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Re: Product Design, Embedded Devices and Software Patents

From: Emma Anne
Subject: Re: Product Design, Embedded Devices and Software Patents
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 11:54:30 -0700
User-agent: MacSOUP/2.6.1 (Mac OS X version 10.4.8)

eth1 <> wrote:

> Here's an example: say I've developed a really novel speedometer.  It
> uses the transformation of sprites to indicate speed in some totally
> different way that improves on the traditional dial and relies on a CPU
> under the hood.  The patent would probably consist then of a flowchart
> outlining the basic algorithm ("measure speed, apply transform X,
> render to display" along with sketches of example outputs to convey the
> design principles attached to the algorithm.
> This does not seem to be a "software patent" in the same way that
> patenting an algorithm ("Generating a Display from an Object List" for
> example) would: it is a specific application of an algorithm, and while
> I'd want to prevent other speedometer manufacturers from stealing the
> design I'm not trying to prevent innovators in other domains from using
> some basic unit of programming.
> On the other hand there seems to be a slippery slop lurking here.  It's
> not clear how such a patent would be substantially differentiated from
> a patent of interface elements such as scrollbars or wireless signal
> strength indicators.  It seems likely that we'll see more and more
> products for the home, office, etc. that are CPUs with embedded OSs and
> custom, very specific interfaces.  Is the requirement of a just patent
> that it must include the entire device and not just some aspect of
> program (assuming there is such a thing as a just patent)?

Well, as a patent attorney, I don't share your world view of patents.
:-)  But on the question of whether a claim to a speedometer using a
microprocessor is similar to a claim to displaying an object list, I'd
say the method claims might look quite similar, but the apparatus claims
(in particular the non means-plus-function claims) much less so.

It isn't really meaningful IMO to say something is or is not a "software

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