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Uniloc Patent Case Against Rackspace Tossed for Bogus Patents

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the don't-mess-with-red-hat dept.

Patents 76

netbuzz writes "A federal judge in Texas, presiding over a district notorious for favoring patent trolls, has summarily dismissed all claims relating to a case brought by Uniloc USA against Rackspace for [Linux] allegedly infringing upon [Uniloc's] patents. Red Hat defended Rackspace in the matter and issued a press release saying: 'In dismissing the case, Chief Judge Leonard Davis found that Uniloc's claim was unpatentable under Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. This is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter.'" You can't patent floating point math after all.

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Yeah but... (2)

GReaToaK_2000 (217386) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303513)

You can still patent genes???

Re:Yeah but... (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304377)

In your defense it's a common misconception on Slashdot that you can patent genes, but the truth is that genes are not patentable without an application and a transformation outside the body. It is the same thing as the concept that an algorithm per se is not patentable, but if you come up with a nice implementation for using it then shezzam! you get a patent.

For details see the section on Utility Examination Guidelines in the following:

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/notices/utilexmguide.pdf [uspto.gov]

Re:Yeah but... (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304455)

Sure. No math is involved.

Re:Yeah but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305321)

No, but you can patent the process that you use to detect them or splice them into other things. The Genes themselves? Not as such. Anything there is going to very probably face the same result now that Uniloc just got.

Now...patenting jeans...differing story...

Re:Yeah but... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329453)

You can still patent genes???

no, but you can patent dinosaurs

Am i the first? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303515)

Time show off my hate for trolls
woot!

Worthless (5, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303523)

You know your patent case is worthless when East Texas courts throw it out. If you can't win your troll case there it's friggin' hopeless.

Re:Worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303761)

So how come Apple keeps coming back?

Re:Worthless (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303811)

So how come Apple keeps coming back?

Keep thinking, Mr. Newton. It'll hit you at some point.

Re:Worthless (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304409)

Oh, I get the joke. Antipater, whose name sounds like antimasturbator, was replying to the grandparent post where the grandparent was saying that it wasn't clear how Apple, the company, keeps coming back, but Antipater said to keep thinking Mr. Newton because Isaac Newton was this scientist who discovered that apples fall because of gravity and the apple hit him on the head. But this grandparent was saying it wasn't clear how Apple kept coming back, just like Newton kept thinking it wasn't clear how things fell, so maybe grandparent is like Newton?

Re:Worthless (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329459)

It's because Apple has fallen from its tree.

Re:Worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305373)

Becuase nobody's spanked them yet- Uniloc seems to be the first in a line of them now.

And...spare me the 'activist judge" bullshit, folks. This has been a long time in the making and it's been the ones upholding all this bogus crap that're the activists.

Jurisprudence and the law are specific. Some things AREN'T patentable. It's come time to make that clear again.

Re:Worthless (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329461)

You tell 'em Judge Dredd!

This judge will be held up as an example in Texas (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303781)

This judge will be held up as an example in all Texas courts. There are a lot of Texas courts, so they will have to cut him up quite small to serve as an example to all Texas courts.

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (0)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303895)

This judge will be held up as an example in all Texas courts.

He *should* be, I doubt *will*. This is a state that is still having debates on weather or not to include evolution in school curriculums [huffingtonpost.com] .

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (2, Funny)

transporter_ii (986545) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304025)

Debates on weather in Texas have *nothing* to do with evolution in school curriculum in Texas. And for the record, clearly the climate change has resulted from natural processes including fluctuations in the sun's heat and ocean currents.

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304221)

Not to mention the changes in our orbit and rotation... Solar days actually are increasing by a couple milliseconds every 100 or so years.

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304251)

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304293)

*whoosh*

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (2)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305417)

Debates on weather in Texas have *nothing* to do with evolution in school curriculum in Texas.

Whether he meant to write about meterorological phenomena is highly unlikely. My guess is his command of English is less than perfect, but he's hardly alone in that boat these days, including among native English speakers. Whether you can weather the storm of yuks related to whether you're a smartass or a dolt (or just trolling; or is that redundant?) is another question altogether.

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329473)

oh ok mr fun police... you must be from the tsa... total slashdot assholes

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43330851)

Guilty as charged.

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308009)

And for the record, clearly the climate change has resulted from natural processes including fluctuations in the sun's heat

I find it much more likely that the fluctuations in the sun's heat explain why the Texans randomly behave like crazies.

