back to article SAP patent not inventive enough to get legal protection, judge rules

An SAP patent was not "inventive enough" to be legally binding, according to a US judge in an intellectual property case which also saw Teradata's claim in the dispute reduced. The federal judge in California last week trimmed down claims from both sides of an ongoing dispute over a joint venture the firms entered into back in …

  1. msobkow Silver badge

    Can anyone point to a partnership or program between corporations that successfully ended amicably? I can think of dozens of "nasty divorce" cases like this one, but I can't come up with a single one that ended on a good note...

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      There's quite a few JVs that worked

      But you never hear about them, because they just build the thing, make lots of money and toddle off into the sunset.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

    I believe that that can be applied to about 95% of all patents today.

    The USPTO should be disbanded.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

      At least the courts are starting to notice. What I'd like to see next is a party losing a patent infringement case successfully claiming its costs against the USPTO on the basis that if the office hadn't issued the patent they wouldn't have incurred their costs. That would make them tighten up their scrutiny.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

        What I'd like to see next is a party losing a patent infringement case successfully claiming its costs against the USPTO on the basis that if the office hadn't issued the patent they wouldn't have incurred their costs.

        Unfortunately it isn't within the remit of patent offices to assess the validity of the patent, they're just a filing service. I think that's right and proper, because if patent offices were required to perform an assessment of that kind they'd need a lot more resources and expertise, and the process of granting a patent would become an awful lot more expensive than it is at present.

        The "deal" with patents is supposed to be that inventors publish the details of their inventions and their intellectual property is then protected from being copied by others for a given period of time. This protection is supposed to be given in exchange for full and frank disclosure of the invention -- partly so that the inventor doesn't take his secret to the grave, and partly so that when another inventor comes along with a similar invention the courts can actually determine whether or not the two are the same.

        We can't expect patent offices to verify that patents filed contain sufficient information to constitute full and frank disclosure (for the reasons given above) but when a patent case comes to court that is the first thing that should be examined, and if the patent is considered to be lacking then it should be declared void, and the inventor fined heavily for mis-filing.

        That would help to keep the number of vaguely worded "catch-all" patents small.

        1. Jon 37

          Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

          A patent is basically a law. It says that only company X, or people they approve, can do this thing. Anyone else has to pay a fine to company X, and stop.

          Going to court to contest a patent claim is just not possible for most people, only the largest companies can afford the cost.

          So I strongly disagree with your claim that the patent office shouldn't ensure that the patent is completely valid before granting it! They are making a law that normal people will not be able to fight. So they should treat that with the seriousness and great care which it deserves. They should ensure the patent is clear, and is genuinely a novel invention worthy of patent protection.

          (But they don't)

          1. dajames Silver badge

            Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

            So I strongly disagree with your claim that the patent office shouldn't ensure that the patent is completely valid before granting it!

            I certainly agree that in an ideal world that would be the case, and the money fairy would pay to make it happen.

            In the real world, a patent office doesn't have unlimited funds to play with and doesn't have an army of competent specialist staff to assess the merits of patents in every field. It's not a matter of what should happen, it's a matter of what patent offices can afford to do.

            As things are, patent offices are just not able to validate patents, so we cannot realistically ask that they do. We can only require those who register patents to play fair, and penalize them if they don't. We should do that.

            This works better under legal systems in which the winner of the case can expect to have their costs paid by the loser than under those in which only the lawyers stand to make any money.

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

            If only rich people can go to the law, you have bigger problems than patents.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

          "if patent offices were required to perform an assessment of that kind they'd need a lot more resources and expertise, and the process of granting a patent would become an awful lot more expensive than it is at present."

          Taking into account the damage weak patents are doing, do you really think that would be a bad thing?

          1. dajames Silver badge

            Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

            Taking into account the damage weak patents are doing, do you really think that would be a bad thing?

            I wouldn't want to make it impossible for anyone but a large corporation to register a patent. Edging out smaller companies and private individuals wouldn't be helpful or constructive.

            I do agree that having fewer patents would be a good thing, and I hope that fining patent holders when their patents are found to be weak would help to bring that about,

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

      This is amplified by VC and other kind of investors asking if corporation has any patents before investing anything.

      I know someone who had to file a couple of patents - total bs - just so that they would get funding from VC.

      The idea is that if the project doesn't go to plan, they at least can ensure nobody else do it and they can recoup some money by suing anyone trying the same idea.

    3. dajames Silver badge

      Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

      I believe that that can be applied to about 95% of all patents today.

      Only 95%, really?

    4. Mookster
      FAIL

      Re: "There is no inventive concept that provides something more than the abstract idea itself"

      I have seen many a patent rejected for "lack of inventive step".

  3. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Building block patents

    My first, and only, computer board was patented by my employer. My design was both good and original, but what was good was not original and what was original was not good. I'd ripped off / improved upon a previous design already patented by my employer. I wouldn't have been granted a patent as an individual because it encroached too much on their previous patent for a far inferior product.

    It made me think that companies patent basically worthless stuff so they can later improve it and patent the improvement. A shoddy product first to market simply to block competitors while the kinks are being ironed out.

    1. Mookster
      Meh

      Re: Building block patents

      It's easy to work around patents with long, long claims. Although patents can also be used for marketing purposes...

  4. cyberdemon Silver badge
    Stop

    A Pox on Both your houses!

    Trivial patents like these are an abuse of the patent system, and a waste of the court's time.

    And TBH, with the modern pace of product development, I think it would be fair to shorten the life of all patents to 5 years instead of 25.

    If you haven't got your great idea to market by then, it's time to let someone else try it.

    1. Mookster
      Headmaster

      Re: A Pox on Both your houses!

      It takes 5 years to get the bloody things granted...

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