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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Well.. what needs to happen now is retribution. I believe any patent suits using overbroad method patents that clearly could have been invalidated, yet used to extort, should in fact be investigated by the FTC under Anti-Trust and Anti-Competitive laws. Furthermore, I believe treble damages should be awarded to patent troll defendants for any legal fees and lost revenue due to the trolling. Something needs to be done to take it back. If you've been sued with a Patent lawsuit and found it anti-competitive in nature, you should contact the FTC immediately. Get the ball rolling.

Also, the patent attorneys that brought forth the patent troll litigation should indeed be required x amount of community hours put forth towards invalidating these bogus patents.

Next, let's take a look at unfavorable settlements forced upon by patent lawsuits. I've seen ones that completely muzzle the defendant, pushes them into non-compete which forces them out of their trade, and the final insult to revoking all of your rights is usually a "No-Challenge" clause in the agreements, stating that the defendant (including all parties known or unknown related or working for) cannot challenge the patent asserted in the USPTO. By the way, the Second Circuit Court upholds that No-Challenge Clauses are unenforceable and void. I believe a swath of these settlement agreements were signed "UNDER DURESS" and have enough proof any attorney can have them void.

Finally, I hope this prompts Congress to say "WTF?" and step in and finally get some of the other topics on patent reform enacted into law.

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