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While I was out (running my business)

I’ve had to back-burner my righteous indignation to focus on running my business. There was a fair bit of software patent news while I’ve been out:

End Software Patents has launched their web site. Ben Klemens, Executive Director, is the author of Math You Can’t Use: Patents, Copyright, and Software. To quote, “Every company is in the software business, which means that every company has software liability. We estimate costs of $30.4 billion a year due to software patent suits (see our 2008 State of Softpatents report), and not just by Microsoft and IBM—The Green Bay Packers, Kraft Foods, and Ford Motor are facing software patent infringement lawsuits for their use of the standard software necessary for running a modern business.” Summary articles are available on linux.com and ars technica. Go, Ben!

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals in patent infringement cases in the U.S., has granted a relatively rare “en banc” review to consider Just How Patentable is Software, Anyway? (Maybe I’ll win over that lawyer of ours, since he’s the one that wrote this article.) TechDirt also has an article.

The Software Information Industry Association has asked the Supreme Court to examine whether states are immune from patent infringement lawsuits. See this Information Week or TechDirt article.

The U.K. High Court allows computer program patent claims.

A study shows that patents fail small businesses, “the nation’s current patent system is a drain on entrepreneurship and small-business growth”.

The Bush administration clashes with tech titans on the Patent Reform Act of 2007.

In Internet Software Patents, Philip Greenspun, a pioneer of web technologies at MIT, talks about one-click ordering:
I was asked “Why didn’t you patent this yourself, if you developed it first?” My reply was “It only took me an hour to build; if I went down to the patent office after every hour of programming, I wouldn’t get very much done.”

Brad Feld talked about the software company patent machinery “not innovating but instead cranking out a bunch of stupid patent filings that clog the system”. Todd Vernon discloses “My Dumb Software Patents.”

In Patents, Injunctions, and Uncertainty, Timothy B. Lee discusses the devastating impact of injunctions when there’s just licensing revenues, as opposed to physical property, at risk.

As described here and here, the anti-patent page of MySQL has gone dark now that they’ve been acquired by Sun. Thanks to archive.org, it’s not lost forever.

Say it ain’t so. The BusinessWeek article, More Bad News at Tax Time, reports that Internal Revenue Service has proposed new rules that would pull within its orbit any software patent that affects taxes, likely choking innovation.

In older news, the former Red Hat General Counsel, Mark Webbink discusses software patents and the philosophy, business pressures and judicial activism that created them on a YouTube video.


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