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Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

Posted Nov 24, 2012 15:53 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
In reply to: Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired) by SecretEuroPatentAgentMan
Parent article: Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

>> I'm objecting to the fact that in reality software patents often don't have anything close to "sufficiency".
>That would be grounds for revocation.
Yeah, sure. In the ideal world. While in reality it often takes many years to get a revocation.

> I did a clearance and neither my present employer nor I have ever worked with or for Microsoft. So let us take a hard look. Can you provide a patent number, preferably for a recently granted EP patent?
US5634050 - they've used this patent against TomTom, as far as I remember. However, this patent is not nearly sufficient to produce a working flash-based storage. There's no mention of load leveling, write amplification mitigation, etc.

However, should you create a real flash storage - you're likely to infringe this patent.


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Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

Posted Nov 24, 2012 20:26 UTC (Sat) by SecretEuroPatentAgentMan (guest, #66656) [Link]

> US5634050 - they've used this patent against TomTom, as far as I remember. However, this patent is not nearly sufficient to produce a working flash-based storage. There's no mention of load leveling, write amplification mitigation, etc.

OK, I had a look.

Strictly speaking this does not state a flash-based storage, rather "A block-erasable, write-once, multiple-read memory device, the memory device having one or more blocks". This has several effects:
- it would cover much more than just flash-based devices
- it avoids issues relating to load levelling etc.

Also, strictly speaking, a flash-based system would work without wear-levelling, it would not just work that well or for very long. Independent claims are drafted with the fewest features possible that enables the invention to work, even though it might not be optimal.

Features that make the invention work better or well are typically found in dependent claims. You see a little about this in claim 10:

10. The method of claim 8 wherein each block has an erase count that indicates the number of times the block has been erased and wherein the step of selecting a block in the memory further comprises the step of selecting the block in the memory based on the erase count.

Most patent offices have requirements to unity, that the claims should be directed to a single invention. Supposedly this is to make the claims easy to read, in reality I suspect it is to earn more fees. This means that claims directed to wear levelling would be in a different application and claims relating to write amplifications would be in yet another application.

> However, should you create a real flash storage - you're likely to infringe this patent.

Considering priority according to parallel EP0557736 is 29.01.1992 the patent will have lapsed most places. The US has however different rules though that also have changed over time.

A quick review showed no third party observations, oppositions or re-examinations. It would appear that at the time competitors did not consider the patent a problem.

If instead you can find something fresher you could try a third party observation. In a few cases there are no fees and you do not require a professional representative.


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