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

06.27.12

New Evidence Arrives to Support Patent System Overhaul While EFF Pressures Congress

Posted in EFF, Patents at 10:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boston University seal

Summary: A new study from Boston helps show that the patent system is flawed, just as the EFF argues

THE EFF managed to get a discussion about the patent system going. Red Hat’s Open Source site summarises some of the key points that the EFF has been passing around the Web:

A new website—defendinnovation.org—neatly summarizes the EFF’s position on software patents as well as the organization’s proposed changes to the current patent system:

1. A patent covering software should be shorter: no more than five years from the application date.
2. If the patent is invalid or there’s no infringement, the trolls should have to pay the legal fees.
3. Patent applications should be required to provide an example of running software code for each claim in the patent.
4. Infringers should avoid liability if they independently arrive at the patented invention.
5. Patents and licenses should be public right away. Patent owners should be required to keep their public records up-to-date.
6. The law should limit damanges so that a patent owner can’t collect millions if the patent represented only a tiny fraction of a defendent’s product.
7. Congress should commission a study and hold hearings to examine whether software patents actually benefit our economy at all.

Boston University has meanwhile released another one of its studies [1, 2, 3] about the patent system in the US. The BBC covered it:

The direct cost of actions taken by so-called “patent trolls” totalled $29bn (£18.5bn) in the US in 2011, according to a study by Boston University.

It analysed the effect of intellectual rights claims made by organisations that own and license patents without producing related goods of their own.

Such bodies say they help spur on innovation by ensuring inventors are compensated for their creations.

With more scholarly work in the area we’ll be better equipped to change the system for the better, led by influential groups like the EFF. Quoting The H:

Further information about the EFF’s new patent reform project and details of each of the proposals can be found on the official Defend Innovation web site. On the site, users can also add their signatures and comments to a white paper that will be taken to the US Congress.

They actually take this up with politicians. This is a productive route. This needs to be done before software patents spread to the EU, like a lot of the policies that the US exports over time to the whole world (e.g. DMCA). Glyn Moody warns:

Once the Unitary Patent comes in, EPO patents will automatically be valid in all countries that have joined the scheme (Italy and Spain haven’t.) The question then becomes: so where can the EPO’s patents be challenged? In an excellent article on the Unitary Patent, Richard Stallman provides us with the answer:

“A small but crucial detail in the [Unitary Patent] plan is that appeals against the EPO’s decisions would be decided based on the EPO’s own rules. The EPO could thus tie European business and computer users in knots to its heart’s content.”

As we’ve seen, the EPO has already been granting software patents (tens of thousands of them according to Stallman) despite the European Parliament decision not to accept them; currently, those patents can be contested in national courts. But come the Unitary Patent, it won’t be possible to do that; instead, the validity of the EPO patents will be decided according to the EPO’s rules. It’s easy to see that this will lead to a flood of software patents being validated across Europe, bringing with them the insane, destructive lawsuits that are currently tearing the US computer world to pieces. Needless to say, the knock-on effects for open source would be terrible if that happened.

We’ll catch up with this next month.

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

10 Comments

  1. mcinsand said,

    June 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Gravatar

    The circulating punchlist has me cringing and thinking of yet another reason software patents should be banned; given the rules that bind the examiners, and given the ability of software companies to keep source code closed, patent offices cannot make more than a joke of an effort at screening patent applications. Examiners are only allowed to search the patent databases. How many tens of thousands of lines of code are there out there for each software patent. Then, how many more lines of code are written for closed-source applications.

    Even if a person supports software patents, the mechanism does not yet exist to guage a patent’s validity. For a while, I was advocating holding examiners responsible for granting patents in the presence of mountains of prior art, but they have no chance to hope to tell if a software patent application has any innovation.

    Look at the ‘IP’ Apple and MS have been terrorizing the world with. Software patents only require the nerve to file the application, not novel ideas.

    Software patents are a lot like the idea of a border fence in the US. If you understand how a shovel works, then you’ll understand what a waste of resources a border fence will be. And, if you have a clue as to just how much software has been written, you’ll understand how impossible it is to actually rule on whether a software construct is truly new idea.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The field of computer vision is riddled with (American) software patents, so to me it’s also a personal battle.

    mcinsand Reply:

    Sadly, we in the US seem to be leading the world in opening the door for patent trolls. Software patents are ridiculous, but the point that I was trying to make is that, even if I did think there might be some justification for them, it wouldn’t matter. Whether the idea of software patents could be supported or not, there is simply no practical way to test for validity; issuing software patents guarantees patent trolls and the sort of economic market terrorism that Apple and MS have brought. Testing for software novelty is just too prohibitively difficult, if not impossible, for software patents to be market-destructive.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    What on Earth is a “design patent”?

