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

04.07.10

Patents Roundup: USPTO Changes, New Zealand’s Law Ambiguity, Facebook and Apple Sued

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, Law, Patents at 2:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Angry man

Summary: Patent maximalists have their revenge in a system designed to benefit monopolies and protect them from competition

SOFTWARE PATENTS have become an increasingly-relevant issue when it comes to Free software. Therefore, Free software supporters should probably treat it as important and this post is a short overview of the latest news.

USPTO

“The patent office should create a pool of software programmers and keep a database of their related skills,” says the president of the FFII regarding this new essay which is summarised by TechDirt:

In the past when discussing different ways to potentially improve the patent system, I’ve pointed out that one of the key points in determining whether or not something is patent worthy is supposedly whether or not the invention would be “non-obvious” to a “person having ordinary skill in the art.” And, yet, at no point in the patent review process does the average examiner — who quite often does not have ordinary skill in the art — ever go out and ask those who do. That always troubled me. So, I thought one (of quite a few) useful improvements to the system would be to let patent examiners call on certain folks who work in various fields. Now, this wouldn’t be to have that person give a total thumbs up or thumbs down on the patent. That would still be reserved for the examiner. But, at least hear some knowledgeable people out on whether or not the idea is obvious.

TechDirt also alerts readers that the “Patent Office Hires Economist To Add Some Actual Evidence To Patent Policy” (cost benefit of patents is high for monopolies and low for the rest).

Given all this, it’s interesting to hear, via Jamie Love, that the USPTO has hired economist Stuart Graham to the newly created position of “chief economist.” Love notes that Graham’s appointment comes with the mandate to compile economic data while doing a true economic analysis of patents for the USPTO. This seems like a good thing. I did a quick search on Graham’s previous research and came up with a a listing of some of his research — and at a first pass, it bodes well. He’s done work on how post-grant opposition to patents can improve quality of patents (pdf) and also has done research on patents in the pharmaceutical world, noting that there is a disconnect between patents and actual product development. In fact, that same study found that increased R&D doesn’t appear to be an indicator of greater product development at all.

New Zealand

Last week’s big news was that New Zealand is rejecting software patents [1, 2], but as the president of the FFII puts it: “How the NZ Patent Office will make the definitive distinction between embedded and other types of software?”

Some patent lawyers have raised this point:

How might the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office handle the challenge of developing guidelines for a clear and definitive distinction between embedded and other types of software? The IPKat awaits the outcome with curiosity.

The report is silent regarding patent term extension where commercial exploitation of a patented product, such as a pharmaceutical or agrochemical, is delayed due to the need to obtain regulatory approval. This omission is particularly disappointing for patentees as the Bill contains ‘spring-boarding’ provisions in clause 136 that grant an exemption from infringement for an act done for experimental purposes and in clause 138 for the development and submission of information required to obtain regulatory approval.

These loopholes also exist in Europe and Microsoft brags about exploiting them.

Facebook

Facebook is a bad company when it comes to software patents and according to this, it has just been sued for supposedly violating the law with software patent infringements.

Technology patent trolling seems to have become a regular pasttime — something that is influenced proprtionally with lucrative potential of a patent, and which the long-flawed approval process at the USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) abets in the first place. Now there’s another questionable patent lawsuit, this one involving ‘online communities’, and naturally, Facebook is a target with its community of more than 400 million users.

TechDirt says that the patent is very broad, covering just online communities.

It’s always fun to see patent system defenders in our comments insist that the patent system rarely makes mistakes in issuing patents, and how really bad patents get pushed out upon review. And yet… then we hear stories like the following one. Four guys, back in 2001 filed for a patent (6,519,629) on a “system for creating a community for users with common interests to interact in.” Seriously. Reading through the patent application, I’m having trouble seeing how this wasn’t covered by a ton of prior art. What in that patent does not apply to early BBS systems, for example? And, even if there really is something new (I can’t find anything), how is putting together an online community not an obvious thing?

This is another sign that the patent system does not work.

Apple

Despite Apple’s lawsuit against Android/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], HTC is said to be doing quite well.

Taiwan’s HTC Q1 profit, March sales rise

[...]

Earlier this month, Apple sued Taiwan-based HTC and accused it of infringing 20 hardware and software patents related to the iPhone.

It wasn’t long ago that a company close to HTC attempted to embargo Apple's iPad using patents and here comes another lawsuit claiming patent violations.

A company that has already sued Apple over a patent on zooming and scrolling on a mobile Web browser, is now adding the iPad to the lawsuit Monday.

The Mad Hatter argues that Apple is the “Competent Danger to Free Software” and he explains why:

Free has nothing to do with price, instead it stands for ‘FREEDOM’ or ‘LIBERTY’, meaning that the end-user should be free to use the software, modify the software, and pass on their modifications. There is no reason why free software cannot be sold, as long as the four freedoms are respected. Those freedoms are:

* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
* The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
* The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

While many people consider Open Source to be equivalent to Free Software, it isn’t. Open Source is a software design methodology, which is claimed to produce better software, while Free Software is a philosophical equivalent to the Freedom of Speech clause found in many countries constitutions.

It is rather amazing that some people still choose to believe that Apple is friendly towards “Open Source”. It’s only blind faith.

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. Yuhong Bao said,

    April 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, as I said before, Apple and open source is another mess altogether. On that topic, I started a thread named “Apple, iPhone, and GPLv3 troubles‏” on the gcc@gcc.gnu.org mailing list, and still have many messages from it in my email inbox.

What Else is New


  1. Links 29/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC4, Maru OS Source Code

    Links for the day



  2. Let Them Eat Patents

    A reality check regarding software patents and regarding those who truly benefit from an expensive patent system with an even more expensive litigation process/proceedings



  3. Nothing Whatsoever Has Improved at the European Patent Office, It's Just Summer's Recess (and Silence)

    The European Patent Office (EPO) has done absolutely nothing to improve the work atmosphere, it just alters the marketing strategy somewhat



  4. Links 28/8/2016: Q4OS 1.6, ConnochaetOS 14.2

    Links for the day



  5. The United States Has Gotten Over Software Patents

    A roundup of new articles about software patents in the United States, 2 years into the post-Alice era (the US Supreme Court deeming patents on software too abstract to have merit)



  6. More Lies From President Benoît Battistelli and the EPO Crisis Which Continues to Deepen

    The European Patent Office (EPO), collectively speaking, is still wrestling with a Battistelli infiltration (a circle of high-level managers) which habitually lies and viciously attacks those who dare counter these lies



  7. Links 27/8/2016: Torvalds and GPL, “DOD Must Embrace Open-Source Software”

    Links for the day



  8. Links 26/8/2016: Maru OS Resurfaces, Android More Reliable Than 'i' Things, PC-BSD Becomes TrueOS

    Links for the day



  9. Good Job, David Kappos, Says the 'Boss' (IBM)

    Responses to the latest call against Alice (eliminator of many software patents), courtesy of the man from IBM (still paid by IBM) who was responsible for the policy that blindly approved a lot of software patents in the US



  10. Being for Patent Quality or Against Patenting Excess Does Not Make You Anti-Patents

    Like IAM, which tries to portray sceptics and critics of software patents as "anti-patents", IP Watchdog (or Watchtroll as we call it) is 'trolling' the Electronic Frontier Foundation, simply because it expressed an opinion that patent maximalists cannot tolerate



  11. Erosion of Patent Quality Enables Patent Extortion With Large Portfolios of Low Validity Rate

    Revisiting the EPO's vision of poor patent examination and the effect of discriminatory granting practices, favouring patent bullies such as Microsoft (which actively attacks Linux using low-quality and usually pure software patents)



  12. The EPO's Francesco Zaccà Presenting in Turin Alongside Patent Trolls (Like the Patent Mafia Sisvel) and Lobbyists/Front Groups for Software Patents, UPC

    Benjamin Henrion (FFII) on seeing the EPO alongside patent trolls and other nefarious actors, doing what they do best, which is undermining public interests and harming patent quality



  13. The EPO, USPTO, and Patent Microcosm Peddle Myths About Patents in Public Universities and Research

    Tackling some of the commonly-spread myths about patents as "saving lives" and "promoting research" (in practice leading to the death of poor people and promoting trolls)



  14. Large Corporations' Lobbyist David Kappos Disgraces Former Employer USPTO by Meddling in Their Affairs on Software Patents, Downplaying the Supreme Court

    The latest lobbying from David Kappos, who blatantly exploits his connections in patent circles to promote software patents and work towards their resurgence after Alice v CLS Bank



  15. Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice Calls the European Patent Office “Rotten”, Other Sources Scrutinise Recent Moves

    The patent office which was once known for being the best bar none is rotting under the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, who made himself and his friends the main clients of the Office



  16. PTAB Emerges as Hero of USPTO Because Quality of Patents Improves, Software Patents Are Effectively Dead (or Dying Once Reassessed)

    With help from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) -- not just patent courts -- software patents drop like flies by the thousands



  17. Creative Technology, Now Operating in 'Patent Troll' Mode, Shot Down by the ITC; Jawbone Too Shot Down

    Some good news from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which may have put an end to Creative's new war on Android (using old patents)



  18. Corporate Media in India Misrepresents Startups to Push for Software Patents

    A parade of misinformation as seen in Indian (but English-speaking) press this week as questions about patentability of software resurface



  19. Links 25/8/2016: Linux Turns 25, NetworkManager Turns 1.4

    Links for the day



  20. Links 24/8/2016: More From LinuxCon, Uganda Wants FOSS

    Links for the day



  21. Links 23/8/2016: GNOME 3.22 Beta, Android 7.0 Nougat

    Links for the day



  22. The Linux Foundation Gives Microsoft (Paid-for) Keynote Position While Microsoft Extorts (With Patents) Lenovo and Motorola Over Linux Use

    This morning's reminder that Nadella is just another Ballmer (with a different face); Motorola and Lenovo surrender to Microsoft's patent demands and will soon put Microsoft spyware/malware on their Linux-powered products to avert costly legal battles



  23. Not Just President Battistelli: EPO Vice-Presidents Are Still Intentionally Misrepresenting EPO Staff

    Evidence serving to show that EPO Vice-Presidents are still intentionally misrepresenting EPO staff representatives and misleading everyone in order to defend Battistelli



  24. Battistelli the Liar Causes a Climate of Confrontation in French Politics, Lies About Patent Quality (Among Many Other Things)

    Battistelli's lies are coming under increased scrutiny inside and outside the European Patent Office (EPO), where patent quality has been abandoned in order to artificially elevate figures



  25. The Collapse of Software Patents and Patent Law Firms Trying to “Overcome” Alice

    The United States continues its gradual crackdown on software patents (which are viewed as abstract and thus unpatentable), whereas in Europe things are murkier than ever



  26. Apple's Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

    Apple's insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns



  27. Links 22/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC3, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” KDE Beta

    Links for the day



  28. Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

    Links for the day



  29. Links 20/8/2016: Android Domination, FSFE summit 2016

    Links for the day



  30. Patents Roundup: Trolls Dominate Litigation, PTAB Crushes Patents, Patent Box Regime Persists, and OIN Explains Itself

    Another roundup of patent news from around the Web with special focus on software patenting


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