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Medicine Patents The Courts Science

Supreme Court Orders Do-Over On Key Software Patents 167

Fluffeh writes "It seems that the U.S. Supreme Court has an itch it just can't scratch. A patent granted to the Ultramercial company covers the concept of allowing users to watch a pre-roll advertisement as an alternative to paying for premium content and the company is demanding fees from the likes of Hulu and YouTube. Another company called WildTangent, however, is challenging Ultramercial's 'invention' as merely an abstract idea not eligible for patent protection. Add to this a recent ruling by the Supreme Court restricting patents — albeit on medical diagnostic techniques — and you get into a bit of a pickle. The Supreme Court is now sending the Ultramercial case back to the lower courts for another round, which doesn't mean that the court disagrees with the original ruling, but rather that it thinks it is a patent case that is relevant to the situation and they want to re-examine it under this new light."
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Supreme Court Orders Do-Over On Key Software Patents

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  • by chemicaldave ( 1776600 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @11:00AM (#40099813)
    How is that even possible? What if someone had patented the concept of "auctions" or "transportation of persons other than by foot"?
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @11:16AM (#40099981) Journal

    That is a new law.

    The original constitution states "physical inventions".

      If it subverts the original meaning that is grounds for the supreme court to throw it out. The second issue is math should not be patentable because they are laws of nature and not manmade. Computer algorithms are just this and a process is simply math. Laws of nature have been ruled not to be patentable as well in the past and I think your text from the America Invents act are clearly unconstitutional but I am no lawyer.

    What I want to know is if laws of nature as unpatentable are a European idea or American or both? The grandparent is correct in that original patents were for physical inventions with a prototype already functional only. Not for an idea. Otherwise everyone would be quite wealthy or broke as nothing could be made without infringing on everyone else.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @11:21AM (#40100021) Homepage

    Then we need people to sue the USPTO. I mean big, honking, megabucks style, at a bare minimum to get back their fees for defending against utter abominations like this ludicrous "invention".

    Yes, I know that will come out of the public purse and into the pockets of - FSM help me - lawyers, but what other option is there?

  • Re:DVD trailers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FirstOne ( 193462 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @11:22AM (#40100041) Homepage

    More like every DVD player that's been manufactured(1995 onward). It's the programming for user operation prohibition flag [], inside the player, (rom/pc software), that prevents the skipping of the FBI warning/commercial previews prior to viewing the content.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @11:29AM (#40100113)

    Blame useless congress for patents and how asinine its become. When did the supreme court started having to do Congress job. Congress has become such a joke.

  • by medv4380 ( 1604309 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @11:36AM (#40100177)
    The USPTO is the victim here. If it doesn't approve a patent it goes into appeal until it does. So they are left with approve a patent, and clog up the legal system and themselves, or reject a patent and clog up the legal system and themselves. The system needs an overhaul.
  • by neoshroom ( 324937 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @12:23PM (#40100579)

    The second issue is math should not be patentable because they are laws of nature and not manmade. Computer algorithms are just this and a process is simply math.

    You're right, and that's why computer algorithms are not patentable by themselves. Instead, they must be explicitly tied to a machine or performed by a machine, because machines are not laws of nature, nor are they man-made.

    Ah, I see you are one of those religious fundamentalists. Machines are far too complex to be man made! All those intricacies and complexities. They must be made by God. Amen brother!

    On the 1st day God created computers. On the 0th day he rested. Then there was a recursive loop, a segfault and a buffer overflow, and that explains how things came to be. Hallelujah!

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @12:24PM (#40100591)

    This nonsense is crushing innovation. It's one more in a long line of examples of how we need to reevaluate how we govern ourselves.

    Sure it's nonsense, but I appreciate how the Supreme Court moves slowly and thoughtfully compared to the other branches of government. Perhaps they move a bit too slowly some times but the other two move so knee-jerk quickly most of the time that maybe the SC needs to be even slower to balance it out.

  • by oxdas ( 2447598 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:19PM (#40101119)

    Wow, where should I begin; false dilemma, straw man, coincidental correlation? False dilemma: Just because there are significant innovations now, does not mean that there would not be more significant innovations without software patents. Straw man: Stifling innovation is not the same as making "it so unprofitable to innovate that no one does it", which is the point you go on to attack. Coincidental correlation: Just because we have patents and then innovation does not prove that patents cause innovation.

    Considering that innovation predates patents (so there cannot be an exclusive causal effect), where is your evidence that patents further innovation?

    (Personally, I believe patents can encourage innovation, but I also believe in the proverb "too much of a good thing, is a bad thing.")

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:11PM (#40101719) Journal

    It is simple, all empires must fall. looking at history i believe there is a pattern there that simply can't be altered, which is first grow and innovate, then the ultra rich use their power to consolidate, then they try to stifle and crush those that could compete, which thanks to the stagnation allows others in other places to rise and the empire falls.

    Look at how the USA got to where it is, by "stealing" the ideas of Europe which had become buried under patents, innovating, and coming with new and fresh ideas and ways of doing things. And now the east is doing the same exact thing to us because our rich have consolidated as much as they can and now are using patents and copyrights to lock up as much for themselves. Again with this comes stagnation until it finally all just falls to crap. Hell we went from a manufacturing powerhouse to "lawsuit land" in less than 50 years.

    It seems we are forever doomed to repeat history, because the rich and powerful simply don't see we ALL stand on the shoulders of giants, that is how new ways of doing are born. No idea is truly just born of the ether, all are influenced by those around them and their betters in their field. You mark my words, what you will see now is ever deeper stagnation as more and more toll booths and roadblocks are put up by those that wish to own a market and would rather crush an enemy than compete while the east will learn from our ideas and make them better.

    Look at the Chinese gov owned loongson chip company, they are mixing hardware x86 emulation into a MIPS chip, that is new and different but of course since that's all patented and copyrighted up the ass here you could never do that on American soil. Now imagine say doing that with ARM, having a specialized emulation chip that would allow some X86 to run while turning itself off when X86 was not required. or hell build some more simplistic X86 chips like Atom and bobcat that could be switched on and off on the fly with a quad ARM and a decent GPU...all on one die and able to communicate VERY fast with each other because they were all part of the same silicon. wouldn't that be awesome? Can't build that here though. in the future i bet you'll hear that more and more, "couldn't build THAT in the USA!" and that is why we will lose to the east. the IP laws here encourage not innovation but stagnation.

  • Steam engines for one? look up the history of the steam engine and you'll see there is about a 25 year gap in progress and that was because of the steam engine patents []. It even says in the wiki "He adopted the epicyclic sun and planet gear system suggested by an employee William Murdoch, only later reverting, once the patent rights had expired, to the more familiar crank seen on most engines today."

    so there is one right there, and an old one at that. I'm sure that others can come up with newer ones but this is the first one that popped to my head that directly matched your challenge.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!