We hear a lot of talk about the "tech community" and "tech economy", with much of the attention going to the software industry and things like artificial intelligence, deep learning, etc. Yet, at the same time, these are the very industries whose patents are getting hammered by the US Patent Office and the US Courts. The patents are getting hammered as being "non-technical" and too abstract to qualify for patent protection, even if they are totally new and non-obvious. Increasingly, the Patent Office and Courts are shooting down patents in so-called "high-tech" areas because they allegedly do not solve real technical problems since they are mere data manipulation, at least according to the judges writing the decisions.

Whether or not it is correct to knock down patent protection in such areas, the point here is that what we think is high-tech may not be the same as what qualifies for patent protection.  And vice versa, what we think of as low-tech, might actually be the real technology that qualifies.

As someone who has studied adaptive learning and related algorithms in graduate school, it is true that they can provide some amazing function. But at the same time, as we think about the clothes or backpacks we wore 25 years ago (when I was studying Kalman Filters), the advancement in these outdoor fabrics and textiles is unbelievable. We have materials so thin and lightweight that you hardly can feel them, yet they keep you warm and dry like nobody's business. We have fabrics that can both keep you cool when needed, and warm when needed. And furthermore, these are technologies that are NOT having trouble at the US Patent Office and in the Courts as being categorically denied.

So the next time someone implicitly links software technology with the high technology industry, you may want to remind them that, at least according to the Patent Office and our US Supreme Court, software might be more accurately put into the low-tech bin.