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12.20.10

CPTN Shows Microsoft Becoming a Patent Agitator Like Kodak, Whose Time is Long Gone

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 3:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Photo negative

Summary: The show is over for companies like Kodak and Microsoft, so they turn to patents rather than products

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes about CPTN, which is Microsoft’s latest plot that it leads in order to further suppress competition. That’s what patents are about and they tend to be used the most when their holder cannot compete and instead starts litigating. Sounds familiar? Look no further than Kodak.

We wrote about Kodak repeatedly [1, 2, 3, 4] also when it got close to the Gates Foundation, a big booster of patenting. Kodak has a long history in its field, but now it is becoming somewhat of a patent troll and this new article asks: “Will Kodak Sue More Photo-Sharing Sites?”

Kodak, which has gone after several mobile-phone companies over the past year, is now targeting an internet company, with its recent lawsuit against Shutterfly. And, more importantly, it could easily use those same patents to go after other companies in that space, from startups like SmugMug and Snapfish to larger entities like Google’s Picasa or Yahoo-owned Flickr.

Kodak has asserted five patents in the lawsuit against Shutterfly, which it claims are being infringed by various Shutterfly services, including the sales of prints and photobooks through its web site. It may find Shutterfly an unusually tough opponent, as the startup has a handful of its own patents and has hired top-notch patent lawyers. This week, Shutterfly counter-sued Kodak in a federal court in California.

The patent system has become pathetic because rather than encourage innovation it is clearly stifling it. “Congress Approves Patent Pilot Program For Federal Judges” claims Legal Times. This does almost nothing to correct a broken system which increasingly puts the United States in a position of disadvantage.

District court judges interested in developing expertise in patent litigation will have a new opportunity under legislation headed to President Barack Obama’s desk.

The House gave final approval Thursday night to a proposal to establish a pilot project in at least six district courts where judges will be able to opt in to the new program to hear patent cases.

“Prior to coming to Congress, I was part of a number of patent suits. I was often struck by the fact that many district court judges either knew little of the applicable law, or did not understand the technology involved,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sponsored the legislation. “Patent litigation often costs litigants over $10 million and can inject crippling uncertainty into a business. This legislation launches a 10-year program to support efforts of courts to help businesses and individual inventors who patent ideas.”

In a world of modernised copyright law (not here yet), will anybody need patents?

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