EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.26.08

Patents Roundup: Government Gets Involved, Software Patents at Risk

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 8:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ambushed by Antitrust

The infamous patent ambush from Rambus [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] is leading the way to some new developments. First of all, the recent ruling is being appealed.

Rambus appealed the FTC’s ruling and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against the FTC in April.

Further to that, there is a referral of the antitrust case to the Supreme Court, whose word on this would set solid precedence.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in a case in which the agency accused memory-maker Rambus of anticompetitive behavior in deceiving a standards-setting body.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in April threw out the FTC’s case against Rambus, in which the agency accused the company of convincing industry groups to declare a standard for the memory used in PCs, servers, printers and cameras without admitting that it owned the patents to those technologies. The FTC Monday asked the Supreme Court to overturn that appellate decision.

Reform in Progress

Also related to the FTC is the following report about an upcoming hearing which may change the way patents get treated.

The US Federal Trade Commission has announced the first of a possible series of public hearings to explore the evolving market for intellectual property (IP). The hearings will be held beginning on December 5, 2008, in Washington, DC. “The patent system has experienced significant change since the FTC released its first IP Report in October 2003, and more changes are under consideration. The courts and patentees are exploring the full implications of Supreme Court and Federal Circuit decisions on injunctive relief, patentability, and licensing issues. Congress has considered sweeping legislative patent reform, and new debates on the appropriate methods for calculating infringement damages have engaged the patent community. New business models for buying, selling and licensing patents have emerged and evolved since 2003. In addition, there is new learning regarding the operation of the patent system and its contribution to innovation and competition.”

The Bilski case, which was escalated up to the top where Bilski’s patenting got defeated, continues to wreak havoc even where software is involved, and that’s a good thing. Here is the latest example.

Halligan’s patent application claims a “programmed computer method” that operates to identify trade secret information. (Claim 119). In essence, the computer program has the common law rules of trade secrets hardcoded, and those rules are applied to determine whether particular information is a “trade secret.” Applying the machine-or-transformation test of Bilski, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) rejected Halligan’s claims as lacking patentable subject matter under 35 USC § 101.

Under Bilski, “[a] claimed process is surely patent-eligible under § 101 if: (1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing.” To avoid preemption the Federal Circuit emphasized that “the use of a specific machine or transformation of an article must impose meaningful limits on the claim’s scope to impart patent-eligibility;” that “the involvement of the machine or transformation in the claimed process must not merely be insignificant extra-solution activity;” and that the transformation “must be central to the purpose of the claimed process.”

Here is another new review of the book “Intellectual Property and Open Source,” which probably requires radical revision after re Bilski.

Intellectual property is an increasingly important part of our economy, and computer code in particular is presenting IP laws a serious challenge. Is code functional or expressive? Should it be covered by a patent or a copyright? What rights do we consumers have when we purchase a piece of computer software? Intellectual Property and Open Source: A Practical Guide to Protecting Code answers these questions, at least as well as any questions can be answered in this notoriously wishy-washy field of law.

Hardware Miscellany

Like many large companies, Nintendo got sued recently and the following new video tells one side of the story.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Hardware patents remain an area that we do not cover in this Web site, but here is another report about this sector from the news.

Although there are few official press releases available, it seems that numerous well-known chip manufacturers are arguing about patents apparently involving tungsten metallisation processes.

When it comes to hardware, it’s easier to impose extreme measures like an embargo [1, 2]. It’s actually physical products that are taken to task, not mere knowledge that can be passed around over the wire, even across continents.

Patent Trolls

Amid tremendous pressures in an already-volatile and embattled industry, the patent trolls assault undeterred. Groklaw reckons they want a piece of the bailout money, i.e. taxpayers’ expenses.

In the suit, LML alleges that the defendants infringe U.S. Patent No. RE40220. LML is seeking damages, injunctive and other relief for the alleged infringement of these patents.

RPX, which we mentioned earlier today, continues to receive coverage. The Wall Street Journal beat everyone to it (marginally), including Larry from ZDNet. It’s being described as “defense” against patent trolls although it operates in similar ways to patent trolls.

Thus far, RPX has acquired more than $40 million in patent rights and will hit $100 million in its first year. The company, founded in March, counts John Amster, a former Intellectual Venures and Ocean Tomo executive, and Geoffrey Barker, founder of Cobalt, as co-CEOs.

They arrive from a patent troll [1, 2] and probably create yet another.

The biggest troll buster, Rick Frenkel, is still under attack by the very same vindictive trolls whom he was fighting.

