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German High Court Declares All Software Patentable

StoneLion posted more than 3 years ago | from the bitter-patent-medicine dept.

Patents 330

FlorianMueller writes "Long gone are the times when Europe was that bastion of resistance against software patents and patents on such things as file systems were ruled invalid. In a decision published today, the Federal Court of Justice of Germany upheld a patent on the automatic generation of structured documents (such as XML/HTML) in a client-server setting. The ruling lays out general principles that go beyond the patent at stake: they tear down all barriers to software patentability in the largest EU member state, even though a European patent treaty has been adopted that was intended to exclude software from the scope of patentable subject matter. EU patent examiners recently warned against a drift toward software patents. Software patent critics in Europe fear this will spark more litigation on their continent and increasingly call for defensive measures."

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330 comments

Is it possible (1, Funny)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279300)

To patent a Wiener Schnitzel?

Re:Is it possible (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279374)

Just you wait...

        A recipe is just another form of algorithm.

Re:Is it possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279498)

Nobody would patent recipes.

The reason Coca-Cola hasn't patented their recipe is because they would only get 20 or so years of protection, then everyone could make it and there's nothing they could do about it.

Trade secret laws are much better for them.

Re:Is it possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279534)

Just you wait...

        A recipe is just another form of algorithm.

American nuclear launch codes are really the coca cola recipe, that's why nobody knows them

Re:Is it possible (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280336)

If drug manufacturers can patent the process to make a new drug, why can't a food manufacturer patent the process used to make food?

Not that a recipe would qualify, but I'm sure they can come up with something significant, like a new baking process to reduce fat.

Of course, I'm only an expert on food consumption, not manufacturing ... so maybe this is already being done. It wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Re:Is it possible (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279406)

There may be prior art...

Re:Is it possible (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279518)

When has prior art stopped a patent office before? I might expect the Germans to be
a little more sensible about things but they already ran off the rails here already.

They're already in WTF territory...

Re:Is it possible (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279748)

Recalling Boris Floricic "Tron" and Karl Koch "hagbard", Germany was more creative when it came to software issues.

Re:Is it possible (0, Redundant)

jo42 (227475) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279432)

I hold the patent on stupidity. You all owe me licensing fees!

Re:Is it possible (-1, Redundant)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279868)

So that makes any act of stupidity unlawfull and it will be dismissed by courts. In the end only you can be charged in court on acts of stupidity, but luckily you were granted the sole right to be stupid for ten years, by your own stupidity.

How does that feel?

Re:Is it possible (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279460)

To patent a Wiener Schnitzel?

You should ask the German patent attorneys, because they're the only ones who are going to benefit from this. I think I'm going to load this data into the Google Predictionometer [slashdot.org] and see if there's gonna be a showdown between Germany and the EU over this matter.

Re:Is it possible (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280104)

I think I'm going to load this data into the Google Predictionometer [slashdot.org] and see if there's gonna be a showdown between Germany and the EU over this matter.

Highly unlikely... Contrary to what many Slashdot people will say, the EU does not ban software patents - their law is the same as US law, and now the same as German law, in that software per se is unpatentable, but software tied to a computing device is patentable. The distinction lies in that the former can be done by a person with a pad and pencil or even in their head, and we don't want to make it possible to infringe a patent by thinking, while the latter requires a machine and thus, it's impossible for a person to infringe by merely thinking.

Re:Is it possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279492)

Why is this modded "insightful"? "Wiener Schnitzel" is an Austrian dish, not a German on.

Re:Is it possible (3, Informative)

jimboindeutchland (1125659) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279550)

It probably is, however, it might already be patented in Austria since that's where the Wiener Schnitzel was invented. Also the Wiener sausage.

Wien is the capital of Austria. It's called Vienna in English.

Re:Is it possible (2, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280024)

Not quite, but almost. From the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] about it:

"In Austria, the term Wiener Schnitzel is protected by law, and any schnitzel called by that name has to be made from veal."

While not a patent per se, there are certain things called by a certain region or town that either have to be made in this town or by some specific process. You cannot really get any Champagne in Europe that wasn't made in the region of Champagne. But this is essentially more due to the PDO [wikipedia.org] regulation rather than a patent itself.

/.'s umwritten motto (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279310)

"Anything that adds entropy in a somewhat controlled manner."

Florian, stop your "defensive measures" spin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279314)

Florian, stop your "defensive measures" spin.

OIN and other DPL licensing schemes do not work.

Time for a new Software Patent Directive in Europe.

Hello World (1)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279356)

Time to go patent "Hello World" and get rich!

Re:Hello World (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279662)

I think there's some established prior art there.

As for the automatic generation of structured documents, isn't there also tons of prior art there? How old is that patent? Isn't source code structured? Automatic code generation is quite ancient.

Re:Hello World (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279740)

Well, "Hello World" happens to be one of the very first programs ever made and has plenty of prior art.

IMHO one of the biggest problems with the patent system in regards to software and biomedical products is that those two areas of the industry are incredibly new, so many obvious/trivial advancements are patented right away. Give it some time when many of the obvious software patents and biomedical patents have entered the public domain and the system will work much better as it does for mechanical devices.

Re:Hello World (5, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280424)

Well, "Hello World" happens to be one of the very first programs ever made and has plenty of prior art.

That's never stopped patent offices from awarding a patent anyway.

Re:Hello World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32280262)

Youre too late..... I've had

#include

main()
{
                printf("hallo welt!");
}

copyrighted since i helped a friend discover programming

Noooooooo ! (5, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279368)

There goes the possibility for small innovative company to develop in a safe legal framework. Let me phrase my sentiment, on behalf of all my European colleagues, and in the immortal words of Spider Jerusalem : FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK

Re:Noooooooo ! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279540)

There goes the possibility for small innovative company to develop in a safe legal framework. Let me phrase my sentiment, on behalf of all my European colleagues, and in the immortal words of Spider Jerusalem : FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK

I'm sorry, the repeated use of the word fuck in a series has been Patented.

Re:Noooooooo ! (0, Offtopic)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279666)

I'm sorry, I patented the use of "I'm sorry, I patented [something]."

That meme will now cease to be unless you send me $1 for each invocation. I accept Paypal.

Re:Noooooooo ! (0, Redundant)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279978)

I am sorry, I patented the patent trolling. I owe you nothing. You may now transfer all of your patents as a license fee, or stop engaging in patent trolling activity.

Re:Noooooooo ! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279714)

There goes the possibility for small innovative company to develop in a safe legal framework.

Good. That is exactly the goal. Patents are designed to protect the RnD investment of large wealthy businesses. The "it protects the little guy" notion was just a means of silencing the opposition. Patents only protect little guys in theory. In practice the little guys don't have enough money to litigate in defense of their patents, and wind up losing them anyway.

Re:Noooooooo ! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279822)

Exactly, when the patent process was started, all the politicians could think about were sucking on the teet of the large corporations.

Re:Noooooooo ! (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280044)

Exactly, when the patent process was started, all the politicians could think about were sucking on the teet of the large corporations.

Are you talking about the patent process in the US, which started in 1790, or the patent process in the world, which started in 500 BC?

Re:Noooooooo ! (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280006)

"Patents are designed to protect the RnD investment of large wealthy businesses."
And not useless patents with obvious prior art that wasn't the result of RnD investments.

Re:Noooooooo ! (3, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280020)

Small inventors who want to work on stuff they can't bring to market by themselves do benefit, because without patents it's very hard for them to get money together in secrecy to get a lead on the market. That said, the damage it does to small (software) engineering companies by making any little project they do trip over a dozen of patents means it still is not worth it.

As for big companies, they might benefit from being able to throw up barriers to entry ... but slowly but surely it's becoming apparent that "it protects the big guys" was just a way the lawyers used to sell it to the big companies. Being able to throw up patent walls doesn't protect you from being bled dry by patent trolls.

