US judge: software patents are infringed freedom of expression




A US judge of the court appeals in patent cases treats believes that software patents infringe on the freedom of expression. After a major decision by the highest US court would this kind of patents anyway have no right to exist, the court claims.

The decision was made last Friday and has now been published. The case concerns a dispute between the company Intellectual Ventures and Symantec. Intellectual Ventures is according to Fortune known as a ‘patent troll’, which is a company that collects patents and maintains the rights thereof, but does not itself produce.

Subject of the dispute is that Symantec and Trend Micro infringement would have made a patent on antivirus in telephone networks. The court, in this case the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit , ruled that there is no infringement. The relevant court Haldane Mayer, gives his opinion in a ‘concurring opinion. This is a way for the judge to give his opinion in a statement.

The judge believes that a previous major decision in the Alice- case from 2014 actually meant the end of software patents. Therein the US Supreme Court that abstract ideas are not patentable. It was also determined that only the fact that these ideas are implemented on a computer does not mean that they suddenly have become patentable. ICT lawyer and patent agent Arnoud Engelfriet submit to Tweakers that the Alice case software patents has wrung its neck, but not all patents in court. There are whole piles of software patents issued which are seemingly valid until they are annulled by a court.

That is where the Mayer court’re upset about according Engelfriet. Companies can still use their software patents, for example, settlements out of court to enforce. This would be after the appointment Alice really should not happen again.

The case does have implications for new software patents. Applies here, according to the lawyer stringent requirements. Thus, these patents should apply to an invention which actually represents a technological improvement. Engelfriet gets itself the example of software that reduces the stopping distance of a car. Alexander Tsoutsanis, a researcher at the Amsterdam IViR, submit to Tweakers that about ninety percent of all software patents are rejected in the US based on the Alice ruling. This is also reflected in research.

According Engelfriet software patents are also a recent case and the bar is set high for new patents in Europe. But here too there are many software patents. Which must be brought to justice and lead to a decision to give a definite answer about its status.

In his opinion Judge Mayer proposes a similar computer language. Because a program is in fact a description of an idea, and ideas are not patentable, would software anyway should not be the subject of a patent. It would also be high time to protect software copyright, like music or literature. This would for instance be the concept of fair use applies. The patent would require clearly defined concepts, which abstract not suitable software.

The infringement of the freedom of expression, according to the court stems from the fact that may affect the vague wording of the claims of Intellectual Ventures to communicate online. An infringement of fundamental freedoms would be no less serious because it takes place in the digital world and not in the physical world. Fortune writes that the opinion of the court will not immediately mean the end of software patents, but it is an important signal.


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