Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Looking out for Bilski: software patents v. FOSS

Filed under

Users of free and open source software (“FOSS”) have little to gain and much to fear from the patent system. The patent system poses two major threats to users: First, the software itself can be burdened or extinguished altogether by “software patents', that is, claims over basic techniques used in computer programs or common features of programs. Second, the use of computers to perform basic business functions traditionally performed in other ways, can be monopolized as a result of patents on computer enabled “business methods”.

Before 1990, neither the features of software nor the use of computers in “business methods” could be patented anywhere in the world. But the creation of a specialized patent law court in the United States, all of whose judges were patent lawyers, changed the landscape of U.S patent law. The tremors were felt in the rest of the world. The U.S Supreme Court, in a famous 1981 case, held that a computer program used to control the industrial process of rubber vulcanization could not be patented standing alone, because facts of nature, mathematical formulas and algorithms are outside the realm of patent protection. However, after 1982, the Supreme Court largely left patent law to the newly created Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”), and soon the CAFC had changed the rules completely while pretending that nothing had changed at all.

The CAFC's decision in 1998, in the case of State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group, expanded patent's scope to include any ”practical application” of an algorithm, formula, or calculation that produces ”a useful, concrete and tangible result.” Thus injecting patents into areas where they were neither needed nor desired. These included, for example, financial strategies, auction techniques, accounting, and management, training and instruction.

rest here

More in Tux Machines

6 smart settings to make your Android phone anticipate your needs

There's no denying that our smartphones have made our lives so much easier, putting our contacts and schedules, our driving directions, the whole internet, right at our fingertips. But if you're using an Android phone you might be leaving even more convenience on the table. There are a bunch of super-smart settings in Nougat and Google Now that’ll make your Android device feel like it’s 10 steps ahead of you. Your Android phone can be proactively telling you how long it’ll take to get to work in the morning, and nudging you when your favorite team is about to take the field. Your device can keep itself unlocked whenever it’s on you, and those snapshots you just took can automatically be arranged into beautiful collages. Battery running low? Android can know to dial down background activity to keep your phone alive. And if you love the idea of asking Google questions without ever touching your phone, you can train your phone to do that, too. Read more

Android and Tizen Leftovers

Update: Convictions Upheld, Sentences Extended In Romanian Microsoft Bribery Trial

According to the blog post, the trial ended on October 3rd, and investigators found that more than 100 people, including former ministers, the mayor of Bucharest, and various businessmen were involved in this latest corruption scandal involving Microsoft. More than 20 million euros were paid by Microsoft there as bribes. [...] These bribery convictions are just the tip of the iceberg. Multiple news outlets are reporting on investigations of bribery in other countries as well as separate investigations by the US Department of Justice and the US Securities And Exchange Commission. Read more

Red Hat News