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Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the decision-time dept.

The Courts 192

walterbyrd (182728) writes "The case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, poses huge risks for both sides. If the court upholds the patent or rules only narrowly against it without affecting most others, the problem of too many patents — and patent lawsuits — will continue. In that case, Justice Stephen Breyer said, future competition could move from price and quality to 'who has the best patent lawyer.'"

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COULD move from? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46624797)

COULD move from price and quality to 'who has the best patent lawyer'?

What COULD? How about we accept the reality it's already happened?

Re:COULD move from? (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46624813)

COULD move from price and quality to 'who has the best patent lawyer'?

What COULD? How about we accept the reality it's already happened?

It's only happened to a small extent - if patent trolls are protected you can write off the USA as a source for innovation, period.

Re:COULD move from? (1)

Altus (1034) | about 8 months ago | (#46625361)

You could also write it off as a market for innovative goods developed elsewhere.

Re:COULD move from? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625699)

>>> COULD move from price and quality to 'who has the best patent lawyer'?

>> What COULD? How about we accept the reality it's already happened?

> It's only happened to a small extent - if patent trolls are protected you can write off the USA as a source for innovation, period.

Sorry, I must disagree. It has not happened to a small extent. It's pervasive throughout all of the US legal system, when combined with bullying by rich corporations. Actually, some victims would rather pay for dubious patents than risk losing lots of money in a legal victory.

It's not just some magical powers that make China advance so fast; entrepreneurs are freer to try new things. Everybody says China only copies the West -- and surely it happens, sometimes very faithfully even -- but they're also experimenting with several innovations in design alone. They have still a lot of things to learn about customer satisfaction, but they succeeded in having a faster innovation cycle.

OTOH, the USA is becoming more and more trapped in legal bureaucracy. And it's not unintentional.

Re:COULD move from? (2, Funny)

N0Man74 (1620447) | about 8 months ago | (#46625323)

COULD move from price and quality to 'who has the best patent lawyer'?

Has someone patented that process yet?

The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software pats (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46624805)

That would spur innovation and business far more than upholding them could.

I doubt the authors of the constitution ever foresaw the risk of patent trolling.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 8 months ago | (#46624909)

Really? How many times are you going to spend years of your life creating something awesome ... only to have someone else like Facebook or Zynga copy it, market it, and put you out of business?

I doubt you've looked past your own selfishness and actually seen the big picture, so its probably a good idea for you not to pretend to know what the authors of the constitution ... which has nothing at all to say about patents, had in mind when they wrote it.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (-1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 8 months ago | (#46624933)

I should add, the only people who think patents should be abolished are people who don't create anything.

Anyone who creates has a different opinion. I don't agree with current patent law and the situation, but ranting around about getting rid of them just makes you look ignorant.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (5, Insightful)

zarthrag (650912) | about 8 months ago | (#46625023)

I beg to differ. I create things all of the time and have realized that, even with a patent, I'm not rich enough to litigate it.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625065)

I beg to differ. I create things all of the time and have realized that, even with a patent, I'm not rich enough to litigate it.

And that is litigate it to seek redress or to defend yourself, either way is costly and a bigger dog would simply drive you out of your line of work.

Stop that. We have a patent on pulling weeds, too.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625035)

I create software on a daily basis, for a variety of purposes. I've done work on some systems which have turned out to be very revolutionary and the concept of patenting them seldom came up - one employer, when I posed the question of IP, replied, "We're not an intellectual property company." Which effectively meant, it a competitor saw our system at work, copied it and patented it we'd probably be willing to pay them a license fee just to get off our backs - shocking, but probably the case.

As for Microsoft and Zynga, they're both standing on the shoulders of giants. If various methods of performing tasks within an operating system or performing collision detection and tallying scores existed, neither company would be around today - having been soundly thumped by Sperry, IBM, DEC, CDC, Activision, EA, etc.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 8 months ago | (#46625079)

Which effectively meant, it a competitor saw our system at work, copied it and patented it we'd probably be willing to pay them a license fee just to get off our backs

Prior art, surely?

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625169)

Which effectively meant, it a competitor saw our system at work, copied it and patented it we'd probably be willing to pay them a license fee just to get off our backs

Prior art, surely?

You still have to hire a legal defense to plead Prior Art. Meanwhile, the plaintiff's attorney has already done enough research to tell them how much to hit you for licensing, if they don't want to outright kill you (with an injunction) but are happy to just bleed you to death, while they take the proceeds and fund more IP research to see whomever else they can bully - thus limiting competition - so they don't have to perform better service or offer a superior product. Quite contrary to the spirit of the patent clause in the Constitution, I assure you.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625471)

As I understand it, you can challenge the validity of a patent at the PTO, and while it is not free, it is not crazy expensive. So if you have good Prior Art, your case is not so dire. Also, since a finding by the PTO of invalidity would ruin the troll's case against all victims, it seems it should be easy to fund the effort in cooperation with your co-defendants.

If you have evidence that you were practicing the invention before the patent was filed, then you are allowed to continue to do so anyway. I.e. it is not possible for anything you are legally doing today to suddenly become illegal tomorrow.

Finally, the threat of injunction is NOT commonly available to trolls. I believe you can only be granted an injunction if you are actually practicing the invention. Trolls can sue for damages (i.e. past royalties for unlicensed use of the invention), but unless they are actually making a competing product, I don't think they can get an injunction. Of course there are work-arounds for this, but the option is not available to every garden variety troll.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (3, Informative)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 8 months ago | (#46625707)

You can challenge it with the PTO. But that has next to nothing to do with the lawsuit they bring. The judge will assume you plea is going to fail and you will have to litigate things in front of a judge or in front of a jury.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625333)

!? First to file!

