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

01.21.09

Patents Roundup: Acacia Extortion, European Lobby, and Failed Systems

Posted in America, Courtroom, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Plager said he regretted the unintended consequences of the decisions in State Street Bank and AT&T. Those rulings led to a flood of applications for software and business method patents, he noted. If we “rethink the breadth of patentable subject matter,” he said, we should ask whether these categories should be excluded from patent protection.” —US. Senior Judge S. Jay Plager, speaking at a symposium at George Mason University

Bad Software Patents

AMONG the many weird patents that are new we also find several from Acacia, which accommodates Microsoft employees and attacks GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11].

Acacia does not make products or inventions. It’s relies on patent mercantile. Here is one of the latest purchases:

Acacia Subsidiary Acquires Patent for Online Promotion Technology

This patented technology generally relates to online promotion of consumer products and can be used to provide consumers with web access to discount coupons and rebate offers.

Acquisitions are followed by extortions (racketeering), such as this latest one:

Acacia (ACTG) Subsidiary Enters Patent License Agreement with Horizon Tech.

Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG) announced today that its subsidiary, Telematics Corporation, has entered into a patent license agreement with Horizon Technologies, L.L.C. The Telematics technology generally relates to systems and methods for displaying mobile vehicle information on a map.

“Enters Patent License Agreement” means “Receives Protection Money”. Mind the generality of the patent above and behold the type of — shall we say — rubbish that becomes a patent in the United States:

Meanwhile, Experian and Visa offer BankruptcyPredict, a bankruptcy score that “uses patented technology and processes to create a more comprehensive view of consumers most likely to drive bankruptcy losses over the next 24 months,” according to its Web site. BankruptcyPredict scores range from 50 to 950, with a lower number indicating a higher risk of bankruptcy, Experian’s Wagner says.

The Bilski ruling is likely to have eliminated such a ridiculous patent, which should now be too frail to stand a chance in court [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14].

There is a lot of pro-software patents lobbying in Europe and Digistan asks the question, “Where does the pressure come from?”

Although it does not say this in Digistan, the answer is “Microsoft”, but it’s not alone.

Peter Jungen and the EEI wonder if openness rhetorics risks turning Europe into an innovation “dead zone”.

We wrote about Peter Jungen last month. He’s likely to be part of the cronies cartel.

As asserted rather explicitly in this post from About.com, software patents are a horrible idea. [via Digital Majority]

Software Patents are a means to extort money from companies who can’t afford to defend themselves in court. The typical cost is at least $1 million. This very recent example shows all that is wrong with software patents in the US.

Characteristics of a Failed System

Signs that a reform is desperately (and urgently) needed are all over the place. From the past few days alone we gather:

1. Brookings Conference on Software and Business Method Patents Highlights Need for Reform

Last week there was a conference of significant interest to the free and open source software community on the problem of software and business method patents at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. I was pleased to find that Red Hat is by no means alone in its opposition to patents on abstract ideas. There were, to be sure, some proponents of the status quo, but respected voices are acknowledging the serious problems in the current system and laying the intellectual groundwork for reform.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (of which Red Hat is a member) and Duke University School of Law (our neighbor just down the road in Durham, N.C.). A list of the two dozen scholars, lawyers, and industry representatives who participated is here.

2. Patent Trolls Erode the Foundation of the U.S. Patent System

Climbing out of the deep economic recession the United States is facing will require multiple remedies, but there is no doubt that ongoing innovation will be critical to restoring the long-term economic health and prosperity of our country. Innovation is so key to our nation’s prosperity that our founders enshrined the general principle of intellectual property as an essential element of economic development in Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution. The basis for this constitutional provision establishing a patent system was not the protection of individual rights to inventions per se, but rather the promotion of economic development in a young and ambitious country.

3. When All You Have Is A Patent Hammer, Every Software Task Looks Like A Nail

If I’m right that, as I argued on Friday, there’s a cultural gap between the patent bar and the technology industry on the subject of software patents, an interesting question is how we got them in the first place. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that software was widely believed to be unpatentable, and major technology firms were hardly clamoring for patent protection. Peter Mennell, a Berkeley law professor who spoke at last Wednesday’s Brookings patent conference had an interesting perspective on how this came about. He argues that the impetus for software patents came from patent attorneys within major software firms who spread the “gospel of patenting” within their companies. Not surprisingly, CEOs tend to delegate patent issues to their patent lawyers, and of course patent lawyers will tend to have more pro-patent views than their bosses. And so despite the fact that few technology executives were enthusiastic about patenting, the patent lawyers who worked for them pushed their firms in that direction. And of course, once some software firms started acquiring significant numbers of patents, it sparked the arms race that we’ve talked about here at Techdirt.

