay that concern, some patent attorneys have instead used the claimed "threat" to FPA to demand that the entire software patent exclusion be scrapped."

According to an OIA request, all they were really asking for was a specific exclusion for embedded software from the general exclusion
"Clause 15(3A) should be amended to include an express "carve out" to allow patents for "embedded systems", such as programmed controllers for washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and other whiteware."

Saturday, September 01, 2012

EU unitary patent and Unified Patent Court - software patents wiki (

The European Union patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court are two parts of an EU proposal which takes competence for patent cases away from the national courts and transfers it to a new pro-patent court with no independent appeal system for its rulings. One expected outcome is that software patents may become enforceable throughout the European Union. The stated aim is to unify Europe's patent systems.

The proposal also involves creating a single patent which would be valid in many EU member states, without translation. This proposal took over from the Community Patent since the Lisbon Treaty and is often called the EU patent or the unitary patent.

As of August 2012, Spain and Italy continue to reject the proposals and the EU intends thus to make them binding in only the other 25 member states.

Blame a dysfunctional patent system for Apple vs. Samsung verdict

 Whether you think that Apple is already too big for its britches or that Samsung deserved to get slammed for $1 billion by a Silicon Valley jury last week for infringing on the iPhone design, there's no doubt where the blame for this corporate firefight lies. The guilty party is the U.S. Patent Office.

Actually, that's a bit unfair. The Patent and Trademark Office, as it's formally known, is understaffed and underfunded and not especially up to the task of judging increasingly complex patent applications. But the real problem is in the law, which utterly has failed to keep up with realities of technology and the marketplace.
Source L A Times

Friday, August 31, 2012

New Zealand bans software patents, but with a few loopholes

Whether or not the patent system is actually helpful in its current form, we leave to the legal and technical experts. But here’s a jurisdiction that has taken quite a radical approach: New Zealand. ZDNet reports that the New Zealand government is moving ahead with plans to ban software patents.

[A] memoradum that explains the Patents Bill amendment states the following:
Rather than excluding a computer program from being a patentable invention, new clause 10A clarifies that a computer program is not an invention for the purposes of the Bill (and that this prevents anything from being an invention, only to the extent that a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such).
According to the New Zealand Open Source Society, the use of the phrase “as such” at the end of the memorandum has opened a loophole that can be easily exploited.
Meanwhile The Register is reporting

"New Zealand has passed legislation which partially forbids the granting of software patents – but has come under trenchant criticism by the NZ Open Source Society for abandoning local developers."

Source The Register
All other sources I've found, incuding the parliamentary order paper, are reporting that the law hasn't passed yet so it's highly likely that they have misinterpreted the situation.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SMX quits NZICT in protest over Patents Bill stance

SMX has publically resigned from NZICT this afternoon, following industry group's support of controversial changes to the Patents Bill.

"We feel that NZICT does not represent NZ software companies' interests, as its tier 1 membership, board and funding is derived from large off-shore companies or their local partners. These off-shore software companies have a huge amount invested in the software patent gravy train and in stifling local competition."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Govt accused of Patent Bills 'betrayal'

The New Zealand Open Source Society reacted angrily to the [Patents] bill's new wording in a blog post. "With the removal of the explicit software patent exclusion, and the addition of two tiny words, 'as such', Foss has more or less thrown Kiwi software developers under a bus," it said. The minister might believe he had struck a "clever compromise", but the clarification represented "a legal loophole the size of a bus", it said.

New York Times stands up to patent troll.

The New York Times Co. is girding for a legal battle that many larger organisations have avoided. The Times is leading the defence of a diverse group of companies that use technology they assumed was free: sending text messages with Web links to mobile phones.

The technology was patented by inventor Richard J. Helferich, who filed an outline of how such a system would work with the US Patent and Trademark Office in September 1997. He was granted several patents on the method, giving him the right to sue companies that use it without permission.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Google says "Patent Wars Not Helpful to Anyone"

At an Aspen conference in Mountain View, Calif., Pablo Chavez, Google’s public policy director, referred to the patent wars, saying that they are not helpful to the marketplace or to innovation. He further said that patent wars are not helpful to the consumers at all.

However, there are many who see this statement as a reaction to the social search giant’s ongoing legal battles with Oracle, which Google won at trial, and Apple, which is still pending. Software patents are getting too controversial in technology circles, where most of the companies are taking its rivals to courts for infringing each other patents.

