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

Leftovers: Gaming

Open Source Software: 10 Go To Solution for Small Businesses

While closed-source operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS may still dominate the OS market, not everyone can afford the high costs that they entail. For small- and medium-sized enterprises where every penny matters, taking advantage of open-source software such as Ubuntu’s Linux is a good bet to boost productivity and cost effectiveness. The fact that open-source softwares have evolved to become somewhat user-friendly and sleek also helps a good deal. Read more

Linux 4.11-rc8

So originally I was just planning on releasing the final 4.11 today, but while we didn't have a *lot* of changes the last week, we had a couple of really annoying ones, so I'm doing another rc release instead. I did get fixes for the issues that popped up, so I could have released 4.11 as-is, but it just doesn't feel right. It's not like another week of letting this release mature will really hurt. The most noticeable of the issues is that we've quirked off some NVMe power management that apparently causes problems on some machines. It's not entirely clear what caused the issue (it wasn't just limited to some NVMe hardware, but also particular platforms), but let's test it. Read more Also: Linux 4.11 delayed for a week by NVMe glitches and 'oops fixes' Linux 4.11 Pushed Back: 4.11-rc8 Released

Themes for Ubuntu

  • Flattiance is a Flat Fork of Ubuntu’s Ambiance Theme
    Flattiance is pitched as a “semi-flat fork” of the Ubuntu Ambiance theme. You know, the one that ships out of the box and by default. On the whole Flattiance keeps to the same color palette, with dark browns and orange accents, but it ditches the gradient in app headers in favour of a solid block.
  • A quick look at some essential GNOME Shell tweaks and extensions
    Now that Ubuntu is moving to GNOME Shell, many people will get a bit of a shock at how different the workflow is from Unity to Shell. Here’s a quick look at some essentials to get you going.