04.07.16

The United States Still Has Software Patents Because of USPTO Greed, Incapacity for Criticism/Change

Posted in America, Patents at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The USPTO’s previous Director now a kind of lobbyist who works for software patents proponents, including his former employer

Kappos PAI

Summary: Criticism of US patent scope, which still leaves room for software patents because of corporate resistance to change/reform, motivated by USPTO maximalism (trying to grow numbers irrespective of quality)

THE USPTO is the main remaining barrier to abolition of software patents. The US Supreme Court already ruled on the subject, but the USPTO, which is powered by greed (just see what former Director Kappos is doing these days), refuses to obey the courts until it must, as it damages the USPTO’s reputation and valuation of patents.

“Innovation needs no patent protection,” a new article from The Hindu (published moments ago), speaks specifically about software patents in India and says (specifically citing the US as a problem): “The lack of clear boundaries in software means that even law-abiding software developers who intend not to violate another’s patent have no clear means of avoiding it. With 15,000-plus e-commerce patents (2010) in the U.S. alone, it is not possible to eliminate the risk of a patent infringement lawsuit. Frivolous lawsuits by U.S. patent trolls account for nearly 38 per cent of all patent litigation in the U.S. The problem of software patents ends up increasing the cost of software for all of society.”

“Actually, considering the original idea behind patents, secrecy oughtn’t be needed (nor protected).”If patents are about publication, which is what they were about in the first place (at time of their inception), how come so much secrecy and even talks of an appeal to the US Supreme Court, SCOTUS (regarding secrecy)? According to this new article: “Given the dissenting opinion in this case, a further appeal to the Supreme Court is not inconceivable. Unless and until that happens, however, communications between a patent applicant and their patent agent that are directly related to the preparation and prosecution of a patent are entitled to privilege. The difficulty will be in recognising when the line is crossed and, in grey areas, it is very likely that we will continue to see attorneys copied into correspondence.”

Actually, considering the original idea behind patents, secrecy oughtn’t be needed (nor protected). Why should SCOTUS resources be wasted on such matters? Besides, as we have already shown for nearly 2 years, the USPTO hardly cares what SCOTUS says. Courts continue to smash software patents to pieces, whereas the USPTO continues granting software patents. As this new article/blog post points out today, the issue is further complicated by the notion of computer-generated patent applications and minds as computer metaphors. “Courts now routinely,” says the author, use a particular subcategory “to invalidate claims for software inventions that “can be performed in the human mind, or by a human using a pen and paper.””

“Nobody benefits from all this red tape except monopolists and their lawyers (the monopolists already have them among staff, and the legal costs scale fine with their huge business base).”We saw such wordings before (“pen and paper” analogies), even in court rulings. The second aforementioned article (both from Bilski Blog) notes: “As the AlphaGo-like computers continue to help human predict the unpredictable and make fast breakthroughs, it also raises important questions about inventorship and challenges our present patent system. To have a well-functioning patent system in the digital age may require a rethinking of inventorship by our courts and legislature.”

Nobody benefits from all this red tape except monopolists and their lawyers (the monopolists already have them among staff, and the legal costs scale fine with their huge business base).

“Patent systems without restrictions on scope are bound to become just filing systems that are ultimately obsolete.”According to another new article from today, Uber gives yet another reason for a boycott as it pursues software patents to ensure monopoly whose overall (societal) cost would be huge. “It’s unclear how Uber’s new patent could affect Lyft’s application of its own “Prime Time” dynamic pricing feature,” wrote the author, “if at all. In recent years many in Silicon Valley have argued the process for obtaining software patents is flawed.”

Later today we are going to to touch several related matters. Patent systems without restrictions on scope are bound to become just filing systems that are ultimately obsolete.

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