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Patents

Supreme Court Throws Out Bilski Patent 232

ciaran_o_riordan writes "The US Supreme Court has finally decided the Bilski case (PDF). We've known that Bilski's patent would get thrown out; that was clear from the open mockery from the judges during last November's hearing. The big question is, since rejecting a particular patent requires providing a general test and explaining why this patent fails that test, how broad will their test be? Will it try to kill the plague of software patents? And is their test designed well enough to stand up to the army of patent lawyers who'll be making a science (and a career) of minimizing and circumventing it? The judges have created a new test, so this will take some reading before any degree of victory can be declared. The important part is pages 5-16 of the PDF, which is the majority opinion. The End Software Patents campaign is already analyzing the decision, and collecting other analyses. Some background is available at Late-comers guide: What is Bilski anyway?" More analysis of the decision is available at Patently-O.

Submission + - Where Will Your Next Gadget Be Made In? (yahoo.com) 2

hackingbear writes: The New York Times warned the possibility of an inflation, not from our skyrocketing government debt but skyrocketing cost of doing business in China. Coastal factories are raising salaries, local governments are hiking minimum wage standards and if China allows its currency, the renminbi, to appreciate against the U.S. dollar later this year, the cost of manufacturing in China will almost certainly rise. [The report missed the biggest cost factors in China — electric and water utility costs.] “For a long time, China has been the anchor of global disinflation,” said Dong Tao, an economist at Credit Suisse. “But this may be the beginning of the end of an era.” The shift was dramatized Sunday, when Foxconn, the maker of the iPhone and everything else, said that within three months it would double (rather than the rumored 20%) the salaries of many of its assembly line workers. And last week, the Japanese auto maker Honda said it had agreed to give about 1,900 workers at one of its plants in southern China raises of between 24 percent and 32 percent in the hopes of ending a two week-long strike, according to people briefed on the agreement. [However, while big and famous manufactures, like those in the US and Europe, may worry about their PR images and give in to labor demands, it is unclear thousands of smaller ones would follow. And given the millions of workers waiting for work from India to Vietnam, the only thing changed, if any, may be the Made in China label of your gadgets. ]

Submission + - Life on Titan? (sciencedaily.com)

Luminary Crush writes: "Two new papers based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan's surface."
Patents

Submission + - Venture capitalists lobby against software patents (feld.com)

ciaran_o_riordan writes: No matter which side the US Supreme Court's Bilski decision pleases, it will be just the beginning of the software patent debate in the USA — the other side will start a legislative battle. The lobbying has already begun with venture capitalist Brad Feld arguing against software patents, mailing a copy of Patent Absurdity to 200 patent policy setters. As Feld puts it, "Specifically, I'm hoping the film will bring you to an understanding of why patents on software are a massive tax on and retardant of innovation in the US." The patent lawyers and big patent holders often tell us that patents are needed to secure investment, so it's interesting to see now that venture capitalists are refuting that. And Brad Feld's not the only vocal one, there's a growing list.

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