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Google, Microsoft, HP and IBM argue for software patents

Because there aren't enough patent trolling lawsuits already
Mon Mar 31 2014, 16:41
patent troll road sign

THE UNITED STATES Supreme Court will hear from a consortium of technology companies today that have weighed in over software patents.

Later today, nine US Supreme Court Justices will sit for one hour of argument by representatives from companies including Google, IBM, Microsoft and HP. 

The software patent standards that the companies are seeking vary, however they are all calling for tightening patent law to protect software implementation in their field.

Suzanna Michel, senior patent consel for Google said in a statement to Bloomberg, "The fact that we have not policed this patentability requirement and have allowed the issuance of a lot of abstract, overbroad patents for doing business on the Internet -- those patents have fueled this litigation."

Civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has rejected the idea of extending the reach of software patents that it believes would increase patent trolling, which it claims stifles innovation and accounted for almost a fifth of all patent related lawsuits last year.

The test case accepted by the Supreme Court is that of financial information technology company Alice Corporation Pty v. CLS Bank International, which is fighting Alice's patents, arguing that they are merely software based and should not be eligible for patents.

Although CLS Bank won a federal appellate court ruling in May 2013, the judges were split 5-5 over which criteria to use to justify the decision.

The case will interpret the law in terms of the explanation that anyone who "invents or discovers a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter" can get a patent by analysing at what point a particular piece of code crosses the line from copyrightable work to a genuinely patentable innovation.

A ruling is expected by the end of June. µ


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