IP3 Demonstrates That Today’s Patent Systems Devolve Into a Conglomerates’ Game, Won’t Protect the Mythical Small Inventor
This increasingly globalised system is not for the “small guy”
Summary: Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?
For anyone who still thinks that patents are designed to protect the small guy/gal and/or his/her small company/ies… well, maybe this was true a long time ago. The USPTO moved in a bad direction quite some time ago and the EPO, led by Battistelli and his goons, trots in the same direction, notably (but not only) with the UPC. People’s rights and people’s wealth are under constant attack so that corporations’ power and wealth can increase and make way to greater dominance in an increasingly globalised world (overcoming environmental regulations, bypassing minimum wage laws, diminishing working conditions and so on). Just see what I.S.D.S. is all about when assessing the real motivation of TPP or TTIP (not just the forces behind them, those who prefer secrecy due to fear of public reaction). It’s class war, that’s what it boils down to.
It wasn’t enough that Creative Labs/Creative Technology spent March 24th suing almost every big name in the cell phone business for patent infringement. These lawsuits, all filed in the East Texas patent troll playground, asserted the same thing: that any smartphone containing a music app (which is every smartphone produced) violates the patent it was granted in 2005 to use in conjunction with its mp3 players. “Venue is proper” because smartphones are sold in Texas, even if the plaintiffs are located in California and Singapore, respectively.
That wasn’t all Creative Technology did. It also filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission seeking to block the import of smartphones from manufacturers like Sony, LG, BlackBerry, Samsung, etc. under the theory that every imported phone contains patent-infringing software. The ITC has opened an investigation of Creative’s allegations, which will at least hold off any potential import blocks until it reaches a decision. The ITC’s summary of Creative’s patent claims clearly shows how broad the patent’s potential coverage is — and (inadvertently) why it should be invalidated.
Google has decided it’s not going to wait around for the ITC or east Texas courts to come to the wrong conclusions. It’s gone on the offensive, seeking declaratory judgment that it does not violate Creative’s broad patent. Every company sued by Creative on March 24th sells Android phones that contain Google’s “Play Music” app. On behalf of its customers (and its own Motorola Mobility, which was also sued), Google wants Creative’s BS patent’s power neutered.
We already remarked on Creative’s real ‘business’ at present. This isn’t a case of David v. Goliath but more like Troll v. Google. This troll has an old brand and recognised name (in technology circles), so it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening here. MPEG-LA operates similarly on behalf of giants like Microsoft and Apple.
“This troll has an old brand and recognised name (in technology circles), so it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening here.”Incidentally, and probably without direct correlation to the above, some days ago the patent lawyers’ sites began floating ‘news’ about IP3 (new name, not a new thing), e.g. [1, 2]. The latter said: “This blog recently covered Google’s Patent Purchase Program, here and here. Google basically offered to consider purchasing submitted patents. The Program is back, but this time expanded with a new group of players under the title, “IP3 by Allied Security Trust.”
We wrote about this before, but it has just been expanded and rebranded (or renamed, to put it more politely). Here is what IAM (patent maximalist) wrote: “In many ways IP3, the new patent selling platform backed by the likes of Google, Apple, Ford, Microsoft and IBM that was announced on Wednesday, is a product of its time. It’s hard to imagine, say five years ago, Google and Apple jumping into bed together on anything patent-related – or for companies in very different industries pooling resources in the way they have for IP3. But today is different: with the smartphone wars almost at an end and everyone talking about convergence, IP3 reflects the more cooperative, partnership-based approach to IP strategy that a growing number of operating companies insist is their new ethos.”
“They just want more mega-corporations to coalesce and use their collective power for protectionism and a sort of cross-licensing with extra edge (battling small plaintiffs which target the well-funded cabal).”Notice the size of the backers and mind who they target with IP3. Is this the fairy tale which the patent systems’ biggest proponents try to tell us about when they defend further scope expansion and sharp increases in the number of patents? As if the more patents we have, the more ‘lone inventors’ are ‘protected’? Consider the cost of application, renewal, litigation, etc. It’s very prohibitive. Here goes IAM again, in its initial report about this: “A group of major patent-owning companies – Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Ford, Cisco and Facebook among them – have banded together to form the Industry Patent Purchase Program – or IP3 – providing patent owners with a streamlined way of selling their IP. The new initiative has been developed in conjunction with AST which will play the central role in administering the project. In effect it is the second iteration of Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion, which the search giant launched last summer and which saw it buy up a number of patents in a price range of $3,000 to $250,000.”