Before departing, I took some time to study up on some of my most-followed cases there. As regular readers know, former Patent Troll Tracker blogger Rick Frenkel was sued by two East Texas patent lawyers after his identity was revealed.

Not much has changed in these lawsuits. The parties in Ward v. Cisco are still fighting over venue, and in Albritton v. Cisco they’re fighting discovery battles, but since I checked up on them anyhow I’ll take a minute to update both cases.

For background, see our notes about the most vicious troll, Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. He attacked his legitimate critic [1, 2, 3], whom we recently mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4]. What an ugly and brutal corner of the industry this must be. it used to be about development, not racketeering and gavels.

“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source. Making it easier for companies and communities that have patents to make those patents available in a common pool for people to use is one way to try to help developers deal with the threat.”

Linus Torvalds

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

A Single Comment

  1. David Gerard said,

    November 27, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Gravatar

    Of course, with 3D printers and fabricators increasing in sophistication, we will in fact be talking about “mere knowledge that can be passed around over the wire, even across continents” when we talk about hardware.

    Hardware patents will soon be as damaging to innovation as software patents are. Don’t think industry isn’t quite aware of this.

What Else is New


  1. SIPO (China's Patent Office) Taken Over by Patent Maximalists

    A look at China's race to the bottom (decline in quality) when it comes to patents, assuming quite wrongly that quantity is more important than quality and severe penalties for perceived infringement will spur innovation



  2. The Alice Case Continues to Smash Software Patents (This Time OpenTV's); Will the EPO Ever Pay Attention?

    The potency or the grip of software patents in the United States is quickly eroding, but the EPO continues to act as though software patents are legitimate



  3. EPO Staff Responds to Team Battistelli's Expansion to Include French Economic Propagandist on the Payroll

    With strings attached (like string puppets of Battistelli in various units including the Investigative Unit), can the new Chief Economist, who is French and paid by Battistelli, ever be trusted?



  4. UPC: To Understand Who Would Benefit From It Just Look at Who's Promoting It (Like TPP)

    The UPC, which is designed to aid patent trolls and aggressors (and their lawyers), is still being advanced by the EPO and some misinformed (but loyal to these former groups) politicians



  5. Trolls Molestos: Rovi (del famoso Angry Birds) Ayuda al Más Largo Troll de Patentes de Microsoft Intellectual Ventures (Corregido)

    Alguna vez conocido como hacedor de juegos y más tarde como vigilancia en masa en jugadores, Rovi ahora se ESTA ALIANDO CON EL MÁS GRANDE TROLL DE PATENTES



  6. Estadísticas de Invalidación de Patentes y Costos de Litigación de Patentes (incluso si son falsas) Muestran que la Esfera de Patentes y los Estándares de Examinación son un Probleman, No Sólo en Los Estados Unidos

    Demasiadas falsas patentes que no deberían haber sido otorgadas en primer lugar y fraudulentes jucios de patentes que terminan en favor del acusado sirve para mostrar el costo externo (o externalidad) cuando set trata de un bajisímo sistema de patentes que se esfuerza en otorgar muchas patentes irrespectivamente de su mérito.



  7. The 'Offenses' of EPO Staff Representatives Boil Down to Truth-Telling

    Dutch television examined the documents of the mock 'trials' against SUEPO leaders and concluded that whistle-blowing (i.e. exposing abuses by EPO management), not misconduct, is the reason for overzealous dismissals



  8. Rumours About Dismissal of Benoît Battistelli and New Letter From Union Syndicale Federale Blasting Battistelli's Behaviour

    hings have been heating up since the dismissal of staff representatives at the European Patent Office (EPO) and some even spread rumours about withdrawal/dismissal of the EPO's President



  9. VirnetX Case Against Apple Shows Not the Problem With Patent Trolls But With Software Patents

    What the media really ought to be talking about after the high-profile VirnetX case, rather than obsess about the status of Apple or patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas



  10. Diápositivas de Nueva Charla Explican la Connección Entre la Corte De Patentes Unitarias (UPC) y Patentes de Software

    Benjamín Henrion habló el pasado Domingo acerca de las patentes de software europeas -una presentación que habla de la Corte Unitaria de Patentes, por la que la OEP aboga sin cesar y que es lo que significa para las patentes de software.



  11. Las Políticas de Microsoft Alienan Incluso a los Hinchas Más Acérrimos de Microsoft, Incluyendo Pro-Microsoft Web Sites

    El agresivo comportamiento de Microsoft y su BAJA CALIDAD DE PRODUCTOS dejan algunos de sus últimos restos de ´hinchas´ descorazonados y molestos.



