When is software patentable? The Supreme Court is about to weigh in

The Alice Corp. case definitely represents a potential pivot point for software patents. The determination of what what is and abstract idea and what is not in the context of computer software has long been a difficult and fuzzy process. It is hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court will use its decision in the Alice Corp. case to clarify that analysis, thus providing clearer direction to software authors who are considering whether to seek patent protection for their creations.

Gigaom

Software patents have always been controversial, in large part because the dividing line between a patentable software-based invention and one that is not has never been clearly defined. But the often hazy body of law that determines software patentability could be about to change.

On March 31, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l., No. 13-298, a case that could have wide consequences in the tech community and beyond.  At stake is when and how a particular software-based invention—that is, an invention that incorporates the performance of a computer and software—is entitled to a patent.

At the heart of the matter is the “abstract idea.” An abstract idea on its own is not patentable, but what exactly counts as an abstract idea? The Supreme Court has never set out a specific test for what is and is not…

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Just Like Everything Else In The Enterprise Space, Security Is About To Be Disrupted. | TechCrunch

Just Like Everything Else In The Enterprise Space, Security Is About To Be Disrupted. | TechCrunch.

This article points up the need to re-think the prevailing approach to enterprise security. Right now, things are very much in a “secure the perimeter” mindset. With the increasing prevalence of cloud computing and BYOD, however, the “perimeter” has moved (and in some cases, disappeared entirely.

Fortunately, there are a number of companies which are embracing this changing paradigm. But the changes which will need to take place are more than just hardware and software changes. Policies, procedures and practices need to evolve to meet these changing computing realities.

Licensing Is The Achilles Heel For The New Microsoft Office | TechCrunch

Licensing Is The Achilles Heel For The New Microsoft Office | TechCrunch.

Per TechCrunch: ” This morning Microsoft sent us a guide to the new Microsoft Office. It’s 53 pages. It reviews every feature imaginable.

Read though the document and it’s evident Microsoft did what it had to do. It integrated with Office 365. It developed an elegant touch user interface. It took the best of Metro to make Microsoft Office relevant.

But Microsoft has an issue with its licensing.  It’s complicated.  And that has the potential to hinder adoption.”

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This is well worth the read if you are  an MS Office shop. MS licenses have not always been the most strightforward of things, but there are definitely some twists for new version of Office!

The State Of Mobile App Privacy Policies | TechCrunch

The State Of Mobile App Privacy Policies | TechCrunch.

TechCrunch addresses the current state of the mobile app industry with respect to privacy policies.

The past year has seen some noteworthy scandals regarding apps that treat sensitive user data in undisclosed (and sometime hair-raising) manners. Path’s access to and siphoning off of private address book data is just one example of this.

As a result of growing concerns over the handling of sensitive data by mobile apps, Both the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and the California state Attorney General’s office have gotten far more aggressive in terms of pushing compliance with privacy laws and the creation of workable industry standards. The California Attorney General in particular has announced that it will be enforcing California’s Online Privacy Protection Act against app developers.

With greater attention (and enforcement efforts) under way, app developers need to pay far more attention to industry best practices on privacy issues, including putting in place app privacy polices (and making them readily available to its customers).

Don’t let your cloud app become a software licensing hostage — Cloud Computing News

Don’t let your cloud app become a software licensing hostage — Cloud Computing News.

GigaOm’s article highlights and issue that is beginning to trouble more and more companies looking to push out cloud-based apps (or move existing apps into the cloud), namely: software licensing.

The issue is not so much licensing the app being pushed to the cloud (although that brings with it its own special issues… food for later thought!). The issue is software underlying the web app (or deployment of existing app). Because many enterprise software licensing systems either have not been updated to take into account cloud deployment (ex. a multi-core platform hosting numerous VM’s with a single virtual CPU core), or worse, that are specifically stacked not to permit cloud deployment, this can be a huge stumbling block for companies seeking to “go cloud”.

It is important to understand the licenses you are working with for your existing or intended infrastructure so that you can (a) either work within their confines, (b) negotiate new licensing terms that work for your deployment, or (c) (true worst case) find new software that can be licensed in a way that meets your needs.

And keep in mind, the earlier these kind of details are analyzed and planned out, the more cost effective the process will be!

 

If You Can Copyright an API, What Else Can You Copyright? | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com

If You Can Copyright an API, What Else Can You Copyright? | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com.

This article raises a hot issue in IT circles: “Are API’s copyrightable?” This question is currently being played our in the current Google vs. Oracle slug-fest over Java. But this issue is far bigger than Google and Oracle’s current tussle, and it is unlikely to be definitively resolved by this one case.

The issue really goes to the essence of what is subject to copyright protections, what API’s truly are, and how does the way APIs are used impact the issue of copyright protection.

Ultimately, APIs are, at their core, software (or are at lease they constructed from software). As has been repeatedly recognized both in the US and internationally, software can be (and usually is) considered a work of creative authorship and, as such, it is subject to copyright protections.

APIs, however, are not typical software, in the same way that a word process program for a PC or a photography app for a smartphone are. In certain senses, APIs are more like an programing language of its own. It is in this context that the Google/Oracle struggle is being played out.

So far, European Union courts appear to moving towards a clear position that programming languages cannot be copyrighted. http://www.infoworld.com/d/application-development/programming-languages-not-copyrightable-rules-top-eu-court-192231 In taking this stance, the European Court of Justice clearly stakes out the position (correctly, I believe) that copyrights cannot protect functionality or concepts. The ECJ’s rationale behind this is that extending copyright protections to such lengths would amount to making it possible to monopolize ideas, to the detriment of technological progress and industrial development. The resulting finding of the ECJ is: ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program are not protected by copyright under the European copyright directive, only the expression of those ideas and principles.

The shortfall of the ECJ’s analysis, however, is that the very terms that make up that expression are themselves software. In many case individual operative terms and expressions in object-based languages are themselves their own pieces of software, containing unique expressions of underlying ideas and principals.

Clearly this kind of argument runs the risk of devolving into a never-ending exercise akin to reductio ad absurdum. Despite the reductionist nature of this argument, it still contains both a kernel of truth and the basis for a debate about where creative expression begins and and where concepts and functionality begin.

Clearly a significant tension exists here. The creators of APIs have an understand interest in both protecting the value of their creation and how it used. On the other hand, APIs are put out as a lingua franca to permit pieces of software to communicate and interact with one another. Placing arbitrary restrictions such means of common communication undermines the whole purpose of APIs and  the levels of interconnectedness which they permit.

Regardless of the outcome of the Google/Oracle suits and the other lawsuits bound to follow, it is clear that this is a potentially pivotal issue in software world and one that bears close watching by companies whose products and/or services are either dependent upon or at least significantly impacted by the use of APIs. The final results could be a real game changer.