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (2)

gnupun (752725) | about 8 months ago | (#46625873)

"We're not an intellectual property company."

Few manager/executive type people say things like this. Their choice is either keep it a trade secret or patent it... unless the stuff you're creating is not very important to the business. Most companies' existence is based on various secrets they possess.

Which effectively meant, it a competitor saw our system at work, copied it and patented it we'd probably be willing to pay them a license fee just to get off our backs - shocking, but probably the case.

So generous, maybe you should copy your product's source code tree to a usb drive and hand it over to your competitors to save them the trouble.

As for Microsoft and Zynga, they're both standing on the shoulders of giants

Read MS-DOS' history. You'll find that MS bought Q-DOS (aka 86-DOS) which was created by Paterson. According to DR-DOS creator, Kildall, Paterson pretty much cloned the entire interface of CP/M to create Q-DOS. The lack of software patents at the time meant he could legally do this. Back then microprocessors were rare and software for them rarer. Do you want to remove s/w patents and promote this type of lawlessness?

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (5, Insightful)

lonOtter (3587393) | about 8 months ago | (#46625069)

I should add, the only people who think patents should be abolished are people who don't create anything.

It only takes a single example to reveal how untrue that statement is. To say that no authors can disagree with you is incredibly arrogant.

It's also a mere ad hominem, so it's not even logical. Even if someone doesn't "create" anything, that doesn't make their arguments wrong.

Anyone who creates has a different opinion.

Well, how nice of you to decide what everyone else thinks. I'm a software developer and 100% against patents. Am I not a "creator"? Are you going to resort to a No True Scotsman now?

but ranting around about getting rid of them just makes you look ignorant.

I rant about getting rid of them because I value real private property rights (the ability to use your own resources to accomplish some goal, which at present may infringe upon some patent) over monopolies over procedures enforced by worthless government thugs.

I should add, no human being disagrees with me. If you disagree, you're not a True Human.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625503)

I'm guessing if you lost your job because someone stole your ideas/methods and ran you out of business, you'd look more favorably at patents.

Or maybe you're just stupid.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (2)

lonOtter (3587393) | about 8 months ago | (#46625621)

What I would or would not believe if I were in a different situation than I am now is completely irrelevant to whether or not my arguments or beliefs are valid. It is also not a surprise that humans would suddenly change positions when it suits them; they're only looking out for their themselves. I don't think I'd do such a thing, but doing so would not make someone's previous beliefs wrong. And it would be copying, not stealing.

Since you're using such blatantly illogical 'arguments', I'll say that yes, you are unintelligent.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625785)

Ah, but this happens all the time to people who actually do own patents. If the company stealing your ideas is a large one, you don't have much of a chance in court.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 8 months ago | (#46625123)

I am not sure if you are a patent troll, or a regular troll...

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625203)

I am not sure if you are a patent troll, or a regular troll...

Either he's a skilled (if misguided) regular troll or you are easily trolled.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (5, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 8 months ago | (#46625391)

I've waffled between being against them or pushing for reform; currently, I'm against them. Here's why:
1. If you're being trolled, they're bad.
2. If you're a troll, you're not creating anything other than lawsuits.
3. If you created something and are small business (don't retain an in-house lawyer or thirty), you can't afford to defend your patent anyway -- its only value is to be part of a portfolio to boost your value if you sell out to someone with lots of money (here, your invention isn't what's valued, but your patent and its war chest strength).
4. If you created something and are a big business, you have the choice of being mired in the current patent sinkhole, or competing purely on how mobile your company is -- innovation and all that, which is what patents were supposed to supprot.

So any way you look at it, the current system is bad. I'm starting to think that it has got to the point where it is almost totally detrimental.

Note that I'm talking about the patent system as it pertains to software patents, not physical inventions. THAT patent system just needs reform.

And yes, I'm a creator in many fields, and even have my name on a patent or two.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (2)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 8 months ago | (#46625849)

innovation and all that, which is what patents were supposed to support.

I don't think that's the case. Patents were supposed to motivate people to reveal their trade secrets by creating a way they could generate income from licensing them after the revelation. I think applying a "who cares if they keep the method a secret" test to requests for software patents would solve a lot of what's wrong with the current situation.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46625485)

> I should add, the only people who think patents should be abolished are people who don't create anything.

Nope. Someone that creates realizes how derivative everything is. Someone that creates has half a clue. So they know how much bullshit goes on in patents. They realize how much stuff is simply average practitioners applying mundane methods.

If all it takes for reverse engineering is a working example or a simple description then you simply don't have a novel invention. You have something that could be recreated by any number of people in the industry. You probably has something that HAS been recreated by any number of people in the industry.

It's far less trouble to just leave everyone else alone.

Of course there are plenty of self-centered jack*sses that would gladly see the world burn for their own personal benefit. Those are the ones that really dig patents.

It's not about being creative. It's not about having a clue.

It's about being evil and anti-social. It's about being willing to abuse everyone else for your own personal gain.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) | about 8 months ago | (#46625605)

I should add, the only people who think patents should be abolished are people who don't create anything.

Anyone who creates has a different opinion. I don't agree with current patent law and the situation, but ranting around about getting rid of them just makes you look ignorant.