Re:This judge will be held up as an example in Tex (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329479)

when they ban teaching of religion in schools is when they should ban evolution

regardless, they're probably teaching the kids that humans evolved from rattlesnakes so i can understand the concern

Re:Worthless (1)

rot26 (240034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304411)

From Marshall, Texas, go toward Dallas and take a left. When you hit San Antonio, you've arrived at Rackspace.

I'm just sayin'.

One of these days .... (4, Insightful)

pollarda (632730) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303573)

Perhaps they will realize that computers can only do what you can already do with a pencil and piece of paper. (They just do it all much faster.) Given that, it is all simply algorithms which are unpatentable. (Of course, if you use the computer to control things, then your piece of paper can be replaced with a joystick or whatever.)

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303771)

Which leaves software in the scope of artistic protections, like it should be. Trademarks and copyrights, although there's plenty to argue about those systems, are at least the correct systems to defend a (sometimes) useful art.

Re:One of these days .... (3, Insightful)

Shotgun (30919) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303871)

But, don't most machines do things that can already be done by hand...just much faster? I'm not trying to be combative. It just seems that this is a questionable criteria to use for patentability.

The guy that invented that little rubber cover that goes over the connector of good ethernet cables to keep the clip from catching on all the other cables (best invention EVVARR!!). Well, that was something that you could already do by keeping your finger on the clip, but I think the invention was invaluable and the guy deserved some patent protection.

Re:One of these days .... (3, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303957)

But, don't most machines do things that can already be done by hand...just much faster? I'm not trying to be combative. It just seems that this is a questionable criteria to use for patentability.

The guy that invented that little rubber cover that goes over the connector of good ethernet cables to keep the clip from catching on all the other cables (best invention EVVARR!!). Well, that was something that you could already do by keeping your finger on the clip, but I think the invention was invaluable and the guy deserved some patent protection.

Yes, and the unpatentability of software is actually based on a policy decision that most anti-software patent people miss. Specifically, one of the remedies for patent infringement is an injunction. If your patent claims can be fully performed by hand - or in someone's mind - then you can (theoretically) get an injunction to prevent people from thinking about something. Not only does that not actually work in practice, it also creates a thoughtcrime, which the courts are loathe to do.

Instead, under the Bilski decision, an idea has to be non-abstract, which typically means that it transforms matter or is tied to machine. So (novelty and obviousness aside, for the sake of clarifying the distinction), while a patent claiming "adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number" would be an unpatentable algorithm, a patent claiming "executing an adder by a processor of a computing device, the adder configured for adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number, the third number stored in a memory of the computing device" would not be an unpatentable algorithm, as it is tied to a specific machine.

Now, of course, the method still has to be novel and nonobvious, and merely adding the computing device won't make it so. However, if you have a novel and nonobvious algorithm, it can still be protected, albeit in a way that doesn't create a thoughtcrime or prevent someone from performing the algorithm mentally or on paper.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305095)

while a patent claiming "adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number" would be an unpatentable algorithm, a patent claiming "executing an adder by a processor of a computing device, the adder configured for adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number, the third number stored in a memory of the computing device" would not be an unpatentable algorithm, as it is tied to a specific machine.

Read the claims of the Uniloc patent (which was invalidated) -- some of them are similar to your example of patentable material.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305215)

while a patent claiming "adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number" would be an unpatentable algorithm, a patent claiming "executing an adder by a processor of a computing device, the adder configured for adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number, the third number stored in a memory of the computing device" would not be an unpatentable algorithm, as it is tied to a specific machine.

Read the claims of the Uniloc patent (which was invalidated) -- some of them are similar to your example of patentable material.

Nope, none are. The only ones that are close are the apparatus claims that claim a circuit but the specification doesn't define the apparatus or circuits in hardware terms, and so can be read as, for example, a human and brain.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329559)

if i manufactured a microchip that was hardwired to perform the same function as a piece of software (assume the next killer app for sake of argument), would that machine be unpatentable?

assuming it were patentable, could i then prevent others from implementing its functionality in software?

the problem is that when you talk about performing an algorithm mentally or on paper, you're clearly not talking about the majority of software because most people can't communicate with a computer monitor or across ethernet. most software patents aren't as simple as adding numbers together.

i personally think copyright and patents all suck... if they were all abolished, big companies would stop paying for ideas, but all the little people would rise up and create them instead. i don't care much for that smelly bearded guy, but what the gpl did for copyright was revolutionary.

