Software Patent sanity

A good article from Ars Technica about the potentially weakening case for software patents and why it isn't the end of the world. Countering the fear- mongering piece by Duffy on the issue. For more of my thoughts on this, I posted an patent-related article on Cartographica earlier this month.

The crux of the Ars article is that software patents fly in the face of Supreme Court decisions about the patentability of algorithms and that pushing the requirements closer to those that the Supreme Court actually agrees with might be prudent.

The big deal here is the issue of "general purpose computers" and whether merely taking an algorithm (otherwise unpatentable) and loading it on a "general purpose computer" can make the algorithm patentable.

Amusingly, I read the Duffy piece last week and found that I agreed mostly with his characterizations of what the shift by the US Patent and Trademark Office would mean in terms of invalidation... I just couldn't get myself to be upset by it. In particular, I completely agree with Lee's assessment in the Ars article that Google's patent portfolio appears to be more defensive than offensive, based on their historical use.