Topic: U.S. Supreme Court rulings on patents do things right.  (Read 1092 times)

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Offline Nemesis

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U.S. Supreme Court rulings on patents do things right.
« on: May 02, 2007, 06:58:44 pm »
Link to full article

The case was AT&T vs Microsoft on the issue of Microsoft shipping a master copy software out of the country and having it duplicated and shipped outside the U.S. when it violated AT&Ts software patents.  Microsoft was found not to have violated patent law in doing so.

The interesting part came in the "side ruling" that is only important to the case itself if Microsoft lost.

"Can software be patented?" They didn't rule but clearly do question the validity and stated that the software itself does not violate the patent only when combined with hardware would it do so.

13 We need not address whether software in the abstract, or any other intangible, can ever be a component under §271(f). If an intangible method or process, for instance, qualifies as a “patented invention” under §271(f) (a question as to which we express no opinion), the combinable components of that invention might be intangible as well. The invention before us, however, AT&T’s speech-processing computer, is a tangible thing.

Windows software does not infringe AT&T’s patent any more than a computer standing alone does; instead, the patent is infringed only when a computer is loaded with Windows and is thereby rendered capable of performing as the patented speech processor.

This might allow the shipping of open source DVD playing software as long as the user does the installing not the manufacturer.  (This part is my speculation not part of the article)

Microsoft responded that unincorporated software, because it is intangible information, cannot be typed a “component” of an invention under §271(f).

If it can't be a component of an invention can it be patented?  This to me may be a very bad argument (from the Microsoft viewpoint) as if it were to be accepted then software being intangible can't be patented.  Microsoft is getting thousands of patents mostly on software yearly.  This could invalidate them all.

Link to 2nd Article  This is a different patent case from the one above.

``Granting patent protection to advances that would occur in the ordinary course without real innovation retards progress,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court.

Being obvious has been narrowly defined and it appears that this will broaden it and invalidate many patents.
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