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.

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Comments on “Patentability Of Business Model And Software Patents Comes Under Court Scrutiny”

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Prof_IT says:


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.

Exiled From The Mainstream says:

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.

Software Guy says:

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?

Jay Chawla says:

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.

Martin Zwilling (user link) says:

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 titled “Software Patents: Time for a Change” for specifics.

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

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