Just read over at groklaw about a ruling made last night by the US Appeals Court. According to it, the patents granted for business practices would have to undergo specific and stringent testing procedures to check the worthiness of granting a patent to it. Essentially, they are aiming to mandate a passing of “machine-or-transformation test” as a pre-requisite for granting a patent. This means that a mere “idea in my head” doesn’t qualify for a patent until it is put into practice on a machine or can transform the state of an object for a specific purpose. Am no lawyer but what the experts are making out from the long judgement is that many industries will be hit hard by this ruling. Especially software companies who own most of the software patents as business practices, and a majority of these would be found unworthy of patents as they would be found too generic and stifling for the growth of industry.
So, companies like Microsoft would have a lot to rue about as a huge portion of their patent portfolio has become circumspect. This not only would rob them of revenues in terms of royalties but would also open up a lot of space for competition as well. Special thanks to Red Hat to take up the fight and providing crucial data to the court to take this decision. Stallman and FSF would be very happy today :)
Linky: The Bilski Desicion