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Software Patents

Introduction - Examples - Filed Today, Patented Tomorrow? - Statement

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Hint: You can search for patents yourself at DEPATISnet (DPMA).


European Software Patents: Assorted Examples

    Quotation from the FFII page:

    We came across the following impressive examples at first reading through our tabular listings of software patents. They were almost randomly chosen and thus approximately represent the technicity and inventivity standards of the European Patent Office. If anything distinguishes them from other patents it is the relative ease with which they can be understood at first sight by a fairly large public.
    You can verify the criticism of the FFII yourself: the original patents are presented.
Software Patents in Action
    Quotation from the FFII page:

    In recent years, more and more software patent litigation cases are becoming known through the media. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Most software companies and software developers are being threatened informally outside of courts, and silence is an obligatory part of these out-of-court settlements. Many projects are cut back or don't get started because the field is cluttered with patents. It is difficult to document blocked paths of development. Here we will try our best.
Control system with an integrated web server Transmission of data from a PLC into a spreadsheet National Instruments (US) takes over GFS and Datalog (DE) after software patent litigation

    The two German companies GFS and Datalog were taken over in 1998/99 by the US company National Instruments after a patent battle.

      Quotation from Control Engineering: "National Instruments (NI, Austin, Tex.) acquired Datalog (Monchengladbach, Germany) in Sept. '98 and GFS (Aachen, Germany) in September '99. The German firms manufacture software products that NI felt were infringing on its LabView patents, and so, after considering numerous options, NI decided to buy both."

    Question: about which patent numbers were they litigating at the time? The list of patents on the National Instruments website is very long. National Instruments has at least 5 more patent applications pending at the EPO, as can be seen from DEPATISnet.

PROFInet (Ethernet as Fieldbus) Fieldbus Patents (Warrior Patents)
Filed Today, Patented Tomorrow?

    Ideas which are filed at the patent office today are usually meant to be patented. By looking at exemplary patent applications of a large German electronics corporation, which has been pushing for an extensive patenting practise for many years, you can recognize the direction where we are heading.

Statements and Demands

    After a detailed analysis of the current patenting practise, of the EU Directive Proposal, of related literature and of numerous example patents and patent applications as well as extensive discussions with proponents and opponents of software patentability, we have worked out a position paper on software patents, which includes a series of demands.

Plea for a Clear Concept of Technical Inventions (PDF, 236 KB)

    Transparencies (translated) for a lecture given at a meeting of the working group "Communication in Industrial Automation" of the German electrical and electronic manufacturers' association ZVEI on 2002-06-05.

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