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Patents

Submission + - USPTO decides to lower obviousness standards (swpat.org)

ciaran_o_riordan writes: Anyone who feels that patent quality is just far too high nowadays will be glad to hear that the USPTO has decided to ditch four of their seven tests for obviousness. Whereas the 2007 guidelines said that an idea is considered obvious if it consisted of "[predictable] variations [...] based on design incentives or other market forces" or if there was "Use of a known technique [prior art] to improve similar devices (methods, or products) in the same way", the new guidelines do away with those tests. The classic "teaching-suggestion-motivation" test is still there, with two others. For software developers, silly patents are not the main problem, but they certainly aggravate the matter. As described in one patent lawyer's summary, this change will "give applicants greater opportunities to obtain allowance of claims."
Patents

Submission + - USPTO considers Bilski and software patents

ciaran_o_riordan writes: A month after the Supreme court rejected Bilski, the USPTO published updated Interim Guidance (pdf) and called for comment. Bilski wasn't as wide-reaching a ruling as most parties thought it would be, so a certain amount of textual digging is needed to find the aspects that can help us reduce software patenting at the USPTO and in future court cases. The End Software Patents campaign sent some such comments. FSF also published a call for participation and got cc'd on over 450 responses. When these comments are published on uspto.gov, and when the USPTO publishes its revised guidelines, we'll have a conservative idea of what effects Bilski will have.

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