I have personally known software developers with multiple patents to their name who thought patents only rarely made sense. Their employer foot the bill, obviously. In fact, they argued the patents were so worthless and confusing that they had trouble understanding half the patents that were based on their own work.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (2)

mrbester (200927) | about 8 months ago | (#46625741)

We're doing quite well in EU without software patents.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 8 months ago | (#46625811)

Obtuse is the only word i can think of regarding your position. Your absolutism severely diminishes your argument's credibility.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626013)

I have 4 issued patents. Several pending.

And I think the patent system as it is now, is more bad than good. I can imagine reforms that would make it useful.

But forced to choose between no patent system and what we have now - I choose no patent system.

Until there is some kind of defense based on independent invention, or "obvious" is given some teeth, the risk of company-killing lawsuits over bullshit patents kills innovation far more than the possibility of royalties helps innovation.

you have things backwards (3, Interesting)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | about 8 months ago | (#46624967)

"I doubt you've looked past your own selfishness and actually seen the big picture,"


but you also said: "Really? How many times are you going to spend years of your life creating something awesome ... only to have someone else like Facebook or Zynga copy it, market it, and put you out of business?"


Now, who is selfish? The person who wants information to be free or the person who wants to be the sole profiteer?

Re:you have things backwards (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625031)

So how exactly does making everything free spur innovation??

Re:you have things backwards (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625121)

So how exactly does making everything free spur innovation??

Well, without the fetters of funding a ton of legal research to see if anything you are innovating is someone else's intellectual property, you're free to dedicate 100% of your resources to development. That's a pretty good start, right there.

i.e. You don't have to have a legal firm on retainer in the event someone sues you for the code you've written which detects proximity, velocity and direction of a non-contact finger swipe.

Re:you have things backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625357)

By the time your product is successful enough to attract the attention of patent trolls, you can afford an attorney.

Yes, it sucks, but so does malpractice insurance for doctors. For the same reasons: there are unscrupulous people out there who will try to abuse the system.

The idea that anyone spends a significant proportion of their development budget researching the potential infringement of new products strikes me as highly unlikely. I've worked for many software companies, large and small, and have never seen more than a tiny fraction go to even filing patents. They NEVER try to see if they are infringing patents on purpose, because then they would be in the position of "intentional infringement", and liable for 2x or more damages if they are ever sued for it.

Re:you have things backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625939)

If you can violate a patent without being aware of it, it's pretty obvious the patent shouldn't have existed in the first place.. which is true of pretty much all software in existence.

Re:you have things backwards (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about 8 months ago | (#46626041)

Facebook, Zynga, Apple, Google or whatever mega corporation you may think will take anything they want from you with or without patents. You may try and sue them, but you will likely lose and lose everything you have in the process.

Patents are made to protect them from you, not the other way around.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625157)

Let's say that I also spent years of my life creating something awesome, only to discover that you independently had the same idea and managed to get a patent on it before I did. You then sue me for patent infringement, despite the fact that I was completely unaware of your work. In fact, it is possible that you never even produced a product based on your patent.

This is by far the more common case than what you describe.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625363)

Let's say that I also spent years of my life creating something awesome, only to discover that you independently had the same idea and managed to get a patent on it before I did. You then sue me for patent infringement, despite the fact that I was completely unaware of your work. In fact, it is possible that you never even produced a product based on your patent.

This is by far the more common case than what you describe.

Which commonly happens, though if you can show you did arrive at the same result without a very technical means, the patent may be discarded and the idea deemed "obvious"

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46625549)

> Which commonly happens, though if you can show you did arrive at the same result without a very technical means, the patent may be discarded and the idea deemed "obvious"

Only after a great deal of wasted time, money, and effort that should never have to be expended in the first place. Piss poor quality of patent examiners is a very real cost that is a burden on the rest of the industry. Abuse of the patent system is far more harmful to innovation than the idea that someone might copy and improve your product.

You already have a way. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625231)

They "copy it" without you giving them the rights to copy then you sue them.

Just like you do now.

It has nothing to do with patents, as programming is nothing but an application of mathematics to a problem.

You can't patent mathematics.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625241)

BURN-IT-ALL.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46625265)

Facebook and Zynga will steal it anyway.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625411)

Facebook and Zynga will steal it anyway.

There is very little that Facebook or Zynga are doing which is original. Social networking harks back to BBSs and arpaNET. Video games go back to Pong, at the very least.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625661)

Yes, they will. And if you have a patent, then you have a legal right to make them pay you for your idea.
If you don't have a patent, then all you can do is whine about how unfair it all is.
So why do you insist that you don't even want the option to make money when your idea is stolen?
I just hear of bunch of people saying, "I don't like/understand how patents work, so they must be bad."

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 8 months ago | (#46625427)

You clearly don't know what "copyright" is. There is a difference between patents and copyrights.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 8 months ago | (#46625533)

Really? How many times are you going to spend years of your life creating something awesome ... only to have someone else like Facebook or Zynga copy it, market it, and put you out of business?

Why not go ask Linus Torvalds what he thinks of them doing that? You see, I'm not a dumbass. I don't work for free. Artificial scarcity is stupid. I don't buy into the copyright and patent futures market. So, I ask for the money to do my work or research or create things UP FRONT, and I ask for enough to cover the work and the profit I need for it, then I "give it away for free" since the work has been paid for. If I want more money I DO MORE WORK. This is how the free and open source model works. This is how Mechanics work too. The benefits from the mechanic's labor are unbounded. Instead of putting a coin-slot on the steering wheel so they can benefit in perpetuity from the work they do once, they recognize folks will bypass the artificial restrictions and instead negotiate a price up front and you pay for the entity of the unbounded benefit their work provides. This is a proven model. This is how the Burger Joint works. This is how every labor market works, except "ideas" and "information".

