Judge Says Mathematical Algorithms Can’t Be Patented, Dismisses Uniloc Claim Against Rackspace

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A federal judge has thrown out a patent claim against Rackspace, ruling that mathematical algorithms can’t be patented. The ruling in the Eastern Disrict stemmed from a 2012 complaint filed by Uniloc USA asserting that processing of floating point numbers by the Linux operating system was a patent violation.

Chief Judge Leonard Davis based the ruling on U.S. Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. According to Rackspace, this is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter.

Red Hat, which supplies Linux to Rackspace, provided Rackspace’s defense. Red Hat has a policy of standing behind customers through its Open Source Assurance program.

Rob Tiller, Red Hat’s Assistant General Counsel for IP, said:

“NPE patent lawsuits are a chronic and serious problem for the technology industry. Such lawsuits, which are frequently based on patents that should never have been granted, typically cost millions of dollars to defend. These suits are a plague on innovation, economic growth, and job creation. Courts can help address this problem by determining the validity of patents early and with appropriate care. In this case, Judge Davis did just that, and set a great example for future cases.”

Patent cases have become notorious exploitations of an antiquated patent system. The Red Hat dismissal is a rare one and a validation of the court’s distinction about algorithms in patent disputes.

Uniloc has not responded to a request for comment about the ruling.