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Posts Tagged: "computer software"

Software Patent Eligibility at the Federal Circuit 2017

If there was a theme that emerged in 2017 it is the necessity to have what is specifically innovative disclosed in the claims. While not a particularly new concept, there were cases in 2017 where the Federal Circuit acknowledged that a patent eligible innovation may well have been disclosed in the specification, but which was not found in the claims. With many legacy software patents the description of the technology (if one actually existed) was only in the specification while the claims were written to be quite broad. The Federal Circuit requires both a thick technical description of the innovation and why it is an improvement (see Enfish) and incorporation of what is innovative into the claims… What follows picks up where my 2016 article left off and provides summary and analysis of the notable software patent eligibility cases decided by the Federal Circuit in 2017.

Supplying Legal Notices for Free Software in your Products

This license, like many other Free Software licenses, require a legal notice to be given to the recipient when the software is distributed. Alas, it seems like Intel has not done so and as a result the distribution of Minix 3 inside the recent Intel CPUs could be copyright infringement… How can you pirate Free Software? Simple, if you do not comply with the terms and conditions of a Free Software license, then you have no right to distribute the software… Even though people who create Free Software might not necessarily be interested in monetary compensation, they are however usually interested in being named as the author. This is a right which is also part of copyright law in many jurisdictions.

Confessions of a Frustrated Patent Attorney: The Telephone Call

I used to receive telephone calls, quite frequently, asking about the procedure for preparing and filing a patent application. Today, I no longer receive these calls. I suspect the main reason is that inventors are giving up an expectation that patent protection is even worthwhile. And I get it. If I were to get a call these days, I could no longer paint a rosy picture for would-be patentees… But these days, I fear the conversation would have a different tone. It might go more like this… “for a mere $2,625,000 you can disclose your most important innovation to your competitors, and they can use it and make sure that you actually have no rights to it.”

A Revolutionary Approach to Obtaining Software Patents Without Appealing to the PTAB

Today’s environment demands an agile approach, one that involves substantial up-front planning, followed by continuously learning from both the client and the marketplace, using a strategy that involves constructing a defensive and offensive patent portfolio from a collection of laser-focused patents, rather than a single overarching patent intended to cover the invention in one fell swoop… More concretely, the strategy that we typically follow nearly always avoids the need to appeal, and therefore avoids the pitfalls of the PTAB, as follows. The foundation is to write a solid and comprehensive patent specification, one that is intended to cover the invention both broadly and deeply, in an effort to enable as many embodiments as possible for as long into the future as possible, encompassing both the client’s and competitors’ technologies. The first patent application that we file, however, typically has relatively narrow claims for a variety of strategic reasons…

EPO ready for the first Unitary Patent as soon as the ratification requirements are met

One of the great aspects of the Unitary Patent is that it follows the normal EPO procedure up to grant. And indeed, the search and the examination processes will be precisely the same as those you’ve been used to with the current EP and PCT procedures, and will be performed by the same examiners. One of the strengths of the EPO is that we allocate examiners to applications according to their technical expertise, regardless of the filing route through which applications arrive. It will only be at the end of the procedure, when the application proceeds to grant, that applicants will have to indicate if they want to have a single Unitary Patent instead of a bundle of patents for individual member states, as is the case for the European patent. So it’s extremely straightforward, cost effective, and much simpler to administer post grant than the current European patent. My impression is that many U.S. applicants already understand the logic and advantages of this very well, sometimes even a little better than European applicants, as the geographical size and the GDP of the market covered by the Unitary Patent is very similar to that of the U.S. patent.

How to Participate in Open Source While Maintaining IP Integrity

The key idea is to think strategically about the software, the value it can provide to the company, and whether the technology should be developed in-house. In some cases, software can provide more value to the company when it includes open source components. Here at Dropbox, for example, we use open source software in our products and we use it to help with development… Even here there are a few ground rules: We evaluate the code on the way in so we know what has been incorporated in our software later. And we prohibit code that is licensed under more restrictive terms that could require us to open source our product in turn.

