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2008 State of Software Patents

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2008 State of Software Patents is a 12-page study published in February 2008 of the cost of software patents to the economy of the USA.

It was conducted by Ben Klemens while he was the Executive Directive of End Software Patents.

Contents

[edit] Abstract

Here's the study's 2-paragraph abstract, quoted in full:

On the economic front, there continue to be billions of dollars in litigation over software patents every year, and such suits are increasingly against companies in the general economy who have software patent liability simply because they have a web site. Several pro-software patent academics have searched the existing data for evidence that software patents foster innovation, and failed to find any.

On the legal front, the courts have begun to take notice, and from the Patent Office to the Supreme Court, judges have begun to indicate a desire to revise the current policy that everything is patentable subject matter. Expect to see the restoration of many important limits on what may be patented.

This study was published before the in re Bilski decision, which indeed restored important limits to the patentability of software.

[edit] Cost estimation: US$11.2b

The following the analysis described in the paper, Klemens estimates "$11.26 billion in costs incurred by software patent lawsuits." per year. This estimate is for the total amount paid by companies to holders of software patents.

[edit] Even non-software businesses are targets

The paper discusses the suit that Global Patent Holdings (later bought by Acacia) brought against, among others: CDW Corp., Motorola, the Green Bay Packers, OfficeMax, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, ADT Security Services, AutoNation, Florida Crystals Corp., HearUSA, Tire Kingdom, and Boca Raton Resort and Club.

(See also: All businesses are targets)

[edit] Other key points

  • "Any company with a web site could be liable for software patent infringement."
  • "Global Patent Holdings holds a patent on the use of certain images on a web site. The company is seeking settlements between $7 and $15 million from (partial list): CDW Corp., Motorola, the Green Bay Packers, OfficeMax, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, ADT Security Services, AutoNation, Florida Crystals Corp., HearUSA, Tire Kingdom, and Boca Raton Resort and Club."
  • In "Section II: The law", Klemens lists the key legal rulings, their effects, and how software patents were only created in the USA by a series of misinterpretations by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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