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