Re:One of these days .... (4, Insightful)

Whatsisname (891214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304403)

The little rubber boot is not even remotely something that patents should protect. You are subscribing to the faulty, revisionist "dibs" model of patents.

The bargain made in patents is that society provides protection, in exchange for the inventor disclosing how their machine works. The alternative, as was the case prior to patents, was that guilds were very secretive about their processes and technologies, and if something happened to the guild, the technology disappeared along with them. The patent bargain was made to bring their technological secrets into the public domain.

In the case of a rubber boot on an ethernet cable, there is nothing to disclose. You can figure out all there is to it by looking at it for 2 seconds. There is nothing consequential for society to reverse engineer in lieu of a patent. Protecting a rubber boot with patent protection is a terrible deal for society.

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304659)

Bullshit. Without patents, there is no motivation, at all, for him to tool up and make them, as there is always a larger predator who can out-compete him. In your bullshit worldview, his best case was to sit on his idea, and refuse to innovate, because there would be no possible way for him to recover any profit for the time he spent innovating.

Re:One of these days .... (3, Insightful)

rmstar (114746) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305435)

Bullshit. Without patents, there is no motivation, at all, for him to tool up and make them, as there is always a larger predator who can out-compete him.

If he's the kind of guy who thinks he deserves to get rich for a bit of rubber, then I say let the predators have him.

In your bullshit worldview, his best case was to sit on his idea, and refuse to innovate, because there would be no possible way for him to recover any profit for the time he spent innovating.

If he is the kind of guy who thinks he deserves to get rich for a bit of rubber, then I say let him sit on his idea and rot away.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305627)

If you believe that this is the case, I've a bit of seaside property on the middle of the Florida coastline (It's dry, I PROMISE!) and a bit of bridge to sell you.

A Patent is only worth the amount of money you've got to litigate an infringer into submission- for starters.

Worse, there's so damned many Patents out there that you're NOT assured of anything in regards to that "motivation" you speak of.

This is not to say you shouldn't be patenting things- but the bullshit you just spouted off...well, only the foolish believe that these days.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

firewrought (36952) | about a year and a half ago | (#43306727)

Bullshit. Without patents, there is no motivation, at all, for him to tool up and make them.

Um... I doubt the tooling costs for a little rubber coating would be all that significant for an existing cable manufacturer. If you have that idea first, you'd definitely wouldn't sit on it because your competition is going to figure it out sooner or later and snag (heh heh) the opportunity for product differentiation. You see, there is a motivation for R&D other than patents, and it's called market forces. Keeping your R&D at zero is an non-optimal strategy (classic prisoner's dilemma) when you have healthy competition. Heck, even if you had a monopoly on all cable manufacturing, it would still be smart to do the R&D so you can offer products at different price tiers (like how Monster makes a cadillac HDTV cable, cause some folks will always pay more).

Re:One of these days .... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308045)

Without patents, there is no motivation, at all, for him to tool up and make them, as there is always a larger predator who can out-compete him.

Whereas with patents, the larger predators like MS, Apple and others are terrified of single inventors with patents, with their legal teams running around screaming "What will we do? What will we do?". It's good that patents protect small inventors and prevent them from being squashed.

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309213)

Nonesense, being the first in a market is a huge advantage. Plus any competitor has tool up and debug prototypes, at what turns out to be nearly similar costs.

  At the begining of the industrial revolution it took 14 years to really gear up to full production from a prototype. (You had a half doze apprentices that took seven years to train, and then they took seven years to train thier apprentices, and then you might be able to meet basic demand and have a footing to compete against an established workshop.

Now there are places in china that can re-tool a factory floor in less than 14 hours, but paten terms have increased? The reasonable balance it to allow enough time to get the product out and start a marketing chain before the patent expires, but not a dozen years of monopoly rents.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329617)

any competitor has tool up and debug prototypes, at what turns out to be nearly similar costs

haha.... you're funny

try shopping at Aldi... a store that's chock full of ripoffs. even the packaging and "brand names" appear similar (but never identical) to legit equivalents.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329581)

his best case was to sit on his idea, and refuse to innovate, because there would be no possible way for him to recover any profit for the time he spent innovating

that's actually the scenario we find ourselves in at the moment

copyright and patent law are tools for big corporations, and that's about all

there isn't much incentive for the little guy to fork out his life savings to implement an idea that will be ripped off by some faceless multinational

Re:One of these days .... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304643)

Unless your thumbnail is much stronger than mine, you can't open a can without the can opener.

