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07.27.15

Patents Roundup: Technicolor, Alice, Voip-Pal, Fitbit, Marijuana Patents, and JDate

Posted in Patents at 4:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look at some of last week’s patent news, with imperative responses that criticise corporate exploitation of patents for protectionism (excluding and/or driving away the competition using legal threats)

AFTER many years of bitterness (over loss of focus in the media) we may finally write more about patents and will occasionally return to our old “Patents Roundup” series. The goal is to debate not “trolls” but the real issues with the patent system — issues that are much broader than patent trolls.

Technicolor

“​Cisco sheds its set-top box business to Technicolor for $600m,” according to this new article. “Additionally,” wrote the author, “the pair have signed a long-term patent cross-licensing agreement though neither company has said which patents are involved.”

This is what’s known as a “thicket” and it helps remove competition from the market unless it is very well funded. By buying this business (Technicolor will have it all) and having just got these patents, Technicolor can now exercise yet more control, using patents, over its competition.

Alice/Section 101

Patent lawyers who persistently and openly promote software patents are clearly nervous about Alice/Section 101 because it kills software patents almost all the time (in high-profile cases). Watch this latest ‘damage control’ from IP Watchdog. It’s quite funny to watch actually.

After the ruling in the Alice case, what kind of software developer still tries to patent software? The billionaires’ fan press, Forbes, presents this story titled “The Nuts And Bolts Of Scaling A Company”. In it there’s propaganda: “Of course, now that the software is developed, she has filed patents.”

Yes. “Of course”. That’s what everyone should do, based on billionaires’ media. She decided to waste time and money because lawyers bamboozled her. Maybe the likes of Forbes (personification of people like Donald Trump) also bamboozled her. See [1] below. The Rupert Murdoch-owned WSJ is now comparing “Government-Enforced Monopolies” (patents) to ‘Free Market’. These super-rich people have no sense of shame, have they? To them, class war (looting by the oligarchs/plutocrats) is ‘Free Market’.

Anyone who still tries to patent software in the US clearly paid no attention to Alice and the subsequent rulings. Patent valuation for such patents sank, as even proponents of software patents (patent lawyers) care to admit. The only people to profit from such nonsense are lawyers.

Voip-Pal Patenting VOIP

According to this news, Voip-Pal.com Inc. is now busy patenting software, even where software is not patentable. “They controlled nodes in Canada, London and Denmark,” says the article, “used to prove the validity of their concept which was later patented.”

Why patent it? What’s the point? Is it even legal to patent software where they operate?

Fitbit

We recently wrote about Fitbit coming under a barrage of lawsuits. Well, Fitbit itself is hoarding a growing number of so-called ‘wearable’ patents. An article about this, which uses the “intellectual property rights” propaganda term in the headline, was published the other day. “But not everything “clever” can be patented,” it noted. Well it can, in the US, even when it’s not clever. Ask Sun’s engineers. They openly mocked the system for accepting just about every patent application and granting patents for about 92% of them, according to more recent statistics.

Another new article about Fitbit says: “According to Park, the secret to its success has been the combination of hardware and software, as well as distribution” (not patents).

If that is the case, then how come Fitbit continues to hoard patents? It arguably needs these for defence from sharks and aggressors such as Jawbone. In a perfect world, no such patents would be granted in the first place.

Scott Walker and Patent Lies

Scott Walker is a horrible — if not corrupt — politician. He gained notoriety in recent years (we have mentioned him almost a hundred times in our daily links) and this new article about him says:

Green Box said it held seven patents, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists no patents granted or assigned to Van Den Heuvel or the company.

As is often the case when it comes to Scott Walker, lies are the ‘norm’.

Marijuana Patents

Medical-marijuana patents may soon be granted because, according to this report, a company “filed two provisional U.S. patent applications for cannabis extracts” (so basically patents on banned drugs).

Nasty JDate

JDate, based on [2-5], is now misusing software patents to attack the competition, hoping to drive it out of business. Remind us again how software patents supposedly promote innovation? There is also some bizarre trademark bullying, with JDate claiming ownership of the letter “J” (which stands for Jewish in this case). See the articles below for the gory details.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. At Wall Street Journal, Government-Enforced Monopolies = ‘Free Market’

    Those folks at the Wall Street Journal are really turning reality on its head. Today it ran a column by Robert Ingram, a former CEO of Glaxo Wellcome, complaining about efforts to pass “transparency” legislation in Massachusetts, New York and a number of other states.

    This legislation would require drug companies to report their profits on certain expensive drugs, as well as government funding that contributed to their development.

    [...]

    This would eliminate all the distortions associated with patent monopolies, such as patent-protected prices that can be more than 100 times as much as the free-market price. This would eliminate all the ethical dilemmas about whether the government or private insurers should pay for expensive drugs like Sovaldi, since the drugs would be cheap. It would also eliminate the incentive to mislead doctors and the public about the safety and effectiveness of drugs in order to benefit from monopoly profits.

  2. JDate Is Suing JSwipe Over The Letter ‘J’, Here’s What My Bubbie Would Have Said

    Today, Forbes unearthed a lawsuit from late last year that Jewish dating site JDate’s parent company filed against an app called JSwipe (also aimed at Jewish folk). It’s over the use of the letter J. The case is set to pick up again next month.

  3. Jdate Sues Competitor Jewish Dating App For Using The Letter “J”

    Jdate, the popular dating service responsible for more Jewish hookups than a bottle of Manischewitz, is playing hardball in the dog-eat-dog world of nice Jewish match-making.

    Jdate’s parent company, Spark Networks, discreetly filed a lawsuit late last year against Jswipe, the ‘Tinder for Jews’ dating app, claiming intellectual property over the letter “J” within the Jewish dating scene (the company refers to the branding as the “J-family”).

  4. Members Of The ‘Tribe’ Swipe For A Shidduch

    Over the sounds of the packed crowd at the lower level of Noho hotspot “Acme,” on Tuesday evening, one phrase could consistently be heard: “I work in real estate.”

  5. Jdate Sues Competitor Jewish Dating App For Using The Letter “J”

    Additionally, Jdate claims it owns the patent on software that “confidentially determines matches and notifies users of mutual matches in feelings and interests.” Jswipe, like Tinder, notifies users when their romantic interest ‘swipes right’ on their picture, violating Jdate’s patent.

Corporate Lobbyists Including Koch-Connected Front Groups Attack Real and Perceived Patent Reform in the United States

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Koch logo

Summary: Looking at some of the latest propaganda for and against a bill which is already too watered-down to actually fix the US patent system

TECHRIGHTS has spent a lot of time explaining why the US patent system is dysfunctional beyond repair (Europe’s system, by contrast, can still be salvaged) and why so-called ‘reform’ in a political atmosphere that is dominated by large corporations is just a mirage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. The so-called Innovation Act or PATENT Act have already been derailed by lobbyists, employed by large corporations and very rich people who want protectionism in the form of patents (monopoly or “market exclusivity”, to use a euphemism).

All that ‘reforms’ speak about these days are “trolls”, even though patent trolls are far from the only issue. They are arguably just a symptom of a broken system and fixing a problem by redefining that problem won’t help solve the real problem. Joe Mullin, who has been focusing on patent trolls for nearly a decade, continues to focus on patent trolls and says that a “patent was invented [patents are being invented?] by Warren Sandvick, president of a Texas company called HasSex, which has an extremely trollish website and licensed the patent several times. Filed in 1998, and granted in 2002, the patent lays broad claim to a remotely controlled sexual “stimulation system,” one version of which involved a “second user interface” located remotely from the first.”

“This is clearly lobbying that exploits women to mask corporations and billionaires, but then again, we we noted many times before, that’s what The Hill is for.”The article focuses on sex (sex sells!) and trolls rather than matters pertaining to patent scope. Another site which obsesses over patent trolls because it is funded by large corporations including Microsoft weighs in, calling for the bogus ‘reform’ (dealing only with trolls) to go ahead. In it, Matt Levy responds to a nonsensical piece we mentioned the other day, from lobbyists’ favourite media (The Hill). Bill Watson took note of the propaganda from The Hill, paraphrasing as: “Patent reform will enable sneaky “foreign entities” to harm “the American family unit”” [the exact headline is “New patent bill would undermine economic growth, hurt families” and it does refer to “foreign entities” at the end].

Who wrote the article? By the description of oneself, “Nance is CEO and president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.”

Wait, we already know this. Like several other such groups, it is a front for lobbyists, exploiting women’s rights for corporate agenda. We covered such examples almost a decade ago. It’s not a new trick.

CMD wrote about this front group last year. Quoting the relevant parts: “This includes right-wing religious groups that oppose gay marriage and abortion rights, like Concerned Women for America, which has received at least $11.4 million from the Koch network since 2010, and Focus on the Family spinoff Citizen Link, which has received at least $10 million, including at least $885,000 this election cycle.”

There is also “Concerned Women for American Legislative Action Committee,” with a budget of $8,150,000, according to this “New List of the Dark Money Shell Game Groups Connected to the Kochs”.

So who opposes patent reform in this case? CMD’s SourceWatch has some good, well-organised background about “Concerned Women for America” and “Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee”. This is clearly lobbying that exploits women to mask corporations and billionaires, but then again, we we noted many times before, that’s what The Hill is for. That’s coming from the same billionaires who use sockpuppets to airbrush Wikipedia.

