Europe’s “unitary patent” could mean unlimited software patents

ESP ed. note: The following article by Richard Stallman was originally published in The Guardian. I’m republishing it here verbatim. For ESP’s information this topic, see the ESP wiki article Unitary patent.

Originally published in The Guardian. Re-published here with permission:
Copyright 2011 Richard Stallman
Released under the Creative Commons Attribution Noderivs 3.0 license.

Just as the US software industry is experiencing the long anticipated all-out software patent wars that we have anticipated, the European Union has a plan to follow the same course. When the Hargreaves report urged the UK to avoid software patents, the UK had already approved plan that is likely to impose them on the UK.


MPEG LA’s attack on VP8 video highlights need for software patent abolition

MPEG LA is blatantly trying to claim a monopoly on online video. The patent system is failing for software, and initiatives to “fix” the system are not working. A clear exclusion of software ideas from patentability is the only workable solution.

VP8 is an attempt to free the software industry and all software developers from this patent troll. MPEG LA did not develop VP8 but it wants to own it nonetheless.


USA: Patent Reform is not enough, software patents must be abolished

The US Senate Judiciary Committee’s bill on “patent reform” will not address the main patent problems of software developers.

The bill takes aim at a problem experienced by a small number of large companies, namely, the problem of patent trolls litigating in the hope of a pay-out at the end of a long legal process. Ironically, many of the large companies that will benefit from this bill are the cause of the real patent problems for software developers.


USPTO weakens obviousness requirements

(Temporary note: For statements supporting this article’s title, see…)

The below text is a notice from the USPTO about tests they’re removing in order to make it less difficult to pass the test for obviousness. Low obviousness standards (silly patents) is not the mains cause of problems, but it aggravates already-problematic domains such as software patents.

An official PDF version of the text is available on


USPTO interim guidelines request for comment – as text

Below is the text from

To help ESP reply to this consultation, please contribute to this wiki page: USPTO 2010 consultation – deadline 27 sept.

Formatting of the below text is a work in progress (25 Aug 2010). This is the second of two related documents published on; the other is USPTO’s 101 Method Eligibility Quick Reference Sheet – as text.


USPTO’s 101 Method Eligibility Quick Reference Sheet – as text

The USPTO is seeking comment, until 27 Sep 2010, on how to interpret the Supreme Court’s Bilski decision.

To help ESP reply to this consultation, please contribute to this wiki page: USPTO 2010 consultation – deadline 27 sept.

Below is a text published (pages 3 and 4) by the USPTO when announcing this call for comment. This is the first of two related documents published on; the other is USPTO interim guidelines request for comment – as text.


Bilski’s patent application – the published parts

Some people have asked where they can read the patent which was the object of Bilski v. Kappos. The answer is that it’s a patent application and as such it’s confidential. However, the key excerpts did get published via the opinions of the various courts which rejected it. Keep in mind that the application may have been modified since its filing in 2006, and the authors have expressed their intention to modify it and try again to get it granted. With that said, below is the text we know of.
[UPDATE: We have almost the full text, thanks to contributor Gibus]


Late-comers guide: What is Bilski anyway?

Everyone expects the US Supreme Court to publish their decision on the "Bilski" case today (June 28th 2010). The court has to decide on the validity of a patent on a business method, but that’s not the main issue. Everyone expects that patent to be rejected, but the main issue is that to reject a patent the court must give a general test and explain why this patent fails that test. We want to know if they’ll propose a test which will also be failed by some or all software patents.


New Zealand software patents victory crumbling

NZICT (who’s NZICT?) reports that they convinced the politician in charge of the Patents Bill, Hon Simon Power, to do a u-turn and open the floodgates for software patents. The report was posted on a patent lawyer’s blog, then deleted, but copies have been mirrored:

More details below. People in NZ will have to work on this to prevent a catastrophe.