07.03.15

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Patent Lawyers and Their Firms, Still Desperate to Protect the Status Quo, Manipulate the Media

Posted in America, Patents at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It may well be that between press and officials there is an inherent built in conflict of interest.” — General C. Westmoreland in Defence and the Media in Time of Limited War, Routledge, 13 September 2013, p. 64.

Summary: Patent lawyers are besieged by gradual tightening of patent scope and recklessly fight back (e.g. by saturating the media) to secure their revenue sources, derived from (and at the expense of) actual scientists and true market producers

THE USPTO‘s assignment/assessment guidelines (examination instructions for the process by which to rank patent applications for novelty), as well as court rulings, citing SCOTUS regarding Alice, have both diminished and almost eliminated the perceived value of software patents. This reduces the number of patents obtained and number of patents that are brought before a judge in a courtroom, especially where these patents pertain to software. Patent lawyers are ‘politely’ furious and they try to dominate the media with their ‘damage control’, which means misleading statements, misdirection, cherry-picking (bias/lies by omission), and so forth. We gave a lot of examples before. It’s getting rather crass.

“Either Quinn has poor reading comprehension skills or he simply does not want to understand (because he is essentially paid not to understand).”The other day we saw Colleen Chien calling for an “open” patent system. “One year ago,” wrote Chien about Tesla's openwashing (like Panasonic's), “Elon Musk announced that Tesla would dismantle barriers to the use of its technology by “open sourcing” its patents and making them available for all acting in good faith to use. Because patents are usually used to close, not open, doors to competitors, the move created confusion and criticism.”

There is criticism indeed, but from who? Here is the patents maximalist Gene Quinn (loud proponent of software patents) slamming Chien’s analysis, lumping it together with what he calls “a lot of disingenuous articles about the U.S. patent system” and calling it “misleading”.

“The premise of the article,” he says, “is that it is time to open the patent system. Specifically what that means, and to what end that would be useful, is unclear and frankly unexplained.”

Either Quinn has poor reading comprehension skills or he simply does not want to understand (because he is essentially paid not to understand). What Chien suggests is a sort of retreat to the the original raison d’être of patents — where publication (e.g. attribution) rather than litigation is the core goal. Quinn, a supporter of all sorts of crazy patents and even parasitical elements like trolls, surely won’t like that. Another post from Quinn’s site (but not composed by Quinn himself) dares to acknowledge what he very much feared right after Alice had been ruled at SCOTUS one year ago:

…Alice issued a year ago which opened the door to invalidating software patents on the basis that they simply implement “abstract ideas”…

Yes, that’s great news. Sadly, however, the media hardly covers that. The corporate/financial media keeps glorifying patents as though they’re national trophies whose raw count is proportional to innovation and so-called ‘articles’ from Fox Rothschild LLP, Baker Botts LLP, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, and spokespeople for conservative lobbyists/think tanks like Cato and Heritage try hard to crush real patent reforms. They want to preserve the status quo. The grossest headline came from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP (all of these LLPs are patent lawyers in case that’s not obvious), which says “Innovators Beware! Patent Reform Creates The New “Anti-Patent” Troll” (not calling “trolls” those who antagonise patent trolls but rather referring to those who extort companies using invalidation of patents, i.e. not really trolls at all!). Here is the core of the nonsense, which essentially redefines patent trolls: “Unlike other species of patent troll, the Wall Street troll seeks to destroy the target company. Many companies, especially small drug companies, could potentially lose 100 percent of their value if they lose the patents for their core technologies. This creates a situation that is very lucrative for the Wall Street troll, because if the company’s stock loses all of its value the troll makes a windfall.” Well, any company whose entire value depends on a patent probably does not deserve to be in business. Patents as a tool of artificial price hikes don’t serve society, especially where medicine is concerned. This is where patents become tools of artificial scarcity. It is unethical and we wrote many articles to explain why. There are still valid business models that don’t depend on patents, in the same way that software which is free to distribute still brings income (Red Hat, for instance, has billions in revenue each year).

“Patents and patent lawyers are needed for innovation to the same degree that billionaires are “job creators” who create a “trickle-down effect” (they typically just loot and hoard).”The media these days is absolutely stuffed with patent lawyers, appearing everywhere the subject is discussed, parroting — completely unchallenged — claims about “innovation”, “inventors” and scaring us about China (the same excuse/straw man used by TPP proponents). Patents and patent lawyers are needed for innovation to the same degree that billionaires are “job creators” who create a “trickle-down effect” (they typically just loot and hoard).

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