Russel Winder's Website

You are almost certainly violating a patent . . .

Given the tone of the writing in this article about Apple winning a patent judgement against HTC, the author gives all the evidence of being a shill for an interested anti-Android party (probably either Apple or Microsoft). Putting aside all the emotive stuff (which is almost certainly just FUD), there is the point that two patents have been cited explicitly. Both of these are on Google Patents:

  1. US Patent 5,946,647
  2. US Patent 6,343,263

Read them and fear.

Admittedly on a relatively cursory glance, and remember I am not a lawyer, just a person who does expert witness work, it would seem that Apple have US patents covering all software that manipulates data structures (5,946,647) and all devices that do real-time signal processing (6,343,263). Ok that seems to mean all software and all signal processing hardware are covered by these patents and so royalties are due to Apple for every sale of such a thing in the USA.

One has to hope that HTC files for re-evaluation of these clearly over-broad and obvious patents. I would suggest little need to find prior art to invalidate the patents (though I bet there is a real mass of that - every bit of software written and every digital electronic device created before 1990 really), they fail on these other grounds. Why were the US Patent Office (USPTO) issuing such obviously over-broad and obvious patents? I assume because that is part of the way of business in the USA. The USPTO issues a patent if the paperwork is in order, and allows the courts to decide everything else - thereby making the lawyers rich and everyone else not.

If USPTO had sent these patent filings to any sort of expert in the domain, the patent would not have been granted. So whatever you believe about the rights and wrongs of software patents - personally I am anti - it must be agreed that the USA software patent system is out of control, indeed broken. Will it get fixed? Clearly not if Apple, Microsoft and IBM have anything to do with it. These are the tools of protectionism for USA big organizations. They won't now give them up without a huge fight, one the USA government are unlikely to have an appetite for. Sadly.

Don't forget though the USA, via the USTR (USA Trade Representative) are trying to impose the USA system of patents on the rest of the world via ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) . We really must fight this patent imperialism.

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