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Bilski: Be prepared for huge lobbying in Congress?

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| The outcome of the Bilski case, which should be published in October, might
| invalidate software patents in the United States:
| Plager said he regretted the unintended consequences of the decisions in
| State Street Bank and AT&T. Those rulings led to a flood of applications
| for software and business method patents, he noted. If we “rethink the
| breadth of patentable subject matter,” he said, we should ask whether
| these categories should be excluded from patent protection.
| If the CAFC are clever enough to follow the Supreme Court and kick software
| patents out, you might see the desperate large corporations and their patent
| department rushing to Congress. Especially if tomorrow the banks value their
| patent portfolio as void, and not useful to get any credit.



Latha Jishnu: The mouse that bit Microsoft

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| Here’s what Gates wrote in an office memorandum in 1991. “If people had
| understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were
| invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete
| standstill today. . . I feel certain that some large company will patent some
| obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm,
| application extension or other crucial technique.”
| This was the year after Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, the first of its new
| operating systems that would become hugely popular across the world. Yet,
| three years down the line, Microsoft had changed from a kitten that was
| content with copyright protection to an aggressive patents tiger. In 1991,
| Microsoft had filed fewer than 50 patent applications whereas last year it
| was awarded 1,637 patents, almost a 12 per cent increase in the number of
| patents it received in 2006. According to IFI Patent Intelligence, the rise
| in Microsoft’s patents portfolio bucked the general trend in 2007 when the
| number of patents issued by the US Patents and Trademark Office dipped by 10
| per cent. Apparently several thousand of the company’s filings are still
| pending.
| All this may prompt the reader to conclude that there is indeed a direct
| correlation between IPR and growth — and wealth — as the company claims. Not
| true, says Mark H Webbink, a US Supreme Court lawyer who is a recognised
| voice on IT issues. Charting the company’s revenues, R&D spending and patent
| filings from 1985 onwards, he shows that the spike in patent filings occurred
| long after the Microsoft “had become well established and was being
| investigated for its monopolistic practices”. Webbink contends that patents
| did not spur the launch and rapid growth of the mass market software
| industry. On the other hand, patents have become a threat to software
| innovation, he warns.

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