New Microsoft-Funded Push to Make Software Patents Stronger in the US, Backed by the Usual Suspects as Microsoft Increasingly Struggles as a Producing Company
Shady manipulations behind § 101
Summary: A look at the effort to bring about a software patents resurgence to the US (with clear Microsoft role in it) and Microsoft’s reliance on software patents as a weapon against Linux/Android because Windows profits dry up and Windows Phone is on the verge of collapse
“Concerted Effort to Push Congress to Eliminate the Eligibility Restrictions of Section 101″
THE TECHRIGHTS focus has shifted somewhat from EPO to § 101 (in the US) as of late*, in proportionate reaction to a new kind of assault on § 101 from former Director of the USPTO, David Kappos, and those who pay him to do so. It is too hard to ignore the lobbying from an increasingly greedy David Kappos, bankrolled by the software patents industry (Microsoft included) for and even others have noticed it.
“This is an effort to legalise software patents without any rigid exceptions.”As Professor Dennis Crouch put it the other day: “Concerted effort to push congress to eliminate the eligibility restrictions of Section 101.”
This is an effort to legalise software patents without any rigid exceptions. We are supposed to believe that large (mega) corporations are more important than the US Supreme Court and simply brush aside what the Supreme Court ruled on. “That is the suggestion,” Crouch added, “perhaps a limit on “abstract ideas as such”.”
Borrowing the loopholes of the EPO (“as such”)? As the FFII’s Benjamin Henrion put it, “no as such please.”
“Remember who is bankrolling Kappos to lobby for software patents.”
“It Does Look like Both IBM and Microsoft are on Manouevres”
Remember who is bankrolling Kappos to lobby for software patents. Even our longtime ‘friends’ at IAM wrote: “It does look like both IBM and Microsoft are on manouevres.”
This was said in relation to the above.
What we have here is further affirmation that (1) there is a “Concerted effort to push congress to eliminate the eligibility restrictions of Section 101.” (2) “It does look like both IBM and Microsoft are on manouevres.”
“Maybe the “we” isn’t IBM but IBM along with its former employee, who became USPTO Director and now an IBM-funded lobbyist against Alice.”It’s not just us who have been seeing this and writing about it then. A lot of these manouevres or “Concerted effort” are boosted by Gene Quinn and his pro-software patents circles at IP Watchdog. A few days ago they wrote about car-driving patents (putting in algorithms what people have done for generations), noting: “It’s in this atmosphere that Eagle Harbor Holdings, LLC (EHH), of Rolling Bay, WA, is looking to chart a course forward on the sale of a patent portfolio related to connected vehicles and autonomous cars. Beginning this week, EHH will be seeking out prospective buyers for a portfolio with 74 total assets, including 42 patents issued and 17 patent families.”
“What Should We Do About Alice?”
A more revealing article was titled “What should we do about Alice?” (we as in IBM?)
We wrote about this spiel from Schecter last week and here is what IP Watchdog writes: “On Tuesday morning, April 19, 2016, Manny Schecter, who is IBM’s chief patent counsel, gave a keynote presentation at the Innography Insights 2016 conference in Austin, Texas. The title of his presentation was simple and straightforward: What should we do about Alice?”
“There’s a strong and ever-growing corporations-funded lobby for software patents in the US right now.”Maybe the “we” isn’t IBM but IBM along with its former employee, who became USPTO Director and now an IBM-funded lobbyist against Alice. Judging by tweets related to this (Gene Quinn blocked me in Twitter not because I was rude but because he lost the argument, but I can still get around the block and see what he writes), these propagandists have created some kind of anti-Alice alliance and some are paid for it directly (Kappos for example), not just indirectly. It is worth remembering that Schecter and Quinn are also pretty close.
Watch how even Martin Goetz (longtime proponent of software patents, close to Quinn) joins this lobbying effort over at IP Watchdog. This can’t be a coincidence, can it? There’s a strong and ever-growing corporations-funded lobby for software patents in the US right now. More light needs to be shed on this campaign and we are happy to see that even Crouch (Patently-O) and IAM recognise this. The conglomerates of patent aggression (e.g. IBM and Microsoft) along with their patent lawyers obviously try to derail the SCOTUS decision against software patents, but they cleverly hide their role in order to avoid or minimise backlash.
