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

08.31.10

Patents Roundup: OIN, Patent Attorney Ignorance, “Ultimate Patent Troll”, the Rambus Submarine Patent, Death Patents, MPEG-LA, and i4i/Microsoft

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Submarine (patents)

Summary: An overview of patent news from the past few days, ranging from issues that directly affect GNU/Linux to issues that simply show how amoral and dysfunctional the patent systems have become

IT HAS BEEN a long time since the last “Patents Roundup” per se. This post is intended to keep readers abreast of the developments in the spooky world of patents, so no single topic is covered here exclusively.

We wish to begin with Linux, which has OIN protecting it in somewhat controversial ways (fighting software patents with software patents), which is effective only in particular circumstances, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

“Our community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks…”
      –Eben Moglen
Groklaw's most recent take on OIN is a good source of information for OIN sceptics. OIN is not the “bad guy” here; not at all. Keith Bergelt of OIN is genuinely interested in protecting Linux from patent litigation by accumulating (hoarding) patents and killing weak ones rather than eliminating the foundations of this whole category which is known as computer-implemented inventions (CII, or software patents). Bergelt says he is in favour of “good” patents. It’s not ideal of course, but the FSF/SFLC accepts the OIN and appreciates its work. Professor Eben Moglen wrote last year that “[o]ur community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks for interrupting this arms trade, and calling attention to a bad business practice.”

With that in mind we can approach a new post which says that “OIN seeks to overturn weak patents”:

The tech news industry is buzzing with stories about companies suing each other over patent infringement. Most of the supposed patent infringements come closer to patents representing a concept then an actual invention. As I have said before the conduct of many patent holders is the equivalent of patenting the color blue and suing anyone who wears a blue t-shirt.

This is where the Open Invention Network comes in to play. They have invited the public to review patents, especially patents that are being used to attempt to block open source development. The Open Invention Network is asking for its readers to submit examples of prior art. This is where a company has patented a product or concept that had already been developed by previous companies or individuals. Once evidence is in place of prior art in connection with a patent, that patent can be invalidated.

The Open Invention Network and its sibling projects are not as good as abolishing software patents a la FFII, but an analogy to them would be “pragmatism” in the Free vs. proprietary software sense. The OIN is a temporary fix, a Band-Aid® of sorts.

On we move to an important observation from Patently-O, a popular Web site which mostly attracts American patent lawyers and even — allegedly — SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) appointees. Patently-O points out that not enough computer scientists occupy the USPTO, which implies insufficient knowledge about software patents.

Professors Ralph Clifford, Tom Field, and Jon Cavicchi have published an interesting study on the technical backgrounds of patent attorneys and agents. After the trio submitted a FOIA request, the PTO handed-over 50,000 pages of patent bar registration applications. Using that information, the trio created a database of registered patent attorneys and their associated degrees/schools.

The paper makes the legitimate argument that the PTO should allow folks with a computer science degree to register — especially with the rise in the number of inventions related to computer science. “[A]n institutional bias exists within the PTO that prevents software-savvy individuals from registering with the Office.”

This is a serious problem. A lot of patent lawyers who are proponents of CII simply don’t understand how computational machines work; some ignorantly deny that computer programs (algorithms) can be encoded as mathematical formulae. That patent clerks at the USPTO fail to perceive it is a true travesty, not to mention similar problems among policy-makers, including Justices at SCOTUS.

Law Pundit has published this new post about a patent troll called George Selden. He is a patent lawyer who claimed a monopoly on the automobile. This sounds like some story out of science fiction, but it’s not.

The fix in which modern technology finds itself today as the result of our ill-conceived and smothering patent laws is unfortunately nothing new, but was a battle fought more than a century ago over patent rights to the invention of the automobile.

Thankfully for the future development of the automobile industry, legal common sense only prevailed due to the tenacity of Henry Ford, who prevailed over “virtual” inventor George B. Selden upon appeal, in a story in which the otherwise unknown Selden is the main character.

