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Patenting propagated data signals: what hath God wrought?

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1 Author(s)
Stobbs, G.A. ; Harness, Dickey & Pierce, USA

The US Patent Office is now issuing patents on propagated data signals that embody computer programs. Result: patent infringement can now occur in a mouse click. While patents have always been available for new and useful processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter, the extension of patent law to computer data signals is new. After losing a series of battles in the courts, the Patent Office now considers a computer program embodied in a carrier wave to be a manufacture, and hence patentable subject matter. This rather surprising development provides a powerful weapon against software patent infringement over the Internet; and it represents a dangerous snare for the telecommunications industry. Is there anything beyond the reach of patent law? The Supreme Court remains steadfast in this: patents cannot be obtained for abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena

Published in:

Communications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:38 ,  Issue: 7 )