Exclusive with Grant Philpott: Patenting Computer Implemented Inventions in Europe

We try to be precise and stick to CII because “software” in itself is a term which lacks precision. It can refer to a high level program, a machine level program, or it can be an executable program. But if we speak about a computer-implemented invention the core of the discussion is rather on the technology. We have a general purpose computer and we program it, and when it runs it executes the instructions and performs certain functions. So the essence of our approach is to ask what the software does. Software of course can do a variety of things, many of which can be totally out of the patentable area if they’re purely abstract or purely business oriented. But when software solves a technical problem you are definitely in the area where a patent is possible. That is the core element of our approach.

Defining Computer Related Inventions in a post-Alice World

it is absolutely critical that computer related inventions describe the technology to the greatest extent possible, focusing on as much that is tangible as possible.

The Business of IP: Choosing Between Patents and Trade Secrets

In the field of Intellectual Property (IP) attorneys have options when counseling clients on how to protect their IP. However, these options remain subject to constant forces of change. For example, IPWatchdog readers will remember the latest version of the PATENT Act that the U.S. Senate worked on for months in 2015, which proponents say would strengthen enforceability of U.S. patents, but not as much as some would prefer. Then in 2016, the IP landscape changed again with the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DSTA) that President Barack Obama later signed into law, which federalizes civil actions in trade secret disputes.

Executable mathematics renders inventions physical! Welcome to the digital age

The use of a mathematical formula in a claim can trigger a 35 USC 101 rejection or invalidation of the patented claim. However, the role of mathematics in physics and in inventions has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Computers are programmed to operate on the numbers to perform a defined task, such as filtering or demodulation, by performing calculations in a certain order and at a certain speed. Cellphones, DVD players, telephone sets, 3D printers, cameras, MRI machines and the like are in essence computers with an A/D and D/A converter and/or transducers.

First mover advantage, a false premise in software innovation

The first mover storyline also provides a false narrative because it is flat wrong from the customer perspective as well. Simply stated, the first mover myth ignores the very real concerns facing customers in the marketplace for expensive enterprise solutions. An innovative solution provider with a complicated enterprise software product must show an established and growing customer base or big money behind them, or more likely both, in order to pass the first step of a sales process, which itself can take a year or more. Then there may be large upfront costs until the system is integrated and running before it becomes profitable. This all means an enterprise software startup must have substantial funding if they are to have any chance to succeed. This, of course, requires strong patent rights.

IBM receives most U.S. patents for 23rd consecutive year

IBM once again has topped the list of annual U.S. patent recipients, receiving 7,355 patents in 2015. This is the 23rd consecutive year IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other entity in the world. More than 8,500 IBMers residing in 50 states and territories and 46 countries are responsible for IBM’s 2015 patent tally. IBM inventors who reside outside the U.S. contributed to more than 36 percent of the company’s 2015 patents.

Protecting IP in an Agile Software Development Environment

Over the last decade, there has been a movement among the software developer community to employ some form of “agile development” rather than the traditional software development methodology. The belief is that these agile methodologies lead to higher quality software and faster development cycles. More recently, the implementation of agile software development has transitioned not only from small startups to large companies, but also from enterprises developing noncritical, consumer apps to those developing software for medical, aviation, military, and financial systems, where the presence of errors pose high human or economic risk. With these transitions, intellectual property (IP) law practitioners must adopt their traditional lawyering approaches to capturing and securing IP (especially patent) rights. A failure to recognize and adapt to the agile software development environment will result in a failure of IP law practitioners’ essential job function—helping to create or sustain client profitability and enable long-term business growth.

Best Practices for Drafting Software Patent Applications post-Alice

Don’t be afraid to make the technical disclosure long, dense and difficult to read, at least for those without technical training. In my opinion one of the biggest reasons the Supreme Court has embarked upon this path to render much innovation patent ineligible is because they actually understand the inventions in question. In Bilski, for example it was little more than thinking, observing and acting. In Alice they convinced themselves it was just little more than ledger accounting. Dumbing down the technical disclosure so even a Justice of the Supreme Court can understand is a mistake, at least in my humble opinion.

TPP: What the Government Use of Software Provisions Mean

The language of the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s ostensible provision on Government Use of Software (Article QQ.H.11) is short and relatively straight-forward. This article examines the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property (IP) Chapter Article QQ.H.11, “Government Use of Software,” now available via WikiLeaks.