Information/Mental Process Patents

Information/Mental Process Patents can include everything from computer software, business models, and possibly even methods of organizing people (Roberts Rules), parliamentary processes, and acts of parliament/law.

See: (EU), Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (EU), League for Programming Freedom (US).

Jim Rapoza on recent US Patent Rulings

Jim Rapoza of eWeek published an article summarizing both of the recent US court cases on patents.

Some things just go together, like bread and butter or bacon and eggs or peanut butter and jelly. Everyone understands this because it's obvious.
And while ideas like this have traditionally been able to sail through the patent system and then be used to stifle competition and true innovation, they aren't any more inventive than bacon and eggs on a square plate.
This was another common sense area where you kind of say, duh, if the patent isn't legal in a certain country then you can't use it. In this case, I was glad to see the Court rule in favor of Microsoft and agree that a United States-based patent is just that, and not a global patent no matter what the laws of other countries say.

A person of ordinary skill not an automaton: U.S. Supreme Court on Patent Policy

James Love has an article in the Huffington Post BLOG that offers important commentary on the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the test for novelty for US patents. It documents some of the harmful patent policies of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the 25 year old United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the CAFC) that was granted jurisdiction over US patent law. This has been a clear case of regulatory capture of two bodies which have favoured the special interests of patent lawyers and patent holders over the interests of the economy and country as a whole.

US courts improving US patent law?

Two good-news articles today. One discusses how the US Supreme Court stated that Microsoft didn't have to pay software patent royalties when copies of Windows are made and installed on computers abroad, and a second where the US Supreme Court loosens patent 'obviousness' test which should reduce some of the poor quality patents retained by the USPTO. Both are important improvements to the courts interpretation of US patent law.

Now is the time for international action on patents

An article by David Dickson, Director, SciDev.Net discusses the growing support for a re-shifting of PCT rules. While this focused on poor nations, the development agenda includes discussions of commons-based peer production which benefits everyone.

But patent rules have proved to be an Achilles heel of globalisation. A series of widely publicised cases have highlighted the social injustices that accompany globalisation. These range from the appropriation of indigenous knowledge by multinational companies, to the way that patents allow pharmaceutical companies to price essential medicines out of the reach of the poor.

MP3 players hit by patent infringement suit

A The Register article talks about more junk patents causing harm to innovators in the technology industry. While this patents is on the obvious concept of a portable audio/video player that decodes MPEG related standard file formats, many similar junk patents exist on all aspects of multimedia devices and software.

When will the US patent office recognize that allowing such obvious patents greatly harms innovation, both within the United States and worldwide?

Bear-baiting from Redmond

(In response to Open Letter to Steven Ballmer: Show Us the (allegedly infringing) Code)

While I am completely convinced that Steve Balmer needs to be called on his grandstanding, I don't think forcing him to "reveal the violations" (or "show us the code"), is the most intelligent tactic. Like many old economy software vendors who have played the patent game, I'm certain that Microsoft Corporation has some stupid, overly-broad patent in their portfolio. If their lawyers pulled one of these bits of junk out from under a rock, what would the free software community do? Worst case, what would happen if they actually sued someone?

Show us the code: right pew, wrong church

A Linux Watch article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols correctly identifies that " is using the wrong language to discuss the problem. Patents aren't on "code" but "information processes". What should be happening is that those who are alleging patent infringement should state which patents they believe are infringing. Patent's may have "sample code", but unlike copyright aren't limited to specific implementations of a software idea.

He suggests the right solution: work to lobby governments to fix patent law to exclude information/mental process patents such as software and business methods.

Open Letter to Steven Ballmer: Show Us the (allegedly infringing) Code

The Website opens with:

It's come to many in the Linux community’s attention you have claimed again and again, that Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property. Not only that, but it's been reported Microsoft has convinced businesses to pay for a Linux patent that you can't provide.

Therefore, this website will serve as a response to this accusation, and within it, a request. The request is simple, since you, Microsoft, claim to be so sure of yourself: Show Us the Code.

CIPO Reviewing Software Patent Practice

A thank-you to Michael Geist for blogging about a revision of MOPOP.

Thanks to a reader for pointing out the the Canadian Intellectual Property Office is currently reviewing several chapters from its Manual of Patent Office Practice .  Chapters subject to review include those covering software patents and biotechnology, matters of interest to the open source and scientific communities. CIPO provides details on submitting comments here.

PUBPAT Executive Director Testifies Before U.S. House of Representatives on Patent Reform

NEW YORK -- February 15, 2007 -- Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") Executive Director, Dan Ravicher, will testify today to the U.S. House of Representatives on the subject of patent reform. Ravicher will begin with an opening statement and then answer questions from Representatives on the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, including Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Howard Coble (R-NC), at the oversight hearing on "American Innovation at Risk: The Case for Patent Reform" scheduled for 2:00 pm this afternoon.

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