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

07.14.14

White House Backs Away From Appointing Patents Zealot to Top USPTO Position

Posted in Apple, Law, Patents at 5:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obama's top contributors

Obama’s top contributors in 2012 election. Source: opensecrets.org

Summary: Philip Johnson is no longer poised to become the Director of the USPTO, which is basically an establishment that provides protectionism to primarily US-based corporations

THE USPTO, like much of the US government, is effectively run by corporations that fund it (campaign ‘contributions’, patent applications, and so on). We previously showed how Apple had been receiving special treatment from the USPTO and other pseudo-Federal branches of government. It’s all protectionism. Money calls the shots.

The other day The Mukt covered “Apple fil[ing] Auto-Unlock Patent although already available on Android” and since the USPTO has been approving almost all applications (92% of them) irrespective of prior art and quality, this too might pass. It’s just Apple’s arrogance, pretending that it invented everything under the Sun when it in fact imitates a lot of companies, as Steve Jobs himself once admitted to the camera.“Early Apple Employees Said They Would Never Work With Steve Jobs Again” is a new article that should be read by Apple fans, reminding them or even teaching them that Jobs is more of a con artist than an artist.

Now, given the inherent corruption in the USPTO (serving corporations, not public interests) we were not too shocked to see Philip Johnson almost becoming its new head. It’s the outcry from some corporations — not from the public — that must have stopped his appointment. It’s corporations that still call all the shots and some hypothesise that resistance to him came from the technology/high-tech sector as opposed to pharmaceutical giants. They vote with their money in the White House (e.g. withdrawing funds or bribing politicians under the guise of campaign ‘contributions’). Previously, a man from IBM, David Kappos, ran the USPTO and unsurprisingly promoted software patents (IBM lobbies for them even in Europe and New Zealand).

Kamdar from the EFF says why Philip Johnson oughtn’t have been nominated for USPTO Director:

Philip Johnson is Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. He is also a representative member of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, the leading trade group opposing patent reform this past year.

And now he’s rumored to be next in line to be the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

[...]

What we need is someone who understands the problems with patent law, especially when it comes to software patents. Some are pointing to the fact that David Kappos, the previous director of the Patent Office, was from the tech industry, so the next one has to come from pharma or biotech. This push does a great job of highlighting the fact that one single patent system shouldn’t apply to technologies as different as pharmaceuticals and software. In any event, the nominee to head the Patent Office shouldn’t be the face of opposition to patent reform that was championed by the White House, passed by a majority of the House, and supported by a considerable proportion of Senators.

Thankfully, as Ars Technica put it, “The White House has reportedly put its chosen nomination for head of the US Patent and Trademark Office on ice.”

The Mukt called Philip Johnson “patent extremist” and added: “The Obama administration was about to repeat the mistake it made by picking Tom Wheeler as the head of FCC. The administration was planning to hand over USPTO to Phil Johnson, a Johnson & Johnson executive who is a strong opponent of any patent reform in the country. Johnson actually played a pivotal role in the death of the patent reform bill this May.”

We still don’t know who will fill the seat formerly occupied by the software patents booster. Just because one patent extremist is not approved by the White House does not mean that a different patent extremist can’t take this place. We need to keep watching and praising/criticising, as appropriate, the decisions made by the White House. Corporations that sank billions of dollars in campaign ‘contributions’ (bribes) have a much louder voice than ours (collectively). They also get privileged access into private meetings in the White House, offering their ‘consultation’ (lobbying).

Professor James Bessen Presents the Case Against Software Patents After Important SCOTUS Ruling

Posted in Law, Patents at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCOTUS and apartment

Summary: The debate about software patents in the Unites States continues, with academia on one side and greedy patent lawyers on the other

Vox has published a new article titled “The case against software patents, in 9 charts”. It was authored by James Bessen, a professor widely known for his well-researched publications which show that software patents are bad (for the economy, for science, and just about everything except patent lawyers and monopolies or trolls). Recently, the decision from SCOTUS led patent lawyers to deep denial, trying to pretend that nothing has changed and that software patents are as valid as before. These so-called ‘law’ firms have their own agenda. The Webb Law Firm wrote: “Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International [PDF] is the last of several patent law cases decided by the US Supreme Court in its October 2013 term. While the decision has generated considerable speculation questioning the future of “software patents,” conclusions on the scope of patent-eligible subject matter will have to wait.”

Wait for who? Lawyers?

Moritt Hock & Hamroff, another so-called ‘law’ (technology monetisation by bureaucracy) firm wrote: “Patent eligibility, up until a few years ago, was even easier. Basically, anything new under the sun made by man (or woman) was patentable. That has now changed. Eligibility excludes from patent protection some obvious exceptions such as laws of nature and mathematical ideas. For example, you can’t get a patent on Maxwell’s equations. How would you enforce such a patent? But you can get a patent on a new application of Maxwell’s equations. A less-developed exception to patent eligibility is the concept of an “abstract idea.” Such abstract ideas are not patentable. Here’s the problem, what is “abstract”? What test do we use to determine whether an invention is an abstract idea? And what level of abstraction do we look at?”

This seems like a more rational analysis than the previous one. Here is an analysis from lawyers who alluded to the European law. To quote a fraction:

It is not possible to obtain a patent in Europe for a program for a computer “to the extent that a patent or application for a patent relates to that thing as such”. In the United States, however, that has not been the case and this has proven a fruitful source of dispute in the Courts. This may be about to change.

The danger is that patent trolls from the United States (and especially from Texas where Daniel Nazer says they like to hang out in for patents [1] if not other ludicrous causes [2,3]) will one day land in Europe, due to a sort of unification of patent laws. Right now we can only hope that the US will work to eliminate software patents for good, pushing back against a European trend of gradually legitimising such patents.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Why Do Patent Trolls Go to Texas? It’s Not for the BBQ

    There is a lot in our current patent system that is in need of reform. The Patent Office is too lax in granting patents. Federal Circuit case law has consistently favored patentees. Another part of this problem is the forum shopping by patentees that leads to a disproportionate number of cases being filed in the Eastern District of Texas.

    Back in 2011, This American Life did a one-hour feature called “When Patents Attack!” The story included a tour of ghostly offices in Marshall, Texas, where shell companies have fake headquarters with no real employees. For many people, it was their first introduction to the phenomenon that is the Eastern District of Texas, a largely rural federal court district that has somehow attracted a huge volume of high-tech patent litigation.

  2. Tor Embroiled in $1M Revenge-Porn Lawsuit

    A Texas lawyer intent on shutting down Pink Meth, a site known for facilitating revenge-porn, has named the Tor Project in a lawsuit claiming at least $1 million in damages. The inclusion of Tor apparently was based on a statement on Pink Meth’s site that thanks the project for enabling users’ anonymity. “Once we verify that they’re not helping Pink Meth, we will dismiss them,” the lawyer said.

  3. Anonymity Network Tor Sued For Allegedly Protecting A Revenge Porn Business

    Tor, which offers encrypted software and an open network of protected communications, has been sued in the state of Texas over a revenge porn website that used its free service.

Software Patents Demising in the US as Microsoft Patent Attacks on Android/Linux Suffer a Huge Setback

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Patents at 4:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

M-Cam

Summary: M-Cam’s assessment of Microsoft’s bundle of extortion (using software patents) shows toothlessness, irrespective of the SCOTUS decision to effectively annul “abstract” software patents

China, reacting rationally to the threat of proprietary software from another sovereign nation, has done much to punish and marginalise Microsoft (e.g. banning Windows and Office in the public sector) due to Microsoft’s strong ties with the NSA. When it comes to patents, China also did what it could to stop Microsoft's extortion racket, causing real damage to Microsoft's "divide-and-conquer" approach. This is working out quite well because M-Cam, which we mentioned here before (it analyses patents) says that many of these patents are quite likely invalid, with or without the latest ruling from SCOTUS (prior art — not just triviality — can invalidate them). As SJVN put it: “China revealed exactly what patents Microsoft has in its Android patent portfolio. After examining these patents, M-Cam doubts the validity of many of Microsoft’s Android claims.”

Meanwhile, however, Microsoft’s proxies are trying to put more patents inside Android and other Linux-based platforms. It’s not just Xamarin which is doing this anymore. Remember that Mono has Microsoft copyrights in it, not just Microsoft software licences and patents. Now that there is something called MonoTizen (mentioned here back in May) we should really watch out. Based on this new post, a company called Kitsilano Software is behind it, run by Bob Summerwill who has been working with Unity3D (a poster child for Xamarin/Mono). Something happened some days ago:

Kitsilano Software released MonoTizen-1.0.0 today, 10th July 2014, to coincide with Tizen Developer Summit Russia 2014

Anything that brings these Microsoft patents close to Linux should be treated as a threat, especially now that Microsoft is struggling to make patent claims and derive fees from Linux. Microsoft does not always attack directly; as Nokia and others have taught us, Microsoft likes to shift patents to trolls, such as MOSAID. “70% of troll suits use patents from real companies,” says this new article, “Will “license-on-transfer” fix things?””

While Microsoft is trying hard to portray itself as "in peace" with FOSS (this is fiction, but one that Microsoft fights hard to push into the media), the truth of the matter is that it feeds patent trolls who attack FOSS. Giving them ammunition by putting Microsoft code (with patents on it) inside Linux is a dire error. Stuff like MonoTizen enables Microsoft to expand the bundle of extortion which is sends over to companies under NDA.

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts