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08.17.12

New Actions Against Software Patents

Posted in EFF, Patents at 2:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jumping people

Summary: New initiatives whose ultimate goal is to highlight the flaws in the USPTO

EFF vigilantes pick some stories about why the USPTO is dysfunctional. “At the risk of repeating ourselves,” says the EFF, “the current patent system is broken. There’s considerable evidence to support this claim, too—whether it’s innovation-destroying patent trolls or certified “chaos” in legal battles among tech giants. More than 10,000 people have signed onto our Defend Innovation campaign, helpfully providing their thoughts on what works and what doesn’t with the patent system, and what kinds of changes would really make things better.”

Pamela Jones calls for survey participation and says: “Last Month, I mentioned a survey on patent demands that law professor Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University is asking folks to fill out, asking for experiences with patent trolls um… nonpracticing entities. The specific interest is the impact on small businesses and entrepreneurs. How big is this problem? How many are being affected and how?

“The results will be used for academic purposes, including to form the basis of policy recommendations. If you or your company got a letter demanding you license a patent or received a threat of a lawsuit, how was it handled? Did it affect the company’s plans, for example, as to where money would be spent? Even if it hasn’t happened to you yet, is it something you worry about, or feel you must consider in your plans?”

Based on a report that says “Google Launches ‘Prior Art Finder’ For Patents” we know that Google still helps the EPO and USPTO rather than fight their premises. By contrast, he US “Popular Mechanics” calls for patent reform in this new article which states: “Shortly after he tossed out Apple’s software patent suit against Google-owned Motorola Mobility in June, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner made a bold remark to the press. Having presided over yet another battle in the patent wars, Posner questioned the need for patents in software, arguing that beating the competition to the shelves with a new technology is enough incentive to innovate. In fact, he told Reuters, “It’s not clear that we really need patents in most industries.”

“Then, not one month later, two congressmen suggested a plan to hamstring patent trolls—nonpracticing entities, or NPEs, that compile patents and sue companies for allegedly violating them. The Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act would require software patent trolls to pay their defendants’ legal fees.

“The one good thing about Apple’s litigation is that it helps resentment against software patents.”“Would either high-profile plan actually stop or ease the software patent wars?”

The one good thing about Apple’s litigation is that it helps resentment against software patents. We’ll write about that sort of litigation separately.

Apple is increasingly looking like a patent troll and those who really are get more ammunition (VirnetX) having gotten money from Microsoft. According to this report, “[i]n June when it announced its intention to sell, Kodak said that it had made $3bn from the 1,100 patents in the last decade and was using some of them in litigation against allegedly infringing firms like Apple, RIM and HTC.

“It’s thought that the Apple and Google bids are around $250m.”

Yes, Kodak is seemingly becoming an arsenal for Apple, Microsoft, and the world’s biggest patent troll whom they both fund. Google must be bidding to defend itself from litigation which is potentially coming from that cartel. Professor Mark Webbink has this update from one of the satellites of this patent troll. To quote: “As we mentioned in the article two weeks ago (Lodsys – Another DJ Action), the time for Lodsys to file further actions, according to Oracle, has now passed. So what has been filed should be it. We also mentioned that we were principally going to keep our eyes on two aspects of the cases: Oracle’s declaratory judgment action against Lodsys in Wisconsin (because of the substantial prior art that Oracle has raised in seeking invalidation of the Lodsys patents) and the Apple intervention in the Texas case, Lodsys v. Combay.

“In the Oracle action Lodsys has filed motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, transfer the action to the Eastern District of Texas. We are awaiting Oracle’s response, but it isn’t hard to guess what that will be. Oracle moved first and filed in the district where, arguably, Lodsys is actually located, not in the district where Lodsys maintains an empty storefront office (Eastern District of Texas).”

This is actually an example of positive action from Oracle. While it helps fight a patent troll, however, it does not eliminate the problem as a whole — a problem of which Oracle is part.

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

CIO.com

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