Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Putting an End to Lots of Software Patents; Patent Microcosm Spins and Distracts From This
Still championing patent quality after a dark age of rubberstamping under David Kappos
Summary: Hope for the US patent system as some of the most controversial abstract patents are declared invalid and thrown aside
THE ROLE of the PTAB, the scientific collective responsible for abolishing a lot of software patents by proactive action, is increasing. Things are changing very rapidly, but corporate media isn’t reporting (or misreporting) on it. This is good news for opponents of software patents anywhere in the world.
PTAB has enemies. Its enemies are people who profit from patents on software, notably patent lawyers. They are currently discrediting PTAB using the term/notion of “reverse patent trolls” (invalidating bad patents is trolling?!). MIP has had a decent series about PTAB this past week. The earlier part speaks of “authors of a new white paper [who] believe that almost 75% of pharmaceutical patent settlements at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board meet the criterion for inferring a strong likelihood of reverse payment settlement. The paper also suggests a rule to deter attempts to exploit the Board as a holdup device as well as discussing reverse patent trolls” (meaningful and inappropriate term).
“Things are changing very rapidly, but corporate media isn’t reporting (or misreporting) on it.”Lobbyist for software patents, David Kappos, also pushed out a so-called ‘white paper’ without disclosing who was paying him for all that (it’s pretty ugly and it definitely discredits the USPTO where he was previously a Director, the highest position and equivalent of President at the EPO).
Another installment from MIP then gave a detailed breakdown of law firms that profit from all this chaos of poor patent examination at the Patent Office. We recognise many of these firms. MIP said that “Sterne Kessler has become the first law firm to handle more than 500 AIA proceedings, with a particularly strong showing representing defendants. Fish & Richardson is the top law firm for challengers at the PTAB, breaking the 300 petition mark” (Fish & Richardson was mentioned here many times before.
The part which we didn’t quite appreciate was the one where Michael Loney of MIP was cherry-picking like climate change denialists, making it appear like PTAB was on the decline with the headline “July CBM petition filing slumps to lowest level since February 2013″ (skip to third paragraph for context).
PTAB staff may be taking their summer’s break and as Loney later noted, “PTAB Monthly Data and Analysis: July was the second-busiest month of 2016 for petition filing, but covered business method petitions fell to the lowest level since February 2013. Recent decisions from the Board include cancelling claims on a patent that had been used to sue more than 250 defendants” (CBMs are part of a broader picture).
“This is good news for opponents of software patents anywhere in the world.”To put things in perspective: “The month seems particularly strong when compared with that time of year in previous years. July in 2015 and 2014 was a relatively quiet month with both June and August of those years having at least 50 more petitions filed than the July figure.” Another article took note of 11% litigation decline last month, showing that the system was gradually correcting itself. To quote, “407 cases were filed in US district courts in July, with two new plaintiffs leading the way and entities such as Shipping and Transit, Uniloc, Sportbrain and Guyzar adding to their 2016 totals” (these are mostly patent trolls).
MIP looked more closely at one particular case and said: “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has invalidated all the claims of a patent owned by storage software company Boxbee in a post-grant review (PGR) proceeding brought by Netsirv and Local Motion. This is the third final written decision in a PGR, all of which have resulted in patents being invalidated.”
It is hardly surprising. PTAB typically demolishes the patents it looks into, leaving patent lawyers rather scared and bashful (in the face of their clients). A software patents lobbying site, for example, got so upset at PTAB that Gene, its founder, tried cursing at it (“impotence”). Here is a new take about PTAB in the “Post-Alice World”. It says: “Only 16% of the Board’s eligibility decisions fully reversed the eligibility rejections, and none of the other 84% of the applications have been allowed despite the effort and the expense of the appeal.”
“PTAB typically demolishes the patents it looks into, leaving patent lawyers rather scared and bashful (in the face of their clients).”Yes, so what? They’re obviously trying to discredit PTAB, a cornerstone of AIA. Here is one patent attorney leaning on Bascom, in spite of the case's old age (they’ll refer to it forever because they’re running low on supportive cases), saying it “turns this on its head by holding that the Patentee must proffer prior art to show 101 validity. Alice shifts burden of proof.” A sponsored “REPORT” (i.e. paid marketing) from IAM repeats this same talking point. They just can’t help it, can they? PTAB combined with Alice is a nightmare to them and all they can do it ridicule Justices, call PTAB “impotent” (low blow), and mislead clients into believing that nothing has changed.
“Lawyers are liars,” my wife told me years ago. She had heard that saying quite a lot. It certainly is the case when it comes to a lot of patent lawyers, at least those who are pushing their agenda into articles (self promotion disguised as ‘analyses’). █