The US Patent and Trademark Office has reported a new record for the number of software patents awarded in a single year.
The agency issued 893 new patents on Tuesday alone, pushing the total to 30,232 in 2006 so far.
At the current rate of registration, more than 40,000 software patents will be issued this year in the US, according to the Public Patent Foundation. The previous record was set in 2004.
Software patents are considered a growing problem for the high-tech industry. In a highly publicised court battle, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion was forced to pay $612.5m to settle a dispute with patent holding company NTP.
The patent at the centre of the battle is likely to be invalidated in the future because of prior art, which essentially means that somebody invented the technology before the patent filer.
The threat from software patents primarily affects small software vendors and open source projects.
Larger vendors typically have patent portfolios that they can use to file counterclaims in case of a patent attack, and also tend to have cross-licensing agreements with their peers as an additional defence mechanism.
The automatic injunction provision was considered one of the main issues in the US patent system.
Critics had charged that the system provided patent filers with an unfair advantage because they could effectively threaten to shut down the opposing party's business.
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