Software patents

Take sure there is a US patent on each idea and each action you will have a day.

Introduced originally to protect innovation, the U.S. system has evolved to the point where firms are founded only to tax the companies that innovate through portfolios of "patents" that they buy and have no other activities. According to statistics, 60% of the trials from these "patent trolls" and represent in the USA a cost of $ 30 billion for businesses.

Patent troll

But the most absurd is that many software patents filed by even the best-known companies are obvious ideas that anybody would have had and for which they claim hundreds of millions of dollars when used by others.

According to a study by the Boston University, legal fee because patents was US$ 29 billion in 2011 (in USA).

Microsoft: Patent on page flip

Here is a summary of the patent filed by Microsoft : how a page is turned on a computer or mobile phone. Even if I have already seen such graphical effect on personal computers as older as the Apple II.

One or more pages are displayed on a touch display. A page-turning gesture directed to a displayed page is recognized. Responsive to such recognition, a virtual page turn is displayed on the touch display. The virtual page turn actively follows the page-turning gesture. The virtual page turn curls a lifted portion of the page to progressively reveal a back side of the page while progressively revealing a front side of a subsequent page...

BT: A patent on hyperlink

British Telecom said it has filed a patent in 1976 on links in a page and that the patent was granted in 1986.
Following what it has sued the company Prodigy Internet December 13, 2000.
It claims:

We have a duty to our shareholders to exploit intellectual property just as any other company does.

But the patent makes no mention of the mouse and only speaks of keyboard to activate the link. In addition, a prototype of hypertext system had been previously created in 1968 by a researcher at Stanford (see documents).

Apple: All mobile applications belong them

In a patent dated 29 July 2010, Apple assumes authorship of the use of any travel service from a mobile.
To illustrate this application it gives a diagram taken from a screenshot of a third-party application on the AppStore since 2008!

On the left a screenshot of the Where To application, on the right the diagram in the patent from Apple. The issue of prior art is not of concern for the Cuppertino firm.
Apple does not patent Where To but the service on which relies this application created by another company.

Apple patent on rotation of the image

Paul Allen: Patent on Web sites

The Microsoft co-founder had a trial at all the major players of the Web, except... Microsoft.
The targets: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, AOL, Youtube.
The patents:

These patents are accompanied by ridiculous graphs to show the flow of information.
That is as to designate the entire web (except Microsoft) as infringing patents of Paul Allen!

Facebook: Patent on the number of clicks

Facebook obtained the patent 7,788,260 filed in 2004 on an "invention": to classify the results of a search engine based on the number of clicks!

Ranking search results based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of a social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation.

Brilliant invention which was also part of the Google algorithm for years.

Patent on a stick as "Animal Toy", toast and other jokes.

To see how far we can go with the U.S. patent system, Ross Long applied for a patent on a simple wooden stick, cutted from a branch.
The stick is now patented.

Some reforms

Following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bilski, the USPTO had to review the software rules and methods.

A new system supported by large companies including Google has been voted by the Senate in September 2011, the Leahy-Smith Invents America Act.

The Innovation Act is a new law passed by a large majority at the House of Representatives, Nov. 5, 2013, to fight patent trolls. It will help companies defend themselves by reducing the cost of trial and and by charging the plaintiff all costs if he loses the trial. It requires the complainant to specify exactly which product infringes the patent, which strangely was not mandatory before! It also prohibits the complainant using of shell companies to launch attacks, which should annoy Microsoft.

Incredible cases

Services againt patents

Documents and sites of interest

Who is suying who? The patent circus between mobiles makers...