US Supreme Court makes the right decision to nix Alice Corp. patent, but more work needed to end software patents for good

The FSF, Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), and Open
Source Initiative (OSI) had co-filed an amicus curiae brief in
the case, stating their position that software on general-purpose
computers is not patentable.

“Today’s ruling is an important and meaningful step in the right
direction, but the Court and Congress must go further,” said Zak
Rogoff, a campaigns manager at the FSF.

Software patents force software developers, especially those who write
free software, to navigate a minefield of spurious legal claims. The
number of software patents has ballooned as software companies have
scrambled to amass arsenals of patents to threaten each other, as in
the recently exposed aggression by Microsoft against Google over
smartphone patents

In the case ruled on today, Alice Corp. had claimed a patent for an
unoriginal idea, simply because it was implemented in software to run
on a computer.

FSF executive director John Sullivan lauded the Supreme Court for
recognizing this: “For years, lawyers have been adding ‘on a computer’
to the end of abstract idea descriptions to try and turn them into
patents, much like kids have been adding ‘in bed’ to the end of their
fortune cookies to try and make new jokes. We’re pleased to see the
Court reject this attempt and send a signal to others.”

For decades, the FSF has argued that it is impossible to solve the
problem of software patents by getting individual software patents
struck down. The FSF will continue to work for their complete
abolition, and participate actively in future legal decisions. Those
wishing to become involved in the grassroots movement against software
patents can get started with the FSF-hosted End Software Patents
project and its prominent wiki. An analysis of the Supreme
Court’s ruling
is currently underway on the wiki and open for
public participation.

Sullivan added, “Software patents are a noxious weed that needs to be
ripped out by the roots. Too many organizations are clamoring for
‘reform,’ thinking they can trim the weed into a Bonsai. The FSF is
one of the few organizations working for the only real
solution. Software on general-purpose computers is not patentable,

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to
promoting computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and
redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and
use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating
system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free
software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and
political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites,
located at and, are an important source of information
about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF’s work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942


Source: Free Software