In the end there is only one group who benefits from patents and suffers no negative results ... lawyers.

Re:Noooooooo ! (-1, Flamebait)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279876)

There goes the possibility for small innovative company to develop in a safe legal framework.

No, there goes the possibility for a non-innovative company to "develop" something others have already done.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279376)

*this* will make the outcome of In Re Bilski (which apparently isn't actually cited that way) even more interesting...

Show me the software! (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279408)

This patent idea is so ridiculus.

IMO, something patentable is a thing. I can see a pair of new-design siccors. I can understand a gene or even biotech seed. But software is not a thing. It doesn't exist.

#include<stdio.h>

main()
{
        printf("Hello Kai");
}

That is written. It is not a patenable process. Unless a (patented) processor interprests the code, it is only words.

Is it copyrightable? Yes.

If you make

Re:Show me the software! (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279760)

Is it copyrightable? Yes.

Isn't such a small "Hello Kai" too small to be copyrightable at all? Try to copyright a simple sentence a la "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." You'll notice that what constitutes a copyrightable work isn't so straightforward as one may naively think (and it varies greatly from legislation to legislation, despite the Bern Convention).

Does it make a difference (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279436)

The difference between a software patent and a
hardware patent is the addition of the following
phrase in the patent text: "A hardware appliance
comprising of a CPU and volatile or non-volatile
storage, and..."

Which all patent documents to do with software
will have anyway because it saves them having to
draft the text over for each jurisdiction.

So this whole anti-patent-software picketing is by
people that don't read patents nor understand the
patent system.

-paul

Re:Does it make a difference (3, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279530)

So that means if I sell software, without any hardware with it, then I'm not infringing on _any_ software patents, right?

The users might be, if they run said software on "a hardware appliance, comprising of a CPU, blahblah", but not the developer.

But then, why do pure software developers get sued, huh?

Re:Does it make a difference (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279794)

> So that means if I sell software, without any hardware with
> it, then I'm not infringing on _any_ software patents, right?

Yes you are infringing - even if the patent you are infringing
is an outright hardware patent and your software can never be
used on such hardware.

There is no definition of "software" anywhere within the patent
system. What you patent just has to have practical utility in
an "embodiment". For example, it can't be a math formula -
it has to be a math formula with a specific physical application.

The idea of software vs non-software is pure fiction invented
by slashdot readers and the like.

The patent system has different terms in different countries,
but the criteria of "having practical and specific utility"
more-or-less covers them all.

In particular, NO patent criteria mention "software" in any
patent jurisdiction in this solar system.

-paul

Re:Does it make a difference (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279952)

European Patent Convention Article 52:
"Article 52
Patentable inventions
(1) European patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application.
(2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1:
(a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
(b) aesthetic creations;
(c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
(d) presentations of information.
(3) Paragraph 2 shall exclude the patentability of the subject-matter or activities referred to therein only to the extent to which a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such."
http://www.epo.org/patents/law/legal-texts/html/epc/2000/e/ar52.html

Re:Does it make a difference (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280194)

Exactly my point. You are reading this incorrectly. It merely says
that inventions that are PURELY composed of "schemes, rules..."
are not patentable.

If they have a physical embodiment, then of course they are.

In any case the exclusion of the bold text does not change
anything. It is already covered by "rules and schemes" and
"mathematical mehods".

Re:Does it make a difference (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280120)

I realize what I said was stupid.
That was the point.

Maybe I should have included sarcasm tags.

The parent poster of my reply basically stated that all "software patents" include language stating that it includes "a hardware appliance".

If this was true, then no pure software developer could be sued for violating the patent, because what they sell does not include "a hardware device."

It's only the end user that could be sued, because they're running it on their computer hardware.

Obviously, this is not even remotely true, so the parent poster must be full of it.

That was my point.

Re:Does it make a difference (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280290)

I understood perfectly the first time.

