Novell, buyer's remorse, and the patent threat
Posted Nov 22, 2006 16:13 UTC (Wed) by wookey
In reply to: Novell, buyer's remorse, and the patent threat
Parent article: Novell, buyer's remorse, and the patent threat
People say this categorically too often. It is nothing like that clear-cut.
There are plenty of software patents issued in the UK - like the JMRI model railway control patent, a classic from ARM Corp about changing pointers instead of copying data to speed up emulation (nobody ever did that before 2003 right?), microsoft clipboard format, etc. There are also software patents that have been successfully litigated in the UK. The most famous is probably the 'pupil management data trasnmitted over a wireless network' one that the government had to 'buy off' in the end to let people implement wireless networks in UK schools.
The recent Aerotel patent that was considered in the court of appeal was granted. It was granted because the judge thought it was a hardware patent because he was told so - but if you read it, you will see they added nothing but a bit of software to an existing telphone exchange in order to do billing in a particular way. Smells like a software patent to me, not a 'new network' as the judge described it.
The situation in the UK (and Europe generally) is better than the US because business method patents really are being resisted, but software patents are being granted and enforced right now. We are trying to hold the tide back, with some success, but saying 'software patents are unenforceable in Europe' is wrong and complacent. The EPLA plan is gaining momentum and _sounds_ reasonable to the inexpert, so will be hard to resist. It is equivalent to creating the US central Patent Court that made 'everything' patentable there in practice. I see no reason why things shoudln't go exactly the same way here over the next 10 years unless a _lot_ of people complain.
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