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02.05.12

Unitary Patent and the Emergence of More Junk Patents

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cemetery for cars

Summary: The rise of the junk patents and what we are taught about them by the news, including some news about the unitary patent in Europe

THE UNITARY patent [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] drew opposition in several countries and also among some British MPs. Despite all that we know about the harms of patent maximalism, patent lawyers in Europe keep promoting it and argue for the inevitability of this looting of public knowledge:

It certainly is a sign of progress (although some would say in the wrong direction) that the Secretariat of the EU Council is about to finalise the Regulation for implementing the Unitary Patent (see Document CM 1068/12). Apparently, the dice is cast with respect to the Unitary Patent and, thus, with respect to the highly controversial question as to whether or not Articles 6 to 8 (effects of patents) should remain in the proposed Regulation so that substantive patent law will be subject to review by the Court of Justice of the European Union in future.

We have not heard about the unitary patent in a while, which either means that the public is left out or that no significant progress is being made. Lawyers have their own interests here and therefore a bias too. Over in Australia we see a similar type of crowd doing something similar. Patent boosters in Australia argue in favour of software patenting. It’s from a pro-patents blog that says:

The US Supreme Court has established three exceptions to the broad principle that all machines, processes, manufactures and compositions of matter are patentable under 35 USC §101 – laws of nature, physical phenomena and abstract ideas.

In Australia, it is settled law that the ‘manner of manufacture’ test for patent-eligibility excludes laws of nature, mere discoveries, ideas, scientific theories, schemes and plans. Mathematical formulae and algorithms are also excluded, to the extent that claims are not meaningfully limited to their use as part of a patentable practical application.

It can therefore be seen that, while the precise terms used differ in the two countries, there is a broad similarity between the fields of excluded subject matter in Australia and the US.

As we showed last year, there was some lobbying in Australia and a perpetual attempt to spread the venom of the US patent system to another continent (just like in Europe). It’s not about innovation, it is about greed. When multinationals are calling out the alligators with some more litigators (new hirings) they do nothing to promote innovation. Usually they merely impede it. Here is an example of another software patent being granted. Some of them are so embarrassingly trivial and CNET catches up with old news about Microsoft withdrawing one such embarrassing patents among several that it uses to extort Linux/Android (this one in the B&N case). To quote:

Microsoft withdrew a patent from the list of ones that it claims Barnes & Noble violates with its Nook e-readers in the software giant’s case against the bookseller before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The ITC is not done looking at the anti-competitive patent misuses by Microsoft. Microsoft lobbyists, however, try to change the story.

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