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09.17.13

Media Focus in the US is on Patent Trolls, Patents on Software Hardly Even Mentioned Anymore

Posted in Patents at 10:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A collage

Summary: Examples of recent coverage which deals not with the core issue but with the nuisance to large corporations

The “smoke screen hiding software patents themselves,” as iophk put it, keeps revealing itself in US media. To quote NPR’s report from the other day: [via]

Patent trolls — a term known more among geeks than the general public — are about to be the target of a national ad campaign. Beginning Friday, a group of retail trade organizations is launching a in 17 states.

They want to raise awareness of a problem they say is draining resources from business and raising prices for consumers.

Patent trolls, known officially as nonpracticing entities, or NPEs, are companies that don’t make or sell anything. They just own patents. They make their money by getting licensing fees from businesses that use technologies covered by the patents they own.

Another article by Joe Mullin (the trolls expert) deals with trolls cases. Mullin has taken great interest in those. This is what’s being relayed to the government:

Anti-patent-troll ads launch on radio and in print in 15 states

Tech companies join retailers, restaurants, and grocers to get Congress’ attention.

This, however, is not the key issue. iophk sent us another example which “blames trolls rather than software patents themselves,” quoting this article which focuses on trolls only and says: “With decks stacked like that, most organizations simply surrender, often settling for tens of thousand of dollars. It’s a shakedown, it’s extortion.”

Actually, some very large companies like Microsoft do exactly that. So why focus on trolls? As another article which “doesn’t address that the actual problem is the software patents themselves,” explains iophk, here is an Apple fan site which portrays Apple as the victim of patents and only trolls as the problem. Here is a new article about Soverain. To quote:

Patent Troll Tries To Reanimate Dead Patent With Desperate Ploy Over Effective Typo; Court Shoots Zombie Claim Dead

Back in January, we wrote about Newegg’s fairly complete victory over patent troll Soverain Software’s attempt to claim it had patents on basic online shopping cart technology. This was a fight that had gone on for many, many years, in which many e-commerce companies just paid off Soverain rather than fight it. Newegg has taken a “we won’t settle with patent trolls” pledge, and successfully destroyed the patent. Everyone thought the patent and the case were finally dead… except it appears that Soverain sought one last desperate attempt to reanimate the corpse, basically by focusing on what was, in reality, a typographical error.

US retailers seem to be seeking change only when it comes to plaintiff scale, not patent scope, and that of course is a recipe for disaster when large retailers control policy (the government is funded and run by corporations). It means that almost nobody is left to help abolish software patents in the US.

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