Saturday September 15, 2012

The Assumptions Behind Patents of Software

Simon Phipps at InfoWorld on a new paper that sheds light on some of the fundamental assumptions buried in the legal definitions in patents of software:

But in 1952, no one anticipated the problem that would result when this language was applied to software. At some point, a clever patent attorney realized that if “a computer” was used as the “means,” it would present no obstacle to the scope of the “functions” that followed it. While “a computer” sounds specific to a judge, the consequences of Turing completeness mean any computer could be used as the “means.” As a consequence, section 112(f) of the Patent Act was treated as a gateway to patenting just about any idea imaginable in software.

I can see it now. Alan Turing: Patent Troll Hunter. The Movie. In 3D.