    In the news right now: US Judge Stops Sale Of Old Galaxy Tab 10.1

    The US patent and legal system is screwed, no doubts about it. There is good news and bad news. The bad news first, Judge Lucy Koh has granted Cupertino’s request to stop the sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the US. According to the order details, Judge ordered the injunction on the grounds of design patents.

  2. mcinsand said,

    June 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Gravatar

    >>What on Earth is a “design patent”?

    The only family-friendly answer I can give is that a ‘design patent’ is less legitimate than a software patent. My understanding is that, if the concept is too weak for a patent, a copyright, or a trademark, then a ‘design patent’ is a possiblity. In this case, it has to do with portable devices having rounded corners. How long has it been known that, if you carry a rectangular object on your person, sharp corners create discomfort? Hundreds of years? Thousands? In the US, let one of those corners cause a scratch, let it get infected, and the purveyor of sharp-cornered objects will probably lose a negligence suit.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There is prior art in tablets. And I don’t mean plastic ones, I mean stone.

    mcinsand Reply:

    Exactly! Although I will exempt patent examiners on software patents because of the way their hands are tied, the examiner on this ‘design patent’ was negligent. In my view, the examiner should be held up for ridicule and held personally responsible for the legal costs resulting from this joke being granted.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Re-examination is so expensive (upon lawsuit/s being launched), this whole present system is rigged. It’s clearly created to incentivise patents (monopolies, protectionism), not to reward or promote innovation.

    Sign the EFF’s petition:

    https://defendinnovation.org/

  3. mcinsand said,

    June 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Gravatar

    I signed the petition, I hope. Due to a slow refresh, though, I hit the submit button again, and I hope that my signature is not ruled invalid because of the doublesubmission. However, I don’t like the wording on much of this, because it goes way too far to sound like software patents are legitimate.

    I’m both more optimistic and more cynical than you on how the patent system is set up, or, rather, what it has become. Especially on software patents, we are where we are because of incompetence. The USPTO procedures and tools are more appropriate for the first half of the 20th century than for the information age, and the US government agencies responsible have failed to allow it to adapt to the times.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s no coincidence that the patent system devolved into the sordid mess it is today. Certain stakeholders with a lot of influence over the system (lobbyists, revolving doors, etc.) rigged the system and turned it into a protectionism tool for the likes of IV, IBM, and MSFT. Citizens didn’t guard the establishment, so corporations took advantage and took over it, ‘fixing’ it (in their favour). Apathy is a culprit, petitions can help change that.

What Else is New


  1. Links 21/3/2019: Wayland 1.17.0, Samba 4.10.0, OpenShot 2.4.4 and Zorin Beta

    Links for the day



  2. Team UPC (Unitary Patent) is a Headless Chicken

    Team UPC's propaganda about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has become so ridiculous that the pertinent firms do not wish to be identified



  3. António Campinos Makes Up Claims About Patent Quality, Only to be Rebutted by Examiners, Union (Anyone But the 'Puff Pieces' Industry)

    Battistelli's propagandistic style and self-serving 'studies' carry on; the notion of patent quality has been totally discarded and is nowadays lied about as facts get 'manufactured', then disseminated internally and externally



  4. Links 20/3/2019: Google Announces ‘Stadia’, Tails 3.13

    Links for the day



  5. CEN and CENELEC Agreement With the EPO Shows That It's Definitely the European Commission's 'Department'

    With headlines such as “EPO to collaborate on raising SEP awareness” it is clear to see that the Office lacks impartiality and the European Commission cannot pretend that the EPO is “dafür bin ich nicht zuständig” or “da kenne ich mich nicht aus”



  6. Decisions Made Inside the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Lack Credibility Because Examiners and Judges Lack Independence

    The lawless, merciless, Mafia-like culture left by Battistelli continues to haunt judges and examiners; how can one ever trust the Office (or the Organisation at large) to deliver true justice in adherence or compliance with the EPC?



  7. Team UPC Buries Its Credibility Deeper in the Grave

    The three Frenchmen at the top do not mention the UPC anymore; but those who promote it for a living (because they gambled on leveraging it for litigation galore) aren't giving up and in the process they perpetuate falsehoods



  8. The EPO Has Sadly Taken a Side and It's the Patent Trolls' Side

    Abandoning the whole rationale behind patents, the Office now led for almost a year by António Campinos prioritises neither science nor technology; it's all about granting as many patents (European monopolies) as possible for legal activity (applications, litigation and so on)



  9. Where the USPTO Stands on the Subject of Abstract Software Patents

    Not much is changing as we approach Easter and software patents are still fool's gold in the United States, no matter if they get granted or not