Source Tech Thirsty

IBM, Microsoft, and the BSA Promote Software Patents in New Zealand Behind the Scenes | Techrights

Multinationals from the US, namely Intel, IBM [...], and of course Microsoft, have been lobbying for software patents in New Zealand. According to news from the site which is dedicated purely to fighting software patents, “[o]n May 7th and June 8th, 2010, Microsoft and IBM met privately with members of New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development (MED).

They claim to have convinced the Ministry to abandon plans to exclude software from patentability in the proposed Patents Bill. “There was also a private exchange of emails between the MED and Microsft, IBM, and the Business Software Alliance in the month before and after the meeting, where those three organisations submitted policy documents.”
Source Techrights

Monday, July 23, 2012

Programming A Computer Does Not Make A New Machine

Interesting argument that adding software to a machine (computer) does not create a new machine. It's a Groklaw page so there is significant discussion following.
"Most computer professionals would say the technical explanations given in Noll, Prater, Bernhart and WMS Gaming are incorrect from a computer science perspective. From the point of view of physical machine structure, no new machine is made when a computer is programmed.

"I am aware of the legal theory that a new machine is made because a new machine function is implemented. This is not the same explanation as the one found in the cases cited above but competent lawyers are telling me this explanation is legally correct. From the point of view of computer science, this explanation doesn't work any better than the other one. The technical evidence shows that programming a computer doesn't impart the computer with capabilities it doesn't already have absent the programming. "

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Patenting non-tech ideas may get harder

In 2008, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Ultramercial with Patent No. 7,346,545, describing the process in which a consumer, rather than paying for a product like a video, may “choose to receive such products after viewing and/or interacting with an interposed sponsor’s or advertiser’s message.”

Ultramercial had applied for the patent in 2001. Last week, the Supreme Court set aside an earlier ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that had allowed Ultramercial’s patent and permitted the firm to pursue a lawsuit against WildTangent. The high court told the federal circuit to reconsider its decision.
Michelle Quinn

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Google Cleared in Oracle Patent Suit

"In a unanimous decision, 10 jurors agreed that Oracle had not proven any of its claims that Google infringed on Java software patents in the Android operating software for smartphones and tablet computers."

Other comments

"I find it refreshing that in this trial, both the Judge and jury proved to be much smarter than the lawyers. Thompson and others on the jury asked pretty good questions, especially considering most had no technical background at all. The judge (the Hon. William Alsup) revealed he was something of a developer himself and scoffed at some of Oracle’s arguments about the mysterious invention known as the “range check”. If you ask me, all software patent trials should be held in California from now on instead of East Texas."

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Sydney IP Forum Software Patents - IP Australia

Event sponsored by  the Australian Government's IP Australia.

 Do software patents encourage or hinder innovation?
IP Australia invites you to attend the IP Forum at Sydney Marriott Hotel on 16 May 2012 to hear Australian Inventor, Ric Richardson speak about his experiences with the patents system. Ric’s epic battle with Microsoft was recently resolved in an out of court settlement with royalties on an estimated turnover of US$19 billion for its XP and Office software.
Other speakers include; Ben Sturmfels, principle of Sturm (a free software development agency), and Philip Spann, Deputy Commissioner of Patents at IP Australia.
This free forum includes lunch and the opportunity to ask questions, and network with IP professionals, industry representatives and members of IP Australia’s Executive. Journalists are welcome.

IP Australia

Where are the jobs? Ask the patent trolls.

The President is mistaken—at least when it comes to the patent system as it relates to software patents. These patents—and the patent system—aren't creating innovation, they are inhibiting it and, by extension, job creation.


repeat patent plaintiffs — “those who sue eight or more times on the same patents…are responsible for a sizeable fraction of all patent lawsuits.” Indeed, 106 out of roughly 1 million patents (or .0001 percent) in force were responsible for more than 10 percent of all patent assertions. This isn’t based on the strengths of the patents; many of these are among the weakest and least defensible

