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

U.S.P.T.O. Asked to Review and Revoke Patent That Was Preempted by Open Source Projects

PUBPAT News: Opsware Remote Computer Management Patent Challenged by PUBPAT

New York, NY -- February 12, 2007 -- The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") announced today that it has filed a formal request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to review a patent held by Opsware Inc. (NASDAQ: OPSW) related to remote computer management that was preempted by the work of open source projects. In its filing, PUBPAT submitted prior art that the Patent Office was not aware of when reviewing the application that led to the issuance of the patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,124,289), described in detail how the prior art invalidates the patent and asked that the patent be revoked.

Patent Office Grants PUBPAT Requests to Reexamine EpicRealm Dynamic Website Patents

A PUBPAT press release includes:

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has granted each of the Public Patent Foundation's ("PUBPAT") formal requests to review two patents held by EpicRealm Licensing Inc. that the patent licensing company is widely asserting against providers of dynamic websites, i.e. websites that can produce custom responses to individual visitors or users. In its filings, PUBPAT had submitted prior art that the Patent Office was not aware of when reviewing the applications that led to the two patents and described in detail how the prior art invalidates the patents. The Patent Office found that PUBPAT's filings indeed raised "substantial questions" regarding the validity of the EpicRealm patents.

Patent Office Orders Re-Examination of Blackboard Patent

A SFLC press release includes:

In response to a formal request filed by the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today ordered re-examination of the e-learning patent owned by Blackboard Inc.
...
A re-examination of this type usually takes one or two years to complete. Roughly 70% of re-examinations are successful in having a patent narrowed or completely revoked.

DRM patent

(via /.)

It looks like Alan Cox has filed for a US patent on DRM. Though I'm neither a fan of software patents nor a fan of DRM, I do like the description of DRM offered in the preamble: [a] rights management system monitors and controls use of a computer program to prevent use that is not in compliance with acceptable terms.

If more technologists could describe DRM in this fashion, perhaps our government might be more willing to examine it's impact on users?

The open source patent war

An ITPro article by Richard Hillesley includes:

Due to the fact that Linux is free software and belongs to no-one, it is often assumed that Linux is "surrounded by legal uncertainties."

However, Linux is no more or less prone to legal uncertainties, by which we usually mean potential patent infringements, than any other software application or platform. The problem is not the software nor the license, but the legal framework within which the software industry operates.

Software Freedom Law Center Files Brief against software patents

I realized I hadn't posted about Microsoft v. AT&T, the US Supreme Court case that will decide whether U.S. patents can apply to software that is copied and distributed overseas. What the Software Freedom Law Center has done is file a brief that argues not only against software patents applying to overseas uses, but argues against software patents themselves.

Group challenges e-learning patent

A cNet news.com article by Anne Broache talks about a controvercial e-learning patent.

The Software Freedom Law Center has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate all 44 claims of the Blackboard patent.

The news release from the Software Freedom Law Center includes:

In a free society, there is no room for a monopoly on any part of the educational process, said Eben Moglen, Executive Director of SFLC and Professor of Law and Legal History at Columbia University. We are confident that there is enough prior art for the Patent Office to open, re-examine, and ultimately revoke all of the patent's claims.

US Supreme Court to examine 'obviousness' of patents

(Also in p2pnet)
An article by Anne Broache, Staff Writer, CNET News.com discusses the problem of junk patent that should not have passed the "unobvious" test for patentability.

Is Microsoft Violating Some Patents Covering Open Source?

An e-Week article by Peter Galli is likely one of the best summaries of the issues around the Novell-Microsoft deal when it comes to software patents.

I will offer highlights of what the article said, with my own comments in brackets:

  • This deal is just as much Microsoft admitting that they infringe on Novell patents as the other way around. (In fact, Microsoft is not the largest Software Patent holder, and it is likely that IBM holds far more operating system related software patents that would apply to both Linux and Microsoft Windows than anyone else.)
  • Open Letter to the Community from Novell

    Novell has sent out another Open Letter (Dated November 20, 2006) about their deal with Microsoft. In it they clarified a few things that have come up since the deal.

    We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents.

    Novell should have expected that Microsoft would abuse the agreement to spread FUD and to promote their ideological beliefs (that software should only be paid for via an artificial marginal cost rather than allowing the option of using simpler fixed-cost based business models).

    See also: CNet news.com: Microsoft, Novell spar over Linux agreement.

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