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Friday, December 31, 2010

Should software patents be abolished?

An article published on PCMagazine discussed if software patents should be abolished altogether. This is after Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen this week filed an amended patent suit against Apple, Google, Facebook, and others, charging that his patents cover technologies like recommendation engines, notification systems, and more.

What is a patent? According to The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a patent is defined as a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

An invention is eligible for a patent if it satisfies ALL the following three conditions:

  1. Novelty

    An invention fulfills novelty requirement if there is no prior art available before the date of filing of the patent application.

  2. Inventive step or non-obviousness

    An invention involves an inventive step that is, having regard to the state of the art, must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art.

  3. Industrial applicability

    An invention passes this requirement if it can be made or used in some kind of industry e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, etc.

Paul Allen claimed that his patent covers all these characteristics and feels that there are no examples of this sort of thing in other portfolios or in the public domain. Thus, they can't be thrown out by "prior art" mechanisms.

Will software patents kill the market?

Software Patents Have Got to Go! [via]

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