The Death of Google's Patents?

Intellectual Property and Patents

Article Snapshot

Author(s)

John Duffy

Source

PatentlyO blog, July 21, 2008, http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/law/googlepatents101.pdf

Summary

This article looks at how changes in patent office policy could affect existing patents held by software firms.

Policy Relevance

New decisions from the patent office's Board of Appeals set forth reasoning that threatens to invalidate many patents held by software firms.

Main Points

  • In the 1990s, the patent office became willing to grant patents on software.

  • Software patents are controversial. In 2008, the patent office’s Board of Appeals announced new reasoning that would invalid some, perhaps many, software patents

  • The patent office Board of Appeals issued new rulings holding that patents would be granted only for software that runs on a “particular machine.”

  • Since many software inventions run on a general purpose computers, these new decisions could invalidate large numbers of the patents held by Microsoft, Google, IBM, and others.

  • Software patents associated with many types of computer-related hardware and computer chips also may be in jeopardy.

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