Patents in the Android World Further Complicate Freedom in This Linux-Powered Platform

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Large companies love Android but also love patents

The future

Summary: A survey of last week’s news with special focus on Google and Android, which are trying to coexist and thrive in a world full of patent maximalists

ONCE upon a time there was a giant called Xerox that supposedly changed the world by packaging together components that can help replicate documents on a piece of paper. “Xerox” became a household name (or ‘officehold’ name), much like Hoover or Google, although neither was the first to do what it was doing (e.g. search), they just did something very well, perhaps much better than the rest of their industry, at the time they became synonymous with the function at least. Xerox leaned on patents for protectionism, causing all sorts of well-documented issues (not to be covered today) and IP Troll Tracker tells us that Xerox created an entity or a proxy do do its patent aggression. “Xerox is doing just that,” wrote Steph, “preventing its financial coffers from being depleted by abusing the patent system.”

Blackberry, which seems to be transitioning into an(other) Android OEM, just bought a firm, based on financial news sites. “The company’s software sales rose year-over-year,” says one source, “but some analysts were disappointed with the increase because it also included revenue from the licensing of technology patents.”

So Blackberry is already becoming parasitic with its patents, much as we feared a couple of years ago [1, 2] and a year ago [1, 2], alleging that Blackberry was becoming somewhat of a troll or feeder of so-called ‘patent assertion’ entities. What does Google (the Android steward) say about this now that it works with Blackberry on a more secure Android variant? After all, Free software such as Android is inherently incompatible with patents.

“What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term.”As we pointed out the other day, some famous Android backers now turn to patents as well. An article by Glyn Moody has warned that “Chinese Smartphone Leader Xiaomi Adds Special New Feature In Order To Enter US Market — A Patent Hoard”. To quote Moody: “The smartphone sector is undergoing an upheaval at the moment, as Chinese manufacturers move up the global market share rankings. Already, the third, fourth and fifth places are occupied by Chinese companies: Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi. But it’s the last of these that has emerged as the real star. Although Xiaomi was only founded in 2010, in 2014, the company sold 61 million phones, and hopes to sell 100 million in 2015. Much of that growth will come from outside China: Xiaomi has already started selling its products across Southeast Asia, especially in India, as well as in Mexico, Turkey, Russia and Brazil.”

Google does not seem to mind this and just like Tesla or Panasonic, Google now uses its growing pile of patents for publicity stunts. Google can’t fight back against trolls as they have no products, but it sure likes to pretend to be a champion against trolls.

“Google wasting resources to fight patent troll,” wrote the President of the FFII about this, for it “won’t work anyway” (he linked to this article about “Troll Deterrent” and “​Google holds patent giveaway for startups to ward off trolls”).

We have found nearly a hundred articles about this (effectively serving to amplify Google PR), including [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. Nobody really challenges Google’s claims. It’s a PR charade. There are headlines like “Google Offers Free Patents To Halt The Trolls”. What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term. It’s something we might expect lawyers to say because they compare ideas to “property” and implementation to “rights” (among other nonsensical metaphors).

One maker of many Android-running boards, Qualcomm, is now in trouble in Europe (we covered this last week) because of patent aggression that goes a long way back, elevating prices and marginalising competition. One writer from IDG calls the effort to split Qualcomm “patently absurd”. “The proposed breakup of Qualcomm by activist investment firm Jana Partners,” he wrote, “as reported by the Wall Street Journal this week, would be a blunder of biblical proportions. The equivalent of Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair while he slept, dividing Qualcomm into separately traded semiconductor and technology licensing businesses would produce two companies of lesser value than the former whole.”

The question is, will that reduce Qualcomm’s ability to exploit patents in a predatory fashion? Qualcomm has become very notorious for that (globally, not just in Europe). We’re not concerned about the “value [of] the former whole”, just the fairness of the competition and one’s ability to enter the market. It’s very relevant to Linux and Free software because whether people know this or not, many devices running Linux (more so than Windows) use stuff from Qualcomm and pay patent tax to Qualcomm even if they avoid Qualcomm.

There is some other patent news pertaining to Android, such as Google’s dumb CCTV Glasses (the Android-powered ‘Google Glass’). We are reminder of this effort and the ambition to hoard people’s CCTV stream, to be retained/stored on the server for searching, based on a new patent [1, 2. Google is treating human lives as an inventory or a resource, which raises all sorts of ethical questions. Apple is hardly better though because it wants to collect people’s fingerprints based on a new patent. Apple’s advocacy sites celebrate other dumb patents from Apple. Android is often being attacked by Apple using patents, so this is definitely relevant.

In summary, Android exists in a hostile environment. Despite that, Android has become the most dominant platform in the world (in terms of growth, sale numbers and so on), so we need to watch out for patent threats. There will be more of them in years to come and Microsoft is blackmailing Android supporters using patents, still.

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