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07.07.16

Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Originator of Software Patents) Still the Number One Barrier to Progress and Justice

Posted in America, Patents at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CAFC corruption

Summary: New Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) cases/rulings and what the latest developments serve to teach us about CAFC

THE activity of patent litigation is a function of misunderstanding, disagreement, and inability to settle. It is not, however, to be mistaken or conflated with patent activities (cross-licensing for instance). Patent maximalists, especially those who profit from actual litigation (patent lawyers, not necessarily attorneys), conveniently mix the two. It is worth remembering that poor judgment or low-quality patent examination would more likely lead to patent disputes. This is one of several reasons we’re highly concerned about the EPO these days. Looking at the far east, there too litigation activity seems to be on the rise; this week alone Huawei decided to sue with patents [via] once again (China is a growing platform for such litigious activity and hostile atmosphere it entails) and in Korea patent cases boil over to the US courts. Patents were originally introduced not to occupy thousands of courts but for preservation/publication, attribution, and dissemination of knowledge (with accompanying fees or temporary prohibition on imitations). Nowadays, judging by these very recent articles about patents on life [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], patents are made to control who lives and who dies, or who ‘owns’ parts of everyone’s body. This is not OK and it directly relates to software patents if the said patent is looked upon closely. Now there’s also the Rapid Litig. v CellzDirect case [1, 2], patents on exported goods, and other such CAFC cases like Bascom, which relates to software patents. As The National Law Review put it yesterday, “Focusing on Second Step of Alice, Federal Circuit Finds Inventive Concept in Software Patent in BASCOM” (there is more coverage here).

How far can this madness go and when will it be globally realised that software patents never made sense to begin with (it was CAFC that brought these into existence). Matt Levy, writing for Patent Progress yesterday, scoffed at “Bad software patents” when he wrote the article “CAFC Says Configuring an Option per User is Patent-Eligible” (it oughtn’t be). To quote Levy’s explanation of the case and the patent:

Bad software patents apparently still have a few protectors on the Federal Circuit: in its recent decision in Bascom Global Internet Services, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, a Federal Circuit panel said that a patent for configuring a content filtering option per network user is patent eligible. After making a lot of progress in the wake of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, this is a big step backwards.

[...]

This is patent lawyer language, of course, but it’s not too complicated. Basically, there are a few ways of filtering out objectionable websites; this system forces all network requests through a single server which filters out the objectionable websites. Each user has a filtering method(s) associated with her account, and the server uses the associated method(s) for the user making the request. That is the claim. There are no new filtering methods, no implementation details, nothing more specific than what I’ve just described.

Under Alice, it seems pretty clear to me that this shouldn’t be patent eligible. The abstract idea is something like “filtering content through a single access point where the method of filtering content is configured for each user.”

“The Federal Circuit has ruled that the claims of a patent for liver cell treatment were not directed to a patent-ineligible concept, in a decision that provides guidance on how life science innovations can satisfy the Mayo test,” MIP wrote, demonstrating that CAFC not only challenges Alice but also the Mayo test (both at SCOTUS, the US Supreme Court). CAFC also “saves 10k patents by reversing district court decision in Immersion Corp v HTC,” according to this new patent lawyers’ analysis of Immersion Corp v HTC, serving to reinforce the view that CAFC is somewhat of a rogue court which all along was in the pockets of patent lawyers, disinterested in justice itself.

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