  10. Links 19/3/2019: Jetson/JetBot, Linux 5.0.3, Kodi Foundation Joins The Linux Foundation, and Firefox 66

    Links for the day



  11. Links 18/3/2019: Solus 4, Linux 5.1 RC1, Mesa 18.3.5, OSI Individual Member Election Won by Microsoft

    Links for the day



  12. Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

    Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network



  13. Director Iancu Generally Viewed as a Lapdog of Patent Trolls

    As Director of the Office, Mr. Iancu, a Trump appointee, not only fails to curb patent trolls; he actively defends them and he lowers barriers in order to better equip them with bogus patents that courts would reject (if the targets of extortion could afford a day in court)



  14. Links 17/3/2019: Google Console and IBM-Red Hat Merger Delay?

    Links for the day



  15. To Team UPC the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Has Become a Joke and the European Patent Office (EPO) Never Mentions It Anymore

    The EPO's frantic rally to the very bottom of patent quality may be celebrated by obedient media and patent law firms; to people who actually produce innovative things, however, this should be a worrisome trend and thankfully courts are getting in the way of this nefarious agenda; one of these courts is the FCC in Germany



  16. Links 16/3/2019: Knoppix Release and SUSE Independence

    Links for the day



  17. Stopping António Campinos and His Software Patents Agenda (Not Legal in Europe) Would Require Independent Courts

    Software patents continue to be granted (new tricks, loopholes and buzzwords) and judges who can put an end to that are being actively assaulted by those who aren't supposed to have any authority whatsoever over them (for decisions to be impartially delivered)



  18. The Linux Foundation Needs to Speak Out Against Microsoft's Ongoing (Continued) Patent Shakedown of OEMs That Ship Linux

    Zemlin actively thanks Microsoft while taking Microsoft money; he meanwhile ignores how Microsoft viciously attacks Linux using patents, revealing the degree to which his foundation, the “Linux Foundation” (not about Linux anymore, better described as Zemlin’s PAC), has been compromised



  19. Links 15/3/2019: Linux 5.0.2, Sublime Text 3.2

    Links for the day



  20. The EPO and the USPTO Are Granting Fake Patents on Software, Knowing That Courts Would Reject These

    Office management encourages applicants to send over patent applications that are laughable while depriving examiners the freedom and the time they need to reject these; it means that loads of bogus patents are being granted, enshrined as weapons that trolls can use to extort small companies outside the courtroom



  21. CommunityBridge is a Cynical Microsoft-Funded Effort to Show Zemlin Works for 'Community', Not Microsoft

    After disbanding community participation in the Board (but there are Microsoft staff on the Board now) the "Linux Foundation" (or Zemlin PAC) continues to take Microsoft money and polishes or launders that as "community"



  22. Links 14/3/2019: GNOME 3.32 and Mesa 19.0.0 Released

    Links for the day



  23. EPO 'Results' Are, As Usual, Not Measured Correctly

    The supranational monopoly, a monopoly-granting authority, is being used by António Campinos to grant an insane amount of monopolies whose merit is dubious and whose impact on Europe will be a net negative



  24. Good News Everyone! UPC Ready to Go... in 2015!

    Benoît Battistelli is no longer in Office and his fantasy (patent lawyers' fantasy) is as elusive as ever; Team UPC is trying to associate opposition to UPC with the far right (AfD) once again



  25. Links 13/3/2019: Plasma 5.15.3,Chrome 73 and Many LF Press Releases

    Links for the day



  26. In the Age of Trumpism EFF Needs to Repeatedly Remind Director Iancu That He is Not a Judge and He Cannot Ignore the Courts

    The nonchalance and carelessness seen in Iancu's decision to just cherry-pick decisions/outcomes (basically ignoring caselaw) concerns technologists, who rightly view him as a 'mole' of the litigation 'industry' (which he came from)



  27. Links 12/3/2019: Sway 1.0 Released, Debian Feuds Carry On

    Links for the day



  28. Microsoft is Complaining About Android and Chrome OS (GNU/Linux) Vendor Not Paying for Microsoft Patents (Updated)

    Microsoft, which nowadays does the patent shakedown against GNU/Linux by proxy, is still moaning about companies that don’t pay ‘protection’ money (grounds for antitrust action or racketeering investigation)



  29. Watchtroll Has Redefined "Trolls" to Mean Those Who Oppose Software Patents (and Oppose Trolls), Not Those Who Leverage These for Blackmail Alone

    The controversial change to 35 U.S.C. § 101 guidance is being opposed by the public (US citizens who oppose American software patents), so patent maximalists like Janal Kalis (“PatentBuddy”) and extremists like Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) want us to believe that the public is just “EFF” and cannot think for itself



  30. EPO's Latest 'Results' Show That António Campinos Has Already Given Up on Patent Quality and is Just Another Battistelli

    The patent-granting machine that the EPO has become reports granting growth of unrealistic scale (unless no proper examination is actually carried out)


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