Software Patents

Patents give an inventor the Constitutionally protected exclusive right to a particular process for altering material or to a device for a specific purpose. The US Patent office has managed to extended this to software. Most of the software patents I have read fail to alter material or fail to be a device.
If I ran the zoo, I would permit any software patent given two conditions: 1) It alters something tangible. A general purpose computer does not count. The software needs to turn on a light, roll a bar of steel, catch a mouse. Not tell a broker when to buy. Not bounce a virtual ball screen. Not make a 2-D movie appear 3-D. 2) All of the source code related to the patent must be published as part of the patent grant. It can be secret up to the moment of grant but after that it is public information just as the patent law specifies that the patent enable the reproduction of the process or art at the expiration of the patent. Only the processes included in the published source code are protected. Different code that accomplishes the same end is not infringing.
We will have to wait a little bit to find out what the Supremes have to say about Bilski.

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