Rambus, which is a shameful aggressor (greatly loathed by many of its peers in industry), keeps ramming the bus [pun] into just about every technology company in the area, using submarine patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. How destructive. It is now targeting Big Blue again:

Chip designer Rambus Inc (RMBS.O) has sued International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N), seeking to reverse a federal agency finding that its patent for a memory system was not infringed.

Pubpat.org (Public Patent Foundation or PUBPAT for short) offers a glimpse at the fact that, once we depart from the field of technology, patents may also deal with life and death very directly. We call these death patents and HIV/AIDS drugs are invaluable examples of that:

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) announced today that it has formally asked the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine eight patents held by Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) relating to the critical HIV/AIDS drug ritonavir, which is marketed by the Chicago, Illinois pharmaceutical giant under the name brand Norvir.

In its requests, PUBPAT submitted previously unforeseen prior art proving that the patents should not have been granted. PUBPAT also cited recent Federal Circuit case law that supports its detailed arguments for nullification of the eight patents.

MPEG-LA, which is spearheaded by a patent troll, has not only a codec monopoly; it has begun forming an equally-despicable strategy in areas such as the above (which makes it a huge threat to life, not just to culture).

Simon Phipps, who recently said that “MPEG-LA is a parasite using standards bodies as its host, whether they want it or not,” addresses the latest stunt from this parasite [1, 2] and heralds that “H.264 Is Not The Sort Of Free That Matters” (same as the argument we made last week). Simon says:

The statement actually takes a lot of unpacking, probably intentionally so. H.264 is the widely-used “MP4″ video format created many years ago by the Motion Picture Experts Group, MPEG. Those “experts” were mostly associated with various corporations and research labs, and the international standard they created was heavily encumbered with patents.

Realising that no-one much would use the standard if each user had to go negotiate patent licensing terms with a large number of separate parties, the patent-holders wisely decided to get together outside the scope of MPEG and create the “MPEG Licensing Authority”, MPEG-LA.

Despite the name, MPEG-LA is nothing to do with the standards group itself. It’s a for-profit company devoted to making the patent problem worse in the name of making it “easier to handle” by creating patent pools for all sorts of other technology areas, beyond the media formats they already police. Go looking for the exact terms under which they are offering “free use” in this case and you’ll find they are not keen for you to know. The best available are summaries that are sketchy about the exact definitions of terms.

Last but not least, yesterday we wrote about the i4i case, noting that Microsoft decided to appeal (again). As Masnick correctly points out in his long and informative headline, “Microsoft, Who Supports Software Patents, Now Asks Supreme Court To Help It Against Patent Holder” (great news if this is indeed going to SCOTUS).

Microsoft, who has become a strongly pro-software patent company (despite Bill Gates’ old claim that patents would have harmed the software industry in the early days), is finding out (yet again) that such a stance can come back to bite you. We’ve already covered the somewhat ridiculous lawsuit that Microsoft faced from a small Canadian company, i4i, who claimed a patent (5,787,449) on an XML editing feature. Microsoft lost the lawsuit, and the court issued an injunction against Microsoft and claimed that the feature was worth an astounding $98 per copy where the feature was used.

Well, it’s even more interesting than that because Microsoft’s infringement was deliberate and it involved stabbing a ‘partner’ in the back. Can Microsoft help abolish software patents right now? Highly doubtful, but this case against Microsoft might contribute towards this goal.

