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Patents Software

(Highly Divided) Federal Circuit Opinion Finds Many Software Patents Ineligible 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the system-and-method-for-bits-and-stuff dept.
ais523 writes "The Federal Circuit has divided CLS Bank vs. Alice Corp., a case about various sorts of patents, including software patents. Although the judges disagreed, to a lesser or greater extent, on the individual parts of the ruling, more than half decided that the patents in question — algorithms for hedging risk — were ineligible patent matter, and that merely adding an 'on a computer'-like clause to an abstract algorithm does not make it patentable. Further coverage is available at Groklaw, or you can read the opinion itself (PDF)."
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(Highly Divided) Federal Circuit Opinion Finds Many Software Patents Ineligible

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  • Re:Does that mean? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 11, 2013 @09:52AM (#43694967) Homepage Journal

    There is no line. Algorithms were never meant to be patented.

    35 USC 101: Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

    Algorithm: A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, esp. by a computer.

    I'd say it's pretty clear that algorithms were meant to be patented, provided they were new and useful and met the other conditions of the patent act.

  • Re:Does that mean? (Score:4, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @12:03PM (#43695917)

    Decisions have determined the limits of the statutory classes. Examples of subject matter not patentable under the statute follow:

    A. Printed Matter
    For example, a mere arrangement of printed matter, though seemingly a "manufacture," is rejected as not being within the statutory classes. See In re Miller, 418 F.2d 1392, 164 USPQ 46 (CCPA 1969); Ex parte Gwinn, 112 USPQ 439 (Bd. App. 1955); and In re Jones, 373 F.2d 1007, 153 USPQ 77 (CCPA 1967).

    B. Naturally Occurring Article
    Similarly, a thing occurring in nature, which is substantially unaltered, is not a "manufacture." A shrimp with the head and digestive tract removed is an example. Ex parte Grayson, 51 USPQ 413 (Bd. App. 1941).

    C. Scientific Principle
    A scientific principle, divorced from any tangible structure, can be rejected as not within the statutory classes. O"Reilly v. Morse, 56 U.S. (15 How.) 62 (1854).

    Section C disallows abstract mathematics from being the subject of patents.

  • Re: Does that mean? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ustolemyname (1301665) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @12:29PM (#43696081)
    No, the US knows full well they are violating Iranian law. They, like most, just don't care about Iranian law.
  • Re:about (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @02:16PM (#43696727)

    "about time"

    Yes, about time this was RE-affirmed. Because some people seem to have forgotten their history.

    This all took place -- same subject, and in exactly the same way -- about 100 years ago. Musicians were concerned with other people "stealing" their music by copying player piano rolls using stock paper, some glue, and paper punches. (Sound familiar? Gill Gates started this whole software "protectionist" era by suing people for copying his Altair BASIC interpreter that was stored on paper tape.)

    John Philip Sousa, in fact was on the plaintiff end of some of these suits. And the courts decided that the form of the work doesn't matter. It can be on paper rolls, or in a book of sheet music, or whatever. AND, the courts also ruled that it doesn't matter whether it is in a form that controls machines, either. A written work is still nothing more than a written work!

    And so with software. Software is properly governed by copyright, not patents. Where the software represents novel business practices or formulae, those business practices and formulae may be patentable. But according to ages-old court precedent, software itself never should have been.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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