4. Firm Files Complaint for Patent Violation Against Nokia, RIM and Palm

Saxon Innovations of Tyler, a patent-holding company from Texas, is reported to have claimed that up to three patents it owned had been violated by six companies that import handsets into the United States, including Research in Motion, Palm and Nokia.

Saxon Innovations of Tyler is just a patent troll. Unlike other patent trolls, these litigators don’t even have a Web site. Their homepage currently states: “Saxon Innovations LLC website is currently under construction. Please visit us again soon.”

Mysteriously enough, contrary to last year’s findings from Patent TrollTracker (Rick Frenkel [1, 2, 3, 4]), intellectual monopoly litigation is said to be declining.

There’s a new report out that highlights that there were fewer IP related lawsuits in the US in 2008 than in 2007. The drop was about 10%: from 10,276 to 9,210. However, the reasoning given in the report for the decline is difficult to square with reality. It claims that: “The trend reflects the success of the recording industry in protecting its copyrights, leading the industry to bring fewer lawsuits in the past few years.

Could recessionary trends be the cause? Patent/IP litigation is an expensive gamble. SCO knows.

“I think that “innovation” is a four-letter word in the industry. It should never be used in polite company. It’s become a PR thing to sell new versions with.

“It was Edison who said “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”. That may have been true a hundred years ago. These days it’s “0.01% inspiration, 99.99% perspiration”, and the inspiration is the easy part. As a project manager, I have never had trouble finding people with crazy ideas. I have trouble finding people who can execute. IOW, “innovation” is way oversold. And it sure as hell shouldn’t be applied to products like MS Word or Open office.”

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. Andre said,

    January 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Gravatar

    “Although it does not say this in Digistan, the answer is “Microsoft”, but it’s not alone.”

    Actually quite the opposite. “Where does the pressure come from?” is a quote from the invitation. Pressure == the pressure for more openness.

    The invitation agenda quoted asks:
    “Where does this pressure come from? Does it really serve the interests of a European Union determined to compete in the global knowledge economy? Or does the warm-sounding populist rhetoric calling for “openness” risk turning Europe into an innovation “dead zone”?”

What Else is New


  1. Openwashing Report on Open Networking Foundation (ONF): When Open Source Means Collaboration Among Giant Spying Companies

    Massive telecommunications oligopolies (telecoms) are being described as ethical and responsible by means of openwashing; they even have their own front groups for that obscene mischaracterisation and ONF is one of those



  2. 'Open Source' You Cannot Run Without Renting or 'Licensing' Windows From Microsoft

    When so-called ‘open source’ programs strictly require Vista 10 (or similar) to run, how open are they really and does that not redefine the nature of Open Source while betraying everything Free/libre software stands for?



  3. All About Control: Microsoft is Not Open Source But an Open Source Censor/Spy and GitHub/LinkedIn/Skype Are Its Proprietary Censorship/Surveillance Tools

    All the big companies which Microsoft bought in recent years are proprietary software and all of the company’s big products remain proprietary software; all that “Open Source” is to Microsoft is “something to control and censor“



  4. The Sad State of GNU/Linux News Sites

    The ‘media coup’ of corporate giants (that claim to be 'friends') means that history of GNU/Linux is being distorted and lied about; it also explains prevalent lies such as "Microsoft loves Linux" and denial of GNU/Free software



  5. EPO President Along With Bristows, Managing IP and Other Team UPC Boosters Are Lobbying for Software Patents in Clear and Direct Violation of the EPC

    A calm interpretation of the latest wave of lobbying from litigation professionals, i.e. people who profit when there are lots of patent disputes and even expensive lawsuits which may be totally frivolous (for example, based upon fake patents that aren't EPC-compliant)



  6. Links 15/9/2019: Radeon ROCm 2.7.2, KDE Frameworks 5.62.0, PineTime and Bison 3.4.2

    Links for the day



  7. Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) Have Become the 'Norm' in Europe

    Normalisation of invalid patents (granted by the EPO in defiance of the EPC) is a serious problem, but patent law firms continue to exploit that while this whole 'patent bubble' lasts (apparently the number of applications will continue to decrease because the perceived value of European Patents diminishes)



  8. Patent Maximalists, Orbiting the European Patent Office, Work to 'Globalise' a System of Monopolies on Everything

    Monopolies on just about everything are being granted in defiance of the EPC and there are those looking to make this violation ‘unitary’, even worldwide if not just EU-wide



  9. Unitary Patent (UPC) Promotion by Team Battistelli 'Metastasising' in Private Law Firms

    The EPO's Albert Keyack (Team Battistelli) is now in Team UPC as Vice President of Kilburn & Strode LLP; he already fills the media with lies about the UPC, as one can expect