The problem is that with a patent system in place the Artificial Scarcity can be leveraged to cheat the researcher. Instead of paying a fair price for the inventor or creator's labor the corporations cherry-pick among what becomes a success. It takes the same effort to discover a success as it does to rule a solution out. Many discoveries are found in unrelated research. X-Ray radiation was discovered by accident. Without patents to create artificial scarcity of otherwise unbounded and infinitely reproducible ideas and information we'd have a more stable market where people charge what the need for their labors instead of accept less pay up front and gamble their effort in the imaginary property futures market.

What, you think demand is going to disappear if patents do? No, the demand for innovation will still exist, and it will be met. Look at the fashion and automotive industries. They are not allowed copyrights or design patents, and yet they are very lucrative and innovative and sell primarily on design. It wasn't until the 80's that software could even be patented. Oh NO! Your assumptions are shattered! Now what? You could just ignore that we made it all the way past the dawn of the personal computer before greedy dipshits like you decided artificial scarcity is somehow required for anything but stifling progress?

OK, I'll give you that I don't know exactly what will happen if we ban all patents. However, I just gave you two or three examples of markets where patents were not required for innovation. So, if you're a rational minded person, then you've got to ask yourself: Where is the evidence that patents are promoting the sciences and useful arts? Where's the evidence that patents are not harmful? Where's the evidence that patents are beneficial?! THERE IS NONE. So if you're not insane then you'd think: Hey, wouldn't it be fucked-up to run the world's economy of innovation and creativity based on an untested and unproven hypothesis?! I'm going to go ahead and give you the benefit of the doubt. I'll assume you want to end "piracy", right? OK.

Assuming you're not an absolute moron, you now agree we should do the experiment and abolish all patents and find out if patents are beneficial. What if they're holding us back needlessly? What if they're very harmful? I'm pretty sure you'd at least like to try and find SOMETHING to support your stance before continuing to believe in baseless assumptions without any evidence? RIGHT?! You don't and won't have a leg to stand on otherwise. I mean we only have evidence for the null hypothesis: Patents are not necessary for innovation or profit. Now the burden of proof is to PROVE patents are MORE beneficial than not having them. I would put it to you that copyright should be abolished too, for the same reasons. It's not like we can't re-institute whatever bullshit draconian laws we want later.

What rocketed us to the top of the food chain is the ability to freely share ideas and information -- It's the only thing we have over the other apes, and fools want to make laws restricting it? WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE? FOR LITERALLY NO REASON? An engineer or scientist who believes patents are beneficial has rejected the scientific method and betrayed their very craft. For shame.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 8 months ago | (#46625541)

We have patents, and FB and Zynga still do that. So what, the worst case scenario of getting rid of patents is that nothing would change?

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#46625545)

Really? How many times are you going to spend years of your life creating something awesome ... only to have someone else like Facebook or Zynga copy it, market it, and put you out of business?

They can do that anyway, and there's not much I can do about it unless I've got $250,000 to spend on patent lawyers.

And even then...there's no guarantee I'll win. There's hardly anything which doesn't contain a lot of prior art. Most likely my $250,000 will just be added to my bankruptcy bill.

not quite nothing (4, Informative)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 8 months ago | (#46625677)

which has nothing at all to say about patents

Article One, section 8, clause 8

The Congress shall have power ... To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 8 months ago | (#46625733)

Thats cute, but you really dont understand what Patents are.
Its not some magical police whissle that will summon Patent SWAT team.

Patents only give you a stronger claim if/when you decide to spend $xxK in lawyer fees to SUE party infringing it. Nothing more.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 8 months ago | (#46626023)

Really? How many times are you going to spend years of your life creating something awesome ... only to have someone else like Facebook or Zynga copy it, market it, and put you out of business?

How many people, right now, are violating Facebook or Zynga patents by taking advantage of their massive design and usability budgets and just solving problems the same way that they solved them, a week later?

It works both ways, you know, and I'd propose that there are far more people in the 2nd camp than there are in the 1st.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625117)

Really? So the next time you are pitching your business plan to a VC, and they ask you about barriers to entry, such as patents, how exactly will you convince them that nobody will just copy your idea and put you out of business?

It used to be called "trade secrets". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625479)

If just anybody can copy the idea, then it wasn't patent worthy in the first place.

Re:It used to be called "trade secrets". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625569)

The whole point of the patent system is to encourage people to document their inventions, so that people CAN copy them. In fact you are not supposed to be granted a patent unless you can explain it clearly enough that a person with reasonable skill in the art can copy it.

In exchange for making the knowledge public, the inventor is granted exclusive rights for a period of time.

Having said that, it is also true that patents are NOT supposed to be granted for ideas that would be "obvious" to one skilled in the art. Arguably, the PTO has made some questionable decisions in this area in the past (not helped by ever changing case law). This is a pain, and may force people to fight the validity of bogus patents in court and at the PTO.

All in all, though, I sill think that the system is good, if flawed, and should be fixed rather than simple abandoned because your average software engineer is too lazy to learn how it works.

Re:It used to be called "trade secrets". (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46625653)

Why should the average software engineer need to be "industrious" enough to know how the patent system works? That's just asinine. That right there is the perfect argument against your love of the patent system.

