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Patenting signals

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1 Author(s)
Stern, Richard H. ; Ablondi, Foster, Sobin & Davidow p.c., Washington, DC, USA

The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has decided to encourage inventors to file for a new kind of patent that you surely would never have dreamed possible before. The PTO proposes patents on signals. Say you think up a new algorithm for signal compression or even a new algorithm for sorting-call it Blister Sort. It has been accepted for some time that you could get a method patent covering a method of compressing signals in accordance with your algorithm. By the same token, you could get a patent for a method of sorting data in accordance with the Blister Sort algorithm. That is, if the algorithmic procedure is novel and unobvious. More recently, the PTO decided it should allow patents on floppy disks and other storage media or devices (ROMs, for example) encoded with computer-readable program data. Thus, you can now get a patent on a floppy disk containing computer program code for carrying out Blister Sort. The PTO's latest idea is to spread the idea of floppy-disk patents beyond tangible storage media and devices to “propagated signals”. This would mean issuing a patent claim to “a propagated signal carrying computer-readable information representing a computer program to carry out a Blister Sort on computer-readable encoded information (data)”

Published in:

Micro, IEEE  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 2 )