07.22.15

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Terminology of Patent Lawyers and Pro-Patents Media Serves to Mislead the Public

Posted in Deception, Patents at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An outline of stories where the language used to describe patents is grossly distorted so as to bias the reality and mislead the audience/readers

TECHRIGHTS often links to articles about patents, including some awkward ones from patent lawyers, but rarely does it nitpick or criticise the warped terminology, which with the art of semantics helps rig the discussion. Just like in politics, language defines the debate, and choice of words can either glorify or demonise an idea. Today we will give some examples that we set aside over the past fortnight.

“Trade Secrets” and Patents (Opposites)

A lot of articles such as this one began to appear some days ago, mixing or mistaking patents for “trade secrets”, which are inherently very different (patents were originally introduced in order to discourage trade secrets and encourage publication). It was very hard to get the story straight based on the large majority of articles (we checked about a dozen). Ford is being sued over some rare combination of reverse engineering/’trade secrets’ but also claims pertaining to patents, according to few of the reports, including this reposted article from Bloomberg, which said: “Ford allegedly began developing its own version of Versata’s software by reverse engineering, according to court papers. The Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker is also accused of disseminating Versata’s proprietary information to unauthorized users to create “a copycat configuration technology.””

So this is basically a combination of reverse engineering and patents. It’s an attack on Ford over patents and claims of reverse engineering. A lot of the media does an extremely poor job explaining this. the word “theft” or “steal” is used sparingly, subjecting readers to a trial by media (theft is a crime, but patent violation is not the same as theft and reverse engineering should arguably be legal everywhere).

“Stealing”, “Intellectual Property”, and “Innovation”

One of the grossest blogs out there (IP Watchdog, which we sometimes call “Watchtroll”) really beat its record. It not only used a propagandistic photo of a violent/militant bandit but also used three propaganda terms in one single headline: “Does Stealing Intellectual Property Boost Innovation?”

What a loaded, ugly headline (and a question). Patent lawyers who promote software patents really don’t try to come across as professional, do they? See the photo too. It’s worse than the Daily Fail, a notorious UK-based tabloid.

Patent Stacking/Royalty Stacking

There is a practice by which one company or several companies are stacking up patents and working to increase legal costs so as to discourage challenging of the patents, or simply drive a product out of the market. Watch the lawyers’ media framing this ugly strategy as “consolidation”. To quote:

No consolidation was granted where the petitions involved some non-overlapping grounds and arguments. However, the Board used its discretion to coordinate the date of the oral arguments to lessen the burden on the patent owner.

Software Patents by Another Name

Software patents are quite controversial, especially after Alice, which makes them weak. We have seen software patents alluded to in all sorts of ways that dodge the bad connotation, but how about “Behavioral Analytics”?

Patents as Objects

Patents are now sold like fruit and vegetables. Watch this piece titled “Improved Auction and Online Marketplace Patents Available from ICAP Patent Brokerage” or another one titled “Sleep, Temperature Analysis Wearables Patents Available”. They treat these like food. To quote one of these ridiculous pieces: “ICAP Patent Brokerage announces for sale patents disclosing methods for monitoring wakefulness and body temperature, available from inventor Gaby Badre (Bader). This portfolio is offered as part of the Internet of Things IP Auction, with a bidding deadline of July 30, 2015.”

They are truly selling them like some kind of objects, even though the patentor is supposed to be the holder. What has the patent system turned into? They are clearly perverting the logic behind patents when they were first introduced. Are these justified anymore? The meaning of patents has changed profoundly.

Buying Patents Like Products

“We’ve filed over 2,000 patents,” says this piece, “which is actually a lot, and we’re acquiring patents.” The saddest thing? It’s about Hugo Barra, known for his work on Android.

Protectionism

Patents can be a waste of time, money, and effort. “Westerners zealously guard their IPRs with patents and copyrights and so on,” said this piece the other day. What is “IPRs” anyway? Intellectual Property Rights? It’s a meaningless collective term that alludes to many separable things. It’s a bit like “cloud”.

Any protectionism by law (for the rich) can rely on metaphors like “intellect”, “right” and “property”, but just as in the case of that “cloud” buzzword, the reality is very different. It can simply means lock-in, surveillance, entrapment, and financial extortion. Nebulous terms make people oblivious and hence more gullible.

On “Discovering Patents”

IDG thinks that patents are being “discovered” because it says “newly discovered patents”. As if there’s some finite number of patents just waiting to be discovered, like gold buried beneath the ground. How foolish can the author be? Chemical elements can be discovered. Islands can be discovered (or colonised, or attacked). Patents are just an abstract concept, they’re man-made and they’re more like a musical composition. We never say that musicians “discover” a song when they come up with a new song.

Monopoly as “Market Exclusivity”

Monopoly is an ugly thing and a lot of literature exists to explain why monopolies are collectively harmful. So, ProactiveInvestors.com uses the propaganda terms of monopolisers and calls these “market exclusivity”. To quote: “Market exclusivity is a critical component of valuation. Patenting strategies, regulatory data exclusivity and product life-cycle management will give about 10 to 15 years of market exclusivity to most novel drugs.”

In reality this often means that poor people are left to die from curable diseases, just so that few companies that are often subsidised by governments (i.e. taxpayers) get to increase their private profits (going into few private pockets). Watch this new lobbying from the New Jersey press, titled “N.J. biotech companies need patent protection from Congress”. What they probably mean is that they want monopoly and protectionism. Competition is something they cannot tolerate.

Patent ‘Owners’

The patent maximalists, as usual, refer to patent applicants as owners, in the same way that once upon a time men from Africa were considered “property” to be “owned” by white men in the northern hemisphere. This whole notion of “ownership” of ideas is perverse, but given enough repetition in the corporate media people might come to take that all for granted and accept it, just like many people used to happily accept slavery and deem it “just” or “necessary”.

“Intellectual Ventures Combats Malaria” Nonsense

Reddit, which is a horrible Web site (reportedly in steep decline this month), is now grooming the world’s biggest patent troll (and strongly Microsoft-connected, too). Watch this kind of advertisement disguised as discussion. A reader of ours told us that he got banned by the moderator/s for merely questioning such dodgy ‘advertisements’ for an evil, reprehensible firm. It attacks practicing companies while hoarding patent monopolies by acquisition. This non-practicing (and thus by definition not good-doers or even doer) is owned by Nathan Myhrvold from Microsoft.

“The last thing this company needs is another fucking [computer] language.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft (now Intellectual Ventures)

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