Ars Technica is reporting that the traditionally silent US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may be starting to turn things around. It seems that in recent action the USPTO has started to make it much easier to invalidate software patents
with some saying that the abolition of such patents may be in the distant future. "Duffy cites four recent cases that illustrate the Patent Office's growing hostility to the patenting of software and other abstract concepts. While the USPTO hasn't formally called for the abolition of software patents, the positions it took in these cases do suggest a growing skepticism. In the first two cases, decided last fall, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (which has jurisdiction over patent appeals) upheld patent rejections by the USPTO. They were not software patent cases, as such. In In Re Nuijten, the court considered a patent related to an algorithm for adding a watermark to a digital media file. The Federal Circuit did not invalidate the claims relating to the watermarking algorithm itself; everyone seemed to agree that the algorithm was patentable. Rather, the decision focused on whether a digital signal could be the subject of a patent claim. The court concluded that it could not. A victory for common sense, perhaps, but hardly a rejection of software patents."