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08.21.10

Bogus Oracle Patents, Broken USPTO, Apple’s Patent Aggression, and Acacia Gets More Money to Troll

Posted in America, Apple, Java, Law, Oracle, Patents, SUN at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Gosling may have helped Sun gain bogus patents (violation of USPTO rules), the USPTO delegitimises itself with poor adherence to quality, and Acacia receives more money with which to further delegitimise the USPTO

THE GOOD thing about the Oracle lawsuit (which is generally very bad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]) is that it motivates more people to end software patents right now.

The debate about software patents is hot again. Rui Seabra passes the message that “Merely asking #Oracle: “play nice” isn’t enough. We should demand abolition of their #swpats [software patents]”

Red Hat’s Richard Fontana says: “incidentally, whatever one thinks of #swpats, #disturbing if #Gosling knowingly signed off on bogus patent; see http://ur1.ca/16ox4 [§ 1.56 Duty to disclose information material to patentability. - Appendix R Patent Rules]”

Fontana is referring to joke patents [1, 2, 3], which continue to cause great controversy and stir up important debate.

Mike Masnick shows that “Patent Office [is] Back To Approving Pretty Much Anything”:

Of course, the unfortunate reality is that this won’t actually solve the backlog problem at all. You would think, with all the engineering/operations brains at the Patent Office, that they would understand that this will only make the backlog worse. Approving junk patents only makes it more lucrative to file ever more ridiculous patent applications, which only increases the backlog. In rushing through more patents, it only encourages a bigger and bigger backlog. In treating the symptoms, rather than the actual disease, we’re making the disease much, much worse.

Separately, Masnick shows that the court system (not the USPTO) rejects a controversial patent. The courtroom — unlike the USPTO — does not have special incentive in approving more and more patents.

Last fall we wrote about how a company named Ultramercial had sued Hulu, YouTube and WildTangent over patent 7,346,545 for requiring people to watch an ad before being able to access content. It resulted in an interesting discussion in our comments, where some patent system defenders insisted that the patent was perfectly legit. Unfortunately, the court disagrees with those folks. It has ruled that the patent is not valid (the ruling covers Hulu and WildTangent — YouTube was dismissed from the case). Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the court chose to use the “machine or transformation test” for judging the patent. While some have read the Bilski ruling to “reject” the “machine or transformation” test, that’s not quite true.

Simon Phipps responds to the Oracle lawsuit also by raising questions about OIN:

Software patents are broken and the only possible justification for having them is self-defence (which is itself a risky accumulation of armaments). Perhaps OIN and the Linux Foundation need to make membership conditional on members taking no first action against each other with software patents?

We criticised the OIN’s vulnerabilities long before other people did, even back in 2008. Additionally, we seemed to be among the first to suggest that Apple could have a role in Oracle’s action (we brought up the possibility hours after the announcement). We now find more articles noting the Jobs-Ellison connection and Apple booster Daniel Eran Dilger is adding to the FUD. We link just to comments on his article, not from his Apple choir, so for anyone who still thinks that Apple and its followers are not harmful to Linux, pay careful attention to this. It’s part of a pattern from this close friend of Apple. People like Denial should do more to tell their emperors at Apple to stop the patent greed, including the investment in the world’s biggest patent troll. When Apple threatened Palm with patents, Daniel of course defended Apple.

Speaking of the world’s biggest patent troll, Acacia too has just received a quarter of a billion dollars of investment money (in patent trolling). [hat tip: FFII]

Acacia Research Corp. in Newport Beach has established a fund to buy, license and enforce patents and other intellectual property.

The Acacia Intellectual Property Fund LP has received an initial $27 million from an unnamed institutional investment group. An Acacia subsidiary will be the fund’s general partner.

[...]

Acacia recently announced two separate settlements with IBM for undisclosed terms to license Acacia-owned patents for monitoring computer applications. One lawsuit was pending in federal court in Texas and the other in Nebraska.

Microsoft recently paid Acacia, which sued Linux (through Red Hat and Novell).

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