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

What Else is New


  1. Links 20/6/2018: Qt 5.11.1, Oracle Solaris 11.3 SRU 33, HHVM 3.27.0, Microsoft Helping ICE

    Links for the day



  2. Patent Extremists Are Unable to Find Federal Circuit Cases That Help Them Mislead on Alice

    Patent extremists prefer talking about Mayo but not Alice when it comes to 35 U.S.C. § 101; Broadcom is meanwhile going on a 'fishing expedition', looking to profit from patents by calling for embargo through the ITC



  3. What Use Are 10 Million Patents That Are of Low Quality in a Patent Office Controlled by the Patent 'Industry'?

    The patent maximalists are celebrating overgranting; the USPTO, failing to heed the warning from patent courts, continues issuing far too many patents and a new paper from Mark Lemley and Robin Feldman offers a dose of sobering reality



  4. The Eastern District of Texas is Where Asian Companies/Patents/Trolls Still Go After TC Heartland

    Proxies of Longhorn IP and KAIST (Katana Silicon Technologies LLC and KAIST IP US LLC, respectively) roam Texas in pursuit of money of out nothing but patents and aggressive litigation; there's also a Microsoft connection



  5. EPO Insiders Correct the Record of Benoît Battistelli’s Tyranny and Abuse of Law: “Legal Harassment and Retaliation”

    Battistelli’s record, as per EPO-FLIER 37, is a lot worse than the Office cares to tell stakeholders, who are already complaining about decline in patent quality



  6. Articles About a Unitary Patent System Are Lies and Marketing From Law Firms With 'Lawsuits Lust'

    Team UPC has grown louder with its lobbying efforts this past week; the same lies are being repeated without much of a challenge and press ownership plays a role in that



  7. The Decline in Patent Quality at the EPO Causes Frivolous Lawsuits That Only Lawyers Profit From

    The European Patent Office (EPO) will continue granting low-quality European Patents under the leadership of the Battistelli-'nominated' Frenchman, António Campinos; this is bad news for science and technology as that quite likely means a lot more lawsuits without merit (which only lawyers profit from)



  8. What Battistelli's Workers Think of His Latest EPO Propaganda

    "Modernising the EPO" is what Battistelli calls a plethora of human rights abuses and corruption



  9. Links 19/6/2018: Total War: WARHAMMER II Confirmed for GNU/Linux, DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 Released

    Links for the day



  10. More Media Reports About Decline in Quality of European Patents (Granted by the EPO)

    What the media is saying about the letter from Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald and Vossius & Partner whilst EPO communications shift attention to shallow puff pieces about how wonderful Benoît Battistelli is



  11. Beware Team UPC's Biggest Two Lies About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Claims that a Unified Patent Court (UPC) will commence next year are nothing but a fantasy of the Liar in Chief, Benoît Battistelli, who keeps telling lies to French media (some of which he passes EPO money to, just like he passes EPO money to his other employer)



  12. Diversity at the EPO

    Two decades of EPO with 16-17 years under the control of French Presidents (and nowadays predominantly French management in general with Inventor Award held in France almost half the time) is "diversity at the EPO"



  13. Orrin Hatch, Sponsored the Most by the Pharmaceutical Industry, Tries to Make Its Patents Immune From Scrutiny (PTAB)

    Orrin Hatch is the latest example of laws being up for sale, i.e. companies can 'buy' politicians to act as their 'couriers' and pass laws for them, including laws pertaining to patents



  14. Links 17/6/2018: Linux 4.18 RC1 and Deepin 15.6 Released

    Links for the day



  15. To Keep the Patent System Alive and Going Practitioners Will Have to Accept Compromises on Scope Being Narrowed

    35 U.S.C. § 101 still squashes a lot of software patents, reducing confidence in US patents; the only way to correct this is to reduce patent filings and file fewer lawsuits, judging their merit in advance based on precedents from higher courts



  16. The Affairs of the USPTO Have Turned Into Somewhat of a Battle Against the Courts, Which Are Simply Applying the Law to Invalidate US Patents

    The struggle between law, public interest, and the Cult of Patents (which only ever celebrates more patents and lawsuits) as observed in the midst of recent events in the United States



  17. Patent Marketing Disguised as Patent 'Advice'

    The meta-industry which profits from patents and lawsuits claims that it's guiding us and pursuing innovation, but in reality its sole goal is enriching itself, even if that means holding science back