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309223)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbxKbI9Ik4o

Re:One of these days .... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329633)

Directions weren't clear enough,I got my dick stuck in a toaster

this is the funniest shit i heard for a while

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304851)

Best invention ever? I thought those evil little things were created by satan to taunt me. Perhaps am I particularly feeble-fingered, but I often find it impossible to unclip the cable without sliding the cover back. And some of the covers really don't want to slide. So I spend several minutes having an arm wrestling competition with the back of a computer under a desk. This is no fun. Cables without patented satan covers, however, come out easy as pie. I love those guys.

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305541)

Some cable manufacturers never got the 'flexible' part of the cover down, and instead create them as a hard, inflexible shell. In that case, you have to hope you can slide a finger in between the lip of the cover and the port, which places you entirely at the mercy of how deeply inset into the case the back of the port is, i.e. which direction the assembler of the machine was leaning at the time he tightened the final screw. I would say "Don't buy cheap cables," but I can't remember if the problem is specifically with cheap ones.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

Shotgun (30919) | about a year and a half ago | (#43314187)

And if you do buy cheap cables, buy a pair of duckbill pliers 8*)

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309135)

Computers are machines that manipulate symbolic expressions according to a finite set of fixed rules. Such a process falls withing the domain of doing math and is thus unpatentable no matter how quickly or cleverly you do it. Data you feed into the machine instruction cycle of a computer is symobolic and manipulated according that cycle, usually producing a result which itself processes various bits of symbolic data.

There is no reason you cant patent a new computer design, just as you would any other machine.

Also weather one guy "deserves" a benifit is an ass-backwards way of judging patents, in social, moral, and historical terms. If you wan't to reward the guy for hard work, mail him a hundred dollar note and that would be fine. But that's not what patents are. Patents involve the threat or use of force to enjoin others from competing with you directly so that you may extract monopoly rents from the market. If you're going to do that, you damn well ought to justifiy it. The only real possible justification is that the substantial whole of society is either better off, or at least not worse off as a result of a patent system.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304269)

Software patents are just patents of thought processes. you can't think that way, I patented it!

Re:One of these days .... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43329681)

i hear business models are patentable... i patent the patent... there can be no other patent trolls but me mwahahahahaha!!!!!

Re:One of these days .... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#43306379)

So would that mean that quantum algorithms can be patented? There is no way to do them other than with a quantum computer.

Re:One of these days .... (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43307723)

they can be done in your head, like any other... you might lose your mind in the process, however.

Re:One of these days .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43328745)

Except you can patent 'doing things' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_method_patent

Was USPTO sleeping? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303683)

If this invention was unpatentable, why did USPTO issue a patent in the first place? So much court time and money would not be wasted if only they did their job right.

Re:Was USPTO sleeping? (3, Interesting)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43303729)

Because it needs the cash and it has never been sued for approving a bad patent.

I hope Unilock sues the USPTO. Regardless of the outcome it might fix things.

Re:Was USPTO sleeping? (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304689)

In a just world, both sides and the court itself have cause to sue the USPTO.

Re:Was USPTO sleeping? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303829)

If this invention was unpatentable, why did USPTO issue a patent in the first place? So much court time and money would not be wasted if only they did their job right.

Because Congress handed them a pile of shit, (software patents), and refused to fund them enough to properly review them all, so they said "Fine, we'll just approve it all and let the courts figure out what should stick".
It's been covered quite a bit here, there, and everywhere.

Re:Was USPTO sleeping? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305685)

Which means they should basically be fired. I don't care what prompted them to do it all- if it's not patentable, granting a patent on it is NOT doing your job in a manner that if I'd done something similar in my day job, they'd fire my *ss.

Re:Was USPTO sleeping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305267)

They typically flip a damn coin and rubber stamp the thing based on the result.

Re:Was USPTO sleeping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305663)

The examiner was probably stoned...JK.

I know on the defense of my Patent application (which we ran out of funds to complete...shame, really...), the examiner was clearly out of his gourd and was telling me my patent was anticipated by an irrelevant patent in a manner that you're as equally claiming that I mention a brass screw in my design, and brass screws are already covered by patents and anticipate a whole clock or car. Seriously. I'd asked my attorney if he knew what drugs the examiner was on when I'd seen the initial rejection.

Many of the examiners are quite simply in over their heads when they look these things over.

A 1955 patent issued in 1995 (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303779)

Claim 1 might have been novel in 1955 but the patent was issued in 1995. 40 years late must be close enough for Govt work.

1. A method for processing floating-point numbers, each floating-point number having at least a sign portion, an exponent portion and a mantissa portion, comprising the steps of:

        converting a floating-point number memory register representation to a floating-point register representation;
        rounding the converted floating-point number;
        performing an arithmetic computation upon said rounded number resulting in a new floating-point value; and
        converting the resulting new floating-point register value to a floating-point memory register representation.

Re:A 1955 patent issued in 1995 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304051)

Really? What am I missing? http://www.google.com/patents/US5892697 says "Filing date: Dec 19, 1995", "Issue date: Apr 6, 1999"

Re:A 1955 patent issued in 1995 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304435)

Really? What am I missing? http://www.google.com/patents/US5892697 says "Filing date: Dec 19, 1995", "Issue date: Apr 6, 1999"

What's missing is 5 days, it should've been issued April 1st, 1999.

When ya said Uni-Lock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303843)

I thought, damn now they have little locks on all the rack servers? Then I thought, wow they can patten that? Then I thought, hey dummie that's the NAME of the company.

Locations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303891)

Rackspace is headquarterd in San Antonio TX
Uniloc in Europe
Just sayin

At What Cost And To Whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43303937)

So, they threw out the case. But, there were likely large costs associated with defending this case, at the very least for Red Hat, but likely also of Rackspace.

So, how much did it cost them to have this patent troll, Uniloc, sue them with a specious claim?

Groklaw summary... (1, Offtopic)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304053)

... available here [groklaw.net] has more details and quotes from the decision, but is predictably bad on analysis. In particular, in spite of PJ's bluster about how this wasn't "new, novel, non-obvious" and it's "unbelievable" that the USPTO would allow the claim, the decision had nothing to do with novelty or nonobviousness. Rather, the decision was strictly on patent eligibility under 35 USC 101, relying on the Supreme Court's Bilski decision: merely abstract ideas, not tied to a machine or transformative of matter, are unpatentable subject matter and exempt from the patent act, regardless of how new they are.

In other words, you could have the most novel and nonobvious algorithm in the entire world, and the USPTO could literally spend the entire GDP of the United States searching for prior art and interviewing every engineer, mathematician, and programmer in the world, to be told unanimously that this was a literally once-in-a-lifetime idea with not even a hint of relevant prior art out there, and it still would be unpatentable if it were just an algorithm. You could invent the mathematics that allow time travel or teleportation, winning the Nobel prize for your utter genius, and nonetheless, if it's just the math, it's not patent eligible.

So, this has nothing to do with novelty or obviousness, and, since the Bilski decision came out long after this patent was issued, there's nothing unbelievable about the USPTO thinking it was patent eligible. That was the state of the law back then. It's a good thing it's changed, but that doesn't mean that anything done prior to that change is an unbelievable departure from common sense.

Re:Groklaw summary... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304219)

Patents have been required (in theory at least) to be "new, novel, non-obvious" since patents became law in this country, and that was the law in 1999 when the patent was issued. Currently you are current that that doesn't matter anymore, this patent is no longer valid under current law, but it shouldn't have been valid at any point earlier, either.

Re:Groklaw summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304491)

But the court didn't find that it was invalid because it wasn't new or novel or non-oviousit fond it inelligible for precisely the reason that abstract ideas, not tied to a machine or transformative of matter, are not patentable under Bilski. When this was awarded that decision hadn't been rendered.from this decision we can't say that the USPTO should of awarded it or not---the criteria used to invalidate it wasn't the case law then.

Re:Groklaw summary... (2)

inode_buddha (576844) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304583)

The groklaw article wasn't written by PJ, it was written by Mark Webbink. RTFA. MW was Redhat's lead lawyer for *years* and he may still be.

Re:Groklaw summary... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304705)

The groklaw article wasn't written by PJ, it was written by Mark Webbink. RTFA. MW was Redhat's lead lawyer for *years* and he may still be.

Hadn't noticed that. Good point.
According to the USPTO practitioner search, he's also not a patent attorney. Does Groklaw have any actual patent practitioners they can call on to explain some of this stuff to them?

Re:Groklaw summary... (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305085)

First of all the Groklaw statement you quoted was clearly opinion, it wasn't presented as interpretation of the court ruling at all. Also you're entirely wrong any way.

