Beyond the legal fight, I'm even more troubled the patents were awarded in the first place. The functions covered by the patents are so widely used now, it's hard to believe they weren't obvious (the standard for granting a patent), even if they were developed in the early days of the Internet. These patents boost the case for eliminating business method patents. The U.S. Supreme Court recently blinked when it had the chance to squash them. Congress should make it a priority to break the logjam over this issue, and this suit should be exhibit A.
"There are certainly those who think that all information and software should be free," Postman said. "But patents serve an important purpose. It's important to do what we need to do at this point to protect Paul Allen's investment."
I won't call Allen a "patent troll," a derisive way of characterizing people who assemble portfolios of patents and sue others over them. He's made too much money, so it's hard to believe this is really about the money. But if there's another motivation, it's hard to see right now.
Still, his lawsuit should lead to some measure of outrage in anyone who cares about innovation. And if that anger can be channeled into protest that finally leads to reform, then Allen will have unwittingly done Silicon Valley a favor.
The final text -- Allen will have unwittingly done Silicon Valley a favor -- evokes a theory postulated by Larry Downes.
Idiocy amok at Techdirt?
Of -- they weren't obvious (the standard for granting a patent) --, one notes that if the patents are challenged as obvious, they will be evaluated under the KSR standard, which has lowered the bar for finding a claim obvious.
Of --Congress should make it a priority to break the logjam over this issue --, Congress created the "logjam" at the USPTO in unexamined applications by establishing fee diversion. In creating a defense as to infringement of claims of business method patents, Congress acknowledged their existence, which may be one reason the Supreme Court would not touch business method patents in Bilski.
Of the text -- "But patents serve an important purpose. It's important to do what we need to do at this point to protect Paul Allen's investment." --, one notes that vis-a-vis the population and Congress, patents are about public disclosure of information which is useful, novel, and not obvious. If one provides such information to the public, one gets a right to exclude. Patents are not about protecting investment.