  10. Microsoft Targets GNU/Linux Advocates With Phony Charm Offensives and Fake 'Love'

    The ways Microsoft depresses GNU/Linux advocacy and discourages enthusiasm for Software Freedom is not hard to see; it's worth considering and understanding some of these tactics (mostly assimilation-centric and love-themed), which can otherwise go unnoticed



  11. Proprietary Software Giants Tell Open Source 'Communities' That Proprietary Software Giants Are 'Friends'

    The openwashing services of the so-called 'Linux' Foundation are working; companies that are inherently against Open Source are being called "Open" and some people are willing to swallow this bait (so-called 'compromise' which is actually surrender to proprietary software regimes)



  12. Microsoft Pays the Linux Foundation for Academy Software Foundation, Which the Linux Foundation is Outsourcing to Microsoft

    Microsoft has just bought some more seats and more control over Free/Open Source software; all it had to do was shell out some 'slush funds'



  13. Links 14/9/2019: SUSE CaaS Platform, Huawei Laptops With GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  14. Links 13/9/2019: Catfish 1.4.10, GNOME Firmware 3.34.0 Release

    Links for the day



  15. Links 12/9/2019: GNU/Linux at Huawei, GNOME 3.34 Released

    Links for the day



  16. Links 12/9/2019: Manjaro 18.1 and KaOS 2019.09 Releases

    Links for the day



  17. EPO: Give Us Low-Quality Patent Applications, Patent Trolls Have Use for Those

    What good is the EPC when the EPO feels free to ignore it and nobody holds the EPO accountable for it? At the moment we're living in a post-EPC Europe where the only thing that counts is co-called 'products' (i.e. quantity, not quality).



  18. Coverage for Sponsors: What the Linux Foundation Does is Indistinguishable From Marketing Agencies' Functions

    The marketing agency that controls the name "Linux" is hardly showing any interest in technology or in journalism; it's just buying media coverage for sponsors and this is what it boils down to for the most part (at great expense)



  19. Watch Out, Linus Torvalds: Microsoft Bought Tons of Git Repositories and Now It Goes After Linux

    Microsoft reminds us how E.E.E. tactics work; Microsoft is just hijacking its competition and misleading the market (claiming the competition to be its own, having "extended" it Microsoft's way with proprietary code)



  20. Links 11/9/2019: Acer in LVFS, RawTherapee 5.7 and Qt 5.12.5 Released

    Links for the day



  21. Linux Foundation Inc. Buys Press About Itself and Media Coverage for Sponsors

    Sponsoring so-called ‘news’ sites is bad enough; it is even worse when such media then covers you and your sponsors, such as Snyk (a Linux Foundation sponsor/member, fancier word for client)



  22. Links 11/9/2019: Django 3.0 Alpha, Sunsetting Python 2

    Links for the day



  23. Web Site Called Linux.com Still Exists Only or Mostly to Promote Anti-Linux Firms and Openwashing

    As the Linux Foundation transitions into the Public Relations (PR) industry/domain we should accept if not expect Linux.com to become an extension of PR business models; the old Linux.com is long gone (all staff fired)



  24. Links 10/9/2019: Krita 4.2.6, Ubuntu 19.10 to Boot Faster

    Links for the day



  25. What the Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin Really Thinks of Desktop/Laptop GNU/Linux

    Interesting words from Ken Starks resonate well with what we nowadays see in the so-called 'Linux' Foundation, whose dedication to Linux is like that of a circus to a monkeys' sideshow



  26. Links 10/9/2019: Kate Planning and GnuCash 3.7

    Links for the day



  27. The Sad Truth That Linux Foundation Staff is Against GPL/Copyleft and Sometimes Against Linux (Unless It's Run Under Vista 10)

    The Linux Foundation works for whoever pays the Linux Foundation and sadly that usually means companies that aren’t dedicated to Linux, to Software Freedom or even to simple truths and to the Rule of Law



  28. Microsoft Uses the Word “Linux” to Promote Privacy-Infringing Proprietary Software and Spread FUD

    The discussion about “Linux” is being saturated if not replaced by misinformation and marketing of Linux’s competition — owing largely to googlebombing tactics that the Linux Foundation participates in rather than tackle



  29. Patent Charlatans and Frauds Are Doing a Disservice to Europe and to Europe's Patent System

    Tax evasion and UPC lies aren’t going to help the integrity of the patent system; au contraire — those are becoming an existential threat to the system being exploited by law firms (and accountants)



  30. The European Patent Convention (“EPC”) Does Not Allow Patenting of Life Itself

    Unless the underlying rules are respected and Europe's largest patent office actually follows the laws it's governed by, Europe's patent system won't promote innovation; the European Patent Office's decision on Alexion (patent application 3124029 rejected) is good news


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

Recent Posts