07.20.12

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Perspectives on the USPTO and Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 3:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Companies caught in a mess

Summary: News about the legal system, patent trolls, and problematic bias in the legal circles

JUST when we thought that the USPTO had hit rock bottom it continued to surprise us with existence-threatening lawsuits and embargoes. Judge Posner, who oversaw a case incorporating both aspects, got a lot of exposure after the Reuters report that had him quoted widely as saying that, based on resultant coverage, patents should not cover software and maybe it’s time for reform in the broken patent system because it is out of sync.

“Those who criticise campaigns to abolish software patents are most often patent lawyers…”Ed Burnette complains about the current patent system as well, particularly in light of some propaganda from his colleague “Steven Shaw [who] used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine &gMoore, a New York law firm” (how telling). His multi-part propaganda [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] helps show that it’s patent lawyers who want software patents, not practising folks such as technical writers.

Those who criticise campaigns to abolish software patents are most often patent lawyers, this particular example being some legal blog that claims to “explore the nexus of legal rulings”. Some announcements like this one reveal that, at least in this case, a recruit “focuses his intellectual property practice on patents” (the most controversial form of so-called ‘IP’).

Here is the hoarding of patents and accumulation of new ones, as in this case. A lot are explicitly covering software because it is legal in the US.

A “UK Computer Software Law Firm” is advertising itself in the context of patents as well, exemplifying the ambitions of UK-based lawyers to make software patentable in the UK as well. To quote: “Patent and trade mark attorney Franks and Co has been named UK Computer Software Law Firm of the Year by Corporate INTL Magazine.”

The startup parents propaganda which we wrote about recently is being challenged by some data and as hideous patents are being granted we are also reminded of their toll on society.

Acacia, a patent troll, has just extorted MathWorks, which might make some software like MATLAB more expensive (passage of wealth from non-trolls to trolls).

“Acacia, a patent troll, has just extorted MathWorks, which might make some software like MATLAB more expensive (passage of wealth from non-trolls to trolls).”Here is a new report about the impact of patents on society as a whole. To quote: “A patent is an easy way to make money, but these days not so much for inventing things but inventing concepts to patent. To make money from them, usually someone has to get sued. The process involves a considerable amount of money, starting with paying lawyers, paying court costs, paying for transport, hotels, meals, and so on. All these things add up and they account for every cent as to what a trial would and does cost. [...] Judge Richard Posner, who ruled upon a patent dispute between Apple and Motorola, called Apple’s filling “frivolous”. The man has got some character to be able to stand up to Apple, and we have to applaud him to having the courage to do so.”

The only cases where we see the press advocating software patents (and sometimes patents as a whole) is when the writer is part of the patent litigation pipeline. It has become clear what the public wants, but private interest groups continue to distort policy.

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