It probably is, however there is conjecture that a case up before the federal court of appeals might change the patentability of business methods. Reffered to as Bilski (after the last name of the original filer), the patent was files in 1997 and was one of the first to claim a patent on a business method, and the ruling that upheld it against challenge is considered the validation of business process patents as a concept.
While the case has been heard in appeal before the new look at the facts is expected to overturn the patent. The reality is that it is possible to overturn the patent without changing the nature of methods patents, but given that this case was one of the original citations for precedent it would give a hit to the practice. Unfortunately now, there are so many other cases that could be cited as precedent it could be way too late to shut that gate without lawmakers getting involved.
The idea that a business method represents true innovation that deserves patent protection is not intellectually defenseable, but the nature of the corporate beast is to take whatever advantage they can get. If this is not the end of this sorry saga hopefully it is a nail in its coffin.
Two LA spammers were ordered to pay $2 million and received various business restrictions in Santa Clara County Superior Court, this past Friday. This is the largest judgment won by government prosecutors against senders of unsolicited e-mail. The spammers are also the object of a Federal Trade Commission suit; however, both legal cases are civil suits, so there’s not much chance that the spammers will see the inside of a jail cell anytime soon.
Since 1999, almost three-quarters of states have passed anti-spam laws, but prosecutors have brought only a handful of lawsuits; success in the legal system often requires integrating case law (past judgments), and until more criminal suits are won this catch-22 will continue. Rather than pursue criminal penalties, ISPs and frustrated individuals have been using the courts by filing suit using various laws such as consumer fraud and trespass.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved an anti-spam bill this past Wednesday: the first federal legislation to tackle spam. The Sentate bill requires bulk e-mailers to indicate a valid return address, disclose that the content is advertising, and give consumers valid and working opt-out mechanisms. In addition, the bill bans the use of addresses obtained from automated mechanisms, such as web-crawling and e-mail harvesting.
Senate bill S.877, CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, also directs the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to come up with a plan for a do-not-spam registry, similar to the do-not-call telemarketing registry.
The U.S. House of Representatives is considering competing anti-spam legislation, and may have a more difficult time reaching agreement; however, I’m holding out hope for a valid and reliable do-not-spam registry by 2005.
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S.877 CAN-SPAM Act of 2003