Application level software patents are the most filed patents in the last decade. Just check the records of Apple. When Apple claims it came up with the first smartphone, they should be reminded that they actually integrated many features required daily by individuals on the same device. They didn’t own the patent of email protocol, they were not the first to come up with a video format or display hardware. The same goes for every company (specially companies dealing in smartphones) coming up with software application patents. The truth is – innovation isn’t possible at an application level. Application patents are clever logic but nothing groundbreaking; they are just what the name says – applications. If you consider it as something patentable, then think – had all the algorithms and fundamental tools been patented, today’s application developers couldn’t have written a single line of code without violating patents. Here’s a case study on the innovations Microsoft claims as its own –
It does add up when you consider the fact that Microsoft was never into hardware, firmware or protocols till recent times.
The basic problem is that most of these companies thriving on application level patents assembled pre-existing ideas, came up with a product which is hugely marketable but got threatened when some other company did the same with their idea, and introduced a cheaper or better product. Patenting here is the instrument to run competition free business. Perhaps the accurate measure for a so called software application patent should be how much marketable the idea is instead of how much patentable it is. The primary goal of these companies is business which thrives through monopoly and popularity. Innovation warrants research. Using a slider to unlock a phone is neither research nor innovation.
Here’s another article one the same subject.