Google’s patent counsel, Tim Porter, said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle that the currently in use system of patent registration for software was mainly to blame for the series of lawsuits started by Microsoft and other companies against the Android operating system. As Porter said, the current law allows Microsoft to use its large patent portfolio acquired over several years to obtain revenue from other firms when the success of their products stops and their products are marginalized. Recent research shows Android well ahead the Windows Phone platform.
According to Porter, the patent office has been too permissive since 1990 and has awarded software patents for vague, broad or unoriginal ideas. He mentioned a decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2007. The decision should have revived a standard of “obviousness” that was first spelled out in a law in 1952. The ruling said that an invention considered “obvious” by a person with ordinary skill in the art could not be patented. The court stated that giving patent protection to such dubious claims would kill innovation. But, since that ruling, both the number of software patents and that of lawsuits have dramatically increased.
In 1991, Bill Gates mentioned his concern about the tactics Microsoft is just using today. He predicted that a continuation of that practice of software patenting would determine some large company to patent a certain obvious thing and this way obtain as much profit as it wants.