Posts Tagged: "software patent"

An Examination of Software Patents

Software patents, like all patents, are a form of innovation currency. They are also ecosystem enablers, and job creators. The innovation protected by software patents is highly integrated with hardware. All of it must remain eligible for protection. The current software patent “war” is hardly the first patent war—and unlikely to be the last in our nation’s patent history. Whenever breakthrough technologies come onto the scene, market players find themselves joined in the marketplace by new entrants. The first instinct of the breakthrough innovators is to bring patents into play. This is not only understandable, it is appropriate. Those who invest in breakthrough innovation have a right to expect others to respect their resultant IP. However, in the end, as history has shown time and time again, the players ultimately end up agreeing to pro-consumer solutions via licenses, cross-licenses or joint development agreements allowing core technologies to be shared.

The Illogic of the Algorithm Requirement for Software Patent Claims

Recently, patent scholar Mark Lemley has renewed attention to software claims under 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. Lemley encourages strict application of the algorithm requirement to police software patents and resolve these concerns. Unlike Lemley, I am convinced that the algorithm requirement makes no sense. The problem is not that the concern about broad software claims is unjustified. The problem is that, even if the concern is justified, the algorithm requirement does not solve it. At least, the requirement does not solve the problem in an appropriate way.

What the NY Times Doesn’t Understand about the Patent System

These first-level-thinkers just assume that information would be disseminated at the same rate without a patent system, which is so ridiculous it is hard to take anyone seriously who actually professes to believe such nonsense. Can anyone really believe that? This is why it seems overwhelmingly clear to me that there is an anti-patent agenda in many newsrooms across the country. No intelligent person who has reviewed history and has any knowledge about how business works would think that businesses would randomly disclose proprietary information in the volume that occurs today absent a patent system that incentivizes such disclosure.

CLS Bank v Alice – Federal Circuit Orders en banc Rehearing

It is arguable that neither view is beyond criticism and that any emergent legal test as to patent-eligibility demands further development. There is much to commend the majority view that each of §§101, 102, 103 and 112 serves a different purpose and presents different questions and that under §101 only when it is apparent that the claimed subject-matter is a manifestly ineligible abstract idea should that subject-matter be excluded. Significant involvement of a computer in the working of the invention points towards invention.

All In! Doubling Down on Erroneous Attacks on the Federal Circuit

In a recently published Forbes.com article titled”The Federal Circuit, Not the Supreme Court, Legalized Software Patents,” Lee doubled down with his absurd and provably incorrect assertions regarding the patentability of software patents. But he also more or less sheepishly admitted that his reading of the most relevant case is not one that is widely accepted as correct by anyone other than himself. He wrote: “To be clear, plenty of people disagree with me about how Diehr should be interpreted.” Thus, Lee admits that his primary assertion is one he created from whole cloth and contrary to the widely held views to the contrary. Of course, the fact that his radical views are in the minority was conveniently omitted from his ?Ars Technica? article. If Lee has any integrity he will issue a public apology to the Federal Circuit and issue a retraction. If Lee doesn’t come to his senses and do the right thing in the face of overwhelming evidence that he is wrong then Forbes.com and Ars Technica should step in and do what needs to be done.

Lies, Damn Lies and Media Hatred of Patents (and the CAFC)

Indeed, few articles have struck a nerve in me quite the way that a recent Ars Technica article did. The article is titled How a rogue appeals court wrecked the patent system??. It is a cheap shot, factually inaccurate and embarrassingly incorrect “news” story that concludes the Federal Circuit is at the heart of all the problems in the patent system. A real Pinocchio tale. Ars Technica? should be ashamed at having published such an inaccurate attack piece. If they are not going to properly vet articles in advance of publication then what have they become? Little more than an online technology specific version of those tabloids with the salacious headings. The patent system is far to important to the U.S. economy and our way of life to suffer from that level of journalistic ignorance and bias.

Business Methods (and Software) are Still Patentable!

For at least the past 15 years, the legal, technical and academic communities have been debating the patentability of business methods and software. Despite much negative press ink, talk, legislative activity and court opinions, the answer with respect to patent eligibility is still a resounding and categorical “yes.” That’s the easy part. What types of business methods and software exactly are patentable? That is the difficult question to answer.

Building Better Software Patent Applications: Embracing Means-Plus-Function Disclosure Requirements in the Algorithm Cases

The disclosure requirements for these types of patent applications has been a moving target for years, which means that whatever the most stringent disclosure requirements are should become the target regardless of the types of claims you file. To ensure your software patent application has appropriate disclosure of the invention you should accept — even embrace — the requirements for having an appropriate means-plus-function disclosure. By meeting the strict standards set forth in the mean-plus-function algorithm cases you will file more detailed applications that have better disclosure and which will undoubtedly support more claims, thus making the resulting patent or patents more valuable.