What you can and cannot get sued over is a completely
seperate discussion to what is acceptable for submission
to the EPO and USPTO.

In any case, the court will not exclude a suite a priori just
because there is a component of the invention that you
did not supply as part of the sale. And AGAIN this has
nothing to do with software vs hardware. You could be
selling a mathematical formula that is patented by an
appliance that does X ray tomography. You are still
violating the patent of the X rag machine.

Re:Does it make a difference (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280506)

So basically what you're saying is, if somebody patents the automobile, then nobody can sell wheels?

Sorry...that's bullshit, too.

Re:Does it make a difference (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279878)

So this whole anti-patent-software picketing is by people that don't read patents nor understand the patent system.

Adding software to a patented hardware device need not mean the software itself becomes patented. Similarly, adding software to an unpatented hardware device need not mean the combo is patentable. If software patents were clearly invalid, any judge worth his or her salt would refuse to grant a patent in either case.

Down the rabbit hole (2, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279980)

by that logic, I could get a patent for my novel by describing its contents and adding "a hardware appliance consisting of a bound book with paper pages printed on with ink". Then I could sue anyone who made a book using the themes of my patented invention. Wow, I'm gonna get rich! I sure hope nobody else has patented this idea already! (Note to self: remember to file a parallel patent describing how my book would be displayed on a eReader)

As cbiltcliffe points out above, software patents are presented and enforced as "process" patents. A software patent is not for the invention of a machine, it's a generic "way of doing" something on a machine.

That some patent lawyers attempt to shoehorn a process patent into a hardware patent by appending a generic description of a computer just shows that they acknowledge that, without such machinations, a software process would not qualify for patent protection.

Computers are designed to run generic code, that's their function and core value. To claim that running your patent-pending software on a machine that's designed to run generic software is somehow an improvement of that machine is ludicrous.

Re:Down the rabbit hole (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280434)

> That some patent lawyers attempt to shoehorn

You are so right that you prove the oposite point:

YOU are basically admitting that there is no point in trying
to classify inventions as software vs non-software because
patent lawyers can always shoehorn the one into the other.

-paul

Re:Does it make a difference (2, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280048)

That, sir, is what we call a loophole in the interpretation of the law and it must be closed by changing patent law. Why is math any more patentable when you claim to execute it on a physical computing device than when you present it academically (i.e., executed on a human computing device)? The latter is legally non-patentable, so the former should be as well. This is the philosophical argument against software patents.

The only "process" involved in a software patent is the act of executing non-patentable mathematics on nonhuman computing hardware. However, the hardware itself was designed for the express purpose of executing mathematics, making the process neither novel nor nonobvious and thus non-patentable. This is what I believe to be the legal argument against software patents. IANAL, so please correct me if there is an error in my reasoning.

This legal argument has been ignored by patent offices and court systems alike. Only further clarification of patent law by legislative bodies will remedy the situation.

Re:Does it make a difference (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280500)

Math is patentable the same way that software is patentable:
If there is a demonstrable physical embodiment. Like a device.

It is not about what should.

It is about the fact that it is *inevitable* that you can always spin
a patent as a physical device.

So there is no point in trying to wangle obtuse terminology to
exclude things that will always be patentable by another vehicle.

-paul

Time for another web protest (5, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279468)

Time for a bunch of web sites to close up shop for a day to remind how this will affect things on the web.

Re:Time for another web protest (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280230)

Yep. If the summary is accurate then almost every site in the web would be illegal.

Just because some geriatric judge liked the cut of a particular lawyer's suit.

Re:Time for another web protest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32280546)

And this makes sense because most web scripting languages are a way for a client server application to parse out code... in this case xhtml. PHP and JFC, etc. automatically generate structured documents for a thin client (the browser).

there once was a time (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279538)

when intellectual property law was meant to protect the solitary inventor from the predatory conglomerate. now the predatory conglomerate just preemptively carpet bombs their intellectual property territory and backs it up with a legion of lawyers. the solitary inventor doesn't stand a chance

intellectual property law is defunct. it is philosophically bankrupt and must be replaced wholesale, ignored, or at least radically revamped. this applies to trademark, copyright, and patents: the whole lot of it is rotten to the core and betrays any noble principles it was ever meant to uphold

Re:there once was a time (2, Informative)

melikamp (631205) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279864)

While you are right about patents and copyrights, none of our grievances have any relation to the trademark law, which is used to prevent scam. Richard Stallman is right: stop using the words "intellectual property", you have no clear understanding of what they mean, because they are not intended to have a clear meaning.

huh? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280478)

you have no clear understanding of what they mean, because they are not intended to have a clear meaning

error in meaning process #4512: lack of internal logical coherence in statement detected. statement may be ironic, or speaker may be confused. abort, retry, fail?

Re:there once was a time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32280298)

there once was a time when intellectual property law was meant to protect the solitary inventor [Citation Needed]

Sounds like your glasses are a bit rosy. From where I sit, it seems like patents were always intended to protect the RnD investment of wealthy corporations. The reason is simple: solitary inventors cannot affort the litigation expenses of defending their patents against wealthy corporations.

Owning a patent doesn't mean much if you can't afford to defend it, which solitary inventors never could.

Re:there once was a time (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280504)

Now the solitary inventor has a new strategy: try to sell a patent to the conglomerates for big $$$. Or sell it to a patent troll.

In fact, patent trolls are the direct result of this switch. I dislike them as much as the next guy, but at least they're a force acting against those that are blatantly abusing their patents.

Can I be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279610)

Shit Fuck Piss Goddamn Asshats (tm)

Boycott Germany (5, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279632)

Start including a disclaimer in all license agreements, something to the effect of "This software may be in violation of German patent law and is therefore not available for use in that country"

Refuse to sell or license any software to anyone in that country who is not willing to sign a disclosure stating that they are fully aware of the implications of German patent law and are responsible for any violations that may occur.

Provide information for how to contact any German political organization that opposes software patents

Re:Boycott Germany (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280082)

Don't forget the USA and South Korea in that disclaimer. Something like the GPL, which has a clause preventing you from distributing the software if it is in violation of patents, already contains such a disclaimer. Given that any jurisdiction which allows software patents quickly tends towards a situation where any nontrivial piece of software is infringing several patents, it's now likely not to be legal to copy GPL'd software in Germany, either now or soon. Someone should probably mention this to Munich...

Re:Boycott Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32280188)

What an idiotic suggestion. Europe and Germany were part of the few fighting software patents and this outcome is unfortunate, but a lot of the rest of the world allows it already, especially the US. Do you want to boycott the US and other countries too?

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent [wikipedia.org]

Re:Boycott Germany (2, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280300)

It's always been my opinion that projects like xvid and x264 should have a "may not be distributed in the United States" (and now also Germany) in the license. For something like Linux and GCC you might have a case when you say "well there are patents, but they aren't being litigated so who knows if they are valid" but for MPEG some of the patents are known to be litigated and known to have been declared valid in court.

Any copying being done for American (and now German) recipients for these projects is not authorized by virtue of the GPL ... if you can not can not provide the rights which come with the GPL then the GPL does not grant you the right to distribute. The project owners are really subverting the GPL by pretending that's not true.

Re:Boycott Germany (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280536)

It really wouldn't help--if anything, it would make things worse. Right now it's forbidden fruit. If it were completely unavailable, people simply wouldn't know about it, and wouldn't know what they were missing. There just aren't enough programmers in any given country for them alone to be a force for preventing this sort of stupidity. You have to get the end-users on board too.

Ruling as plaintext, with English translations (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279650)

I html-ised it and made links to a few automatic translations:

It indeed looks like bad news.

Thanks, Ciaran (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279856)

in the name of all the lazy folks who should be up in arms by now. ...it seems you never sleep!

