Even An East Texas Court Has Told Uniloc That It Can't Patent Math
from the there-are-limits,-people dept
Even a notoriously patent-friendly court like the district court in East Texas has admitted that there are limits to what's patentable. Notorious patent troll Uniloc, whose name has been appearing quite frequently lately, has lost one part of its big cases, against Rackspace, after the district court in Tyler, Texas has said one of the patents in question in this lawsuit, US Patent 5,892,697 on a "Method and apparatus for handling overflow and underflow in processing floating-point numbers," is really patenting basic mathematical functions, and you can't do that.
Claim 1, then, is merely an improvement on a mathematical formula. Even when tied to computing, since floating-point numbers are a computerized numeric format, the conversion of floating-point numbers has applications across fields as diverse as science, math, communications, security, graphics, and games. Thus, a patent on Claim 1 would cover vast end uses, impeding the onward march of science.
While this is nice, this is just one patent in that particular lawsuit, and Uniloc has dozens of other patents that it's using in other lawsuits. And Uniloc shows no signs of slowing down. Just the other day it filed 12 new lawsuits.