20 May 2006

Good News Patently Comes in Threes

I've written often enough about patent absurdities, so it's been a real pleasure to observe this last week not one, but three promising decisions that might start to undo past idiocies.

First, the US Supreme Court ruled that patent owners do not have an automatic right to an injunction that could take out another business accused of infringement. This is fantastic news, because it delivers an extremely long-overdue kick in the corporate goolies to patent trolls, whose entire business method is to use the threat of such injunctions as a way of extorting money from companies who would really rather just get on with their business.

Next, the US Patent and Trademark Office agreed to a re-examination of Amazon.com's 1-Click patent. This is an example of an obvious idea that should never have been graced with a patent, but now it seems that there is even prior art that would argue against it. A plucky Kiwi, Peter Calveley, not only dug up the prior art, but also raised some dosh to apply for a re-examination.

Finally, one of the most idiotic patents given in recent years - for pretty much the entire idea of e-commerce, would you believe it - has finally been declared invalid. There's bound to be an appeal, but at least sense is starting to seep into the septic tank that is US patents.

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