Thanks Germany! (2, Funny)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279766)

First you unleash an insane dictator over most of Europe, encourage David Hasselhoff to keep singing (why?), think bailing out the Euro is a "good thing", produce annoyingly reliable cars and now decide software is patentable.

Thanks for nothing.

Re:Thanks Germany! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32280156)

Actually, Germany was firmly against bailing out Greece, because they correctly expected that they would be the ones to give most money. Sadly, they lost.

When will they learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279798)

Do we have to kick Germany's ass again?!?

How to Fight This? (4, Insightful)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32279808)

That's pretty shocking news to me as a German, because (naive as I am) I always considered the German High Court is halfway reasonable.

Could we perhaps fight software patents by getting completely ridiculous and untenable patents accepted and afterwards make this public? -- This could have the desired effect but is probably never going to happen, because the whole patenting process is a bit expensive. :(

In my opinion the whole idea that someone could dictate me what computational methods I use and sell is totally ridiculous. A lot of my work involves formal logic and methodology and I can't wait for the day when I'll publish a scientific paper that unbeknown to me infringes on some patent and then get sued for it. If this software patent idiocy continues, it will be impossible to teach any higher mathematics at university in 200 years from now without violating someone's patents, but I'm sure some companies already have licensing plans in the drawer for this scenario. Crazy...

Re:How to Fight This? (1)

minorDistraction (1594683) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280144)

High courts do not make the law, they just interpret it and establish boundaries. The German government can change the law if they don't like this outcome.

Re:How to Fight This? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32280364)

You misunderstand the role of the German High Court. Sure it doesn't make the law but as opposed to other courts it has a political role. The German High Court has a decent amount of freedom of choice, basically it is only restricted by previous decisions and the system of law as a whole in its decisions and it has the power to decide whether a certain law or procedure is constitutional or not. In this case, they could have decided against software patents without problems.

Re:How to Fight This? (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280352)

If this software patent idiocy continues, it will be impossible to teach any higher mathematics at university in 200 years from now without violating someone's patents

That's 20 years. All the signs are pointing that way. I am a professional mathematician, and I've been following the developments, and it does not look good. The maths are clearly next. It only makes sense: if they can patent algorithms, then they can already patent math. As it stands, no one can patent "abstract" ideas. Watch and see them say: "Oh, we just realized, math ideas are not abstract, they are hella concrete, so we will be patenting them now". For lawyers this will be a trivial hurdle to overcome, because the only thing that can make a law a complete non-starter is the internal inconsistency. And we are virtually obligated to start patenting traditional math if we are already patenting algorithms, they are the same bloody thing.

Can anyone tell me why is this silliness even allowed to go on? Is this just the corporate interest? Is it just the corporate money that is buying these laws? I really don't get it. Patents on software that runs on generic computer hardware (a real-life TM implementation) don't make a lick of sense, no matter how you look at it, and every programmer in the world knows it. Who keeps calling for more of this shit?

Re:How to Fight This? (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280552)

What have you done to stop it? Do you know your representatives positions and voting histories on this issue?

What a disaster (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32279882)

What a disaster. The stupidity of the US patent system has now spread like the virus it is here.

Re:What a disaster (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280382)

"The stupidity of the US patent system has now spread like the virus it is here."

First, they bought the US government, and no one else spoke out because they were not USians.

Now, they bought the government of America's most powerful satellite, and no one there will speak out (/. doesn't count) because
to admit being a US corporate poodle would be uncomfortable.

The Courts (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280004)

People need to understand that in most western countries, the judiciary is a kind of priesthood utterly divorced from reality or common sense. What matters to lawyers and judges are not concepts like "justice", "equity" or "reason". What matters to them is the written rule of the law, and how it is best spun into ways that benefit both the priesthood and its patrons--the wealthy and powerful. The courts have no interest in the effects of their judgements. They have interest only in which lawyers arguments were more pleasing in the eyes of legal dogma.