“Protecting GUIs with Design Patents”
“The first in the series, interestingly enough, came from the former Chief Patent Counsel at Microsoft. That’s the same unreformed Microsoft which still lobbies and pays lobbyists to restore software patents’ teeth.”Over at MIP, just a few days ago, this article advised companies to pursue design patents (“protecting GUIs with design patents”) when software patents are denied. To quote the summary: “Utility patent protection for software inventions has been severely limited since the Alice decision. Tracy-Gene G Durkin considers an alternative: protecting GUIs with design patents” (just another kind of software patents, which might soon become invalid with SCOTUS intervention as well).
“These Key Cases Offer a Significant Opportunity to Establish Much-needed Clarifications”
Patently-O‘s Crouch acknowledged that there’s a “Concerted effort to push congress to eliminate the eligibility restrictions of Section 101″ and it looks as though his site has become a § 101 battleground, amid this new lobbying campaign, based on three very recent articles. This one about “the Meaning of § 101″ is a “Guest post by Jeffrey A. Lefstin, Professor, University of California, Hastings College of Law, and Peter S. Menell, Professor, University of California, at Berkeley School of Law.”
“Having too many patents actually has a negative effect on the industry, unless one speaks of the meta-industry of patent lawyers.”Another one about § 101 comes from a patent lawyers, namely “Bruce Wexler [...] and Edwin Mok [...] Their practice focuses on patent litigation and trials.” (in other words, they would profit from shooting down Alice and changing § 101).
The first in the series, interestingly enough, came from the former Chief Patent Counsel at Microsoft. That’s the same unreformed Microsoft which still lobbies and pays lobbyists to restore software patents’ teeth. It now gets a platform for this lobbying. To Patently-O‘s credit, there is at least a disclosure in all three articles. What the former Chief Patent Counsel at Microsoft said was: “We are at a critical juncture on defining the proper scope and application of Section 101. Unless the judiciary delineates a clearer framework for enabling meaningful patent protection in areas like biotech and software where America has been a technology leader, the U.S. could rapidly lose its competitive edge in these vital industries.”
“Their issue isn’t clarify; they’re just angry that they’re being denied patents either at the courts or at the patent office.”That’s nonsense. Having too many patents actually has a negative effect on the industry, unless one speaks of the meta-industry of patent lawyers. He also said: “While I don’t believe it is yet time to take legislative action, recent calls for the abolition of Section 101 entirely and dissatisfaction with application of the Mayo/Alice test is reaching a critical level. These key cases offer a significant opportunity to establish much-needed clarifications. Should this opportunity be missed, it is hard to see how Congressional action can be avoided.”
What they mean by “clarifications” (the strategy used by Kappos) is elimination. Their issue isn’t clarify; they’re just angry that they’re being denied patents either at the courts or at the patent office.
“Lumia, Has Its Sales Decreased by 73%, Selling Only 2.3 Million Units in Total”
“Windows in mobile is virtually dead.”Meanwhile, judging by the latest Microsoft news, the shares drop like a rock after disappointing results (also decline in patent taxation) which will lead to yet more layoffs, as we noted here on Friday. IAM went along with the headline “Microsoft reports Android royalties decline and may have to look to Asia to plug the gap”. “Microsoft does not release lined-out licensing numbers,” IAM wrote, “but some have estimated that the company could be making as much as $6 billion each year from monetising patent assets that it claims are read on by Google’s Android operating system.” These are purely speculations, as we have been saying here for years. Microsoft also uses patents for coercion, not just tax money, so there’s a hidden cost/gain from patent blackmail/extortion/racketeering (IAM defends this blackmail in spite of the RICO Act). It’s not hard to see why Microsoft resorted to these ugly tactics. As this new article puts it: “Based on the information provided in the company’s recent quarterly report, the company’s revenue from the mobile division saw a fall of 46%. Additionally, in the last three months, its smart phone, Lumia, has its sales decreased by 73%, selling only 2.3 million units in total.”
