Monthly Archives: November 2009

Consultation responses in Australia

There were 38 responses to the consultation in Australia about patentable subject matter. I’ve quickly analysed them all and below are my initial comments. There 400+ pages of writing, so I only skimmed them and I’ve surely made mistakes. There’s a copy of this analysis on the wiki at: http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Australian_consultation_responses_2009 – please add notes there to correct my analysis or to add your own.
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Bilski: the next steps

There are two phases left. There’s a phase of maybe four or five months until the ruling, and there’s a longer post-ruling phase where we may get legislative proposals or a second Supreme Court case. This is the first time in 28 years where the USA could rid itself of software development’s biggest problem, so let’s look at what we have to do over the coming months.
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Bilski’s hearing and software patents

At Monday’s hearing (court transcript), neither party had the objective of abolishing software patents. The Bilski case is about a business method patent, so there was Mr. Jakes arguing that business methods should be patentable, and Mr. Stewart arguing that they shouldn’t. For software to be excluded, we’re relying on the judges (to whom we wrote an amicus brief, as did many others). There’re a few worrying statements, but there’s also a lot of hope.

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Bilski hearing initial reports

Reports are starting to appear from today’s hearing of the Bilski case at the US Supreme Court. I’ll keep updating as they appear.

The court transcript is now online: 08-964.pdf (and we have a text version).

FSF files brief in Bilski case calling on the Supreme Court to eliminate software patents

(See the brief; independent translations of this announcement: Spanish)

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — Friday, October 2, 2009 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today submitted an amicus curiae brief calling on the Supreme Court to affirm that software ideas are not patentable. After outlining the positive impact that the free software movement and the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) have had on computer use, the brief explains how software patents are an obstacle and a danger to software developers.
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Looking At Microsoft’s Fat Patents Through Bilski Glasses

Yesterday, (edit: thus, 2009-02-26) Microsoft attacked free software and GNU/Linux users with software patent claims against the Tom Tom Navigator and its implementation of the FAT file system. But do they have a sword or a wet rag? There have been interesting patent rejections coming from the USPTO’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) since the Bilski ruling was handed down by an en banc hearing of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). One is the rejection of one of IBM’s database query patents. It was rejected because the innovation isn’t “tied to a particular machine”. So it’s a happy coincidence that MS claims their technology is running on all sorts of devices. Foot, meet mouth.
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