01.13.16

Germany Needs to Respect the European Patent Convention and Stop Issuing Software Patents, Also Reject UPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Germany USPTO EPO

Summary: Germany emulates USPTO/EPO trends by allowing, in spite of the EPC, patents on vague ideas pertaining to software

THE EPO, which seemingly represents (or at least prioritises) multinationals from outside Europe these days, has become an enemy of Europe right at the very heart of Europe (Munich, Germany). The EPO is also an enemy of its own highly-qualfied staff, but this isn’t the subject of today’s article.

“For the time being, in spite of pressure from patent lawyers and the EPO, Germany remains a barrier to the UPC, and that’s a good thing.”The President of the FFII says he “[w]ill speak at FOSDEM on Unitary Software Patents and how to stop it, Sunday 10am” (end of this month). Contrary to the myths still perpetuated because this debate got hijacked (primarily by multinationals and their lobbyists), not only patent trolls are the problem. Patent scope is the problem. Later on Tuesday (yesterday) the EPO released quite a ‘masterpiece’ which is in fact non-factual nonsense (we rebutted some of these claims before). It had been put together and eventually unleashed by the team of Benoît Battistelli, collating and condensing PR talking points, disregarding everything else (again, things which we covered here before). There is one part there which alludes to UPC, one of the mechanisms for expanding patent scope and bringing software patents to Europe. It says: “But while the EPO has successfully worked with our international partners, a number of our own member states have worked in cooperation with the EPO to finalise preparations for the next significant development in patents in the European Union itself. With the support of the EPO, the Select Committee last December agreed a complete secondary legal framework comprising the implementing rules, and budgetary and financial rules for the unitary patent. It was a hugely significant occasion for the European patent system which means that we are now legally, technically and operationally ready to deliver the unitary patent. With the successful ratification of the UPC Agreement by the remaining member states, 2016 really could be the year in which innovators the world over start to benefit from the distinct advantages the unitary patent is set to deliver.”

“We still remember Germany’s support of patents used by Microsoft against a Dutch company, TomTom, whose Linux use came under attack with notorious F.A.T. (FAT not being an offensive term) patents.”For the time being, in spite of pressure from patent lawyers and the EPO, Germany remains a barrier to the UPC, and that’s a good thing. But in the mean time Germany resurrects and reminds everyone of an old tradition. It’s a big problem right now. We still remember Germany's support of patents used by Microsoft against a Dutch company, TomTom, whose use of Linux came under attack with notorious F.A.T. (FAT not being an offensive term) patents.

A new article just published by Dr. Glyn Moody talks about this patent, perhaps in response to some German patent lawyers who celebrated the grant. To quote Moody:

What exactly those two words “as such” mean in this context has been argued over for years. In practical terms, it has led to thousands of software patents being issued thanks to clever framing by lawyers that takes advantage of the “as such” loophole. According to this post on a blog that is called unashamedly “European Software Patents,” it seems that German judges have now gone even further, and granted a patent for a graphical user interface. That’s surprising, because the same EPC Article 52 explicitly excludes “presentations of information” from patentability.

[...]

Just in case that legalese isn’t crystal-clear, here are details of the case considered by the German court. The patent dealt with the display of visual information captured by a swallowable capsule equipped with a camera. Apparently, these cameras produce information too rapidly to be useful for ready examination by the human eye. That problem was solved by showing only a subset of transmitted frames in one window, and different subsets in other windows. The idea is that an expert can scan several of these windows at once, since the images in each are changing relatively slowly.

In the Unites States, in the mean time, some USPTO-granted patents are being used against European companies. Docket Report comments on the case against Metaswitch (British), which we wrote about very recently. It says that ‘The court granted defendants’ motion to strike the report of plaintiff’s validity expert regarding patentable subject matter because the testimony was unhelpful. “[T]he issue of subject matter eligibility under § 101 will not be tried to the jury in this case. No expert will be permitted to testify to the jury about whether the asserted patents claim eligible subject matter under § 101. The Court is responsible for deciding disputed questions of law, and the Federal Circuit has consistently disfavored reliance on expert testimony as the basis for legal conclusions. [The expert's] analysis of the law and his ultimate legal conclusions are not helpful expert testimony and are therefore inadmissible.”

