The Horrible State of the US Patent System With Its Infamous Software Patents and the Latest Deception From Patent Lawyers-Dominated Media
Sheep can be bamboozled by the patent wolves in sheep clothing
Summary: A roundup of recent articles about software patents and how media which targets patent lawyers (and is often managed and authored by them) covered the subject
THE US patent system has attracted worldwide ridicule for patent trolls and for low-quality patents. It got a lot worse in recent years as the number of granted patents doubled (without innovation actually doubling). A new article by Daniel Nazer from the EFF, who dunked his article in at least a couple of places [1, 2], is putting to shame a software patent. “This month,” he wrote, “we feature yet another patent that takes an ordinary business practice and does it on a computer. Our winner is US Patent No. 8,738,435, titled “Method and apparatus for presenting personalized content relating to offered products and services.” As you might guess from its title, the patent claims the idea of sending a personalized marketing message using a computer.”
“Who benefits here other than the patent ‘industry’?”These patents tend to be as trivial as they sound. No wonder a lot of patent trolls strike everywhere and people are shocked by the poor patent quality at the USPTO, where almost every patent application is now successful. To invalidate patents in a court it costs a lot of money, so settlement is often a lot cheaper, even when the patent at hand is provably bogus. Consider Apple’s “Slide-to-Unlock” patent, which we wrote about before (even years ago). Apple’s latest patent loss was covered by Professor Dennis Crouch a few days later and IAM meanwhile showed that it’s rather upset because phones are to be sold at a price less than patent tax (‘royalties’). This massive patent tax, which can artificially bring the price of phones up to $1000 apiece, helps patent laywers and maximalists. Why did it take so many years for the courts to finally be convinced that the stupid “Slide-to-Unlock” lunacy is not patent-eligible? Will Apple appeal (or petition to appeal), ensuring this drags on in the courts for several more years to come? Who benefits here other than the patent ‘industry’? Who foots the bill if not Samsung, which can pass down the cost of litigation to customers?
“They make it sound like terrible news. Well, it is perhaps for patent lawyers and other patent maximalists.”The patent maximalists have just noted “a record year  for” realisation that many patents granted by the USPTO should never have been granted in the first place. It’s about PTAB, which we wrote about the other day. “This is the year the US patent pendulum swings back,” said another new headline from patent maximalists, noting: “It’s been tough going for patent owners in the US over recent years, with legislation, the courts and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the USPTO increasing uncertainty over validity and enforcement; this has reduced the incentives alleged infringers have to make deals, while also pushing down patent values. Now, though, things may be about to change…”
They make it sound like terrible news. Well, it is perhaps for patent lawyers and other patent maximalists. “Examiner’s comment regarding use of DDR Holdings in 101/Alice rejection,” was noted by Patent Buddy the other day, “everyone argues that case and we don’t know what it means.”
“Objective analysis or salesmanship?”Another site of patent maximalists (although a more restrained one when it comes to that) took note of PTAB and asked: “Does the Patent Act permit the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to make inter partes review institution decisions?”
In simple terms, all the above are very much concerned about the ability to kill patents even without them being brought before a court (patent litigation). What we strive to show here is the sheer bias, where those who profit from patents but don’t actually make anything bemoan the new reality (post-2012 and post-2014, one being a reform and the latter being Alice at SCOTUS).
Trying to get software patents in Singapore? Well, as viewed from patent maximalists’ eyes (MIP), that’s all fine and dandy. Trying to get software patents in Korea? HANOL Intellectual Property & Law is trying to help with its ‘opinions’ and ‘articles’. The situation is explained by patent lawyers in Korea. Objective analysis or salesmanship?
“We blame this on self-serving patent lawyers steering it all, from media to policy.”Looking at IAM, another one of those patent maximalists’ sites, even the Chinese patent bubble is noted there [1, 2]. Surely they hope that not only Europe but east Asia too will follow the terrible model of the US patent system. Here they are fawning and drooling over patent trolls in Europe — trolls from whom they can make money. Patent thickets and patent taxes are being broadened even further with all sorts of aggregates like WiLAN, so patent lawyers show some glee (with revenue steams like these, what lawyers would not be jubilant?) and say: “This deal comes amid what has been a transformative period for WiLAN. Last June it acquired a portfolio of around 7,000 assets formerly owned by Qimonda. It followed that by announcing that it had agreed a privateering deal with Freescale Semiconductor in which Freescale agreed to transfer more than 3,300 patents to the NPE” (it means patent troll).
There is so much misinformation out there about patents. We blame this on self-serving patent lawyers steering it all, from media to policy. Technical people must at least try to get involved and get the record straight, otherwise they’ll get harmed.
Pieter Hintjens, the former President of the FFII, said some days ago: “A lesson I learned many years ago, fighting software patents: if your communities don’t do politics, politics will do you.” He then added: “To do politics: identify your enemy, understand them, then raise their costs to an unbearable level.” █