Is The UK Patent Office Ignoring Court Ruling On Software Patents?

from the who-knows-best? dept

Back in October, we were disappointed by a UK court ruling that effectively told the UK's Patent Office that it had to stop rejecting software patents outright, and instead consider software patentable if it met certain criteria. Given the widespread evidence that software patents have done plenty of harm, and almost nothing to help the software industry, this is generally disappointing. However, it looks like the UK patent office may be trying to do its best to ignore the implications of the court ruling. A few readers have sent in the news that the patent office has released some guidelines that effectively say the patent office will continue to use the same guidelines its used in the past, which reject patents for pretty much all pure software. Good for them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2008 @ 6:37pm

    question

    Is software the only thing for which people think they deserve both a patent and a copyright ?

     

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  2.  
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    Peter Blaise Monahon (profile), Dec 20th, 2008 @ 6:32am

    No one knows, so the bureacrats try to do the best they can get away with.

    Don't forget TRADEMARKS on software, My favorite is "Publish It" - did they not LOOK at the mark beforehand? ;-)

    Anyway, all government offices try to do the right thing by their experience regardless of the nievete of court rulings from dilatant judges who don't really try to get to know the total culture of a suit brought to them from outside that government agency, they often get it all wrong, then the agency has to figure out a way to dance with or dance around the ruling ... until the next whimsical judge weighs in.

    The challenge is to include the lawmakers in the circle, otherwise the dance is incomplete - we need the judicial, executive, and legislative branches to all be on the same page, er, dance card, so to speak. Otherwise, smart business lawyers will finds and take advantages of cracks, widening such cracks in their favor.

    I tend to think biology, business practices, writing, and such are not the domain of patents, but what do I know? Until we as a society bone up and know, then how can we expect non-expert judges to know just by having one case thrown at them?

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Alpha Computer, Dec 20th, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Software Patents: Are They Worth It?

    Today patents, especially software ones, are hard to to justify. Just think of all the patents that were slightly modified by another.

    You do the hard work and someone else benefits by making enough changes to bypass your hard efforts. Once you make a better mouse trap, others surely follow at your heels.

    Thankfully, there are still laws and policies in place that do help in the process.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    LBD, Dec 20th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Re: Software Patents: Are They Worth It?

    Think of all the people who come up with an idea, sit on their ass, and sue the people who actualy make it work you mean?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Re: Software Patents: Are They Worth It?

    Dear Alpha Computer,

    Its a shame that HP bought Dec and destroyed a rather good platform.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Alpha Computer, Dec 20th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Software Patents: Are They Worth It?

    It does not seem fair does it? If you work hard, you should reap the rewards of your hard work.

    Think also of all the people who had an idea and died with it. The grave is full of great ideas that never came to pass because people were either too scared to do it or did not know what they had.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Alpha Computer, Dec 20th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Software Patents: Are They Worth It?

    Your right. It's a shame. If you work hard, you should reap the rewards. But hard needs to be accompanied by "smart" these days. Dot your "I's" and cross your "T's".

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Alpha Computer, Dec 20th, 2008 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Software Patents: Are They Worth It?

    I am sorry to say that this is only the beginning. The Big Guys keep on getting bigger and the little guys get the boot.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Mark Regan, Dec 20th, 2008 @ 6:21pm

    Money Patent

    I once came up with software which could be used with a scanner to scan US Currency into my computer and then print out exact duplicates using my patented microdot printing press.

    I tried to patent the software and was told by the US Patent Office that they do not issue patents for software.

    In view of this court ruling, perhaps I need to move to London. Could you recommend any currency exchanges which might be interested in "laundering" lots of bills once my patents are issues?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    trollificus, Dec 21st, 2008 @ 7:56am

    @Mark Regan

    Ummm...Mark, you need to use a patented RTFA s/w. Or maybe develop a "reading comprehension" program.

    (yes, I know it was a joke...)

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    EMComments, Dec 21st, 2008 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Software Patents: Are They Worth It?

    "You do the hard work and someone else benefits by making enough changes to bypass your hard efforts. Once you make a better mouse trap, others surely follow at your heels."

    Isn't that entirely the point of Patents? Putting the idea into the public domain (as opposed to keeping it a trade secret) whilst offering the inventor a time-limited monopoly on the implementation.

     

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  12.  
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    The Mad (Patent) Prosecutor, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 7:22am

    "Good for them."

    Why? Why should we be happy when any government official refuses to follow the law? Because it's a law you don't like?

    What if I thought the spotted owl habitat was more important than your rights to build on your property, Mr. Masnick? And what if you were adjudicated entitled to a building permit, after going to court to enforce your rights? And what if the clerk who was supposed to issue your bulding permit refused to do so, because he was part of my conservation group? How happy would you be if a group of own supporters got together and opined "good for the clerk who won't issue the permit"?

     

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  13.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 10:41am

    Re:

    Why? Why should we be happy when any government official refuses to follow the law? Because it's a law you don't like?

    If it's a demonstrably bad law, then yes. It's not about whether or not I like it. It's about the very clear damage that the law is doing.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Mark Regan, Dec 31st, 2008 @ 3:40am

    What's Good Enough For Adolph Is Good Enough For Us

    When he lived in Germany, and served in the SS, and was told by a "government official" to execute a citizen for being a Jew / Catholic / homosexual / idiot / whatever, my grandpa's brother Fritz said "No" and was killed on the spot.

    My grandfather, since then, believed like you, Mr. Prosecutor, that a good citizen employed by the government MUST obey the law as interpreted by a government "official" or "judge" or Fuhrer.

    I, on the other hand, believe like his brother Fritz, that a person's conscience and common sense and human rights and constitutional rights prevail over the printed word of the law or uttered interpretation of the law (under color of law) can be challenged so long as the challenger is willing to take the consequences.

    Blind obedience to "the law" or "the boss" is what sheep do when their shepherd says "Follow Me." Enlightened Americans question laws that are unfair or unjust or plain stupid. That is one of OUR freedoms.

    I am sad that you do not believe Mike has a right to question British laws. How about his right to question American laws? If drafted tomorrow to fight in Iraq, can he declare he is a conscientious objector, or will that make him a traitor in your eyes?

    I suspect that if the clerk you know from your group refuses to issue Mike a building permit, he would file an appeal to the city council, or request an order from a chancery court to compel said permit be issued, else allow him to build without one.

    Clerks who knowingly interject their personal opinion into their jobs soon are jobless or worse. But they DO often "lose" files.

    I'm sure Mike appreciates your concern for his happiness. But he doesn't seem like he's one to "Baaaa"ther with a shepherd who tells him to jump off a cliff, or a patent officer who tells him he can't use HIS original idea / software / program because someone ten years ago patented a similar program and sat on it / went bankrupt / died. Likely he would proceed with marketing his software, and if the new owner / patent holder asserted his right to sue, would cut him into the profits even though they didn't do anything to deserve it. Because a legal right, while not deserved or earned, is still respected. But a computer program, if not used, is useless.

    The government is full of unthinking bureaucrats, but the best employees use their brains and catch heat from those, like you (no offense intended), who are not open to other ways of skinning cats than what is written in the Cat Skinning Manual.

     

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