“Remember that Texas is where almost every troll can be assumed to be going into.”The litigant is a company from Texas whose software is not so well known (unlike Metaswitch) and its patents are basically software patents. Remember that Texas is where almost every troll can be assumed to be going into. The courts in Texas are biased in favour of aggressive, trigger-happy firms, including — if not notably — trolls.

Mr. Maycotte, a Texan writing for the plutocrats’ media (Forbes), says that Alice does not change much (he just says that an existing issue/riddle now has a name/reference) and that poor startups — yes, software startups of all entities! — should still waste their limited resources and pursue patents. The highest court, SCOTUS, opened the door to invalidation of software patents (there is no sign of that changing as SCOTUS has just declined to hear three patent cases, including, based on this detailed listing, Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp. which we covered here before).

“If you are not a troll but a producing company, then all those whom you sue can and will sue you back harder, especially if those whom you sue belong to a large company with a massive trove of software patents.”“Regardless of the outcome of Alice,” he wrote, “there are still plenty of reasons for startups to seek patents. Getting a patent can cost you (I’ll talk more about specific costs in the last section of this blog), but not getting a patent could potentially cost you even more — in lost venture capital, market share and other areas, as patent advisory experts David Pridham and Brad Sheafe suggested in an article in these pages last summer.”

If you are not a troll but a producing company, then all those whom you sue can and will sue you back harder, especially if those whom you sue belong to a large company with a massive trove of software patents. The writer, who looks like the world’s biggest patent troll (Nathan Myhrvold), works in the mass surveillance industry (for corporate gain). Forbes too, with its notorious malware in all Web page (a subject of ongoing scrutiny), is a perfect fit for this kind of view. Why doesn’t Forbes air the views of many startups which demand patent reform?

“The ultimate goal appears to be injunctions with global scope — the kind which best suits multinationals with global presence.”Incidentally, last night the EFF complained about CAFC, a booster of software patents and also their originator. The EFF wrote: “When courts fail to quickly address serious defects in a patent litigation complaint, it can harm not only the parties to the case, but also the public at large. Yesterday, EFF and Public Knowledge filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a case where the Eastern District of Texas is allowing expensive litigation to drag on even though the defendant has already fully briefed validity issues that almost surely will dispose of the case, and stop the patent owner from suing on them in the future.

“Eclipse IP, the patent owner in this case, is a repeat patent assertor. It’s brought over 160 cases in recent years. (Eclipse IP recently changed its name to Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC, but the named party in this case is still Eclipse IP.) The defendant in this case, Marten Transport, is a trucking company based in Wisconsin.”

Imagine what would happen if the UPC became a reality and the same thing became routine in Europe. Imagine Texas courts (ruling on companies in Wisconsin in this case) being the equivalent of some court in Germany ruling against a British company or vice versa, with an effect in the entire continent and beyond. It shouldn’t be hard to see who benefits from such a system. The ultimate goal appears to be injunctions with global scope — the kind which best suits multinationals with global presence.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Slashdot

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 31/10/2020: Linux Lite 5.2 and Freespire 7.0

    Links for the day



  2. New Video Release by Marcia K. Wilbur: Richard Stallman (RMS) and Larry Lessig

    A decade and a half before Professor Lessig became a presidential nominee/candidate the following footage was captured; it was published yesterday for the first time



  3. Users Have Nowhere to Go

    "If you want Free software to exist, if you want users to have control of their computing, you'll have to learn how to stand up again."



  4. IRC Proceedings: Friday, October 30, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, October 30, 2020



  5. [Meme] Two Dictators: How the EPO Shuffled the Dictatorship's Cards

    EPO President António Campinos turns out to be no better and even less popular than Benoît Battistelli



  6. 2020: The Year the Patent System Converged With Naked Fascism

    The worldwide system of patents, administered in part by WIPO (fronting for the super-rich), is losing the argument and instead — nowadays more than ever before — it is resorting to authoritarianism (the kids’ gloves are off)



  7. Links 31/10/2020: KDE on Hugo, NetBSD Moves From TWM to CTWM

    Links for the day



  8. Links 30/10/2020: WordPress 5.5.2 and NSA Mum on Its Back Doors Policy

    Links for the day



  9. Free Software is Still Under Attack From Software Patents (GNOME Getting Patent Trolls to Settle Isn't the Real Solution)