“Microsoft Headhunters Seek Linux Folk”
“Rather than make something of value Microsoft now operates like a parasite inside a ‘host’, be it Android or whatever.”Windows in mobile is virtually dead. It’s a dead ‘man’ walking. It’s only kept alive because of misguided speculations that there can be a rebound, but not even infiltrating and destroying Nokia contributed towards that. Rather than make something of value Microsoft now operates like a parasite inside a ‘host’, be it Android or whatever. When it comes to GNU/Linux on the desktop, Microsoft is trying to become the host of (devour) GNU/Linux. Microsoft’s extortion of Linux using software patents notwithstanding, there’s a new bunch of articles (based on Microsoft’s Channel 9) about how the devouring it achieved [1, 2, 3] and we also learn that Microsoft tries to devour employees of the competitor, just as it did to Borland (see the articles “Microsoft Is Hiring Linux Folks For A Secret Open Source Unit” and “Microsoft headhunters seek Linux folk for secret open source unit”). According to Microsoft’s mouthpiece (Ina Fried), all is well and Microsoft “comes in peace” (misleading coverage ensued). As a Microsoft-connected news network put it: “That notion comes from a couple of quotes given to re/code reporter Ina Fried this week.” Fried is more like Microsoft PR since her days at CNET, hardly am objective reporter and also a longtime proponent of Microsoft’s patent aggression. She used to be Microsoft’s main CBS mouthpiece, assigned the “Microsoft” section, where she also habitually badmouthed Linux. So this seems like another PR exercise.
While Microsoft pushes for antitrust action against Android and uses patents against Android we’re supposed to believe that there’s peace now. To quote: “Microsoft has long sparred with Google’s hardware partners regarding alleged software patent infringements associated with the use Android, a Google-fostered open source mobile operating system.”
“While Microsoft pushes for antitrust action against Android and uses patents against Android we’re supposed to believe that there’s peace now.”Has that ever stopped? No.
“Microsoft Has Been Poaching Entire Linux Distros Through “Partnerships” With the Companies”
Over at FOSS Force, Christine Hall asserts that “Microsoft’s Becoming the New, but Successful, Novell” (the comparison here is weak).
“Microsoft has been poaching entire Linux distros through “partnerships” with the companies,” Hall notes. Not much has changed since.
“Fraudulently Obtained Patents and Bullied Competitors to Dominate the Market”
“Microsoft may now be pursing Yahoo’s patents, years after affectively destroying the company (remember how Microsoft ‘stole’ Novell’s patents after demolishing the company).”Microsoft may now be pursing Yahoo's patents, years after affectively destroying the company (remember how Microsoft ‘stole’ Novell’s patents after demolishing the company). Buying these patents might not even be so expensive because, as this new article put it: “The US Supreme Court’s 2015 Alice decision, “gutted business method patents and damaged many software patents,” stated the firm.”
How many more projects and companies need to be destroyed before it’s widely understood that Microsoft is malicious and cannot be trusted? Historically, and especially over the past decade (since the Novell deal), Microsoft has used patents to intimidate rivals and monopolise the market, just like OptumInsight**. It shouldn’t be surprising that behind the scenes and behind proxies Microsoft has been pushing European regulators to put FRAND (essentially software patents) in standards, launch antitrust action against Android (which is killing the Windows monopoly), and is now paying Kappos to promote software patents in the US. Are we supposed to really believe Microsoft has changed? █
* The news cycle too has responded to the shift in attention, with one new article noting that: “The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to review a federal appeals court’s decision to revive a $45 million patent infringement verdict against Limelight Networks Inc.” This is affecting also non-technology companies, as according to this: “The Genetic Technologies decision joins a long list of other cases demonstrating how the Supreme Court cases of Mayo and Alice are creating sweeping changes in the US patent system.” Using 35 U.S.C. § 101 to invalidate CBM and software patents, Samsung finds Alice useful. To quote: “Samsung initially filed a Petition to institute covered business method (CBM) patent review of claim 11 of U.S. Patent No. 8,033,458 based upon the assertion that claim 11 is directed to patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Later, Apple filed a Petition to institute CBM review of claim 11 based on the same ground, and Apple simultaneously filed a “Motion for Joinder” of their newly filed case with Samsung’s previously instituted case. The PTAB granted Apple’s Petition and consolidated the two proceedings.”
** See the new article titled “Fixes Needed in Medical Software Patent Spat”
A federal judge on Friday dismissed with leave to amend a lawsuit claiming a data analytics company fraudulently obtained patents and bullied competitors to dominate the market for medical claims organizing software.
Cave Consulting Group, or CCGroup, sued OptumInsight in July 2015, accusing the firm of antitrust violations, false advertising and malicious prosecution.
CCGroup says Symmetry Health Data Systems, acquired by OptumInsight in 2003, lied and omitted facts when it applied for and defended patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Symmetry and later OptumInsight came to control 85 to 90 percent of the medical claims grouper software market after suing two competitors for infringing its “ill-gotten patents”, CCGroup claims.