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04.01.13

USPTO Worse Than Before With First-to-File System, Microsoft’s Patent List Meaningless

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: SAP hit with the side-effect of USPTO arming patent trolls and granting patents to the first investor (not inventor)

Software patents are a growing concern in the EU. SAP, an EU-based multinational, has just entered an important patent case which involves software patents:

SAP has filed a court action against patent holder Pi-Net International, which it says has filed patent infringement lawsuits against a number of SAP customers.

Based on articles like this, it’s seemingly a troll in disguise. “Another page describes WebXchange as an “aggressive startup” and lists job openings for software engineers,” it says. “However, it was not clear how current or accurate the information on the dated-looking site was on Friday, as a copyright notice on one page is labeled 2007.”

The Web site looks like a classic troll site.

The USPTO, the home of software patents with international enforcers like the ITC, is getting yet worse by changing to a first-to-file paradigm:

For the next entry in our Beginner’s Guide series, I will touch upon patent law, an area of law that, despite its seeming need for specialization and technical knowledge, holds a large amount of interest for the public at large. The Law Library of Congress receives many questions regarding patent law, particularly with regard to the United States’ patent process. These questions about the patent process seem all the more timely in light of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) very recent change from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system.

This is ridiculous, thinks Pamela Jones, especially for areas like software where invention is very rapid (too rapid to worry about filing applications). Jones also remarks about Microsoft's transparency PR on patents, noting: “Oh, great. Transparency. Wonderful idea. How about a list of patents Microsoft claims Linux infringes? They have that list, in that they must be using something when they approach vendors with their “Nice business you have there; it’d be a shame if anything happened to it” approach to signing up licensees. Barnes & Noble gave us quite a deep look into the approach, but a list would be nice. By all means, transparency onward.”

The first-to-file paradigm means that Microsoft’s list means nothing to innovation, just documentation, or paperwork. Microsoft wants credit for other people’s ideas and it uses that for extortion/shakedown.

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