US Patent & Trademark Office spoiling for a patent fight

The US PTO has a growing disdain for software patents.

John F. Duffy, a professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School, recently wrote that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has increasingly taken stands on patents that "will invalidate many and perhaps most software patents." If only.

Duffy worries that "the PTO's new interpretation of patentable subject matter provides a clear avenue to reject patent applications and to invalid issued patents on all such innovations without regard to how meritorious or creative the innovation is," but he both overstates his case and understates just how important it would be for the US PTO to actually carry through on this threat.

Patents have proved to be weak spurs to cash (and, hence, invention) in software. Regardless, given the fast pace of software technology, patents are effectively of an infinite duration: Even if they worked, they work for far too long.

I congratulate the US PTO on its newfound strength against the deleterious effects of patents on the software industry. Sanity...at last.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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