Obviously, the first judges of the meaning of "novel" and "non-obvious"
is the patent office. They do a good job generally, but seem to be
having difficulty grappling with the considerable body of computing
knowledge outside the rather limited patent domain.
The final judge is the court system. Many (and that seems to be about
50% of litigated patents) fail these tests and are ruled invalid
The problem today is that the patent office will honor almost anything
with a patent; if cars were software, Ford would have a patent on
pistons that would prevent GM from building V-8s.
I'll agree with this, but the patent office is trying to catch up here.
Perhaps a quick fix would be to publish patents 3 months before issue
for a "bounty" period during which anyone could submit prior art or
non-obviousness arguments for consideration before the final decision on
There is nothing wrong with the original conception of patents and
copyrights: the protection of IP creators to profit from their work
before it enters the public domain in a reasonable time period. Sadly,
corporations have legal rights, and the money to pervert the process.
Patents and copyrights need to be fixed, not destroyed.
Anyone with sufficent resources can pervert any process they set their
mind to, be it legal or legislative (DMCA anyone?). The balance in the
system is the noise made by those affected by this.
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