Part of the ruling quoted by Groklaw :

“[I]nventions with specific applications or improvements to technologies in the marketplace [may not] be so abstract that they override the statutory language and framework of the Patent Act.” Research Corp., 627 F.3d at 869. However, according to the patent itself, the claims’ novelty and improvement over the standard is the rounding of the floating-point number before, rather than after, the arithmetic computation. ‘697 Patent Col. 4:32–48. So, as in Flook, Claim 1 merely constitutes an improvement on the known method for processing floating-point numbers. Id. at 595 n.18. Claim 1, then, is merely an improvement on a mathematical formula. Even when tied to computing, since floating-point numbers are a computerized numeric format, the conversion of floating-point numbers has applications across fields as diverse as science, math, communications, security, graphics, and games. Thus, a patent on Claim 1 would cover vast end uses, impeding the onward march of science. Benson, 409 U.S. at 68. Under Flook, the improvement over the standard is insufficient to validate Claim 1’s otherwise unpatentable subject matter."

So novelty and non obviousness were ruled on by the court ... that's what Flook is all about.

Re:Groklaw summary... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305205)

First of all the Groklaw statement you quoted was clearly opinion, it wasn't presented as interpretation of the court ruling at all.

... when I said "Groklaw... is predictably bad on analysis," did you think I meant the court's analysis? Sorry, I thought it was clear that I was referring to Groklaw's statements, not the court's.

Also you're entirely wrong any way.

Part of the ruling quoted by Groklaw :

“[I]nventions with specific applications or improvements to technologies in the marketplace [may not] be so abstract that they override the statutory language and framework of the Patent Act.” Research Corp., 627 F.3d at 869. However, according to the patent itself, the claims’ novelty and improvement over the standard is the rounding of the floating-point number before, rather than after, the arithmetic computation. ‘697 Patent Col. 4:32–48. So, as in Flook, Claim 1 merely constitutes an improvement on the known method for processing floating-point numbers. Id. at 595 n.18. Claim 1, then, is merely an improvement on a mathematical formula. Even when tied to computing, since floating-point numbers are a computerized numeric format, the conversion of floating-point numbers has applications across fields as diverse as science, math, communications, security, graphics, and games. Thus, a patent on Claim 1 would cover vast end uses, impeding the onward march of science. Benson, 409 U.S. at 68. Under Flook, the improvement over the standard is insufficient to validate Claim 1’s otherwise unpatentable subject matter."

So novelty and non obviousness were ruled on by the court ... that's what Flook is all about.

Nope, you're wrong. Re-read that paragraph again: the court is saying that, even according to the patent, the novel and nonobvious subject matter in the claims is "merely an improvement on a mathematical formula," and is therefore not patent eligible under Bilski. At no point does the court rule on novelty or obviousness or state that the patent claims were not novel or invalid under 35 USC 102, or were obvious or invalid under 35 USC 103.
I mean, really, "improvement" should be a hint to you that they're not ruling that the claims were not novel. By definition, an improvement is not anticipated by the device or method it's improving. And if you're saying that the court held that the claims were novel, that's based only on a statement in the patent itself, and frankly, with the deference due to the non-moving party in summary judgement, is worth all the legal weight of the period at the end of this sentence.

And furthermore, you're misreading Flook. Flook was another 35 USC 101 case about patent eligibility, not novelty or nonobviousness. From the first line of the syllabus:

Respondent's method for updating alarm limits during catalytic conversion processes, in which the only novel feature is a mathematical formula, held not patentable under 101 of the Patent Act.

Does not bode well for Microsoft (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308345)

If you can't patent floating point math, I'm pretty sure you can't patent binary constants either. Haven't heard about this [theonion.com] case in a while, but I'm sure it's been working its way through the system.

Re:Does not bode well for Microsoft (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308839)

If you can't patent floating point math, I'm pretty sure you can't patent binary constants either. Haven't heard about this [theonion.com] case in a while, but I'm sure it's been working its way through the system.

I don't know if you're trolling or if you're oblivious to the Onion's satire.

I... I don't know.... I don't know if your post is satire or not. The recursiveness is hurting my brain.

--
BMO

Math patent = no; Gene patent = yes ... wtf ?! (1)

fygment (444210) | about a year and a half ago | (#43310883)

Maybe a bit off topic, but this is what stuck out in my mind:

So if you develop a mathematical algorithm you cannot patent that, even though you had to work to produce it.

BUT you _can_ patent a naturally occuring gene even though all you have to do is isolate it?

( and yes, a patent on a gene isolating technique makes sense)

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