  12. Links 6/2/2016: CoreOS Rocket 1.0, Scientific Linux 7.2

    Links for the day



  13. Maybe It's Time for Class Action Lawsuits Against Microsoft for Forced Vista 10 'Upgrades', Which Were Definitely No Accident

    The sheer arrogance of Microsoft, which silently changes the operating system on people's computers (without their consent), makes lawsuits imperative, not just a possibility



  14. Readers' Article: A Strange Conspiracy of Silence in the German Media (Part II)

    Željko Topić's allegedly dark background, which includes a suicide, a retreat of potential witnesses, German funds in Topić's private bank account and several more interesting bits



  15. Links 5/2/2016: Wine 1.9.3, Slackware 14.2 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  16. Links 4/2/2016: Red Hat Upgraded, Ubuntu Tablet

    Links for the day



  17. The Siege Continues: Patent Lawyers Want More Patents, Including Software Patents, In Spite of Alice

    Lawyers who make money from patent disputes make rather apparent their aspirations, which include patent saturation even in domains that are patents-exempt



  18. European Patent Office Pretends It's Business as Usual and Prepares New Vanity Pieces

    The PR strategy of the EPO, whose destructive patent strategy continues unabated (for now), latches onto Colombia and strives to manufacture mythology wherein the public, patent examiners and patent applicants are all very happy with the EPO



  19. The 'International' Trade Commission Imposes/Reinforces Software Patents to Establish Another Embargo

    The International [sic] Trade Commission is meddling in competition and allowing a US giant, Cisco in this case, to potentially block rivals (no imports from abroad) using software patents



  20. Readers' Article: A Strange Conspiracy of Silence in the German Media (Part I)

    The views of some of our readers regarding reluctance in the German media to challenge the EPO's violations of German law, probably because Germany benefits from being a host nation of the EPO



  21. Benoît Battistelli's EPO: From Show Trials and Mock Trials to a Self-Aggrandising Propaganda Event Later Today in Rijswijk

    A headsup from a reader regarding today's highly misleading event in Rijswijk (e.g. to mislead the media or seed positive media coverage in the Netherlands) and how it was set up



  22. Caricature of the Day: EPO President

    New caricature about Benoît Battistelli, his bodyguards, and the assault on free speech at the European Patent Office



  23. Company Known as European Patent Office Provides Tips on How to Patent Software in Europe

    The European Patent Office (EPO) uses its attendance at CeBIT, which is a corporate expo, to promote software patents in spite of the European Patent Convention (EPC)



  24. Links 3/2/2016: Dell GNU/Linux Laptop, Wine 1.8.1

    Links for the day



  25. The Most Detailed Explanation (Yet) of What's Wrong With the EPO

    The EPO's insistence that it remains above the law is not only coming under fire by the media but is also being challenged based on people who are familiar with the applicability of law to international organisations



  26. Angry Trolls: Rovi (of Angry Birds Fame) Helps Microsoft's Largest Anti-Linux Patent Troll, Intellectual Ventures (Corrected)

    nce known as a game maker and later made notorious for mass surveillance on gamers, Rovi now liaises with the world's largest patent troll



  27. Patent Invalidation Statistics and Cost of Patent Litigation (Even If Bogus) Show That Patent Scope and Examination Standards a Problem in Europe, Not Just the US

    Far too many bogus patents (patents that should not be granted in the first place) and spurious patent lawsuits that end up in favour of the defendant serve to show the external cost (or externality) when it comes to low-quality patent systems that strive to grant a lot of patents irrespective of merit



  28. Es Oficial: Por Medio de Entrismo, Microsoft Ha Convertido a la Pro-Linux Nokia en un Parásito de Patentes Anti-Linux

    Microsoft ha convertido a Nokia en un troll de patentes que ahora ataca a Linux y Android.



  29. Richard Stallman: Patentes Europeas de Software Regresan con la Corte Unitaria de Patentes (UPC)

    Debates acerca de la UPC estan siendo peleados por profesionales de software (entidades prácticantes) y elementos PARÁSITICOS como los abogados de patentes.



  30. SUEPO (EPO Staff Union) Appears to Have Launched a New and Improved Web Site After Attempts to Crush ('Decapitate') SUEPO

    SUEPO, the largest staff union of the European Patent Office, shows signs of strength rather than signs of weakness amidst attacks on the staff and a lot of media coverage, political interventions, and much more


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts