If you need more evidence that the software patent system is completely messed up, the legal battle between SAP and a company called Trilogy ought to convince you. In 2011, SAP lost a patent infringement case to Trilogy and was told to pay Trilogy nearly $US400 million.
Trilogy held a patent relating to software that can adjust pricing based on variables such as who the customer is, what the customer is buying, and how big the order is, reports Bloomberg’s Susan Decker. SAP began offering a similar tool to its customers and Trilogy sued. It won a $US391 million judgment.
SAP lost an appeal and, then, a month later, the patent office invalidated the patent. That basically means the patent shouldn’t have been issued in the first place. Those that seek software patent reform, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say that there are a lot of software patents like this, which should never have been granted.
But the courts didn’t tell SAP that it no longer needed to pay the fine. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept the case. This leaves SAP on the hot seat for the fine, even though the patent no longer exists.
SAP hasn’t given up. A spokesperson told Business Insider:
“Today’s action by the Court was unfortunate but not unexpected. SAP will continue to move forward with this litigation. The patent claims at issue were declared invalid last year by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That issue remains on appeal. We continue to believe we will prevail in this matter.”
Meanwhile, the software industry is waiting for word on a case the Supreme Court has accepted that could mean the death of software patents altogether.