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