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08.21.15

Alice v. CLS Bank (the Alice Case/§101) Continues to Crush Software Patents in the United States

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One important case has put potentially hundreds of thousands of software patents in a mass grave

Manchester cemetery

Summary: Patent scope in the United States continues to be narrowed down as more software patents get their wings clipped

“US Pat 6,326,978, Display for selectively rotating windows,” wrote Patent Buddy was “Killed by CAFC” (using Alice as precedent).

This is consistent with the outcome of Alice (Alice v. CLS Bank at SCOTUS level) as we have covered it in the past few months [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Despite all this, patent lawyers say that “US software patent suits being filed at higher rate than in 2013″. To quote their sources: “An analysis of patent litigation by Managing IP using the Docket Navigator database has revealed that software patent lawsuit filing is not only up on 2014, but has rebounded to exceed the levels in 2013.

“When Managing IP last carried out this analysis in December 2014, the figures revealed a plunge in software lawsuit filing. This was attributed to the Supreme Court’s Alice v CLS Bank ruling on June 19, which held that merely claiming an abstract idea is insufficient to establish patent eligibility.”

Irrespective of the number of lawsuits, many of them are lost (legal toll becoming a burden to the plaintiff) because of Alice; that is very important. Patent lawyers are trying to convince their existing and prospective clients to keep patenting software, so they only tell part of the whole story.

“Patent scope is clearly a key problem.”It is clear that swpats (software patents’ shorthand) continue to collapse in the United States and this month is no exception. Examples continue to be covered, just not by media of patent lawyers (they lie by omission, as we have explained before).

“CAFC Refused to Re-Hear Case,” wrote Patent Buddy, “First Patent Kill by Alice” (the latest such example).

Here is some analysis which says: “In its first substantive application of Alice v. CLS Bank in 2015, the Federal Circuit has once again shot down claims for not meeting the patent-eligibility requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

When it comes to the USPTO, which adapts to these developments slowly but surely, a patent lawyer in London says that the judicial exceptions are now very broad.

Patent scope is clearly a key problem. It’s not about patent trolls, however they’re defined. Some sites continue to focus on “Companies Sued The Most Over Patents In 2015″ (without scaling for the size of companies, hence serving as propaganda that frames large corporations as the biggest victims), but we all know that the patents themselves, not the users thereof or the target of lawsuits, open the door to misuse, abuse, and anti-competitive behaviour, as our previous post demonstrated (Apple versus Android).

Company of Hype and ‘Fanbois’ Continues Its Patent Attacks on Android/Linux

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 3:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Why would anyone still support a bully like Apple?

Radiohead Manchester

Summary: Apple’s attacks on Android (using bogus patents) may be soon be escalated to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

PATENTS are the long-term foe of Free software because as long as there are software patents (even in just a few countries) import of devices with Linux or Android or whatever other Free software inside them can be banned, barred, blocked at the border. It’s a massive injustice.

The other day we saw the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP (prolific when it comes to pro-patent-maximising opinions) spreading FUD against Free software licences and promoting software patents. These are the sorts of parasites that continue to stand in the way of a Free software-run world — one in which transparency and participation are part of the social contract. Suffice to say, transparency and participation reduce corruption and empower peace, whereas the opposite creates suspicion, hostility, betrayal, and conflict.

Florian Müller has spent a number of years attacking Android, sometimes as part of the contracts he was paid for, e.g. by Microsoft. He recently wrote about how Apple lost a key design patent. It’s one which we covered before. It’s laughable.

Sarah Burstein says that “SCOTUS hasn’t heard an issue of substantive design patent law for over 100 years.” She cites Howard Mintz who wrote that “Federal Circuit refuses to rehear Samsung appeal of verdict in patent trial against Apple. Scotus or bust” (i.e. last resort).

The SCOTUS has thus far been the best weapon against ridiculous patents (more on that in our next post) and Müller says that Samsung will appeal to it, answering questions from Apple propaganda sites (see questions like “will Samsung ask SCOTUS?” regarding this article from Mac Rumors).

“These are the sorts of parasites that continue to stand in the way of a Free software-run world — one in which transparency and participation are part of the social contract.”This development has been covered a lot by corporate media in the US and it hardly shocks us that a US court ruled in favour of a US company, not a Korean company. We wrote about such biases many times before (the ITC is a good example of that) and since the corrupt CAFC is involved, it makes this anything but shocking, just expected.

There is no CAFC hearing for Samsung, say lawyers from London. Someone “wrote in to say that the method by which the figure was arrived at would, if unchallenged, lead to “absurd results” on the basis that three design patents could not encompass the entire value of a smartphone which has hundreds (if not thousands) of IP-protected features.”

The bottom line is, Apple’s patent war on Android has turned 5 (it started against HTC and then Samsung was added). HTC is still suffering and Apple hopes to destroy Samsung not by innovating but by litigating. By extension, Apple attacks the whole Android world, including Linux. We can’t let Apple get its way.

EPO Corruption of Patent Boundaries: Business Methods and Algorithms Patented

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Helping US patenting standards go international

Manchester international airport

Summary: How the European Patent Office (EPO) not only turns a blind eye to European law while patenting or granting patents on software but also openly advocates this now

THE EPO has been under fire here for nearly 8 years. The original reason, well before sheer corruption became evident at numerous levels, was patent scope. We had written a great deal about software patents in Europe and the “EPO [is] still pushing for patents on software and business methods,” according to the FFII’s President who now points right into the EPO’s own site.

Well, none of these domains should be patentable in Europe. Anything else would be Battistelli breaking the law yet again, this time in order to artificially increase the number of granted patents, the overall revenue, etc. (making himself look good at the expense of the public to whom he does a huge disservice).

“Democracy in Europe is gradually being crushed under the auspices of “unity” and patents are just one aspect among several (see so-called ‘trade’ deals for more).”Here is the EPO writing “Big data, linked data, linking data: what’s the difference & what role do patents play in them?”

This is promotion of this conference, which seemingly strives to expand the scope of patents.

Jesper Lund, who has been active in this area, ‏says that the “EPO is actively advising people on circumventing the ban on patenting sw [software] and business methods as such (“if claimed as such”).”

The FFII’s President adds that it’s done “With the blessing of the Danish Patent Office DKPTO!” Remember that a Dane, Jesper Kongstad, is Battistelli’s number one minion (or one among several), which is why protests by EPO staff targeted the Danish Consulate earlier this year [1, 2, 3, 4]. Also recall what the Danish Presidency did 3 years ago to further empower the EPO's grip and potentially bring patent trolls to Europe. According to two new reports from IP Kat [1, 2], Europe takes further steps towards this. This issue wasn’t voted on, there was no referendum, and it’s clearly against the interests of ordinary Europeans. Democracy in Europe is gradually being crushed under the auspices of “unity” and patents are just one aspect among several (see so-called ‘trade’ deals for more).

For the EPO it would make perfect sense to eventually patent methods of breaking the laws (abusing staff, patent scope and so on), then evading justice, as was previously done in the Dutch courts system, with help from a corrupt official.

Who’s Obsessing Over Patent Trolls in Latest ‘Reform’ Efforts? Larger Patent Trolls Such as Xerox

Posted in Patents at 2:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Xerox logo

Summary: Response to claims that the patent problem is being tackled by focusing on patent trolls and their favourite courts in the Eastern District of Texas

TECHRIGHTS has consistently (over the course of several years) opposed the obsession with “patent trolls”. The de facto usage of the term implies small firms without products, but in reality a lot of the same tactics are used by multinational companies such as Microsoft. The only difference is the number of products advertised on their sites (if any exist at all).

The other day the EFF said that “[w]e Need Venue Reform to Restore Fairness to Patent Litigation”, citing a TV programme about the issue of patent trolls, not patent scope or anything like that. To quote the EFF: “Back in 2011, This American Life toured an office building in Marshall, Texas, and found eerie hallways of empty offices that serve as the ‘headquarters’ of patent trolls. For many, that was the first introduction to the strange world of the Eastern District of Texas, its outsized role in patent litigation and especially its effective support of the patent troll business model. Trolls love the Eastern District for its plaintiff-friendly rules, so they set up paper corporations in the district as an excuse to file suit there. Meanwhile, defendants find themselves dragged to a distant, inconvenient, and expensive forum that often has little or no connection to the dispute.

“The remote district’s role has only increased since 2011 The latest data reveals that the Eastern District of Texas is headed to a record year. An astonishing 1,387 patent cases were filed there in the first half of 2015. This was 44.4% of all patent cases nationwide. And almost all of this growth is fueled by patent trolls.”

But that’s far from the only issue.

An article by Joe Mullin, who specialises in patent trolls, says that “changes to patent law have made it easier to beat patent trolls, but it hasn’t made the patent hotspot of East Texas any quieter. In fact, it’s been in the news more. Massive numbers of patent troll suits continue to be filed there, and the judge who hears most of them has erected barriers to defendants seeking to have their cases disposed of early.”

So it’s obviously not working out. This whole kind of activism (or corporate lobbying) does nothing to eliminate the core issues, mostly addressed by SCOTUS for the time being (more on that in a later post).

Xerox, itself a patent troll by extension, is claimed to have just beaten a patent troll, MPHJ [1, 2, 3, 4]. To quote a lawyers’ site, “Xerox Corp., Lexmark Corp. and Ricoh Americas Corp. won their bid to undo a so-called patent troll’s patent for document scanning Wednesday when the Patent Trial and Appeals Board ruled eight of the invention’s claims unpatentable.

“Nonpracticing entity MPHJ Technology Investments LLC, once called a “patent troll” by Vermont’s attorney general, was unable to persuade the board that the claims in its patent didn’t just combine decades-old prior art, according to a decision handed down by PTAB.”

It is so strange to see Xerox among the defendants here because Xerox itself has become a troll. ~100 Novell employees ended up working for Xerox after Fuji Xerox signed an early patent deal with Microsoft (involving Linux). Xerox now uses proxies to act as its own private patent trolls. Remember when the Microsoft-connected Acacia attacked Linux using Xerox patents (5,276,785 and 5,675,819)?

If spurious litigation (not just “patent trolls”) is what we’re seeking to combat, then we ought to look beyond the scope defined by large conglomerates with an army of lobbyists. Contrary to common belief, Xerox is not a dead company as it still enjoys an annual revenue of $26.58 billion.

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