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posted by cmn32480 on Friday January 01 2016, @03:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the does-the-slider-have-rounded-corners? dept.

Ars Technica has a story about the Electronic Freedom Foundation's latest "Stupid Patent of the Month" award:

The chosen patent (PDF), numbered D554,140, would seem to be one of those things that's so simple it raises some basic philosophical questions about the patent system. That's because it's just a slider, in the bottom-right corner of a window, with a plus sign at one end and a minus sign at the other. That's it. [...]

And Microsoft has put the '140 patent into action, using it to sue Corel Software on December 18. In their complaint (PDF), Microsoft lawyers say that software like Corel Write, Corel Calculate, and Corel Show infringe nine Microsoft patents, of which four (including the slider bar) are design patents.

Microsoft's recent lawsuit is meant counter Corel's earlier one. Corel, which bought WordPerfect from Novell in 1996, sued Microsoft in July, saying that Microsoft Preview infringed on several Corel patents. Like many patent cases, Corel's complaint can be summarized as "we lost, but it's someone else's fault." Corel lawyers write that "WordPerfect has been reduced to minimal market share as a result of Microsoft's aggressive actions."

One wonders who is working in the patent office that would have issued such a nonsense patent.


Original Submission

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Deadly Blow to the Pox of Software Patents in the EU 11 comments

The Fed­er­al Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court of Germany (FCC) has delivered a decisive win for software users and developers around Europe. In a recently-published court decision, 2 BvR 739/17 (in German) from February, it has declared that the Act of Approval to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) is void. The Unified Patent Court has been widely considered to be a shell for bringing software patents into Europe through the side door, in violation of international treaties which prohibit by name patents on programs for computers.

The Act of Approval to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court ("the Act of Approval") to confer sovereign powers on the Unified Patent Court is void. In its outcome, it amends the Constitution in substantive terms, though it has not been approved by the Bundestag with the required two-thirds majority. This is what the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court decided on a constitutional complaint in an order published today. In its reasoning, the Senate stated that, in order to safeguard their right to influence the process of European integration by democratic means, this, in principle, also entails the right of citizens that sovereign powers be conferred only in the ways provided for by the Basic Law. An act of approval to an international treaty that has been adopted in violation thereof cannot provide democratic legitimation for the exercise of public authority by the EU or any other international institution supplementary to or otherwise closely tied to the EU.

Once more for emphasis, software is protected by copyright law and that governs distribution. Patents govern usage and function, regardless of origin. So had the EPC gone through and forced software patents into Europe, neither clean room nor independent implementations would have protected either end-users, software-using businesses, or developers.

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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:37AM (#283264)

    Before everyone gets all bent out of shape. This is a design patent. That means they patented that *exact* style of slider. Change the smallest thing and it is a different slider.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:40AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:40AM (#283265)

      Exactly what I was about to say. How long is the design protected for? The same length as an innovation patent?

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday January 01 2016, @03:45AM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 01 2016, @03:45AM (#283267)
      Too late. Slashdot's years of mis-educating people on how patents really work have hordes of morons convinced that Apple can prevent anything in the world from having a rounded corner. The design-patent distinction won't matter to anyone, especially since this is about Microsoft.
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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @04:43AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @04:43AM (#283277)

        The funny thing I was going to link from SD (I cant help but watch the slow motion train wreck). Some lawyer over there had a much better explanation.

        Look MS can be epic nasty douches. I do not disagree. But this seems to be little more than a click bait sort of thing to create outrage.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:14PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:14PM (#283391)

        Slashdot's years of mis-educating people on how patents really work have hordes of morons convinced that Apple can prevent anything in the world from having a rounded corner.

        Not for the lack of trying. If you are not a tech giant on the scale of Samsung they pretty much can sue your ass out of existence.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:50AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:50AM (#283269)

      To their credit, the EFF makes the distinction:

      For the first time ever, this month’s Stupid Patent of the Month is being awarded to a design patent.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01 2016, @03:59AM (#283271)

        * make, not makes

    • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Saturday January 02 2016, @12:41AM

      by darkfeline (1030) on Saturday January 02 2016, @12:41AM (#283536) Homepage

      I don't think "obvious" designs should be patentable though. A slider with a plus and a minus? How is that worthy of a patent? I mean, if one end was an apple with a nice shade of magenta and the other was a dark teal dildo, maybe you could claim COPYRIGHT on it, but a patent?

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