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02.06.08

Software Patents Roundup: EPO, USPTO and Acacia

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 6:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO

Let us begin this with the EPO (or Europe), whose shaky state has increasingly become grounds for concern. To give you an idea of the EPO’s view of those who protest against software patents, read this.

European patent chief paves the way for change

[...]

She is dismissive of some of the criticism leveled at the patent system and specifically at the EPO from parts of the open-source and free software movements.

“There’s a high degree of emotion, but a low degree of light,” she said, referring to both sides in the intense lobbying when the European Union was debating a proposed law on software patentability that was scrapped in 2005.

There is more information about the EC’s potentially tactless moves with regards to standards and software patents.

The European Commission is organizing next week in Brussels a conference on “European ICT standardisation policy at a crossroads: A new direction for global success”. Among the papers in discussion for this conference, one paper suggests to allow RAND standards as general policy. The European Commission seems to listen to the big industry who contributed to the discussion paper. RAND standards (such as h264 or MPEG2) are a way to exclude FLOSS developers, because they require royalty payments that developers cannot afford.

Just recall the flak they were getting some months ago [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] after implicitly excluding Samba in a settlement with Microsoft.

The worrisome Community Patent is back in the scene again, which isn’t encouraging news.

Europe’s relations with China in respect of IP rights, the perspectives of introducing the Community Patent and the question of a central European court for patents were discussed during a visit by a high-level German-French delegation to the EPO today.

USPTO

Over in the United States, the Bush administration continues to discuss the issues, but based on the wording in CNET, this isn’t too hopeful.

The administration’s key concern is a section that it argues waters down the ability of judges to award damages in patent suits as they see fit, potentially depriving patent holders of the right to obtain the compensation they deserve. Right now, the Senate bill doesn’t give judges or juries enough discretion in deciding how much to award, Dudas said. That’s been arguably the biggest sticking point all along among supporters and opponents of the bill.

The reexamination process which the EFF has been relying on is apparently at jeopardy because an explicit request is made to for the US Senate defend it.

EFF’s Patent Busting Project is one of a number of public-interest projects that use the reexamination process to defend the public against the most dubious patents. Four of our five petitions for reexamination have been granted, and EFF expects the last will be after the PTO has had an opportunity to review it (it was filed last week). One of the first reexamination requests submitted by EFF has already resulted in the PTO revoking the patent.

Illustrating the severity of the problem, here is another trivial patents that uses sophisticated language to describe interactive/customised wallpaper/menus. Needless to say, none of his is new or ingenious.

A new BlackBerry Patent application entitled System and Method for Adaptive Theming Of A Mobile Device describes ways that a BlackBerry wireless carrier or third-party theme screen developer could configure, or reconfigure, a subscriber’s BlackBerry theme remotely.

Acaciasoft on the Attack

Our good ‘buddy’ Acacia, which is also a Microsoft buddy [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], appears to be relentlessly continuing its crusade.

Acacia Research Corporation today announced that its subsidiary, Mobile Traffic Systems Corporation (MTS), has settled patent litigation against Cobra Electronics Corporation that was pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. With this settlement MTS has entered into a license agreement with Cobra Electronics.

The likes of Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Meet J. Carl Cooper, a Patent Troll (Plus Other Patent News)] must be bursting with laughter at the sight of a broken system that is coughing out cash at the direction of those who are heartless enough to abuse it. These are also the people who haven’t made a single invention in their lives. They sue for a living.

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