02.19.16

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Patent Trolls and the Rise of Non-Practicing Parasites Not Just in the US But Also in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s already happening right here in the UK…

Carnegie Mellon University

Summary: The role played by patents, increasingly bolstered by self-serving patent maximalists, outweighs actual creativity, innovation and production which patents were, in principle, supposed to encourage and advance

PATENT trolls are a huge problem, but the corporate media, owned and/or influenced by large corporations, does not pay attention to the fact that patent trolls almost always use software patents. Therein lies the bigger problem. It’s the core problem. Software patents should never have existed in the first place, as evidence always served to show that they would be counter-productive.

Here we see a new article from the British mass media, which was summarised this week (just a couple of days ago) as follows: “Apple has been told to pay a hefty fine to a small company for patent infringement. So why aren’t we celebrating the victory of a ‘David’? Because the little guy is a ‘patent troll’, stifling innovation by abusing the system, says Rhodri Marsden” (he says nothing about the nature of the patent/s or Apple‘s own patent aggression, including its 6-year patent war against Linux/Android).

As we put it earlier this month, "VirnetX Case Against Apple Shows Not the Problem With Patent Trolls But With Software Patents."

In other news, as noted here yesterday, “IV [Intellectual Ventures] Invention Fund Teams with Fraunhofer in Europe” (Fraunhofer is a notorious actor when it comes to software patents in Europe).

The EPO-funded bloggers wrote a puff piece for Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll. This trolls-funded mouthpiece (also EPO-funded) went with the headline “The Intellectual Ventures invention fund teams up with Fraunhofer in major move into Europe”. UPC would help more such trolls penetrate Europe, giving jobs to patent lawyers who profit from an increase in litigation, or “patent warming” as the FFII’s President calls it.

Who would more likely settle with patent trolls? Take a guess. It’s European SMEs, which make up a lot of the industry here (we don’t have Googles and IBMs here, except for branches of these US firms). It makes SMEs a very attractive bunch of targets for trolls, especially in Europe. To quote United For Patent Reform (from the other day): “Did you know patent trolls are disproportionately hurting smaller, more vulnerable firms?” There is a valuable reference there with additional information and it links to this paper (published less than a year ago by James Bessen et al). Wall Street, i.e. the big businesses well past their IPOs (and with massive legal departments of their own) promotes or at least defends patent trolls in its press. Is anybody surprised by this?

“Software patents should never have existed in the first place, as evidence always served to show that they would be counter-productive.”The Computer and Communications Industry Association, which is funded by big businesses, now focuses on universities — not aggressors like Microsoft or Apple — as the problem.

“‘Innovation’”, wrote in response this one person, “is a piece of paper you can sue others with?”

“Warped mentality,” added this anonymous person.

The context for this misdirection must be reports about CMU, which not only attacked anonymity (undermining Tor for the US government) but also attacks practicing companies using patents. As WIPR put it: “Carnegie sued Marvell at the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in 2009, claiming the company had sold billions of chips using the technology.”

This is likely to become a sort of ‘tax’ on products that almost everyone buys. See parts of a longer discussion with Patent Buddy about the funding of US universities and how it now relates to such legal battles over patents. “Carnegie Mellon,” as it was put at one stage, “has transformed US universities in[to] patent trolls” (link to CMU).

“These days in the US,” Patent Buddy told me, “patent attorneys make about as much as engineers.”

What about the externalities? They’re everyone except patent lawyers.

“It makes SMEs a very attractive bunch of targets for trolls, especially in Europe.”The response to him was that “in a better world they should do another more useful job.” And on it goes (details in Twitter)…

Looking at some press coverage we find that, based on the formal statement, “Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL), a global leader in integrated silicon solutions, and Carnegie Mellon University, a private research university, today announced that, pursuant to a court-ordered mediation, the Company and University have settled their patent infringement lawsuit. The parties have resolved the case on mutually acceptable terms, including an aggregate payment by Marvell to CMU of $750 million, with no ongoing royalty payments.”

Here is what patent maximalists wrote: “Court-ordered mediation ends in $750m agreement to settle the seven-year-long patent infringement lawsuit between Marvell Technology Group and Carnegie Mellon University” (see CMU background).

“CMU does not actually produce anything.”This is not a software patent, but the issue here is different. CMU does not actually produce anything. The source of CMU’s funding, as noted above, is also relevant to this. From an economic perspective, the public only loses.

Incidentally, as pointed out by the FFII’s President the other day, “Olimex [is] forced to file software patents are required in order to get EU funding,” which is an “insane waste of public money” (it can also be used to tax the public later).

Here is the relevant bit of a blog post published two days ago:

This gives amazing opportunities to Bulgarian companies to become globally competitive.

Unfortunately the most interesting area the innovation is burden with most paperwork and some things which are totally unacceptable with our Open Source way of thinking. For instance one of the requirement is to fill file patents for the innovation, which to protect the EU investment in your company. Looks logically, but this effectively cut off all companies which work with Open Source Technologies.

What is the EU coming to? Is it trying to impede a FOSS spirit and a sharing culture by urging people to get software patented, despite the rules (as per the EPC) not allowing it? Something sure is rotten at the EPO, which urgently needs to be fixed.

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