Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara

Related Topics: Weblogic, Agile Computing, Government Cloud

Weblogic: Article

Supreme Court Case Could Freeze Innovation

The case affects a class of patents know as "business methods" patents

Government News on Ulitzer

In the High-Tech industry, the machinations of the US Supreme Court are, at best, fodder for dinner party trivia questions. There is one case on the Supreme Court docket this year that has the potential to change the way intellectual property protected in the United States, and have a major effect on the software companies who rely on the patent process. It could also have a devastating effect on innovation.

The case, known as ”Bilski v. Kappos” (AKA “In Re Bilski”), has to do with what subject matter can be protected by a patent. In this case, the inventors, Bernard L. Bilski and Rand Warsaw, filed a patent application for a process of hedging risk in energy contracts. The requirement is that invention must be “concrete” and” produce a useful result”.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the inventors’ application, on the grounds that it was too ill-defined. In legal terms, the claimed invention was an un-patentable abstract idea. The inventors appealed to the patent appeals board, and this was rejected as well.

The inventors then appealed to Federal Court, which decided the case “en banc.” When an appeals court decides a case “en banc” this means that the entire appeals court, not just a subset of the sitting judges (which is the norm), writes the decision in the case. En banc decisions are typically reserved for the most important cases – cases where precedent setting law is likely to result.

The case affects a class of patents know as "business methods" patents. While business method patents have been around for a very long time (the Piggly-Wiggly supermarkets were founded based on a patented business process), the case State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group in 1998, widened the scope for patenting of business processes.

“The Bilski case is particularly important to tech companies, because their technological advances that are software-based processes will have to satisfy Bilski's test for whether such processes are eligible for patent protection under § 101 of the Patent Act,” said Bradley D. Blanche, an intellectual property shareholder in the Orange County office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

It should be noted that some companies have a business set up around their intellectual property and licensing. IBM has reported a more than $1B annual intellectual property business, and frequently rewards employees who submit patents. Indeed, IBM joined Novartis in supporting Bilski before the Supreme Court, arguing for “patent protection for broad categories of cutting-edge innovation” rather than link the protection to “primitive physical technology.”

On the opposing side are companies such as Google and Symantec who argue that expanding the scope of business-method patents could expose them to infringement lawsuits over basic mental processes and ideas that are the building blocks of innovation.

I think that Google and Symantec are right. They represent the true innovative spirit of Silicon Valley where entrepreneurs are rewarded for risk taking and embrace the thinking of Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter and creative destruction. If the Bilski application is allowed to go forward, it effectively lowers the bar for patenting all sorts of vague processes. This will create legions of new patent trolls with ill-defined patents, who storm around the high-tech industry looking for companies to use the legal system to extort licensing fees.

At LogLogic we were faced with a similar choice about what path to take when the USPTO granted us a sweeping patent on collecting and managing logs. We at LogLogic could have asserted our patent rights to cast a chilling effect on our competitors. Rather, mindful of our fiduciary obligations to our investors, we chose to adopt a defensive posture instead.

The issues around patents are critical to the high-tech industry and innovation and “In Re Bilski” is sure to have reverberations no matter which way it is decided. Look for a decision to be announced by the Supreme Court in spring 2010.

More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...