This is a very, very serious problem which has only gotten worse in recent decades. The fact that most politicians are drawn from this clique has only accelerated the utter divorce of the courts from reality. Decisions like these are symptomatic of a judicial system that has broken down at a basic level. There are more across the legal spectrum: lenient corporate fines, excessive tort compensation, stringent libel fines, patents in general, children being convicted of child sex abuse, the rollback of habeas corpus, excess cost of legal defence, battery, etc, etc. The court system is entirely broken.

We live in an age of the misrule of law. If things get any worse, we'll be better off with no legal system at all.

Re:The Courts (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280276)

You're only half right. The courts and lawyers have a duty to the law as written, not whatever-bleeding-heart-interpretation-is-most-appropriate-today.
If the law sucks, it should be the legislative branch that gets the stick. But of course, they have VERY short-term responsibility, so nothing serious ever happens.

Re:The Courts (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280278)

What I think many people miss is that legalese is a programming language. It is the way we structure society (which is a sort of massively parallel machine). In any program that receives tweaks from time to time, there comes a point where a complete rewrite is not only helpful, but necessary. We have reached that point in western countries. Long overdue in my opinion. Will it be easy? Hell no! But the alternative is to just watch things get even worse. Could things get worse? Certainly, but at least then we can blame people who are still alive, rather than people ho have been dead for hundreds of years, and do something about it.

just in: physicists patent quantum physics (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280112)

And now they want money from all the people using semiconductors. Seriously now, society advances because people can communicate ideas, not because the greedy get to keep all the money.
Instead of being thankful that communication is almost free...
It really is sad. no sarcasm. it's sad.

High Court in xml (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32280114)

Time to implement the High Court procedures and processes in xml and then apply for the patent on the engine that understands and implements them, in whole or part.

Why do people not understand that software is process, and process helps create order, and order and process is what allows courts to exist... not to mention government. Life is process, software is process.

Bad Precedence - Design Patterns In Trouble (2, Interesting)

s31523 (926314) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280134)

Even though TFA states "all software ideas are now potentially patentable as long as they are innovative from a purely formal point of view, meaning they're at least marginally different from how a technical problem was solved before", many standard design patterns used could be in trouble. For example implementing the well-known Observer pattern [wikipedia.org] using non-OO language constructs, in say Ada83, could be a patentable thing. I mean, this is really bad precedence here and something every software engineer, hell, every company should care about.

Re:Bad Precedence - Design Patterns In Trouble (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280392)

Even though TFA states "all software ideas are now potentially patentable as long as they are innovative from a purely formal point of view, meaning they're at least marginally different from how a technical problem was solved before", many standard design patterns used could be in trouble. For example implementing the well-known Observer pattern [wikipedia.org] using non-OO language constructs, in say Ada83, could be a patentable thing. I mean, this is really bad precedence here and something every software engineer, hell, every company should care about.

Design patents are entirely different - they're on the non-functional aesthetic design of something, like a toy skunk [google.com] or underwear [google.com].

that's it. welcome back to the dark age (2, Interesting)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280266)

seriously, we're going all the way downhill back to the dark age.

it's censorship in australia, holding prisoners without charges in US and england, now with software patents, we'll see the resurgence of guilds.

it'll be such a fucked up environment, that only those who are members of a certain guild will be able to make any products in certain field, and if a new entrepeneur tries to enter the market, the established guild will throw all the wheight of the legal system on the new guy.

soon, access to information will be so restricted, that unless you're born in a certain class, you won't have any change of progress or innovating or "changing the world".

when is the first ship to mars leaving ? i'm starting to think that a cold, desert planet with no breathable atmosphere is not such a bad idea after all.

FAT patent rejection was not on software... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32280342)

"Long gone are the times when Europe was that bastion of resistance against software patents and patents on such things as file systems were ruled invalid.

The rejection of the FAT patent was not because it was a software method, it was because it lacked an "inventive step". That's Europe's term for obviousness. Thus, it was ruled invalid as being obvious, not because it was not patentable subject matter.

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