Why Software Patents are Bad, Period.


This article lists many problems in current software patents system in USA.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IBM Gets a Patent On ‘Out-of-Office’ Email Messages — In 2017

    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued IBM a — what the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls — “stupefyingly mundane” patent on e-mail technology. U.S. Patent No. 9,547,842, “Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system” was filed in 2010 and granted about six weeks ago. Ars Technica reports:
    The “invention” represented in the ’842 patent is starkly at odds with the real history of technology, accessible in this case via a basic Google search. EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer, who wrote about the ’842 patent in this month’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” blog post, points to an article on a Microsoft publicity page that talks about quirky out-of-office e-mail culture dating back to the 1980s

    IBM gets a patent on “out-of-office” e-mail messages—in 2017
    The US Patent Office sees no history, hears no history—unless it’s in patents.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is bringing light to what it calls a “stupefyingly mundane” patent on e-mail technology, given not to a patent troll hiding in a small office but to one of the world’s largest technology corporations.

    IBM lawyers wrangled with the US Patent and Trademark Office for years over their bizarre and alarming alternative history, in which IBM invented out-of-office e-mail—in 2010. US Patent No. 9,547,842, “Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system” was filed in 2010 and granted about six weeks ago.

    IBM offers one feature that’s even arguably not decades old: the ability to notify those writing to the out-of-office user some days before the set vacation dates begin. This feature, similar to “sending a postcard, not from a vacation, but to let someone know you will go on a vacation,” is a “trivial change to existing systems,” Nazer points out. But patent lawyers have long been able to add trivial features to well-known technology in order to get software patent grants.

    Nazer goes on to identify some major mistakes made during the examination process.

    “[T]he examiner considered only patents and patent applications,” notes Nazer. The office “never considered any of the many, many, existing real-world systems that pre-dated IBM’s application.”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Stupid Patent of the Month: IBM Patents Out-of-Office Email

    On January 17, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted IBM a patent on an out-of-office email system. Yes, really.

    United States Patent No. 9,547,842 (the ’842 Patent),“Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system,” traces its history to an application filed back in 2010. That means it supposedly represents a new, non-obvious advance over technology from that time. But, as many office workers know, automated out-of-office messages were a “workplace staple” decades before IBM filed its application. The Patent Office is so out of touch that it conducted years of review of this application without ever discussing any real-world software.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Red Hat pledges patent protection for 99 per cent of FOSS-ware
    Company has trove of 2,000 patents and won’t enforce any of them if you licence right

    Red Hat says it has amassed over 2,000 patents and won’t enforce them if the technologies they describe are used in properly-licensed open source software.

    The company’s made more or less the same offer since the year 2002, when it first made a “Patent Promise” in order to “to discourage patent aggression in free and open source software.” In 2002 the company didn’t own many patents and claimed its non-enforcement promise covered per cent of open source software.

    The Promise was revised in order to reflect the company’s growing patent trove and to spruce up the language it uses to make it more relevant.

    The revised promise “applies to all software meeting the free software or open source definitions of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) or the Open Source Initiative (OSI)”. That verbiage translates into any software licensed on terms the OSI approves on this list, or which meet the Initiative’s definition of open source

    The Promise itself kicks off with “To the extent a party makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, imports, or otherwise transfers Covered FOSS, Red Hat agrees not to use such actions as a basis for enforcing its patents against the party”.

    It’s not a blank cheque. Hardware isn’t covered and Red Hat is at pains to point out that “Our Promise is not an assurance that Red Hat’s patents are enforceable or that practicing Red Hat’s patented inventions does not infringe others’ patents or other intellectual property.”

    But the company says 99 per cent of FOSS software should be covered by the Promise.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Timothy B. Lee / Ars Technica:
    A history of landmark software patent rulings in the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit, and how they have shifted the rules for software patents in the US

    Why a 40-year-old SCOTUS ruling against software patents still matters today
    A controversial ruling limiting software patents has been making a comeback.


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