Friday, March 09, 2012

Software Patent Searching Doesn't Scale

Nathan Myhrvold, the Microsoft veteran who founded the patent-trolling giant Intellectual Ventures, is right that patent infringement is rampant among software firms. But in demanding that this infringement stop, Myhrvold isn't just declaring war on what he regards as Silicon Valley's patent-hostile culture. He's declaring war on the laws of mathematics. The legal research required for all software-producing firms to stop infringing patents would cost more than the entire revenue of the software industry. Even if firms were willing to pay the bill, there simply aren't enough patent lawyers to do the work. Firms infringe software patents because they don't have any other choice. [...] Why is software different from real estate? In a new paper, we argue the fundamental difference is a matter of scalability: how much effort it takes to discover who owns an invention—or a piece of land—as the number of patents or land parcels increases. Property rights in land scale well because parcels exist in relatively well-defined locations on a two-dimensional plane. County officials take advantage of this fact to store records in a predictable order (or, more recently, to build databases searchable by geographical location). Geographical locations serve as an "index" for real property claims, so record-keepers can find any specific file quickly no matter how many files there are.
From Ars Technica

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

IP: Revenge of the Humans—Defending Business Method Patents

From last August Inside Counsel:
"If you can practice the claimed method without the claimed machine, then the claimed machine is irrelevant and the claimed method isn’t patentable." ... "The next time your company stares down the barrel of a software or business method patent, ask if the claimed method can be performed by a human being without the claimed machine. You might need to be a Kasparov to do it, but that’s still checkmate against the plaintiff"

NASA to auction off software patents

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has announced plans to auction off a number of its advanced software patents at the fifteenth ICAP Ocean Tomo IP Auction in California. Originally developed for control of satellite systems and other mission specific needs, these patent lots have a number of potential applications in software development, robotics, telecommunications, utilities, smart grids, wireless sensor networks, quantitative finance and cyber security. Patent lots fall into three categories: automated software generation, autonomic computing architectures and autonomic management of environmental monitoring systems FromComputerworld Other reports at PC Advisor and Techworld.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Software patents in Israel

Michael Factor writes in his blog The IP Factor:
"The long awaited guidelines regarding the patentability of software inventions in Israel have finally been published by the Israel Patent Authority.

In brief, it appears that the term ‘industrial application’ as required by section 3 of the Israel Patent Law 1967 may be fulfilled by patents in any field of technology."
After the list of allowed inventions are by several examples of what is patentable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And this is why Apple doesn't want to settle Android patent lawsuits | ZDNet

Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore believes that a settlement would give Apple some $10 in revenue for each Android device sold, equating to some $35 to Apple’s share price. However, if Apple was able to capture 25% of Android future growth through halting distribution and forcing feature removal, that could be worth some $300 per extra handset sold, or a whopping $261 on top of Apple’s already buoyant share price.

Read more at ZDNet

Monday, January 09, 2012

Position of Software Patents in UK

The Law Information Portal of India has published this article on the main patent law in the UK, the Patent Act, 1977, and decisions regarding patentability of software under this law and the European convention on patents. The essay seems to be written as a background briefing for the benefit of non-UK lawyers. Read more

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Infographic: The Problem With Patents

The Frugal Dad blog posted this infographic on software patents it discusses some facts of the patent industry and how it’s changed as software, technology, and the internet have developed.

Judge rules on contested evidence in Oracle-Google case

CIO Magazine is reporting that in a preliminary ruling before the Java IP trial, significant evidence both sides attempted to introduce has been ruled eitherr admisable or inadmissible.
Oracle and Google have both won and lost in a number of their efforts to keep evidence out of the upcoming trial in Oracle's lawsuit against Google over the Android mobile OS. At issue is whether Google has infringed on Oracle's intellectual property rights by using Java without properly licensing it.

CIO Magazine

I can only assume the witnesses will be required to swear "I promise to tell the such parts of truth as judge permits and nothing like the truth."

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Microsoft patent on PVR Functions in Game Console

It completely eludes me how this isn't prior art. Microsoft's Xbox is a PC and PCs have been able to record digital video in the background for a long long time. Myth TV comes to mind.
A digital video recorder (DVR) application running alongside a television client component allows users to record media content on the gaming console. The DVR application also integrates itself with the console menu. Once integrated, users can record media content while playing games. Alternatively, users can record content when the gaming console is turned off.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Canadian Patent Office Allows’s “one-click” Patent

The issuance of the “one-click” patent may be just what and the [Canadian] Patent office wanted. However, for members of the public who wanted the law related to business method and software patents clarified, it is a missed opportunity to have the Supreme Court weigh in on this critically important issue.

If you think software patents are bad enough.

Software patents are not the worst thing imaginable.

You've mentioned "one-click patent" - but it's not software patent, it's UI patent. UI patents are worse then software patents: where software patents are "useful in theory but not in practice" these (as well as business patents) are unconditionally evil.

They give no disclosure gain at all (because by necessity they are disclosed when they are actually used ..

[Read more at]