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

03.11.13

Patent Trolls Increasingly Recognised as an Issue, Taking Attention Away From Software Patents as Key Issue

Posted in Patents at 6:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dodging the main issue, which is monopolies on maths

Logic

Summary: Patent trolls and patent “quality” increasingly targeted rather than the debate about software patenting

There has been a lot of patent resentment recently, all directed at patent trolls and software patents, the trolls’ weapon of choice. There is
this new post from someone whose work is being attacked by a patent troll. It bothers me personally also because it is similar to an Android app I developed; to think that patent trolls can extort such apps is enough to convince myself and other developers that patent trolls and software patents harm everyone in almost every way.

A new style of trolling emerges following general apathy and tolerance towards patent trolls. This one report speaks of a troll scam which uses extortion, but unlike patent trolls, these ones go to prison:

An organization calling itself the “Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency” (ICLEA) recently sent out a batch of copyright infringement notices. One letter reproduced online states that “if this matter is not settled by Friday, March 1, 2013 then you may face serious potential criminal and/or civil charges filed against you. If you are arrested for felony criminal copyright infringement you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and held in jail until you are arraigned in court.” Recipients have been asked to pay various amounts, such as $395 or $495.

Needless to say, this is a scam. Under US law, only the government can indict defendants or throw them in jail. And the scammers seem to have realized that they made a big mistake, as their website now states, “Effective immediately, the Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency has ceased operations. Please disregard any notices you received from us, and please do not send us any payments.”

But as a screenshot captured by Fight Copyright Trolls shows, that’s not what the website used to say. Previously, the ICLEA claimed to be “an international organization that helps to enforce copyright laws on the Internet worldwide by informing potential copyright law violators regarding the serious criminal and/or civil liability they may face, and providing them with an opportunity to help them comply with copyright laws.”

I don’t believe that patent trolls should be sent to prison, just bankrupted. “A small company is suing us for patent infringement” says a Dilbert cartoon which can be found here. It sure seems like this whole trolling phenomenon has grown deep into public conscience. Here is a new high-profile trolling case, which CBS reported on as follows:

Maz Encryption Technologies, a Delaware company made up of two former employees of Maz Technologies, filed suits last week against Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Research In Motion (now BlackBerry).

There is a case fought by Function Media, L.L.C. against Google Inc. and lawyers who cover if say: “Function Media sued Google for infringement of three related patents: 6,446,045; 7,240,025; and 7,249,059. The patents involve a system for facilitating advertising on multiple advertising outlets (such as different websites) with different formatting requirements. The district court granted summary judgment that the sole independent claim of the ’045 patent was indefinite and a jury subsequently found that the asserted claims of the ’025 and ’059 patents invalid and not infringed. The district court granted JMOL of validity of four claims but the noninfringement verdict stood. FM appealed several issues including the indefiniteness ruling and raised a challenge based on O2 Micro.”

Here is another interesting article from the same site: “In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court has limited the scope of “arising under” jurisdiction for patent cases and held that the Minton’s patent litigation malpractice case does not arise under the patent laws and therefore is not amenable to exclusive federal jurisdiction.”

In a relatively arrogant and rude site of patent lawyers we find someone willing to accuse of faith-based insistence those who actually have academic studies and developers’ voices on their side. Watch this opening paragraph:

Rarely a week goes by these days without the publication of one academic study or another that addresses the “problem” of software patents in the US, often in tandem with a dissection of the cruelties inflicted by “patent trolls”. The conclusions of these studies are almost always variations on the same theme: “Something has to be done because the current regime is stifling economic growth, as companies are afraid to innovate because they may be sued for patent infringement.” These studies are always very precise about the specific problem within the system that they address, but they never seem to provide any evidence that innovation is, in fact, being affected by patents. That just seems to be taken as an article of faith.

The software patenting proponents, or in other words patent lawyers, latch onto Rader, a SCOTUS-glorified lawyer, for advocacy of this whole patent mess. The WatchTroll says “the patent system is far to important to allow bad actors and those with an anti-patent agenda to manipulate the mass-media, public and policy makers into believing that patents are inherently evil and deserving of the blame. Patents are objectively good by any fair and factual assessment of history. We just need to get the message out.”

It’s not about good or bad, it’s about within or outside scope. All software patents, for instance, are bad because they apply to abstract ideas. Meanwhile, the “head of litigation and intellectual property at Twitter” (i.e. a lawyer) promotes something which is not the solution but a hack of some kind, as we covered before. He says: “Even if the company or a future buyer of the patent wants to renege on the promises of the IPA, the inventors can hold them accountable and grant licenses to others. Suppose a company sells the patents to someone who decides to sue others offensively (in violation of the IPA); the inventors then have the ability to grant a license to the person or entity being sued. The license would thus protect the people being sued if the suit violated the promises in the IPA.”

