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PatentlyO discussion

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Know BuddyPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2017
08:10 PM ET (US)
That patent is for a wheeled shovel, not a standard shovel. It’s a new way of using that particular kind of shovel. It is not using that shovel in a known way to dig another kind of hole. You could not get a follow-on patent for using that new shovel technique to dig a hole for planting seeds, or to dig a hole for a drainage ditch. Those are mere applications of known technology.

Your example is precisely the difference between an improvement to the operation of the machine, and an application of that machine to its intended use. Thanks for proving my point.

Yes you can patent a shovel for a new use other than dig holes, like launch a rocket. Same is true of computers. Using a computer as a paperweight is a new invention (prior art notwithstanding). Using the conventional and well known capabilities of a computer to record and manage which papers are in each pile under various paperweights is not.
1
Know BuddyPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2017
08:06 PM ET (US)
Les: If you agree that software that adds a voice recognition feature improves the way computers operate and should be patent eligible, then spread sheet and word processor features are also improvements to how a basic computer operates and are also eligible.

Apologies if I misread your background. Your examples sounded like what many non-technical people use when talking about software.

Anyway, there is a world of difference between voice recognition and word processors / spread sheets. The latter are simply shifting data around the way every computer since the Univac has done. It just took hardware enhancements for the graphical interface and user input to catch up and present what computers had long been doing in an accessible way.

Voice recognition on the other hand is not just simple data management with digital circuits / logic. Entirely new ways had to be devised to parse speech, recognize phonemes, and assemble them into words.

There’s a key difference there, and it’s not about “hardness” of the endeavor. It’s about adding a fundamentally new capability to the machine. It can interact with the world in new ways. No so with spreadsheets.

Many things were hard about programming the first spreadsheets. That doesn’t make them patent eligible. Writing a novel is hard too.

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