Summary: A lot of evidence which shows who USPTO really serves and at whose expense
Patents on software are “every bit as well deserved” as patents on air flight, the electric bulb, and innovations that enabled the industrial revolution, Patent and Trademark Office Director David J. Kappos said in a Nov. 20 speech in Washington, D.C.
Aiming his remarks specifically at “those reporting and commenting on the smartphone system patent wars as if to suggest that the [patent] system is broken,” Kappos said, “let’s move beyond the flippant rhetoric and instead engage in thoughtful discussion.”
That is what we were all trying to have, but Wired is stacked by law professors rather than software professionals and this is no exception. The voice of practising professional is being taken away. In nanotechnology, we recently saw more professionals speaking out:
Software patents have long been contentious things, but patents in other areas of science are also becoming frequent subjects of editorials and court cases, with biotech and genomics making it to the US Supreme Court. Now, if an editorial in Nature is to be believed, nanotechnology is set to become the latest patent battleground.
Joshua Pearce is a professor at Michigan Technological University, and he very explicitly argues for taking an open-source and open-access approach to nanotechnology research. But he also goes well beyond that, calling for a patent moratorium and a gutting of the law that governs tech transfers from government-funded university research. At stake, he argues, is the growth of a field that could be generating trillions of dollars of economic activity within a few years.
So who is it that supports Kappos’ position? Lobbyists for large software companies, i.e. lawyers’ groups like the Business Software Alliance (BSA), as seen here, and patent lawyers. This is good for the cartel of patent stackers and bad for everyone else. Intel, which is part of this cartel and is a proponent of software patents, has just bought some more patents:
It’s been announced this morning that Intel is acquiring ZiiLabs, the subsidiary of Creative Labs that previously was 3DLabs. Intel is gaining “certain engineering resources and assets” plus licensing rights to certain ZiiLabs patents and other technologies surrounding the GPU.
Intel has been having problems recently (Android plays a role) and its head, who stood behind the company’s criminal behaviour, is said to have been sacked for it (not effective immediately). Maybe Intel is planning to tax some more those who do manage to actually sell a lot of chips. That’s where patents come in.
The USPTO is becoming a joke in more people’s eyes. Here is a look at patents on turkey (animal):
Here in Canada, we gave our proverbial thanks over a month ago, and since all the Americans at Techdirt have taken off for the weekend, I thought I’d take a moment to put together some advice on preparing a great Thanksgiving turkey—with a little help from the USPTO.
If you’re tired of the traditional roast, maybe it’s time to try a more creative preparation—just be careful you don’t run afoul of any patents. Here’s an idea: with some skilled knife-work, you can slice a turkey into pieces that resemble various cuts of steak—and that method will only be under patent for another five years!
Here is a corresponding response to Kappos. Now he is part of the problem, so his inane propaganda is being addressed:
Note the giant and very questionable assumptions in the middle of that one: that it’s “innovators” seeking to “protect” “breakthroughs.” I’d argue that none of the three things in quotes is accurate. Quite frequently it’s lawyers who haven’t actually innovated at all looking to shakedown actual innovators for broadly worded patents that never should have been granted, and which are being interpreted to cover things they don’t really have anything to do with. That’s not innovation. It’s extortion… backed up by the US government. It’s a travesty.
Even worse, Kappos is still relying on the absolutely ridiculous “study” that the USPTO put out earlier this year, despite the fact that its methodology has been widely debunked for including grocery store baggers as “IP innovators.” Sorry. And, if you look at what their actual report shows, it suggests that patent-intensive businesses aren’t doing so well. Somehow he ignores that. Of course, perhaps that’s why his office rejected a promised interview with me earlier this year, and could only defend the patent claims by arguing the most bizarre correlation argument in the world, that because Steve Jobs was innovative and had patents, therefore, patents worked.
Some lawyers’ Web sites obviously support Kappos. We know whose side he is on. More people need to speak about this bias in the whole system. It was subjected to a coup and the infiltrators won. As one pro-software patents site put it, Kappos revealed himself as part of this camp.
Last week, Director of the USPTO David Kappos delivered a keynote address to the Center for American Progress that focused on software patents and the smartphone “patent wars.” The speech is noteworthy for the Director’s strong defense of software patents.
The conference was a one-day conference, which started at 8:50 am and ended at 5:20 pm with a a reception afterwards from 5:30 to 6:30. There was a lunch break from 12:15 to 1. The schedule can be found at the conference website. It was adhered to closely.
The morning program consisted of three panels. The first was the Keynote and was titled “What is the Problem?” The second was “Panel #1: Legal Reform, Part 1.” Then after a coffee break we had “Panel #2: Agency Reform.”
The afternoon panels were called “Keynote #2: Views from the Trenches” and then “Panel #3: Legal Reform, Part 2.” After this an afternoon coffee break, then “Panel #4: Self Help” and at the end “Keynote #3.”
Some of you who were not in attendance were able to view the sessions live, except for the talk of Richard Stallman who refused to have his talk streamed on the ground that Silverlight used. Since I was actually present, I do not have the live streaming to look at, and thus my presentation of what happened is based upon my notes, which in what follows might be embellished by memory and thus not word-for-word correct.
This event too got stacked by lawyers, the leeches in this whole system. It is time to reclaim the patent system or just bury it. It’s for lawyers and plutocrats, not science and technology. Not anymore anyway.
Here is a technical person explaining why we should end software patenting. There is a good image inside this article showing how the cartel works and how it uses lawyers to keep challenges (to quality and also price) out of reach. To quote the introduction: “Patents make sense in some industries. When it costs a billion dollars to develop a new pharmaceutical, a company needs protection during that process to make it worth the risk of trying.
“But software doesn’t have that overhead. Too often, software patents just end up making the incumbents complacent and discourage brave, disruptive experiments.”
“This video by Marginal Revolution writer and economics professor Alex Tabarrok makes a clear argument against software patents.”
Mike Masnick expressed his views on why the USPTO is a lost cause for those of us who pursue reform from within:
While the US Patent Office has officially declared its desire to put its head in the sand concerning the problem of patent trolls, it appears that other parts of the government aren’t necessarily going to ignore the problem. The FTC and the DOJ are planning explore the issue with patent trolls at a public workshop next month (they use the currently popular term “patent assertion entities” rather than “patent trolls” but it’s clear what they mean). And the indications are that they may be looking to use their power to crackdown on bad behavior, potentially even using antitrust tools…
We’ve been pointing out for a while that one of the reasons why advancements in 3D printing have been relatively slow is because of patents holding back the market. However, a bunch of key patents have started expiring, leading to new opportunities. One, in particular, that has received a fair bit of attention was the Formlabs 3D printer, which raised nearly $3 million on Kickstarter earlier this year. It got a ton of well-deserved attention for being one of the first “low end” (sub ~$3,000) 3D printers with very impressive quality levels.
This progress is not stopped by patents. So much for encouraging innovation… █