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07.06.13

Time to Halt Universities’ Right to Apply for Patents as Boston University Turns Aggressive

Posted in Patents at 4:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tax money oughtn’t be used to help tax the public with patent monopolies

Government Center in Boston
Government Center in Boston

Summary: Boston University joins the crowd of academic trolls; some news about software patents in general

A few days ago we wrote about one university which turns to patents for money, using litigation as a business model whilst its whole business is based on taxpayers for subsidies. This is truly an injustice — one that nobody should defend on behalf of taxpayers (that’s everyone). As for corporate funding of universities, it usually drives corruption and lies, hence it should be banned, as I stated even half a decade ago. Companies never give money to universities as an act of charity; they would get sued by shareholders if they did, so they clearly want something in return.

“This is truly an injustice — one that nobody should defend on behalf of taxpayers (that’s everyone).”It is now being reported that Boston University exploits patents for the sake of embargo. They are basically trying to impede a producing market, assuming that people whom taxpayers funded are entitled to do this. People should speak out loudly against this because although Apple is the victim here, Android/Linux might be next.

So UC is now joined by the university known for criticising patent trolls [1, 2, 3]. As another article put it, this university itself is now becoming similar to a troll itself. To quote: “Boston University is seeking a ban on all iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air sales based on a patent dating back 22 years ago that runs out in two years.

“Welcome to the ranks of blood-sucking scumbag patent trolls, Boston University. You’re in good company — Nathan Myrvold is the president of the club.

“Ironically, it was Boston University professors James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer who completed a study last year that concluded that patent trolls — organizations that develop or acquire patentable technologies but don’t produce any products — cost the United States a cool $29 billion a year.

“The troll in this case may have as well acquired some patents that innocently got accumulated by academics, hence they should not be permitted to pursue patents in the first place.”“Oh, that’s before various indirect costs such as “diversion of resources, delays in new products, and loss of market share,” the Boston University profs said at the time, adding that “we find little evidence that NPEs [nonproducing entities, aka patent trolls] promote invention overall.”

“I wonder what they think of their university now.”

Indeed.

It is worth highlighting that an area I worked in personally, the task of identity verification (research funded by the ERC, i.e. European taxpayers), is now the target of other patent litigation, this time with a patent troll behind it (where did the patents originally come from?). To quote: “A patent-holding company hit Toshiba America Inc. with an electronics security patent infringement suit in Delaware federal court Tuesday over facial-recognition software used in its Qosmio line of laptops.”

“Sometimes we find that Intellectual Ventures sweeps up universities’ patents and then passes them for a shell company to sue producing companies.”What this usually involves is filters and matrices i.e. pure mathematics. The application in this case is usually access control, not surveillance. This is useful in an airport for example, where machines are increasingly being used to compare passport photos with the person travelling (to assure no deception). The troll in this case may have as well acquired some patents that innocently got accumulated by academics, hence they should not be permitted to pursue patents in the first place. Those who are assembling demand letters from trolls will hopefully expand to documenting which shell company is owned or run by who, e.g. Intellectual Ventures. Moreover, the original source of the patents being used by trolls would be worth investigating, Sometimes we find that Intellectual Ventures sweeps up universities’ patents and then passes them for a shell company to sue producing companies. Watch patent lawyers like Fox Rothschild LLP celebrating a recent CAFC ruling that legitimises software patents [1, 2, 3].

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