PCPlus: Can you really patent an idea?
Aug 18, 2000, 02:03 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Chris Bidmead)
Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame
[ Thanks to JOJO for this link.
"Patent rubber-stamping has resumed under the welter of
applications. Following new guidelines laid down in 1996 the
USPTO is currently ok'ing tens of thousands of applications a year
- and that's only the figure for software patents. Why? According
to Linux kernel guru Alan Cox it's because of the totally daft way
the USPTO is funded, which makes its income dependent on the number
of successful applications it pushes through." "The US Patent
system has basically collapsed," says Cox. "They allow arbitrary
patents on software systems, and because of the sheer number of
these, it is now trivial to patent arbitrary pieces of simple
mathematics." Good news, though, for carpet-baggers like Wells, St
John, Roberts, Gregory & Matkin, Attorneys-at-Law. On their Web
page at www.patentsusa.com they crow that following the 1996
guidelines: "...it is clear that software patents are here to
stay... Patents provide strong protection in that they prevent
against independent invention... Anyone making, using, or selling a
patented computer program is an infringer, even though they had no
knowledge of the computer program."
"The fact that any program you invest time developing might be
snatched away from you because of some obscure 'infringement' is
only one of the many inherent contradictions in software patenting.
For the rest, see here. It 's a key issue for us right now because
the European tradition of regarding software as 'ideas' and
therefore unpatentable is being actively eroded. Says German patent
specialist Jurgen Siepman: "Under the pressure of patent
professionals, the European Patent Office invented its own rules in
order to grant more than 10,000 software related patents, more than
75 per cent of which were filed by non-European companies". At
present most of these patents are probably unenforcable under
European Law. But US influences are attempting to enforce
'rationalisation' of European patent practices along American
lines. If you want to know more about this (I hope you do - it
affects the future of software for us all) you can pick up the
argument at www.freepatents.org."