A Primer on Indefiniteness and Means-Plus-Function

The basic law relative to § 112, ¶6 explains that a decision on whether a claim is indefinite under § 112, ¶ 6 requires a determination of whether those skilled in the art would understand what is claimed when the claim is read in light of the specification. Traditionally, claim terms are typically given their ordinary and customary meaning as understood by one of ordinary skill in the pertinent art. The question with means-plus-function claiming, however, is whether evidence from that mythical individual skilled in the art is even admissible. No structure in the specification means the person of skill in the art cannot save the disclosure by understanding. Thus, means-plus-function claims are largely valid at the mercy of a federal judge who in all certainty is not one of skill in the art and who likely has an aversion to such claiming techniques because they prefer dealing with tangible structure.

Beware Twitter’s New Patent Agreement Scheme

So Twitter can use the donated patents “defensively” to initiate a lawsuit if they feel threatened? If they deem it is otherwise necessary to deter a patent litigation? So Twitter can be the aggressor with the donated patents, and it seems like it is their sole discretion whether the threat or “otherwise” caveat are activated such as to allow them to go on the offensive. Incidentally, and interestingly, Twitter will have “all rights to recover damages for infringement…”

Federal Circuit on Software Patents: Show Me the Algorithms

Earlier today the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Noah Systems, Inc. v. Intuit, Inc. According to the Federal Circuit the specification of the ’435 patent must contain an algorithm that performs the function associated with the “access means” limitation, otherwise the limitation is indefinite and the claim invalid. Ultimately, the Federal Circuit would determine that the algorithm disclosed was incomplete. This lead the Court to explain that when the specification discloses an algorithm that only accomplishes one of multiple identifiable functions performed by a means-plus-function limitation, the specification is treated as if it disclosed no algorithm. An incomplete algorithm means no algorithm as all, which means that what one of ordinary skill in the art would understand from the disclosure is no longer relevant. This is where I would depart from the Federal Circuit and think that the law as it relates to means-plus-function claiming of computer software is all wrong. Means-plus-function claims has always been about what someone of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate (see, for example, USPTO 112 guidelines, 76 Fed. Reg. 7162 (9 February, 2011) so why is that not the case with respect to computer software?

CAFC Kills Means-Plus-Function in Software Patent

All of this might be confusing to a Judge who is unfamiliar with computers, but that is not the test, is it? The question is supposed to be whether it would be confusing to a person of relevant skill in the relevant technology area. Indeed, disclosure sufficient for means-plus-function claiming may be implicit or inherent in the specification if it would have been clear to those skilled in the art what corresponds to the means-plus-function claim limitation. See MPEP 2181 and Atmel Corp. v. Information Storage Devices, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 1999). Indeed, the Federal Circuit in Atmel concluded that the title of the article incorporated by reference in the specification may, by itself, be sufficient to indicate to one skilled in the art the precise structure of the means for performing the recited function. So the focus is supposed to be on one of skill in the art even when interpreting whether the specification provides adequate support for means-plus-function claiming. Nowhere in the majority opinion is it stated that a person of skill in the art would not have known and would have found the claim vague or ambiguous.

The Software IP Detective: Infringement Detection in a Nutshell

When copying has occurred, much of the code may have changed by the time it’s examined due to the normal development process or to disguise the copying. For example identifiers may have been renamed, code reordered, instructions replaced with similar instructions, and so forth. However, perhaps one comment remains the same and it’s an unusual comment. Or a small sequence of critical instructions is identical. Correlation is designed to produce a relatively high value based on that comment or that sequence, to direct the detective toward that similarity. If correlation were simply a percentage of copied lines, the number could be small and thus missed entirely among the noise of normal similarities that occur in all programs.

A Patent for Software

What If you created an automobile engine that could deliver 500 miles per gallon of gasoline would you seek a patent? I suspect you would because that type of engine would almost certainly be revolutionary. So why wouldn’t you think about patenting a software system that more efficiently manages power consumption for a large office building? If you could reduce energy consumption by 25% wouldn’t that be noteworthy? Of course, and it should be patentable as well. Legally it doesn’t matter whether the advantage is created by an old world mechanical gadget or thanks to the constant monitoring and manipulation of parameters via a computer following instructions. Both are innovations and both are patentable, and rightly so.

Patenting Business Methods and Software in the U.S.

Any method claim that does not require machine implementation or does not cause a transformation will fail the test and will be rejected under § 101. The importance of this from a practical standpoint is that business methods not tied to a machine are going to be rejected under § 101 and the rejection will be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.