The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has issued a list of the 10 patents it considers most dangerous to the continuing freedom of use of the internet and related software.
The non-profit consumer organisation is including these patents under its new Patent-Busting project.
The EFF claims that these patents represent the worst cases where patents issued are clearly too broad, ignore the existence of prior art or are so obvious as to be too trivial for patenting.
Patents identified by the EFF include:
a method for administering tests over the internet
a system and method for playing games on a network
a method and apparatus for implementing a computer network/internet telephone system (VoIP)
an audio and video receiving and transmission system
a system for generating, distributing, storing and performing musical work files.
"What makes these patents among the worst of the bunch is the fact that their owners are threatening and filing suits against small businesses, individuals and non-profit organisations, not to mention the threats to free expression and innovation that each of them pose," the EFF said.
The EFF says the harm these patents cause the public is "profound", as with the rise of the internet, patents do not just target rival companies, but the "vast number of small business, non-profit organisations and individual users, each of whom has adopted and built upon these resources as part of their daily interaction with computers and the online world."
David Legard writes for IDG