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[News] Software Patents Seem as Weak/Moot After re Bilski Ruling

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Software Method Claims: Bilski in light of Benson

,----[ Quote ]
| It is important to remember that the Supreme Court's decision in Gottschalk 
| v. Benson is still controlling law. In that 1972 decision, the Supreme Court 
| held unpatentable a method of converting a signal from "binary coded decimal" 
| into "binary." The Benson method operates by using a "reentrant shift 
| register" – a particular electronic memory circuit of the day. The rejected 
| claim reads as follows:     
| [...]
| Thus under Bilski/Benson, tying a software algorithm to particular computer 
| hardware may well be unpatentable subject matter if the patent would still 
| preclude all practical uses of the otherwise unpatentable algorithm.  


This is still very important. The interpretations vary. Without patents,
Microsoft has just years to live before it's the next SGI.


Economist Critic of Software Patents gets Nobel Prize

,----[ Quote ]
| The FFII congratulates Eric S. Maskin, an economist who has long criticised
| the patenting of software, for receiving the 2007 Nobel Prize for Economics.
| Prof. Maskin and two colleagues receive the Prize for research into the
| optimal design of economic mechanisms. By applying his theory to the IT
| sector, Maskin demonstrated "that in such a dynamic industry, patent
| protection may reduce overall innovation and welfare."


Intellectual Property Regime Stifles Science and Innovation, Nobel Laureates

,----[ Quote ]
| Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede
| the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent
| thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued
| for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure
| to encourage innovation, he said.
| Another problem is that the social returns from innovation do not accord with
| the private returns associated with the patent system, Stiglitz said. The
| marginal benefit from innovation is that an idea may become available sooner
| than it might have. But the person who secures the patent on it wins a
| long-term monopoly, creating a gap between private and social returns.

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