3rd nov, 2012

Problems and solutions

On Wired Mark A. Lemley has a great article on how to fix the problematic American patent system. He describes that allowing patents to protect a broadly defined solution instead of a particular solution to a problem is the root of all the troubles.
In Europe we have fought against the pull towards the American patent practice for years – maintaining the problem solution approach refined over time by the EPO.
Lemly points out a curious fact about the patent system when he writes “In any other area of technology, we wouldn’t permit the sorts of ludicrous claims that appear in thousands of software patents. Pharmaceutical inventors don’t claim “an arrangement of atoms that cures cancer,” asserting their patent against any chemical in any form that achieves that purpose.”
What Lemley suggests is not a change of law but a change of interpretation of the patent law. This makes the change easier – in theory. Patent lawyers, trolls and other advocates will lobby for the status quo in the US to continue. If the companies keep true to their previous positions they will actually support the change Lemley suggests. The current situation is expensive for them and gives them a trollish image. The problem is getting the supreme court on the wagon – because the change will go to court.

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