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12.26.07

Patents Roundup: Call for Change and Annihilation of Abuse

Posted in America, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Law, OIN, Patents at 11:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Only good news throughout the holidays

Robert Weber, a senior vice president for Legal and Regulatory Affairs and general counsel of IBM, has just published the following article about patent reform. It appeared in Forbes earlier today. From the end of this article:

As the largest holder of U.S. patents, we feel it is our responsibility, and the right time, to speak out forcefully in favor of reform. We are trying to do our share by unilaterally publishing a first-ever corporate policy aimed at promoting patent transparency and quality. We also initiated, and with others in the private sector, are working with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to ensure that citizens have a voice in the patent review process.

But these voluntary efforts, along with recent wise Supreme Court decisions, are not enough.

Progress, not perfection, is the goal. It was so from Eli Whitney’s time, and is true today. Congress finally has an historic opportunity to address the thorniest of modern challenges, to secure America’s continued role as the leading innovator in the global economy.

There are other observations to be made which are also derived from the news. Our previous coverages of the Vonage rollercoaster saw the case culminating in a settlement, but it’s worth noticing the use of the world “capitalize” in the following latest coverage:

All Vonage wanted to do was to capitalize on the ability to make cheap, voice over Internet phone calls. Unfortunately, in their haste to deliver a working product, the company received complaints that it had trod upon the technology owned by other firms.

Therein lies the overlap, the trap, and the seemingly-endless maze of prior art. Amazon is no exception.

USPTO Reaffirms 1-Click Claims ‘Old And Obvious’

“After USPTO Examiner Mark A. Fadok rejected Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ 1-Click Patent claims as ‘old and obvious,’ Amazon canceled and refiled its 1-Click claims in a continuation application as it requested an Oral Appeal, a move that smacked of a good old-fashioned stalling tactic. But the move may have backfired, as Fadok has just completed his review of the continuation app and concluded that all of the refiled 1-Click claims should be rejected, providing explanations of why the Board of Patent Appeals was wrong to reverse his earlier decision after listening to Amazon’s lawyers in September. In October, USPTO Examiner Matthew C. Graham rejected most of the 1-Click claims as part of the reexam requested by LOTR actor Peter Calveley, a decision that attorneys for Amazon are currently trying to work around with some creative wordsmithing. Can’t see how all of this means ‘less work for the overworked Patent and Trademark Office.’”

Apart from the repeated, systematic and well-documented misuse by Amazon, the last sentence is worth special attention. Later on, trigger-happy lawyers whine about an 'overburdened' system — the burden that is self-imposed and a self-inflicted illness. We covered this Amazon issue many times before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. It has become a classic case of abusing the system, so Amazon should — by all means — be ashamed of itself. It’s part of the problem, not the solution.

Meanwhile, Google seems to have escaped the wrath of another patent troll.

The appeals court ruled that Google’s immensely profitable AdSense did not infringe on Hyperphrase’s patents. It handed down a split decision on AutoLink, agreeing that Google did not infringe, as claimed, on one of the Hyperphrase patents.

Remember that Google is among those who took the role of 'legal guardian' for GNU/Linux, so it’s unlikely that they’ll ever turn against Free software.

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