A simpler solution would be to just eliminate software patents. The SHIELD act is an example of addressing the issue in another dodgy way, which IDG promotes as follows:

I’ve said before, and often repeated, that software patents are evil. Ask almost any experienced software product engineer — especially in an open source project — and they’ll tell you software patents are a bug, not a feature. The worst problem they face is patent trolls appearing from nowhere and enaging in a legal shakedown. Even President Obama says, “They don’t actually produce anything themselves. They are essentially trying to leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.”

But if you take away software patents, then a lot of trolls would go extinct. The SHIELD act is just a hack which assumes the defendant can afford a long trial. Here is what one writer says to provide background:

Last year, the first bill that could take a bite out of the business model of so-called “patent trolls” was introduced. Not much happened with it, but today a reworked bill has been introduced by the same sponsors: Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The bill is called the SHIELD Act of 2013, which stands for “Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes

Here is a criticism of SHIELD:

Evidently at least one Congressman feels that the AIA does not go far enough to combat patent “troll” lawsuits. Congressman Defazio of Oregon is sponsoring yet another bill entitled “Saving High-Tech Innovators From Egregious Legal Disputes Act.” The bill, like its 2012 predecessor, proposes that the costs (including attorney fees) of certain types of patent lawsuits should be recoverable from the Patentee once the court finds the patent invalid, or not infringed. The 2012 version of the bill was limited to software type inventions and mandated payment for only frivolous suits.

If they can classify something as “software type”, why grant a patent on it in the first place?

These cases would usually be dismissed provided there is prior art, so why are such patents granted in the first place? Well, it is hard to exhaustively study all software in existence, whereas for hardware it is much simpler because few players can manufacture cutting-edge hardware.

Here’s a new article about how to locate prior art and something in the news about frivolous patent cases:

The law firm of Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer and two of its partners have been hit with more than $200,000 in sanctions for filing a frivolous patent case, opposing an earlier sanctions ruling and, according to a federal judge in Manhattan, wasting the court’s time.

On Feb. 21, Southern District Judge Colleen McMahon (See Profile) ordered the legal team for plaintiff Source Vagabond Systems Ltd. to pay $200,054 in sanctions to defendant Hydrapak Inc.

Those lawsuits show that patent trolling, or the turning of patents into a business model, are a true issues as courts can recognise. In order to properly set up a deterrent they need to find out where those patents come from in the first place. We rarely if ever hear about trolling with hardware patents; statistically speaking, trolling is mostly a symptom of software patenting.

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

What Else is New


  1. Links 21/1/2018: Wine 3.0 Coverage, KaOS 2018.01, Red Hat Among 'Admired Companies'

    Links for the day



  2. Blockchain Patents Are a Catastrophe in the Making as Trolls and Aggressors Accumulate Them

    As patents pertaining to blockchains continue to be granted -- even in defiance of Alice/Section 101 -- it seems likely that patent wars will sooner or later erupt, involving some large banks, IBM, and patent trolls associated with the notorious Erich Spangenberg



  3. Qualcomm/Broadcom/NXP Combination Would Become a Disastrous Patent Thicket Which Benefits Nobody

    Worried by the prospect of mega-mergers and takeovers which would put far too much market power (and monopoly through patents) in one place, governments and corporations speak out



  4. Patent Litigation in East Asia: Huawei, Samsung, HTC, Nintendo and COLOPL

    A quick look at some high-profile cases in which large Asian firms are embroiled; it seems clear that litigation activities have shifted eastwards (where actual production is done)



  5. Patent Litigation in the US is Down Sharply and Patent Trolls' Demise Has Much to Do With It

    Docket Navigator and Lex Machina both show a significant decline in litigation -- a trend which is likely to carry on now that TC Heartland is in tact (not for just half a year but a whole year) and PTAB completes another record year



  6. Cheating the US Patent System is a Lot Harder After TC Heartland

    Some new examples of tricks (and sometimes cheats) attempted by patent claimants and their representatives; it does not go as well as they hoped



  7. RPX Might Soon be Owned by Patent Troll Erich Spangenberg

    RPX, whose top executives are leaving and business is gradually dying, might end up as another 'asset' of patent trolls



  8. Patent Quality (Not Numbers) as an Asset: Oppositions, Appeals and Rejections at the EPO

    Benoît Battistelli wants a rubber-stamping operation (like INPI) rather than a functional patent office, but oppositions at the Office prove to be fruitful and many erroneously-granted patents are -- by extrapolation -- already being revoked (affecting, in retrospect, Battistelli's so-called 'results')



  9. Links 19/1/2018: Linux Journalism Fund, Grsecurity is SLAPPing Again

    Links for the day



  10. The EPO Ignores This Week's Decision Which Demonstrates Patent Scope Gone Awry; Software Patents Brought Up Again

    The worrisome growth of European Patents (EPs) — a 40% jump in one year in spite of decline in the number of patent applications — is a symptom of the poor judgment, induced largely by bad policies that impede examiners’ activities for the sake of so-called ‘production’; this week's decision regarding CRISPR is another wake-up call and software patents too need to be abolished (as a whole), in lieu with the European Patent Convention (EPC)



  11. WesternGeco v ION Geophysical (at the US Supreme Court) Won't Affect Patent Scope

    As WesternGeco v ION Geophysical is the main if not sole ‘major’ patent case that the US Supreme Court will deal with, it seems safe to say that nothing substantial will change for patent scope in the United States this year



  12. Links 18/1/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.4, Git 2.16 Released

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft, Masking/Hiding Itself Behind Patent Trolls, is Still Engaging in Patent Extortion

    A review of Microsoft's ugly tactics, which involve coercion and extortion (for businesses to move to Azure and/or for OEMs to preload Microsoft software) while Microsoft-connected patent trolls help hide the "enforcement" element in this whole racket



  14. Patent Prosecution Highway: Low-Quality Patents for High-Frequency Patent Aggressors

    The EPO's race to the bottom of patent quality, combined with a "need for speed", is a recipe for disaster (except for litigation firms, patent bullies, and patent trolls)



  15. Press Coverage About the EPO Board Revoking Broad's CRISPR Patent

    Even though there's some decent coverage about yesterday's decision (e.g. from The Scientist), the patent microcosm googlebombs the news with stuff that serves to distract from or distort the outcome



  16. Links 17/1/2018: HHVM 3.24, WordPress 4.9.2

    Links for the day



  17. No Patents on Life (CRISPR), Said EPO Boards of Appeal Just a Few Hours Ago

    Broad spectacularly loses its key case, which may soon mean that any other patents on CRISPR too will be considered invalid



  18. Only Two Weeks on the Job, Judge Patrick Corcoran is Already Being Threatened by EPO Management

    The attack on a technical judge who is accused of relaying information many people had already relayed anyway (it was gossip at the whole Organisation for years) carries on as he is again being pushed around, just as many people predicted



  19. EPO Board of Appeal Has an Opportunity to Stop Controversial Patents on Life

    Patent maximalism at the EPO can be pushed aback slightly if the European appeal board decides to curtail CRISPR patents in a matter of days



  20. Links 16/1/2018: More on Barcelona, OSI at 20

    Links for the day



  21. 2018 Will be an Even Worse Year for Software Patents Because the US Supreme Court Shields Alice

    The latest picks (reviewed cases) of the Supreme Court of the United States signal another year with little or no hope for the software patents lobby; PTAB too is expected to endure after a record-breaking year, in which it invalidated a lot of software patents that had been erroneously granted



  22. Patent Trolls (Euphemised as “Public IP Companies”) Are Dying in the United States, But the Trouble Isn't Over

    The demise of various types of patent trolls, including publicly-traded trolls, is good news; but we take stock of the latest developments in order to better assess the remaining threat



  23. EPO Management and Team UPC Carry on Lying About Unified Patent Court, Sinking to New Lows in the Process

    At a loss for words over the loss of the Unitary Patent, Team UPC and Team Battistelli now blatantly lie and even get together with professional liars such as Watchtroll



  24. China Tightens Its Knot of Restrictive Rules and Patents

    Overzealous patent aggressors and patent trolls in China, in addition to an explosion in low-quality patents, may simply discourage companies from doing production/manufacturing there



  25. Microsoft's Patent Racket Has Just Been Broadened to Threaten GNU/Linux Users Who Don't Pay Microsoft 'Rents'

    Microsoft revisits its aggressive patent strategy which it failed to properly implement 12 years ago with Novell; it wants to 'collect' a patent tax on GNU/Linux and it uses patent trolls to make that easier



  26. EPO Scandals Played a Considerable Role in Sinking the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

    Today's press coverage about the UPC reinforces the idea that the EPO saga, culminating in despicable attacks on Patrick Corcoran (a judge), may doom the UPC once and for all (unless one believes Team UPC)



  27. J Nicholas Gross Thinks Professors Stop Being Professors If They're Not Patent Extremists Like Him

    The below-the-belt tactics of patent trolls and their allies show no signs of abatement and their tone reveals growing irritation and frustration (inability to sue and extort companies as easily as they used to)



  28. The US Supreme Court Has Just Denied Another Chance to Deal With a Case Similar to Alice (Potentially Impacting § 101)

    There is no sign that software patents will be rendered worthwhile any time in the near future, but proponents of software patents don't give up



  29. Litigation Roundup: Nintendo, TiVo, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Philips, UMC

    The latest high-profile legal battles, spanning a growing number of nations and increasingly representing a political shift as well



  30. Roundup of Patent News From Canada, South America and Australia

    A few bits and pieces of news from around the world, serving to highlight patent trends in parts of the world where the patent offices haven't much international clout/impact


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