The only rightful metric of whether or not to revise a system or to abolish it is the relative benefits of either option. None of this rhetorical nonsense you are trying to spout is remotely relevant.

Are we better off with more trade secrets or more patents?

The harmful effects of the intellectual land grab are clear.

The key problem with patents is that they don't just grant you property rights on your own efforts but they also allow you to STEAL mine.

They should be treated like toxic waste rather than trivialized like candy.

Re:It used to be called "trade secrets". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625833)

If you already have an an idea, then I cannot steal it. All you need to do is share it with the world in a public way, and it can never be patented (if the PTO does its job). Or, if you want to keep it private, you can just show it to the judge if I ever sue you, and it's like a get out of jail free card. So there is no way for me to steal your idea using a patent. That is just not how it works.

The merit of the system is that if decide to share your idea with the world through a patent, then (1) the world gets the idea, and (2) you can PREVENT other people from using your idea for a while. Put another way, If you have a great new idea, a patent can keep Google or Facebook or Microsoft or whoever from stealing it from you (or at least make them pay if they do).

The merit of not having the system is that nobody will be falsely accused of stealing ideas any more.

I don't see any real evidence that false accusations are truly stifling innovation. But I can easily see the case for wanting to protect a new idea from being stolen.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625791)

how exactly will you convince them that nobody will just copy your idea and put you out of business?

You mean like they do already? You really think having a single software patent will stop someone like Facebook, Microsoft or Apple from stealing your idea, and then suing you into oblivion for violating their massive collection of software patents if you say boo about it? The current system effectively disallows small competitors from entering the market without massive risk, and unless they make millions fast they won't be able to afford the patent license shitstorm that will fall on them once the patent owners notice them.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625989)

Let's assume I come up with the Next Big Thing.

If I do not have a patent, then I can get nothing for it if someone starts copying my idea.
So the bar is pretty low: in order to make the system valuable, I need to justify the cost of getting the patent.

If I do have a patent, then there are many ways for this to play out.

1) The big companies may decide that it is cheaper to license the invention than to sue me. Building a big infringement case is not free. Big companies do have to pay their lawyers. It seems logical that they would prefer to pay me less than the cost of a big court case in order to settle.

2) One of the big companies may want to purchase the patent in order to sue the other big companies, or use the patent in leverage for the next cross-licensing negotiation.

3) One of the big companies may decide to purchase my little company instead of just copying my idea, in order to avoid the bad PR and to get a head start on the competition.

4) Worst case: they kill my little company. So I stop infringing their patents. But they are still infringing mine. And since they have much bigger revenue, they will pay me much much more. Who do juries side with? The little guy who got put out of business, or the mega corporation with billions in the bank? In this scenario, it may be necessary to employ a contingency law firm. Or ... dare I say it ... sell the patent to a troll ...

In any case it seems to me that I come out ahead if I have the patent. Without it, I simply have no options at all.

Not their job (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46625519)

That would spur innovation and business far more than upholding them could.

I doubt the authors of the constitution ever foresaw the risk of patent trolling.

Patent law is in Article I, Section 8 and is the exclusive domain of Congress. While SCOTUS can interpret the statute - "oh, when Congress said 'whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process,' they didn't mean that to include natural laws since they're not really 'new', but just 'heretofore unknown'" - they can't rewrite it. If software patents should be completely eliminated, then Congress should amend the statute to explicitly exclude them.

Re:Not their job (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 8 months ago | (#46625995)

It is their job to settle disputes between the federal circuit judges. With this case went before 10 judges their was 7 different opinions. No majority opinion. They could not find 6 judges who could agree what the law was. No one has any clue what Congress meant by process. So they sort of don't have a choice but to interpret the statute.

Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (2)

rjstanford (69735) | about 8 months ago | (#46625997)

The big problem with "software patents" (and yes, I've got 'em too) is that they're too conceptual. A patent was supposed to be a complete description for how to perform an action. These days you can effectively get patents on the actions themselves - as if instead of patenting a superior type of cotton gin, you could actually patent the idea that a machine could separate cotton fibers from seeds. You don't even need to build such a machine, just to posit that it could exist and might be built with metal bits. That, IMO, is far worse even than letting existing works be patented by adding "... on a computer" to their titles. Far worse.

Should you be able to patent, for example, the idea of a compression algorithm that works by finding commonly repeated arrays and referencing them, rather than a specific implementation thereof? I submit that you should not.

Who has the best lawyer? (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 8 months ago | (#46624839)

Who is the best arguer? Who is the best detective? Who is the best doctor? Who is the best programmer? The very nature of being a knowledge worker is that if you are the best you can get your way in spite of reality.

Best lawyer (3)

wcrowe (94389) | about 8 months ago | (#46624861)

Actually, I thought everything in our court system boiled down to "who has the best lawyer".

Re:Best lawyer (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 8 months ago | (#46624941)

Don't be silly. It boils down to "who has the most money". The "best lawyer" (just like any other prostitute) is ALWAYS for sale

Re:Best lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625183)

The "best lawyer" (just like any other prostitute) is ALWAYS for sale

Yes, it's called having a profession, you monumental twat.

Re:Best lawyer (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625433)

The "best lawyer" (just like any other prostitute) is ALWAYS for sale

Yes, it's called having a profession, you monumental twat.

And a lawyer who knows which side of the bread to butter knows he does not advocate any change in law (precedent) which will diminish his bread or butter.

