12.22.15

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The Collapse of Patent Maximalism: Latest Major Setbacks for Software Patents and Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Asia, Australia, Law, Patents at 11:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Those seeking to perpetually maximise the scope of patents are now on the retreat

Maximum
Limits exist for a reason

Summary: Patent news from India, Australia, and the United States (the Eastern Texas district in particular), where parasites insist that when it comes to patents more is necessarily better

LEAVING the EPO aside for a moment, we now have time to cover the latest news about software patents in India, in Australia, and in the US. There is a worrisome growing movement, led to a large degree by large US multinationals (monopolistic corporations). It’s a distinguishable lobbying movement which is trying not just to preserve software patents in the US but also expand these to every country on this planet. It’s very clear to see what they are hoping to achieve and this has nothing to do with innovation, just protectionism and power.

“This is great for Indian software companies.”As mentioned here in recent days [1, 2], opponents of software patents now celebrate somewhat of a temporary/conditional win because, to quote the corporate media in India (Economic Times), “India’s patent office has put on hold guidelines that would have allowed patenting of software, a move being hailed as a big win for domestic startups.

“Indian law on granting patents for software is a gray area. In August, the Indian Patent Office interpreted the law to mean that if a software had industrial applications it could be granted a patent.”

“The lobbyists of the likes of IBM and Microsoft won’t be happy about it; neither will their patent lawyers.”The war is not over, but opponents of software patents bought some time and it seems apparent that their arguments are gaining traction among Indian politicians. This is great for Indian software companies. The lobbyists of the likes of IBM and Microsoft won’t be happy about it; neither will their patent lawyers.

Speaking of patent lawyers (parasites in the area of patents and often the couriers of large corporations with monopolies to protect), watch what patent lawyers based in Australia write about patent scope today [1, 2]. They are clearly upset that it’s not easy to patent software and “computer-implemented business methods” — whatever this may actually be (a combination of two controversial patent domains a la Bilski case). They’re whining about this down under in Australia. Curiously enough, no software developers who are Australian seem to worry; that’s because they don’t want such patents.

“Curiously enough, no software developers who are Australian seem to worry; that’s because they don’t want such patents.”In other patent news, two patent aggressors, Apple and Ericsson [1, 2], decided to stop fighting. As WIPR put it (based on this original statement):

Technology companies Ericsson and Apple have agreed to settle all outstanding patent litigation.

In an announcement today, December 21, both parties said they have inked a global cross-licensing agreement that covers standard-essential patents (SEP) owned by Ericsson and Apple and “certain other patent rights”.

Further details of the agreement were not disclosed, but both parties confirmed the deal will last for seven years.

Ericsson has been using patent trolls as satellites or proxies — a fact that we have supported/backed with extensive evidence in many of our previous articles (even years ago). Speaking of patent trolls, they too have a lot worry about right now. Over in Texas, the breeding ground of patent trolls, not only was the troll known as eDekka [1, 2, 3] stopped but it was also forced to pay. As Boing Boing put it: “The plaintiff-friendly East Texas district has long been patent trolls’ favorite place to file lawsuits, but one was so egregious that even their favorite judge has not only shut it down, but awarded costs against them.”

“It shouldn’t be overlooked that the large majority of patent trolls are using software patents.”WIPR wrote that the “US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has dealt a new blow to licensing company eDekka, ruling that a claim for a patent covering a computer storage system, which it asserted against more than 200 companies, was “objectively unreasonable”.”

The EFF has meanwhile asked the court to extend such judgments, saying in its announcement: “Getting a patent demand letter from a troll can be a scary experience. The letters often include a lot of legal jargon, not to mention a patent that is often impenetrable (at least, not without hiring an expensive lawyer to translate it for you).

“But suppose you are concerned that the patent may impact your business. After trying to reach an agreement with the patent owner and failing, you may be told by your lawyer that the next step is to go to court.”

It shouldn’t be overlooked that the large majority of patent trolls are using software patents. By eliminating software patents we can actually help stop a lot of the trolls. Obsessing over trolls alone sometimes misses the point. We’ve repeatedly stressed this key point for at least half a decade now.

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