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04.30.16

Alice Continues to Smash Software Patents So Patent Lawyers, Monopolists’ Lobbyists Etc. Now Attack the Supreme Court for Doing This

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 7:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has become the target of the profiteers’ anger

Alice grave

Summary: Corporate lobbyists and patent lawyers are trying to put Alice in the grave, for its impact on software patents is very profound and thus far almost unstoppable

THE increasingly-famous decision, commonly known as Alice (the plaintiff), has just claimed another victim. It’s a software patent of course. It’s also a high-profile case (Fitbit and Jawbone) which we covered here several times before (this year and last year).

“The Alice precedence is working. No wonder patent lawyers are in panic.”According to the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal (behind paywall), “Judge Lord based the ruling on a Supreme Court decision from 2014 that said companies can’t claim software patents for abstract ideas without inventive concepts.”

Here are the earliest 10 reports about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] (found this morning, so there might be more by now as it’s Saturday at noon).

Chalk or write another victory up on the blackboard/whiteboard. The Alice precedence is working. No wonder patent lawyers are in panic.

“Aggressive patent lawyers/corporations and their lobbyists, people like David Kappos, now have a war on SCOTUS itself.”“Why the S.Ct [Supreme Court] Should Not Be Deciding Patent Cases” is how Patent Buddy described this new attack on Justice Stephen Breyer. It oughtn’t be so hard to figure out why patent lawyers are very upset that SCOTUS is doing the right thing (against their greed). SCOTUS basically limits patent scope with decisions such as Alice, derailing patent aggressor as in the above example (less than a day old).

SCOTUS is intervening in various other areas and yesterday we saw this new comment stating: “Is the opinion discussed that of the Supreme Court or rather, as it appears to be, that of the 2nd Circuit? If the Supreme Court issued an opinion as well as an order, I for one would be interested to see it.”

Aggressive patent lawyers/corporations and their lobbyists, people like David Kappos, now have a war on SCOTUS itself. They view it is a threat and they wish to battle it using Congress (snitching on the lawmaker to other lawmakers). They hope to somehow make Alice go away. According to this new report by Professors Colleen Chien (Santa Clara University Law School) and Arti Rai (Duke Law School), the “USPTO hosted a day-long conference around the one-year anniversary of its Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative,” wherein, after intensive lobbying by Kappos, the predecessor of Lee, we have this: “In line with the case study suggestions, the USPTO aims to address concerns about particular types of examiner rejections and consistency across technology groups within the patent corps. To that end, it will be conducting studies on the use of section 101 and 112(f) by examiners; on the correctness and clarity of motivation statements in obviousness rejections based on combining references; and enforcement of written description requirements in continuation applications.”

“Expect patent maximalists to try to turn the table and propose regressive steps.”Don’t touch section 101. They’re hoping to regress back to pre-Alice days. Another new report says: “The USPTO recently requested proposals for case studies that the Office might do in order to improve patent prosecution. There were over 100 proposals submitted from associations, companies, law firms, and individuals. There are definitely some proposals that the USPTO should use. [...] All of these are great proposals, and each of them has the potential to either identify weak spots at the USPTO or confirm that examiners are following Office guidelines. Let’s hope the Office is giving these proposals serious consideration.”

Expect patent maximalists to try to turn the table and propose regressive steps. Boris Zelkind, “a partner focusing on litigation and intellectual property licensing in the San Diego office of Knobbe Martens,” has just said: “Additionally, as patents continue to take a beating in the courts and in the Patent Office’s post-grant reviews, companies need to consider whether their innovations are suited for trade secret protection. This is particularly true in the software world, where the US Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, created significant challenges to obtaining patent protection for software innovations and enforcing software patents. Thus, innovators in the software industry may need to be increasingly aware of trade secret laws and may be required to rely on such laws in order to protect their innovations.”

“Software patents may be down for the count in the United States, but don’t count on powerful lobbies not to pull them back up because they usually get what they want (at the end, sooner of later).”This is more of the same kind of maximalism. Patent lawyers, seeing that Alice has made software patents incredibly hard to attain and then assert/enforce, are openly promoting laws that would criminalise a lot of whistleblowers — the types of people who habitually offer us input about the EPO (nevertheless, trade secrets law is beyond the scope of our coverage). What’s noteworthy here is that there’s clearly a strong response to Alice and we ought to take note of who’s behind it. Software developers are happy about Alice, whereas patent lawyers and companies like IBM and Microsoft (huge patent aggressors) want the decision burned inside the ashtray.

Software patents may be down for the count in the United States, but don’t count on powerful lobbies not to pull them back up because they usually get what they want (at the end, sooner of later). According to Patent Docs, PTAB (increasingly and commonly an Alice enforcer) has just been invoked again (against yet another silly software patent*, as is common in the US) and it eventually denied a CBM review.

Techrights remains dedicated to exposing all the string-pulling behind the scenes as it’s abundantly clear that there’s a growing (and already very strong) movement to revive software patenting in the US. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” Thomas Jefferson famously said.
_____
* This patent being on software is evident and self-explanatory. To quote: “The ’805 patent is directed to a system and method for soliciting “page-specific” feedback from website users. User feedback is solicited on a page-specific basis by incorporating a “user-selectable element,” or “viewable icon,” into each web page of the website.”

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