Re:Best lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625637)

s/prostitute/programmer/g

Re:Best lawyer (3, Funny)

rjstanford (69735) | about 8 months ago | (#46626039)

s/prostitute/programmer/g

That swap is rarely going to make either side happy.

Re:Best lawyer (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46624947)

Actually, I thought everything in our court system boiled down to "who has the best lawyer".

To a certain degree, yes. Perhaps a more relevant term would be "competent". In incompetent lawyer can doom you no matter how strong your arguments, research findings and other evidence.

At the SCOTUS level not every law firm is capable of pleading a case. If you haven't done your homework your case can be thrown back in your face with instructions to clarify your argument or how Constitutional Law relates to your cause.

The US Constitution is great reading. Fortunately, there's not a copyright on it so you can read and copy it as you see fit.

Re:Best lawyer (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | about 8 months ago | (#46625071)

The US Constitution is great reading. Fortunately, there's not a copyright on it so you can read and copy it as you see fit.

But the Founding Fathers put all that work into it!! How would you feel if some other country just copied it for their own use?

Re:Best lawyer (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 8 months ago | (#46625277)

Flattered.

Re:Best lawyer (3)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625295)

The US Constitution is great reading. Fortunately, there's not a copyright on it so you can read and copy it as you see fit.

But the Founding Fathers put all that work into it!! How would you feel if some other country just copied it for their own use?

If only they would.

Though even if some countries do, it's like a holy work which seems open to different interpretation, depending upon who you talk to.

Re:Best lawyer (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 8 months ago | (#46625711)

Darn it, I was going for "Insightful", given some of the comments upthread about monetizing patents.

Re:Best lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625299)

How would you feel if some other country just copied it for their own use?

Terrible. They could at least use a decent Constitution for their basis.

Well, better than using Alabama's or Texas's Constitutions. Those make me cringe.

Re:Best lawyer (3, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | about 8 months ago | (#46625269)

I have read it, but when I compare it to how the real world works I see no correlation.

Re:Best lawyer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46624997)

Nope.

Sometimes it helps to have the best lobbyist so you can get a law that is stacked in your favor.

Re:Best lawyer (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46625311)

Nope.

Sometimes it helps to have the best lobbyist so you can get a law that is stacked in your favor.

Lobbyists generally advocate loopholes. The less law, the better!

It says "must try not to contaminate the water table." Well, we tried not to, but did anyway, so we've done our due diligence!

Re:Best lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625415)

Sometimes, occasionally they want a stricter law, like "Contamination of the Water Table shall only be considered to have occurred if no less than umpteen thousand samples are conducted over a period not less than the half life of radioactive components that have been in existence since the beginning of the universe"

Re:Best lawyer (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#46625901)

Indeed. The entire existence of ACA ("ObamaCare") came down to one justice's interpretation of the word "tax". Further, for the most part, the vote was split along party lines. Those who didn't like ACA itself could choose to interpret "tax" any damned way they please (or any other critical word).

Similarly, "mathematical formula", "algorithm", "obvious", and "state of the art" are all subject to interpretation.

What harm could a few small patents cause? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625007)

I have the patent to view any output using eyes from a computer displayed or projected on a screen, no big deal !
And the patent to use electric in order to make computing devices function.. no big deal !
Oh... wait a freaken second .. !! patent = cash ? Who's the best lawyer ?

Deep Dish Combo Mambo! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625129)

It's lunchtime, you're hungry
We know how you feel
Your mouth wants Little Caesars
And your wallet wants a deal
Four slices of Deep Deep Dish and a soda are for you
Hot and Ready for five bucks
And this is what you do
Bite bite, sip sip
That's what makes the combo
Bite bite, sip sip
Do the Deep Deep Dish Combo Mambo
For lunch

Pizza pizza.

It's not software patents (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 8 months ago | (#46625179)

The biggest problem here isn't the question of software patents. It's patents on things that are obvious, or are an obvious progression from something that's already common (eg. taking the manual process of balancing a checkbook and having a computer perform the exact same steps). It's just that software is the field where it's taken root the most, I think because people treat computers as some sort of magic that transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary.

The most straightforward way to deal with it might be to take computers out of the picture. Start by asking the question "If we replaced the computer with a trained monkey who could slavishly follow instructions, would this be patentable?". If the answer is "Yes.", then the patent's valid. If the answer's "No.", then the burden should be on the patent-holder to explain why the application of a computer to this problem is so non-intuitive, so non-obvious, that someone familiar with the problem and computers would not think of letting a computer handle the chore. And "Because nobody's done it before." is not a valid response. Someone always has to be the first one to try to solve a problem. Counter-intuitively, the patent-holder should have to show that they were not the first, that doing this was so non-obvious that there's a large number of other people who knew what they were doing who tried this and could not figure it out. That the first person to try it immediately found this solution should be considered support for the idea that this was an obvious solution and thus not eligible for patent. That is, after all, almost the dictionary definition of "obvious": the first thing you think to try when faced with a problem?

Re:It's not software patents (4, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46625647)

The biggest problem here isn't the question of software patents. It's patents on things that are obvious, or are an obvious progression from something that's already common (eg. taking the manual process of balancing a checkbook and having a computer perform the exact same steps). It's just that software is the field where it's taken root the most, I think because people treat computers as some sort of magic that transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary.

