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 in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2012/06/27/uspto-is-flawed/

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 8/3/2021: Java 16 is Coming and More Software Patents Thrown Out

    Links for the day



  2. Examining Today's EPO Propaganda About the Disastrous EQE, a Subject of Much Scorn and EPO Corruption (Updated)

    The EPO’s e-EQE was a complete and utter disaster; but in an act of overt revisionism (i.e. the usual from this administration) the EPO pretends everything went well, bar a minor glitch lasing a few minutes



  3. The World Wide Web Has Become Proprietary and the Last Remaining 'Major' Browser That Was (Pre-EME) Free Software Is Rapidly Becoming Useless and User-Hostile (It's Monopoly- and Surveillance-Sponsored)

    The World Wide Web seems like a lost cause because Web browsers, which nowadays determine what the de facto standards are (same problem as 20 years ago), are monopolistic when it comes fundamentals like rendering engines (and privacy isn't even an option, users aren't the priority but the product etc.)



  4. Links 8/3/2021: Waffle 1.7.0 and a Look at the New Pardus (19.5)

    Links for the day



  5. Real Feminism is Grassroots, Not a Corporate Ploy (to Improve Image and Sales)

    The insulting publicity stunt many will be exposed to throughout the day is largely a corporate-led Public Relations charade, painting sexist companies as defenders of women



  6. Gemini Capsules and Pages Now Accessible in a Web Browser, Qutebrowser, But Qutebrowser Has Issues

    As noted earlier this morning, it's nowadays possible to access Gemini capsules through a Web browser without any Web proxies; but the (likely) first browser with that capability has numerous big issues



  7. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, March 07, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, March 07, 2021



  8. Moving Away From the World Wide Web is a Wise Move, at Least to the Degree Which is Possible

    More Web browsers finally support the Gemini protocol and decentralisation is gaining traction (it's even in mainstream European media right about now)



  9. The Banality of Bribery

    To understand why institutions defend and sometimes even give awards for the very things they claim to be against one must examine the flow of money (with strings attached to it)



  10. When I Discovered People Trafficking in Free/Open Source Software

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  11. Links 7/3/2021: AviDemux 2.7.8, Thunar 4.16.4

    Links for the day



  12. Links 7/3/2021: Sparky 2021.03, SystemRescue 8.00, and FreeBSD 13.0 RC1

    Links for the day



  13. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, March 06, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, March 06, 2021



  14. How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy -- Part V: All The Rest

    The final part of a series on liberating the Raspberry Spy from an untrustworthy OS that secretly adds Microsoft keys and proprietary software repositories of Microsoft



  15. How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy -- Part IV: Doing The Task

    We now spell out the steps taken to actually replace the Raspberry Pi OS with something more trustworthy



  16. Corporations Do Not Represent Communities and Activists, They Just Exploit Them, Discredit Them, and Hijack Their Hard Work

    The AstroTurfing and the Googlebombing campaigns of large corporations would have us believe that genuine activists are toxic and malicious people, whereas corporations exist to save the world from evil people; don’t fall for those Public Relations tactics (a gross inversion of narrative)



  17. Why the 'Raspberry Spy' Blunder is a Lot More Serious and Profound Than the Corporate Media is Willing to Acknowledge

    As this video points out, the ongoing series by Gavin L. Rebeiro is justified by the fact that the 'Raspberry Spy' Foundation continues to work with and some might say for Microsoft; it sold out millions of customers



  18. Links 6/3/2021: “SLS” Mitigation and Exiv2/KDE Project

    Links for the day



  19. How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy -- Part III: Fundamentals

    Following the introductory and preliminary parts we dive deeper into the steps taken to replace the Raspberry Pi's GNU- and Linux-based OS with something like NetBSD



  20. Links 6/3/2021: Linux 5.12 RC2 and OpenSUSE Tumbleweed Woes

    Links for the day



  21. IRC Proceedings: Friday, March 05, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, March 05, 2021



  22. Links 5/3/2021: Qubes OS 4.0.4 Release and Wine's Project Leader is Open to Wayland

    Links for the day



  23. How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy -- Part II: Introduction

    Following Part I, published a few hours ago, let's examine what happened from a technical perspective and what can be done about it technically



  24. How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy -- Part I: Acknowledgements

    March 2, 2021 blog post series from a guest author; for some background, see blog posts from Microsoft in the official blog of Raspberry Pi and our response to these



  25. German Decision on Unitary Patent/UPC Will Take Years (and It Doesn't Matter Because the Whole Thing is Dead Already)

    Kluwer Patent Blog's Dr. Bausch explains why the UPC is pretty much doomed, as it cannot be ratified any time soon and probably will never be ratified either (for a multitude of reasons, including Brexit)



  26. Techrights in Australia (IPFS and Gemini)

    Allies in Australia will help Techrights serve material from another server; we're still bettering ourselves for an era of oppressive World Wide Web



  27. Professional Troll Matthew Garrett Spreads Libel, Defamation and Slander About the Free Software Community to Entertain Microsoft and Friends

    After months of parking in our IRC channels to provoke and troll people (and try to collect 'dirt' from responses) the professional troll Matthew Garrett has been for many years shows his true colours again



  28. Links 5/3/2021: Linux 5.12-rc2 Imminent, Linux Lite 5.4 RC1 in Review

    Links for the day



  29. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, March 04, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, March 04, 2021



  30. Links 4/3/2021: LibreOffice 7.1.1, Cockpit 239, Many Stable Kernel Releases

    Links for the day


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

Recent Posts