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In a stunning verdict, the Supreme Court has tossed out a patent because it is a software patent, ruling that “merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention” — that is, adding “with a computer” doesn’t make a new patentable invention. This is seismic, and not just because of what it says about whether software is patentable in America, but because of how it escalates the turf war between the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit, which is the nation’s “patent court.”
Read more @ Boing Boing.
On September 23rd, Yoga International broke the news that they (among others) had received a cease-and-desist letter from another website which also offers yoga videos for streaming (soon revealed to be YogaGlo). It turns out, that YogaGlo had filed a patent application for their method of filming online yoga classes, and that some of YI’s early content fell under the broad description in the patent application:
“…instructor at the head of the classroom with live-participants arranged between the instructor and the camera with a direct line of sight between the camera and the instructor allowing for the viewer participant to have unobstructed views while simultaneously allowing for the viewer participant to have live participants in the periphery, as if the viewer was attending a live class.”
Read the full article @ YogaInternational.com.
A major new patent bill, passed in a 117-4 vote by New Zealand’s Parliament after five years of debate, has banned software patents.
The relevant clause of the patent bill actually states that a computer program is “not an invention.” Some have suggested that was a way to get around the wording of the TRIPS intellectual property treaty, which requires patents to be “available for any inventions, whether products or processes, in all fields of technology.”
Processes will still be patentable if the computer program is merely a way of implementing a patentable process. But patent claims that cover computer programs “as such” will not be allowed.
Read the full article @ Ars Technica.
The Supreme Court long ago ruled that an inventor who discovers a phenomenon in nature, or figures out a “law of nature,” cannot get an exclusive right to use or sell that by obtaining a patent from the federal government. Natural phenomena are the basic tools with which every would-be inventor starts, so locking up the right to use them in a monopoly held by a specific patent owner will frustrate others who might want to look for new ways to interpret that phenomena, the Court has said.
The exclusion of natural substances from eligibility for patents was the theory on which the Court relied Thursday in its unanimous ruling that a company cannot get a patent monopoly on the use and study of human genes that it isolates in the bloodstream, and them takes them out — without changing their natural character — for research.
Read the full article on the amazing SCOTUS Blog.
On this week’s episode of This American Life:
Two years ago, we did a program about a mysterious business in Texas that threatens companies with lawsuits for violating its patents. But the world of patent lawsuits is so secretive, there were basic questions we could not answer. Now we can. And we get a glimpse why people say our patent system may be discouraging, not encouraging, innovation.