Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 19th Jun 2014 23:59 UTC

The US Supreme Court has made it ever so slightly harder to patent software.

The patent claimed a method of hedging against counter-party risk, which is a fancy word for the risk that you make a deal with someone and later he doesn't uphold his end of the bargain. The Supreme Court unanimously held that you can't patent an abstract concept like this merely by stating that the hedging should be done on a computer. This kind of abstract patent is depressingly common in the software industry, and the CLS ruling will cause lower courts to take a harder look at them.

It's a small victory, but hey, I take whatever I can. Sadly, the SCOTUS also states that "many computer-implemented claims" are still eligible for patent protection, without actually explaining which claims. So, while appending "on a computer" to an obvious abstract concept does not make it patentable, the actual concept of patenting software is still very much allowed.

Even if the SCOTUS had completely abolished software patents, however, we still would have to deal with them for more than a decade - existing software patents would not magically vanish, and would still require lengthy and expensive court cases to be invalidated. Something bullies like Microsoft and Apple can afford easily, while many others cannot.

Sorry for not putting a smile on your face, but reality is reality. Sadly.

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RE: Well ...
by shmerl on Fri 20th Jun 2014 18:53 UTC in reply to "Well ..."
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Not necessarily the idea, but the specific implementation. In other words, if I spend hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars to develop such a thing, and then you come along, reverse engineer the protocol, and give it away for free, that ain't right. I wanna get paid, dammit

No you shouldn't get paid, if someone develops the same thing independently without relying on your research. Current patent system doesn't allow though. In practice, patents in software are not needed for R&D. Practice proves this left and right.

Edited 2014-06-20 18:54 UTC

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