The Innovation Act – a bill to restrain patent trolls – is a step in the right direction on the road to patent reform, despite its flaws. Yesterday the House of Representatives showed massive endorsement for the need to reform the patent system by supporting the bill with an overwhelming majority of 325 to 91. Despite the huge support for change, even from the White House, there remains a core of vested interest voices speaking out in favour of the patent trolls. News of the House’s response to the bill shows that these voices are now very much fighting against the flow of progress. For more detail, here’s Simon’s InfoWorld article on the announcement.
Perhaps you thought that the matter of whether or not API’s can be copyrighted was already closed, after Judge Alsup’s May 2012 decision in favour of Google. Google had been innovating in mobile device programming by building on the dying remains of Java ME. Alsup’s verdict concluded the trial that started out to determine whether Oracle’s patents relating to Android had been infringed and ended on instead on the fundamental matter of the copyrightability of APIs. Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there. Of course Oracle appealed the decision and it seems that Oracles arguments are finding traction with the federal circuit judges panel looking at the case.
Despite the fact that British and European courts have recently confirmed their position against copyrighting API’s in favour of innovation and competitive markets, the American judges appear to be moving in the opposite direction. A decision in favour of Oracle could well give the innovation advantage to European companies at the expense of their American counterparts. No doubt Google would in that scenario continue the fight with an appeal of their own, but the threat this case poses to programmers everywhere is still very real.
To read more about the case and its implications, check out Simon’s InfoWorld column.