Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Looking out for Bilski: software patents v. FOSS

Filed under
OSS

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

Announcing Season of KDE 2018

KDE Student Programs is pleased to announce the 2018 Season of KDE for those who want to participate in mentored projects that enhance KDE in some way. Every year since 2013, KDE Student Programs has been running Season of KDE as a program similar to, but not quite the same as Google Summer of Code, offering an opportunity to everyone (not just students) to participate in both code and non-code projects that benefits the KDE ecosystem. In the past few years, SoK participants have not only contributed new application features but have also developed the KDE Continuous Integration System, statistical reports for developers, a web framework, ported KDE Applications, created documentation and lots and lots of other work. For this year’s Season of KDE, we are shaking things up a bit and making a host of changes to the program. Read more

How To Get Started With The Ubuntu Linux Distro

The Linux operating system has evolved from a niche audience to widespread popularity since its creation in the mid 1990s, and with good reason. Once upon a time, that installation process was a challenge, even for those who had plenty of experience with such tasks. The modern day Linux, however, has come a very long way. To that end, the installation of most Linux distributions is about as easy as installing an application. If you can install Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, you can install Linux. Here, we'll walk you through the process of installing Ubuntu Linux 17.04, which is widely considered one of the most user-friendly distributions. (A distribution is a variation of Linux, and there are hundreds and hundreds to choose from.) Read more

today's leftovers

'Turbo Boost Max 3.0' and Mesa 17.2.4

  • Turbo Boost Max 3.0 Support For Skylake Fixed With Linux 4.15
    The platform-drivers-x86 updates have been sent in for Linux 4.15 and include a range of improvements for Intel hardware support. One of the bigger items is support for Skylake CPUs with Turbo Boost Max 3.0.
  • Mesa 17.2.4 Graphics Stack Lands for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Ubuntu 17.10 Gamers
    Canonical's Timo Aaltonen reports on the availability of the Mesa 17.2.4 open-source graphics drivers stack on the X-SWAT updates PPA for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Ubuntu 17.10 systems. Ubuntu systems have always lagged behind the development of the Mesa 3D Graphics Library, the Linux graphics stack containing open-source drivers for Intel, AMD Radeon, and Nvidia GPUs, but they usually catch up with it through a specially crafted PPA (Personal Package Archive) repository that can be easily installed by users.