08 October 2008

Bad News on the UK Software Patent Front

Why is there always this Jesuitical casuistry when it comes to software?

We have the following:

what goes on inside a computer can be said to be closer to a mathematical method (which is, of course, not patentable by virtue of art 52(2)(a)) than what goes on inside other machines.

But before that the same judge has said:

It can also be said in favour of Symbian's case that it would be somewhat arbitrary and unfair to discriminate against people who invent programs which improve the performance of computers against those who invent programs which improve the performance of other machines.

Well, no more unfair than not allowing physicists to patent the laws they discover, or the theorems that mathematicians prove. The point is, software is not "closer to a mathematical method", it *is* a mathematical method, or rather a concatenation of them.

All this juridical "on the one hand" and "on the other" in the interests of "balance" does not change this. The current decision is seriously bad news, because it opens the door to even more weaselly patent applications that contort themselves into the magic position to gain the favour of whichever Jesuit is on duty that day.

As a result of which, new software becomes much *harder* and more expensive to write - even to the point of impossibility, if patent thickets get too thick. Hardly what the great and glorious patent system is supposed to do, is it...?

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