Absurd Software Patent of the Week

As part of the Software Patents effort, I’d like to highlight a few bad/absurd software patents that make our jaws drop every week.

I’d like to begin with this classic US6185590B1 - Process and architecture for use on stand-alone machine and in distributed computer architecture for client server and/or intranet and/or internet operating environments - Google Patents

An image viewer process views at least one document image including an electronic document image, and performs viewing operations to the electronic document image. The process includes the step of selecting, by the user, one of a plurality of image viewing perspectives. Each of the plurality of image viewing perspectives provide the user the capability of viewing the document image in accordance with a different predefined user perspective. The process also includes the steps of selecting, by the user, using the image viewer process the document image to be viewed, and retrieving, by the image viewer process, the document image. The process also includes the step of displaying, by the image viewer process, the selected document image in accordance with an image viewing perspective selected by the user.

Simply put,

He said, if you hook up a scanner and e-mail a PDF document—we have a patent that covers that as a process

Take a look at Patent trolls want $1,000—for using scanners | Ars Technica for more information.

When Steven Vicinanza got a letter in the mail earlier this year informing him that he needed to pay $1,000 per employee for a license to some “distributed computer architecture” patents, he didn’t quite believe it at first. The letter seemed to be saying anyone using a modern office scanner to scan documents to e-mail would have to pay—which is to say, just about any business, period.

If he’d paid up, the IT services provider that Vicinanza founded, BlueWave Computing, would have owed $130,000.

Thankfully that specific patent expired in 2017 (20 years from when it was originally issued in 1997) but it makes you wonder, if this could be patented, what else was.

If you come across an absurd software patent, please consider posting on this thread and telling us about it.

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@Poruri_Sai_Rahul would you be able to share a copy of the software patent study SFLC did? That has a bunch of absurd software patents filed in India.

My favorites are (1) Method for exercising a cat with a laser pointer and (B) Method for swinging on a swing. The first one is self-explanatory. In the second case, the “inventor” claimed that normally one swings on a swing in a forward and backwards motion. He has “invented” a method to swing sideways. Therefore, (to use patenting terminology) it is novel, inventive, and “non-obvious to a skilled practitioner of the art.”

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software patent study SFLC

As far as I am aware, the report is still in a draft stage and not yet published by SFLC. @Venkatesh_Hariharan , please correct me if I am wrong. I’m unable to find the relevant link on the SFLC website.

There is one minor fix needed to the SFLC study. I will share it after that is done.