An octet of tech companies have filed an amicus brief asking the courts to reject lawsuits concerning vague patent concepts. Facebook, Google, Zynga, Red Hat, Intuit, Dell, Homeaway, and Rackspace are all saying that abstract claims—for example, the Steve Jobs patent, rejected by the U.S. patent office on Friday, which attempted to claim ownership of any multi-touch interface—are a waste of money and suffocate innovation.
The short-term aim of the brief is to upend a recent decision by the courts to uphold the Alice Corp's patent claim on computer-implemented financial intermediation over the CLS Bank (translation: the bank creates a "shadow" site, usually in data storage, on which credits and debits can be made. When the transaction is completed—i.e., the person sending the money is found to have enough funds in his account—on the shadow site, then the demand is made to the real site belonging to the financial institution).
The argument put forward by Google, Facebook, and the rest, says this: "It is easy to think of abstract ideas about what a computer or website should do, but the difficult, valuable, and often groundbreaking part of online innovation comes next: designing, analyzing, building, and deploying the interface, software and hardware to implement that idea in a way that is useful in daily life. Simply put, ideas are much easier to come by than working implementations."
[Image from an earlier attempt to patent the interactive web, defeated by Google, Amazon, and Yahoo]