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Here's an interesting Apple hardware patent:

"It is somewhat surprising that Apple received some of the patents in question, such as the patent on "Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor". When you peel away the technical language, the patent basically is talking about saving power by supplying less voltage to a circuit and some common strategies to do so. Not only has then been seemingly done before (prior art), but it also is inherently given by laws of nature (power = current * voltage). If that's patentable, the general concept of die shrinks should be patentable, overclocking would be patentable (watch out Anandtech.com!), and a whole host of other processes made possible by laws of nature."


Everything patented or implemented in the history of the world is possible under the laws of physics; the argument that because it is possible, it is not patentable makes no sense.

As must be stated anytime there is an article on here concerning patents, read the claims, not just the title. Most of the titles are so broad as to be meaningless, but the claims must be made specific, as these are what can be defended against infringement.

In this particular case, the claims themselves ( http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=7CCWAAAAEBAJ&dq=7... ) are vague and extremely obvious, and I would be shocked if every claim hadn't already been implemented and/or patented by someone else. In fact, if you read the application, they were forced to retract the first twenty of their original claims.

I know it has become fashionable to say that the concept of patents in general is flawed, and that patent examiners are sub-human imbeciles. I disagree on both counts; software patents are generally crap and should be done away with to a large extent, but as another commenter has pointed out, many inventions require a great deal more investment and patents provide a great incentive to develop such things. It is unreasonable to expect patent examiners (engineers, not lawyers) to do a perfect job of pattern-matching each application with every similar previous application, considering that patent applications are deliberately worded in a language which is impenetrable to anyone trying to figure out what the hell something does. Reform at the policy level is needed, and acting as though the problem is that patent examiners aren't smart enough or that patents in general are a bad idea tends not to be very persuasive.

Which is a software patent.

No one ever said the Patent office was useful, competent, or smart.

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