The most straightforward way to deal with it might be to take computers out of the picture. Start by asking the question "If we replaced the computer with a trained monkey who could slavishly follow instructions, would this be patentable?". If the answer is "Yes.", then the patent's valid. If the answer's "No.", then the burden should be on the patent-holder to explain why the application of a computer to this problem is so non-intuitive, so non-obvious, that someone familiar with the problem and computers would not think of letting a computer handle the chore. And "Because nobody's done it before." is not a valid response. Someone always has to be the first one to try to solve a problem.

Sure, but that's not the question being asked. Specifically, there are three relevant statutes here:
35 USC 101 states that processes, machines, compositions of matter, and articles of manufacture are patent eligible, provided that the claimed invention meets the other requirements.
35 USC 102 states that the claimed invention must be new - i.e. "nobody's done it before."
35 USC 103 states that the claimed invention must be nonobvious - i.e "so non-intuitive, so non-obvious, that someone familiar with the problem" would not come up with the solution.

But these are three different statutes, with different tests. 102 and 103 require prior art evidence - "is this new? What about this, where it was done exactly that way last year?"; or "isn't this obvious because it's just a combination of two known things that, even though they haven't been done together before, they'd be trivial to combine?"

The test for 101, however, is the issue here, and there really isn't a good test. Specifically, the fight is over what it means for a "process" to fit within the patent eligible range: say you actually solve the black hole information paradox and write an application claiming a method for retrieving information from a black hole. It's certainly never been done before, and I doubt anyone would call it obvious... but is it patent eligible? No, under the current understanding, because it's directed to a natural phenomenon.

See, novelty and obviousness are different questions. This is just about that strange first one, where something can be absolutely non-intuitive and genius, but not eligible, like Einstein's general relativity; or something can be in the field of patent eligible subject matter - like a process for putting butter on toast - but be totally old and well known and invalid under 102.

Now, that doesn't mean we throw our hands up and say "patent trolls win". It's just that 101 isn't the right tool to defeat them. If they're claiming something that's already common "but on a computer", well - computers are well known, the checkbook balancing is well known... first, we should be able to show that they've been done together before and therefore it's invalid under 102. Second, even if we can't, since both are well known, and combining them is trivial, then the combination is obvious under 103.
See, there's no need to make a grand sweeping rule that all software is forever ineligible, regardless of how revolutionary and world-changing it is... instead, we just want to get rid of stupid obvious patents, so let's start focusing on when things are stupid and obvious, not just whether they're done on a computer or not.

more than that... (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 8 months ago | (#46625745)

It seems to be common in software patents to try and claim not just a method of doing X, but the whole *concept* of doing X.

So for instance, the *concept* of doing rubber-band bounce-back. Apple has a patent on this. (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7479949.PN.&OS=PN/7479949&RS=PN/7479949)

To me this smacks of patenting an idea, rather than a specific way of implementing an idea.

Re:more than that... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46625917)

It seems to be common in software patents to try and claim not just a method of doing X, but the whole *concept* of doing X.

So for instance, the *concept* of doing rubber-band bounce-back. Apple has a patent on this. (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7479949.PN.&OS=PN/7479949&RS=PN/7479949)

To me this smacks of patenting an idea, rather than a specific way of implementing an idea.

That one's not the rubber-band patent, nor is it just a concept... They claimed:

11. A computer-implemented method, comprising:
at a computing device with a touch screen display, detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display;
applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device; and
processing the command;
wherein the one or more heuristics comprise:
a vertical screen scrolling heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command rather than a two-dimensional screen translation command based on an angle of initial movement of a finger contact with respect to the touch screen display;
a two-dimensional screen translation heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to the two-dimensional screen translation command rather than the one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command based on the angle of initial movement of the finger contact with respect to the touch screen display; and
a next item heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.

Which seems to be rules for determine whether you're scrolling, dragging, or flipping apps/tabs.

Re:It's not software patents (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 8 months ago | (#46625871)

Can we also start focusing on "description sufficient for someone skilled in the art to duplicate the invention"? I think that would also take a bite out of vagueness. "I built that according to your instructions and it doesn't do that other stuff at all."

Re:It's not software patents (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46626061)

Can we also start focusing on "description sufficient for someone skilled in the art to duplicate the invention"? I think that would also take a bite out of vagueness. "I built that according to your instructions and it doesn't do that other stuff at all."

Hell, yeah. "I have no idea what you're even trying to describe" is a serious problem, and good grounds for invalidation.

Re:It's not software patents (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#46625767)

But "obviousness" is too fuzzy a concept. Even outside of software it has proved problematic, such as when existing technologies are combined to get something new.

For example, resistor-based charge-and-uncharge technology had been around since the early 50's if I am not mistaking. However, in the early 1960's somebody used it to implement intermittent windshield wipers. Before that, mechanical means were used to implement them. Back then it was considered fairly novel. Patent lawsuits broke out.

However, almost anybody today familiar with standard solid-state electronic components would find the usage of a resistor pretty obvious for implementing intermittent windshield wipers. And somebody even in the early 1960's who was familiar with solid-state electronics would come to mostly the same conclusion. But that's with hindsight.

A somewhat similar thing happened with web technology: suddenly we had readily available semi-standardized tools and audiences to implement things that were before largely done by hand. Building an on-line auction system may seem novel to somebody unfamiliar to the (then) new web technology, but somebody versed in web technology would have found it a manageable problem: it's just old-fashioned programming using the tools and limitations of the web environment. There may be clever or novel ways to implement auctions, but a working auction site itself is not novel to such a person. I could perhaps see patents (copyrights?) on specific clever implementation ideas, but NOT the very existence of web auctions, which is pretty much what happened.

