Patentability Of Business Model And Software Patents Comes Under Court Scrutiny

from the about-time dept

Nearly ten years ago, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) made its ruling in the State Street Bank case, effectively allowing patents on business models and greatly expanding the scope of software patents in one single move. While there are many problems with the patent system, this one decision made for a lot more bad patents very quickly -- and many of the ridiculous lawsuits you see today wouldn't even exist if this decision had gone the other way. While we've seen the Supreme Court suddenly get religion on fixing the patent system in the past few years, it hasn't really touched on the question of software or business model patents.

On one case that could have addressed the issue, the court dismissed the case on a technicality, rather than digging into the actual issue, though in the dissent, some Justices made it clear they weren't comfortable with the State Street ruling. Last year, some folks tried to sneak the issue of software patents into another Supreme Court patent case, but that seemed like a stretch, since the case really had little to do with software patents directly. The decision in that case did set things up, though, so that the Supreme Court later could reject software patents.

Now we have another important case to watch. As pointed out by the Troll Tracker, CAFC has agreed to a full court hearing to examine the scope of what can be patented. It may sound like a technicality, but it could be a very big deal. Going back on the earlier State Street ruling could effectively knock out many business model patents and software patents, restoring at least some (though, certainly not all) sanity to the patent system, especially in the technology world.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Feb 16th, 2008 @ 7:49am

    I would like to patent the business model

    of buying patents and suing for un-realized damages.
    The title of the Patent is "Patent Trolling as a Business Model", oh yeah, as a Software and Business Model.

    Soon I will be singin:
    And they moved to Beverly, Hills that is Swimmin pools and Patent Stars!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Who's the toll tracker? Maybe you mean the troll tracker

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Prof_IT, Feb 16th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    Patents

    As an academic scholar in Information Technology, I can say with a certainity that I can dig up prior ACADEMIC research for almost 90% of software or business patents that have been issued. The most ridiculous is the one-click by Amazon where cookies have been known and used in academic research prior to that for exactly similar purposes (retrieving browser stored information from servers). The patents that are difficult to crack the those that rely on prior research that was done within the company e.g., the telecommunication patents. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Exiled From The Mainstream, Feb 16th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

    If they dismiss this one...

    I'm gonna be pissed. I just can't understand how they let crap get this far gone. Its amazing that an entire business can be made on patent trolling and has for years now.

    Not like I expect much though... America has one of the loopiest legal systems I've seen. Seems like long as you got the cash you'll get out scotfree even if it was capital murder.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    A. L. Flanagan, Feb 17th, 2008 @ 5:48am

    Re: If they dismiss this one...

    The guy with the most money wins. What's loopy about that? It's simple and easy to understand. ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    BS, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 7:02am

    The people who made the original ruling

    [b]Were obviously in the pocket of big business and should be removed from office for being the the allower of this travesty in the first place[/b]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 7:17am

    Re: The people who made the original ruling

    Don't accuse without evidence.

    Don't assume malice where incompetence can easily be substituted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 8:05am

    The courts only make big decisions by accident. It's rare that they knowingly overturn a decisions that business are built upon -- they don't have that kinda backbone

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Software Guy, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 8:17am

    Software patents bad for the US

    I hope the courts will stop the software and business patents before all of us who know how it all works leave and go low tech. I've been in the software business for 20 years with fear of getting sued over my creations for the last 5 or so years. I am already prepairing to exit the industry in the next two years if things don't change. If we all leave who will run the machines?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    ravenshrike, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 8:19am

    The Supreme Court tends to like their cases to be as glitch free as possible, mainly so that people can't go back later and invalidate their ruling on the basis of a technicality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    it's SCOTUS. They are the final decision; there's not another court over them to overturn their rulings. The only way to overturn the Supreme Court is for Congress to pass a new law or for the Constitution to be amended.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Re: I would like to patent the business model

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Tony P, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Patents

    I wonder how the Verizon v. Vonage case worked out. Supposedly Vonage was violating a bunch of patents that Verizon supposedly owned.

    In essence Verizon took RFP's and made them into patents and then using those tried to kill the competition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Re: I would like to patent the business model

    Why stop there. Patent the business and software model of exchanging goods and services for goods and services.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Timothy Rue, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 4:17pm

    Abstraction Physics

    Software simply doesn't fall into the realm of being of qualities supporting patent-ability, nor do business methods.

    Abstraction Physics No Kidding.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2008 @ 1:39am

    Re: Re: The people who made the original ruling

    I actually prefer to think of it as malice. Incompetence gets a bad rap too often. How many times have you heard someone say "I didn't know..." and know it was a lie?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    n/a, Feb 19th, 2008 @ 6:45am

    not everything can be owned

    I believe one of the reasons software patents and similar ideas live in the US is because there is a firm belief in US that everything can be _owned_.

    IMNSHO shared resources can not always be owned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    vishal, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 9:06pm

    Patenteability

    I would like to patent the business model by Anonymous Coward

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Jay Chawla, Mar 7th, 2008 @ 4:37pm

    Patents and Corporate Welfare

    Genetic and pharmaceutical patents are good for large corporations, so no one criticizes them. Software and Business Model patents are good for innovative thinkers, so big corporations hate them.

    So follow the herd, you mindless lemmings, and criticize tech patents while you pay top dollar for patented, over-hyped drugs that don't do anything but kill you slowly and make the pharmaceutical companies rich quickly.

    The mega-technology corporations and all of their copycat rip-off artist friends thank you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Patents and Corporate Welfare

    And don't forget China - they are very thankful too...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    ViSalus, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 11:23pm

    Patents

    The most ridiculous is the one-click by Amazon where cookies have been known and used in academic research prior to that for exactly similar purposes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Martin Zwilling, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 8:48am

    Time for Change

    This is a good article on software patent issues. I'm convinced that it's time to eliminate the software patent process, and simply use the existing copyright and trademark protection for software. See my article on blog.startupprofessionals.com titled "Software Patents: Time for a Change" for specifics.

    Marty Zwilling, Founder & CEO, Startup Professionals, Inc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Smarter Finances, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Nice post!It was really informative. I have a little confusions about the said issue, but still I am balancing on what would be the best thing to do about this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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