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. Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

    Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network



  2. Director Iancu Generally Viewed as a Lapdog of Patent Trolls

    As Director of the Office, Mr. Iancu, a Trump appointee, not only fails to curb patent trolls; he actively defends them and he lowers barriers in order to better equip them with bogus patents that courts would reject (if the targets of extortion could afford a day in court)



  3. Links 17/3/2019: Google Console and IBM-Red Hat Merger Delay?

    Links for the day



  4. To Team UPC the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Has Become a Joke and the European Patent Office (EPO) Never Mentions It Anymore

    The EPO's frantic rally to the very bottom of patent quality may be celebrated by obedient media and patent law firms; to people who actually produce innovative things, however, this should be a worrisome trend and thankfully courts are getting in the way of this nefarious agenda; one of these courts is the FCC in Germany



  5. Links 16/3/2019: Knoppix Release and SUSE Independence

    Links for the day



  6. Stopping António Campinos and His Software Patents Agenda (Not Legal in Europe) Would Require Independent Courts

    Software patents continue to be granted (new tricks, loopholes and buzzwords) and judges who can put an end to that are being actively assaulted by those who aren't supposed to have any authority whatsoever over them (for decisions to be impartially delivered)



  7. The Linux Foundation Needs to Speak Out Against Microsoft's Ongoing (Continued) Patent Shakedown of OEMs That Ship Linux

    Zemlin actively thanks Microsoft while taking Microsoft money; he meanwhile ignores how Microsoft viciously attacks Linux using patents, revealing the degree to which his foundation, the “Linux Foundation” (not about Linux anymore, better described as Zemlin’s PAC), has been compromised



  8. Links 15/3/2019: Linux 5.0.2, Sublime Text 3.2

    Links for the day



  9. The EPO and the USPTO Are Granting Fake Patents on Software, Knowing That Courts Would Reject These

    Office management encourages applicants to send over patent applications that are laughable while depriving examiners the freedom and the time they need to reject these; it means that loads of bogus patents are being granted, enshrined as weapons that trolls can use to extort small companies outside the courtroom



  10. CommunityBridge is a Cynical Microsoft-Funded Effort to Show Zemlin Works for 'Community', Not Microsoft

    After disbanding community participation in the Board (but there are Microsoft staff on the Board now) the "Linux Foundation" (or Zemlin PAC) continues to take Microsoft money and polishes or launders that as "community"



  11. Links 14/3/2019: GNOME 3.32 and Mesa 19.0.0 Released

    Links for the day



  12. EPO 'Results' Are, As Usual, Not Measured Correctly

    The supranational monopoly, a monopoly-granting authority, is being used by António Campinos to grant an insane amount of monopolies whose merit is dubious and whose impact on Europe will be a net negative



  13. Good News Everyone! UPC Ready to Go... in 2015!

    Benoît Battistelli is no longer in Office and his fantasy (patent lawyers' fantasy) is as elusive as ever; Team UPC is trying to associate opposition to UPC with the far right (AfD) once again



  14. Links 13/3/2019: Plasma 5.15.3,Chrome 73 and Many LF Press Releases

    Links for the day



  15. In the Age of Trumpism EFF Needs to Repeatedly Remind Director Iancu That He is Not a Judge and He Cannot Ignore the Courts

    The nonchalance and carelessness seen in Iancu's decision to just cherry-pick decisions/outcomes (basically ignoring caselaw) concerns technologists, who rightly view him as a 'mole' of the litigation 'industry' (which he came from)



  16. Links 12/3/2019: Sway 1.0 Released, Debian Feuds Carry On

    Links for the day



  17. Microsoft is Complaining About Android and Chrome OS (GNU/Linux) Vendor Not Paying for Microsoft Patents (Updated)

    Microsoft, which nowadays does the patent shakedown against GNU/Linux by proxy, is still moaning about companies that don’t pay ‘protection’ money (grounds for antitrust action or racketeering investigation)



  18. Watchtroll Has Redefined "Trolls" to Mean Those Who Oppose Software Patents (and Oppose Trolls), Not Those Who Leverage These for Blackmail Alone

    The controversial change to 35 U.S.C. § 101 guidance is being opposed by the public (US citizens who oppose American software patents), so patent maximalists like Janal Kalis (“PatentBuddy”) and extremists like Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) want us to believe that the public is just “EFF” and cannot think for itself



  19. EPO's Latest 'Results' Show That António Campinos Has Already Given Up on Patent Quality and is Just Another Battistelli

    The patent-granting machine that the EPO has become reports granting growth of unrealistic scale (unless no proper examination is actually carried out)



  20. Links 11/3/2019: Linux 5.0.1, Audacity 2.3.1, GNU Coreutils 8.31

    Links for the day



  21. US Patent Law Currently Not Changing Much and Software Patents Are Still in Limbo

    Surveying the news, as we still meticulously do (even if we don't write about it), it seems clear that American courts hardly tolerate software patents and proponents of such patents are losing their voice (or morale)



  22. EPO Examiner: “I Have Been Against Software Patents and Eventually 3/4 of My Job is Examining Software Patent Applications.”

    Overworked examiners aren't being given the time, the tools and the freedom to reject patents, based on prior art, patent scope and so on; it is beginning to resemble a rubber-stamping operation, not an examining authority



  23. Europe Will Pay a High Price for Software Patents Advocacy by António Campinos in Europe's Patent-Granting Authority

    EPO President António Campinos — like Iancu at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) — is still promoting software patents in Europe even though such patents are clearly detrimental to Europe’s interests



  24. António Campinos -- Like His Father -- Lacks Support From Colleagues, Endorsed Only From the Top

    History lessons from Wikileaks



  25. Links 10/3/2019: GNU and GNOME Releases

    Links for the day



  26. Koch Brothers' Oil Money is Poisoning Academia and Distorting Scholarly Work/Research on Patents

    Meddling in patent law by the Kochs, the oil tycoons who can be seen everywhere Conservative think tanks are, shows no signs of abatement



  27. From Patents on Chewing Gum to Toothpaste Patents: How the EPO Came to Focus on Speed and Volume, Not Quality

    There’s still no proper quality control in place for European Patents — a severe problem which will only further exacerbate the legal uncertainty associated with all European Patents



  28. European Patent Office Press Releases (Two in Two Days) Are Disguised as 'News' and Tell the Opposite of the Truth

    The Office under the 'new' and 'improved' leadership of António Campinos seems to be repeating the mistakes of Battistelli by discrediting anything it says; its press releases, characteristically dubbed "news" for some reason, bear no resemblance to reality and are detached from facts EPO insiders have long known



  29. Links 9/3/2019: International Women’s Day, QtLottie

    Links for the day



  30. António Campinos Will Not Tackle Any of the Lingering Issues at the European Patent Office

    A man of his war (or his master's war) rather than his word, Mr. Campinos makes it abundantly clear that patent quality issues are off the agenda and corruption persists without it ever being tackled


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