Patently Obvious

by Jason Cole

In case you hadn't seen it, the US Supreme Court has upped the ante in the software patent fight. This article in The Register reviews a recent ruling by the USSC about what constitutes 'obviousness' in a patent. Now, instead of getting experts to argue whether a patent is valid or not, and having a judge weight the evidence, there has to be physical evidence that someone thought of it before the person who applied for the patent.

From the article:
The Federal Court of Appeals has recently used a "suggestion test" to determine whether or not a patent is "obvious". The EFF argues that the test forces those opposing a patent's grant to produce documents proving that even the most obvious improvement has been suggested before.

So, now is the time for all good geeks to come to the aid of there software. The first thing to do is to start blogging about every obvious invention you can think of. It doesn't matter what it is. If you think of it, blog it. Blog everything you can. Don't keep it to yourself, or assume everyone knows its the next step.


2006-08-31 04:56:12

2006-08-31 05:18:56
Looks like you misread the article. The decision was not by the US Supreme Court, but by a lower court, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

The EFF is now asking the Supreme Court to rule on the case. According to the EFF, the case will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall. It will then take them several months to rule on it.

Your advice to blog about obvious inventions is still a good idea, though.

Andy Armstrong
2006-08-31 05:49:39
I'm just setting up a TWiki at for exactly this purpose :)

Not much there yet - check back in a few hours.

Jason Cole
2006-08-31 05:59:41
Whoops. I did misread the article. Thanks for point that out. It was Federal Circuit Court and EFF has asked the Supremes to review it.

My apologies....

2006-09-01 05:05:41
So in otherwords, you take away the motivation for coming up with ideas. I know a lot of you feel that "infomation should be free" and such, but unless you know of a way of getting food, shelter and all the nice items for free, I don't think this is a good idea.

This is not a Star Trek universe where money is not a motivation. You cannot make enough money with a service based industry. Intellectual property is what builds wealth.

Maybe 200 years from now there will be different motivations, but for now, no.

2006-09-05 03:27:21
I agree with the new ruling. Only physical evidence should constitute to prior art. Ideas "dreamt-up" but not acted upon should be considered abandoned and disqualify as prior art or deemed obvious.
ageing hippie
2006-09-05 08:53:58
Chech out this web site, theyv'e had soom post that could prove 'prior art'
ageing hippie
2006-09-05 08:54:56
Opps Here's the site:-
Martin g
2006-09-05 13:12:10
We have something vaguely similar .

Our ummmmm, 'inventor' Grant Hunter' periodically pastes up his 'inventions'.

We also keep a list of 'unusually imaginative' fresh US patents, updated every week or so.

like, for example , this one :

The idea being to draw attention to the slightly less than 100% squeaky-clean world of patenting . . . via humour . . .

Best regards,

Martin G


2006-09-11 10:30:44
Sadly, there are penalties for using a patented idea in your product without a license, yet there won't be any penalties for submitting a patent application containing nothing but ideas that have been blogged a hundred times.