One way to measure "obvious" is a panel of experts. But what if none of the "experts" know about the new "kits" on the block such as solid-state electronics or web standards?

Re:It's not software patents (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 8 months ago | (#46625773)

The biggest problem here isn't the question of software patents. It's patents on things that are obvious, or are an obvious progression from something that's already common (eg. taking the manual process of balancing a checkbook and having a computer perform the exact same steps). It's just that software is the field where it's taken root the most, I think because people treat computers as some sort of magic that transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary.

Actually, you know, in the 19th century, the patent lawsuits were flying even more vigorously than they are now. In fact, in the field, it got so bad that it was impossible to create the device.

No, it wasn't a matter of licensing, but a matter that you couldn't build it because the patents were so broad and even worse, they overlapped! And no one was licensing to competitors, so everyone was suing everyone else. And yes, we had NPEs (non-practicing entities, aka trolls) as well.

The device? The sewing machine. Everyone was suing everyone else, and patents were granted that were overlapping. So if you managed to license one, someone else with the exact same thing would sue you. Heck, the only real difference was back then, the inventors held onto their patents and did a lot of the suing.

The end of the 19th century nearly brought a halt to the sewing machine. Until the companies got together and simply bought up every patent around from everyone. Literally buying the peace.

The justices should decided based on law only... (2)

rs1n (1867908) | about 8 months ago | (#46625199)

The article suggests that the justices are wavering because there are reservations about the repercussion of their decisions on existing software companies. The issue I have with that is that they should NOT be decided based on the repercussions. Their decision should be made as a matter of law.

Re:The justices should decided based on law only.. (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 8 months ago | (#46625335)

While I agree that their ultimate decision should only be made based on the law, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't think about all the ramifications of their decision. If they choose one course of action that follows the law despite those ramifications, it shows they considered all sides of the argument in full.

Personally, I think the only companies that will really be hurt if they decide to throw out software patents are law firms. These guys are spending way too much money trying to litigate each other into the ground, while their own customers have chosen their preferred products largely based on other things besides the patents in dispute.

Re:The justices should decided based on law only.. (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#46625817)

But they *will* be decided based on the repercussions... what you or I think *should* happen is entirely irrelevant.

Re:The justices should decided based on law only.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625869)

Their decision is *always* based on law. It is their only job - to *intemperate* the law, and make rulings. Oh and the little thing they can do which is basically toss a law as being unconstitutional. Being 1/3 of the 3 branches of the government is - you know - a pretty important task - if we just wanted trained monkeys to rubber stamp things we could patent it and get rid of judges all together.

Re:The justices should decided based on law only.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46625887)

interpret- stupid typo :(

Oh, Shit. Roberts is falling for it. (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | about 8 months ago | (#46625473)

From TFA:

"Just looking at it, it looks pretty complicated," Roberts said in reference to a diagram used in the patent. "There are a lot of arrows and ... different things that go ... in different directions."

Translation: OOH SHINY!!!

gets better (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 8 months ago | (#46625827)

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, but I mean, you know, it in different directions. And I understand him to say that in each of those places, that's where the computer is needed.

MR. PERRY: Mr. Chief Justice, Figure 16 has nothing to do with the invention asserted against my client in this case. There are two inventions in this patent. One invention involving multilateral contract formation is not asserted against my client. And all of these drawings pertain to that. The only drawings that pertain to the asserted claims are 25 and 33 to 37. And that was established below, and it's established in this Court. And Mr. Phillips has never disputed it. So the claim he's pointed the Court the figure he's pointed the Court to has nothing to do with the invention. It's for a different invention that is not at issue in this case.

I wouldn't count on it.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#46625763)

Too much big money is tied up in the value of software patents, and I don't think the Supreme Court is interested in doing what would probably amount to irreparable harm to that many corporations.

Not saying it *CAN'T* happen that the court could rule against them, stranger things have happened in the past - but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Goodness knows I'd sorely enjoy being wrong about this, however.

Re:I wouldn't count on it.... (1)

nickmalthus (972450) | about 8 months ago | (#46626031)

The SCOTUS has always had a hard time doing the right thing when vast economic interests [wikipedia.org] are involved.

And the justice said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626025)

The court's conservative justices were more supportive of the patent. Justice Antonin Scalia wondered why implementing an abstract idea on a computer wasn't enough to justify patent protection.

"Was the cotton gin not an invention because it just means you're doing through a machine what people used to do by hand?" he asked rhetorically. "Why is a computer any different in that respect?"

Perhaps because to build the cotton gin, he had to figure out the abstract idea of a cotton saw and build a machine to use it. That he needed to build a machine was obvious, how to do that was not. To put the long existing abstract finance idea on a computer did not require a new idea. That he needed to put it on a computer was obvious. Nothing is left to call an invention.

The interesting question is where they go with new algorithms implemented on a computer. Does an invention need a physical implementation like a mechanical machine. Figuring out how to arrange matter to build a new machine is often much harder that figuring out a new algorithm for software. Given the ease of implementing new algorithms, is it a good bargain for society to provide intellectual property rights for one? The practical benefits of disclosure seem small. That leaves balancing the incentive provided by the patent versus the hinderance caused by the patent. The folks doing the software are saying that the hinderance far outweighs the incentives. (The businesses they work for may have a different view.) We can only hope the court will agree with the folks actually doing the work.

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