FSF joins forces with Software Freedom Law Center and Open Source Initiative to fight software patents in U.S. Supreme CourtBOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, February 28, 2014 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) joined the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and the Open Source Initiative (OSI) in filing a brief amici curiae in software patent case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank before the United States Supreme Court yesterday.
The jointly filed brief argues that the "machine or transformation" inquiry employed by the Court in Bilski v. Kappos is the correct, and exclusive, bright line test for patent eligibility of computer-implemented inventions. It says that not only do software idea patents fail established tests for patentability; they also violate the First Amendement.
On March 31, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case, in which the Court has granted certiorari, apparently to decide a question previously reserved: under what circumstances patents may be granted for inventions implemented in computer programs. A decision is expected by summer.
FSF executive director John Sullivan added, "We are proud to be a party to SFLC's brief, along with OSI. Software patents should be opposed not just by all computer programmers and users; they should be opposed by anyone who values freedom of expression. We've seen many recent proposals to make software idea patents 'better,' or to fight trolls, but they miss the fundamental point. We do not want these restrictions on free speech and human creative expression to be of higher quality -- we want software idea patents gone."
The FSF has been campaigning for decades to abolish software idea patents. Its End Software Patents campaign filed a brief in the Bilski case, and released a documentary film detailing the problem. The campaign's wiki has continued to grow as a preeminent source of legislative, judicial, and philosophical information in the area.
FSF president Richard M. Stallman regularly speaks out against software patents, often highlighting their absurdity by imagining how we would feel about similar patents on literature.