Can I join too? I have no patents, but I too would like this special/magical ‘protection’. The press release about IP3 is a big load of nonsense which is “Calling All Patent Owners”, so people like myself are obviously excluded. They just want more mega-corporations to coalesce and use their collective power for protectionism and a sort of cross-licensing with extra edge (battling small plaintiffs which target the well-funded cabal). What kind of arsenals are they pooling together?
“What all the above stories have in common is that they show patent empowerment by large corporations, their consortia, their trolls (or ‘pools’ like MPEG-LA) and at whose expense?”Speaking of Google, which is the key company in IP3, see the new article “Tech and Auto Firms Join Google-Led Patent Purchase Program” and recall what we recently wrote about the hoard of software patents on driving (not a new concept). Watch how Google is now stockpiling driving patents, as reported last week by dozens of publications, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4] (very limited list as an exhaustive one would be vast).
Google, unlike IBM, never suffered massive layoffs (not yet anyway), but would it become a patent aggressor like IBM recently became (using software patents)? Every company collapses sooner or later. No company exists for an eternity. See what happened to Nokia‘s mobile patents (Microsoft instructed Nokia to give these to Google-hostile trolls).
“This is highly regressive and it corrodes the spirit of the so-called ‘intellectual property’ system we are told to respect.”Dr. Glyn Moody has this new article about a patent we mentioned the other day. It shows just how far IBM’s patent lust has gone. To quote Moody: “Stories about copying turn up a lot on Techdirt. That’s largely as a consequence of two factors. First, because the Internet is a copying machine — it works by repeatedly copying bits as they move around the globe — and the more it permeates today’s world, the more it places copying at the heart of modern life. Secondly, it’s because the copyright industries hate unauthorized copies of material — which explains why they have come to hate the Internet. It also explains why they spend so much of their time lobbying for ever-more punitive laws to stop that copying. And even though they have been successful in bringing in highly-damaging laws — of which the DMCA is probably the most pernicious — they have failed to stop the unauthorized copies. [...] We’ve already seen Microsoft’s Protected Media Path for video, a “feature” that was introduced with Windows Vista; it’s easy to imagine something a little more active that matches the material you want to view or listen to against a database of permissions before displaying or playing it. And how about a keyboard that checks text as you type it for possible copyright infringements and for URLs that have been blocked by copyright holders? There is a popular belief that the computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” was named “HAL” after IBM, by replacing each letter in the company name with its predecessor. That’s apocryphal, but with this latest patent application IBM is certainly moving squarely into HAL territory. ”
Yeah, some ‘innovation’…
And we all surely benefit, right?
From patent aggressor IBM, according to this new IAM report, a notorious character moved to Rovi (another patent aggressor) and now he lands inside HEVC Advance, which is a patent troll [1, 2] (IAM dares not say this term, so it would say only “PAE” or “pool”). Remember who is behind HEVC Advance. No ‘lone inventors’ at all. To quote IAM: “Technicolor – previously known as Thomson – has long been a leading media and entertainment business with a strong R&D focus, and has one of Europe’s biggest technology and patent licensing operations – first developed under the leadership of IP Hall of Famer Béatrix de Russé. In 2013, Boris Teksler was brought in to lead the company’s technology operation, with a remit that included IP; and when Teksler departed in June 2015 he was replaced by Stéphane Rougeot, who has now also left the company. As if that was not enough, for much of 2014 and early 2015, the Technicolor board was involved in a bitter dispute about the company’s future direction with shareholder Vector Capital. That has now been settled.”
What all the above stories have in common is that they show patent empowerment by large corporations, their consortia, their trolls (or ‘pools’ like MPEG-LA) and at whose expense? The same mythical character which the patent system was presumably created to protect. This is highly regressive and it corrodes the spirit of the so-called ‘intellectual property’ system we are told to respect. █