  18. Microsoft is Still 'Cybermobbing' Its Competition Using Patent Trolls Such as Finjan

    In the "cybersecurity" space, a sub-domain where many software patents have been granted by the US patent office, the patent extortion by Microsoft-connected trolls (and Microsoft's 'protection' racket) seems to carry on; but Microsoft continues to insist that it has changed its ways



  19. Links 16/6/2018: LiMux Story, Okta Openwashing and More

    Links for the day



  20. The EPO's Response to the Open Letter About Decline in Patent Quality as the Latest Example of Arrogance and Resistance to Facts, Truth

    Sidestepping the existential crisis of the EPO (running out of work and issuing many questionable patents with expectation of impending layoffs), the PR people at the Office choose a facts-denying, face-saving 'damage control' strategy while staff speaks out, wholeheartedly agreeing with concerned stakeholders



  21. In the United States the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Which Assures Patent Quality, is Still Being Smeared by Law Firms That Profit From Patent Maximalism, Lawsuits

    Auditory roles which help ascertain high quality of patents (or invalidate low-quality patents, at least those pointed out by petitions) are being smeared, demonised as "death squads" and worked around using dirty tricks that are widely described as "scams"



  22. The 'Artificial Intelligence' (AI) Hype, Propped Up by Events of the European Patent Office (EPO), is Infectious and It Threatens Patent Quality Worldwide

    Having spread surrogate terms like “4IR” (somewhat of a 'mask' for software patents, by the EPO's own admission in the Gazette), the EPO continues with several more terms like “ICT” and now we’re grappling with terms like “AI”, which the media endlessly perpetuates these days (in relation to patents it de facto means little more than "clever algorithms")



  23. Links 15/6/2018: HP Chromebook X2 With GNU/Linux Software, Apple Admits and Closes a Back Door ('Loophole')

    Links for the day



  24. The '4iP Council' is a Megaphone of Team UPC and Team Battistelli at the EPO

    The EPO keeps demonstrating lack of interest in genuine patent quality (it uses buzzwords to compensate for deviation from the EPC and replaces humans with shoddy translators); it is being aided by law firms which work for patent trolls and think tanks that propel their interests



  25. Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald and Vossius & Partner Find the Courage to Express Concerns About Battistelli's Ugly Legacy and Low Patent Quality

    The astounding levels of abuse at the EPO have caused some of the EPO's biggest stakeholders to speak out and lash out, condemning the Office for mismanagement amongst other things



  26. IAM Concludes Its Latest Anti-§ 101 Think Tank, Featuring Crooked Benoît Battistelli

    The attack on 35 U.S.C. § 101, which invalidates most if not all software patents, as seen through the lens of a Battistelli- and Iancu-led lobbying event (set up by IAM)



  27. Google Gets Told Off -- Even by the Typically Supportive EFF and TechDirt -- Over Patenting of Software

    The EFF's Daniel Nazer, as well as TechDirt's founder Mike Masnick, won't tolerate Google's misuse of Jarek Duda's work; the USPTO should generally reject all applications for software patents -- something which a former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO seems to be accepting now (that such patents have no potency after Alice)



  28. From the Eastern District of Texas to Delaware, US Patent Litigation is (Overall) Still Declining

    Patent disputes/conflicts are increasingly being settled outside the courts and patents that aren't really potent/eligible are being eliminated or never brought forth at all



  29. Links 13/6/2018: Cockpit 170, Plasma 5.13, Krita 4.0.4

    Links for the day



  30. When the USPTO Grants Patents in Defiance of 35 U.S.C. § 101 the Courts Will Eventually Squash These Anyway

    Software/abstract patents, as per § 101 (Section 101) which relates to Alice Corp v CLS Bank at the US Supreme Court, are not valid in the United States, albeit one typically has to pay a fortune for a court battle to show it because the patent office (USPTO) is still far too lenient and careless


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