    We're asked to believe that a sort of "patch" (suggested by companies or monopolies with endless patent portfolios) means that Free software and software patents can co-exist; behind the scenes, however, "community distros" (not developed and controlled by monopolies) are coming under patent attacks which they cannot publicly speak about



  10. Microsoft is Already Bribing the Likely Next US President (Having Also Paid the Trump Campaign) to Ensure Microsoft Can Get Away With Crimes and Receive Bailouts from Taxpayers

    Microsoft is still controlling "both sides" to ensure that it remains in control of the administration; it's already looting the taxpayers while still lying to shareholders ('legalised' embezzlement)



  11. With Microsoft in Charge, OpenSSF Seems More Like It's About Back Doors -- Not Real Security -- Inside the Linux Foundation

    Another Linux Foundation (LF) group seems to have been taken over by the company that’s attacking Linux and attacking real security (as opposed to fake security or back doors in the name of “national security” — the Trojan horse for imperialistic coercion, worldwide)



  12. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 29, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 29, 2020



  13. Living in a State of Constant and Never-Ending Fear Will Harm Software Freedom

    "Freedom" or "liberty" may seem to have been co-opted by extreme right-wing and COVID-denying (or COVID-minimising) elements, but at the moment we do stand to lose many "tech rights" (in the name of "protecting" us)



  14. [Meme] Mozilla's 2020 Vision

    Mozilla does not seem to understand that proprietary Azure and proprietary GitHub won't offer Mozilla a way/path out of the mess it's in



  15. Techrights Done With Maintenance For Now, Will Resume Posting at a Higher Publication Pace

    With a few new features added to the site we can finally resume normal operations (more articles per day)



  16. Moving to Phones Won't Liberate Users

    A so-called 'phone' (or 'smart' phone) with Linux under the bonnet isn't freedom; it's a branding war being won, but principles are being abandoned



  17. Links 29/10/2020: LibreOffice 7.0.3, Linux 5.9.2, NVIDIA 455.38 Linux Driver

    Links for the day



  18. Links 29/10/2020: Istio 1.6.13, Krita 4.4.1 and PyPI Key-Signing Ceremony

    Links for the day



  19. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, October 28, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, October 28, 2020



  20. Links 28/10/2020: Linux Dropping WiMAX Support, Istio 1.7.4, Ubuntu is “Hirsute Hippo”

    Links for the day



  21. Linux Foundation (Men for Monopolies) Once Again Hijacking Women's (and Minorities') Voices for Public Relations

    Diversity and tolerance are absolutely essential, but those who preach or lecture us about it most loudly (their financial means or privilege enable media reach) set a bad example and are mostly opportunistic hypocrites who perpetuate the status quo



  22. In a State of Flux Due to Maintenance and Improvements

    For the first time since summer of 2019 we're investing time and effort improving the site in a number of ways



  23. Links 28/10/2020: Torvalds on Succession, PyTorch 1.7.0

    Links for the day



  24. [Meme] Stealing the Competition

    After the fall (and fail) of CodePlex Microsoft decided to grab the Linux Foundation and most Git-based projects (through GitHub) — a strategy even Microsoft can learn to love



  25. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 27, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 27, 2020



  26. Links 28/10/2020: FreeBSD 12.2, NixOS 20.09 and WordPress 5.6 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  27. Taking Our Efforts to the Next Level in an Increasingly Proprietary and Hostile Web

    Web users are being repressed by mechanisms of mass manipulation, control and restrictions; the Web may not be going away any time soon, but architectural and topological issues need to be overcome (the sooner, the better)



  28. Read Techrights Without a Web Browser

    Any text editor can now be used to read Techrights, owing to a daily bulletin we've set up and will maintain every day



  29. [Meme] Torvalds Assimilated

    People belatedly realise that Microsoft’s plan for Git (and for Linux) isn't for the betterment of those projects but for Microsoft monopoly



  30. Links 27/10/2020: FuguIta 6.8, Fedora 33, Red Hat Satellite 6.8, KDE Plasma 5.20.2 and GStreamer 1.18.1

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts