10.31.16

Gemini version available ♊︎

The Insane World of Patent Maximalism and Professor Joshua Pearce’s Case for Weakening Patent Rights

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A Case for Weakening Patent Rights
A Case for Weakening Patent Rights [PDF] (shown above are the first five pages among 70 in total)

Summary: Patent scope is being broadened to the point where it has gone way too far and academics push back against this trend, warning that patents are not accomplishing what they were originally intended to accomplish

THE PATENT system in the US, notably the USPTO (one branch among several), seems to be improving. This is good news for the competitiveness of the US. Contrariwise, the EPO has become a menace/liability to Europe.

“The Supreme Court finally accepted that software patents are on abstract things and should thus not be granted anymore.”An “EPO Advertisement,” an EPO insider wrote to us, is “Another Pathetic Attempt By The #EPO @ Desperately Fishing For New Engineers & Scientists http://www.telecompaper.com/jobs/engineers-and-scientists-in-various-technical-fields–444 …” (this link/advertisement was mentioned here before).

We still have a lot of material that we wish to publish about the EPO, but today we wish to share assorted news from the US. Some of it relates to Europe, as we shall explain as we go along.

It doesn’t matter if and when you implement something in a patent (one could be a troll with no products at all, at least not anymore). Based on this, all that matters is the filing date. “Regardless of whether the Phillips statement is correct,” Patently-O wrote yesterday, “going forward for Post-AIA patents, the court should now eliminate “the time of the invention” from its claim construction process. Under the statute, all of the focus now is on the effective filing date with invention shifted to a mere historic element of the patenting process.”

“The Battistelli-led EPO wants to replace examiners with machines, so will machines too apply?”When patents cease to be viewed from the perspective of benefit to society or practical contribution we can expect them to become little more than trophies or a tool of taxation. Sadly, a lot of systems where low patent quality prevails (e.g. SIPO) are like that, with the US only belatedly tackling quality issues and the EPO getting worse over time. Another new article from Patently-O says that “the plaintiff stipulated that Merck’s Dr. Scholl’s process did not infringe and the case was dismissed.” In other words, the only one/s to benefit here would be legal representatives. What a wasteful system.

Regarding patent exhaustion, this recent article says that “[t]he Solicitor General’s recommendations make a cert. grant highly likely in this important case, which goes to the heart of two of the Supreme Court’s favorite patent topics: the scope of the patent right and the extraterritorial effect of U.S. patents. The strategic impact on large multinational businesses, complex licensing deals and so on is potentially enormous.”

“Will machines apply for patents, in order for them to be ‘examined’ by other machines and generate billions of ‘patents’? Where does this insanity end?”The Supreme Court finally accepted that software patents are on abstract things and should thus not be granted anymore. Why does the EPO fail to see this and actively encourages software patents in Europe these days (we gave about 4 examples so far this month). To make matters worse, also in relation to computer algorithms, some believe that Battistelli now envisions replacing patent examiners with deficient computer programs, as if human judgment can conveniently be swapped with a machine. Now, bear in mind that the following news is definitely not satire [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Computer-generated patents are now being entertained too, along the lines of online humour where computer-generated academic papers (complete gibberish) got accepted into conferences/journals (SCIgen about a decade ago). The Battistelli-led EPO wants to replace examiners with machines, so will machines too apply? Because of the practices of hedge funds and other bankers, a lot of so-called ‘financial trading’ these days is just machines talking to other machines (algorithms drive the vast majority of trading volume). Are the patent systems next? Will machines apply for patents, in order for them to be ‘examined’ by other machines and generate billions of ‘patents’? Where does this insanity end? How can humans even keep up with such a thing and stay abreast of new patents? If the patent system becomes more like the financial sector (i.e. just a bunch of machines talking with other machines, rigging the system), won’t that render the whole system obsolete?

Here is Watchtroll, a proponent of patent maximalism, saying that “It’s Time to Fix the Global Patent System Before It Breaks Under the Weight of New Applications”. To quote:

What’s happening? Simply put, patent offices are failing to keep up with the growth of the innovation economy and the resulting increase in patent applications. Unfortunately, the problem could easily get worse in coming years. Many patent offices apparently have yet to process applications from recent years, when huge increases in applications have occurred.

It’s a problem that threatens to undermine the global patent system, but what’s both encouraging and discouraging by turns is that it’s largely a basic problem of good governance. Many of the solutions to the problem are relatively straightforward. They require the application of sufficient resources and a willingness to hire an appropriate number of examiners and share work between patent offices. These solutions are a matter of political will and effective management, rather than complex policy. Some countries have shown the will to turn things around, and we hope others will follow.

When patent monopolies become so abundant rather than scarce fewer people can actually bother (or find the time) to read them. What has become of the system? Infinite growth (in the pace of granting) isn’t indicative of faster innovation, just greater lenience and patent office greed. This system will basically kill itself unless it stops and puts barriers on patent scope so as to improve patent quality.

Here is a very recent Patently-O article titled “Bad Patents and the False Claims Act”. An excerpt:

The False Claims Act provides special incentives for whistleblowers to uncover fraud against the U.S. Government. The Act authorizes the whistleblower to file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the Government and then receive a cut of any recovered damages. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733. The whistleblower here LDPFC appears to be a branch of the hedge fund Foxhill Capital.

This case involves Allergan/Forrest Labs U.S. Patent No. 6,545,040 that is listed in the FDA Orange Book as covering the drug Bystolic. The basic false claims argument is that the market price of Bystolic is high because of the patent coverage – but the patent is (allegedly) invalid. If true, this means that Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA hospitals are all paying more than they should for the drug. As stated by the complaint: “The current market price for Nebivolol (Bystolic) is a false price because the ‘040 patent is invalid.”

Although the legal theory makes sense, the facts may get in the way: Is the patent invalid (PTAB says its close, but no) and, if it is invalid – did the patentee have knowledge of the invalidity?

PTAB, as we wrote yesterday, is the best hope of the US patent system right now. It cleans up the mess left by excess. Among patents that have not expired yet, PTAB might be able to find hundreds of thousands that need to be invalidated (before they even reach the court, if ever). Sent to us from Prof. Joshua Pearce earlier this month was his new paper [PDF] titled “A Case for Weakening Patent Rights”.

“Among patents that have not expired yet, PTAB might be able to find hundreds of thousands that need to be invalidated (before they even reach the court, if ever).”It sure looks like academics too are getting it. They also seem to agree with what Techrights has been saying for about a decade. Too many patents in too many domains do more harm than good.

Looking at the news, here is a very recent story about amicable resolution to a patent dispute:

LG Electronics said Miele was infringing patents for so-called steam washing machines and has sent a letter demanding that the German domestic appliance maker stop using the technology, setting an end-October deadline for a response.

Miele has been and is willfully infringing on LG’s patents, LG said in the letter, sent last week and seen by Reuters.

“In the interest of finding an amicable resolution of this matter, we are open to having an in-person meeting in November to discuss how to resolve this matter,” the company wrote.

The idea of willful infringing in the area of washing machines may make sense; after all, there aren’t hundreds of thousands of patents on washing machines, unlike software. It’s actually possible to keep track of patents pertaining to washing machines. That’s what the patent system was made for and we are not challenging patents in the physical domain (like mechanics). See also the article “Pure Storage agrees $30m patent litigation settlement with Dell” (via “this year’s highest damages awards”). This is about hardware, not software.

“It sure looks like academics too are getting it. They also seem to agree with what Techrights has been saying for about a decade.”Compare that to news about surveillance patents and patents on impossible (or fictional) things. What on Earth is that?

These patents exist “because patents are paper tigers,” Benjamin Henrion wrote, “no working prototypes required.”

Not much novelty is required either, especially when patent offices make “production” their primary goal, choosing quantity over quality.

“The idea of willful infringing in the area of washing machines may make sense; after all, there aren’t hundreds of thousands of patents on washing machines, unlike software. It’s actually possible to keep track of patents pertaining to washing machines.”Henrion said this in response to IBM’s Manny Schecter, a proponent of software patents. “If the quantum space engine is impossible,” he wrote, “how can it be patented?”

So suddenly even Schecter realises that patent scope has gone way too far? See this new article titled “The latest patent for the ‘impossible’ EM Drive has just been made public – and it’s wild” (from Science Alert).

A patent on something which is not even possible shows what some patent systems have sunk to. Yet Schecter fails to see his own double standard. On a separate day he wrote: “US #patent 9464453 is for a themed cemetery! We need to promote software innovation more than theme innovation-software must be patentable.”

“A patent on something which is not even possible shows what some patent systems have sunk to.”Well, IBM is still promoting and lobbying for software patents while suing small companies using such patents. The above “must not be patentable,” Henrion told Schecter. “Freedom of programming is not for sale.”

Well, policy is up for sale in the US. That’s why we’re still seeing the sordid legacy of software patents there. That’s why the US attracted or created so many patent trolls. Earlier this month I had a whole (and long) article written about me, the messenger, as I criticise software patents and this upsets some people. I guess that the software patents proponents would rather not tackle the message and instead go ad hominem. It’s OK, I got used to that. What patent software proponents don’t get is, if they dislike me, then I must be doing something right. I don’t try to be liked by people whose agenda is the opposite of mine.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Jim Zemlin Has Deleted All of His Tweets

    The Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin seems to have become rather publicity-shy (screenshots above are self-explanatory; latest snapshot), but years ago he could not contain his excitement about Microsoft, which he said was "loved" by what it was attacking. Days ago it became apparent that Microsoft’s patent troll is still attacking Linux with patents and Zemlin’s decision to appoint Microsoft as the At-Large Director (in effect bossing Linus Torvalds) at the ‘Linux’ Foundation’s Board of Directors is already backfiring. She not only gets her whole salary from Microsoft but also allegedly protects sexual predators who assault women… by hiring them despite repeated warnings; if the leadership of the ‘Linux’ Foundation protects sexual predators who strangle women (even paying them a salary and giving them management positions), how can the ‘Linux’ Foundation ever claim to represent inclusion and diversity?



  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft's Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley has warrant for his arrest, albeit only after a lot of harm and damage had already been done (to multiple people) and Microsoft started paying him



  3. The Committee on Patent Law (PLC) Informed About Overlooked Issues “Which Might Have a Bearing on the Validity of EPO Patents.”

    In a publication circulated or prepared last week the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO explains a situation never explored in so-called 'media' (the very little that's left of it)



  4. Links 6/12/2021: HowTos and Patents

    Links for the day



  5. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 05, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 05, 2021



  6. Gemini Space/Protocol: Taking IRC Logs to the Next Level

    Tonight we begin the migration to GemText for our daily IRC logs, having already made them available over gemini://



  7. Links 6/12/2021: Gnuastro 0.16 and Linux 5.16 RC4

    Links for the day



  8. Links 5/12/2021: Touchpad Gestures in XWayland

    Links for the day



  9. Society Needs to Take Back Computing, Data, and Networks

    Why GemText needs to become 'the new HTML' (but remain very simple) in order for cyberspace to be taken away from state-connected and military-funded corporations that spy on people and abuse society at large



  10. [Meme] Meanwhile in Austria...

    With lobbyists-led leadership one might be led to believe that a treaty strictly requiring ratification by the UK is somehow feasible (even if technically and legally it's moot already)



  11. The EPO's Web Site is a Parade of Endless Lies and Celebration of Gross Violations of the Law

    The EPO's noise site (formerly it had a "news" section, but it has not been honest for about a decade) is a torrent of lies, cover-up, and promotion of crimes; maybe the lies are obvious for everybody to see (at least EPO insiders), but nevertheless a rebuttal seems necessary



  12. The Letter EPO Management Does Not Want Applicants to See (or Respond to)

    A letter from the Munich Staff Committee at the EPO highlights the worrying extent of neglect of patent quality under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; the management of the EPO did not even bother replying to that letter (instead it was busy outsourcing the EPO to Microsoft)



  13. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 04, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, December 04, 2021



  14. EPO-Bribed IAM 'Media' Has Praised Quality, Which Even EPO Staff (Examiners) Does Not Praise

    It's easy to see something is terribly wrong when the people who do the actual work do not agree with the media's praise of their work (a praise motivated by a nefarious, alternate agenda)



  15. Tux Machines is 17.5 Years Old Today

    Tux Machines -- our 'sister site' for GNU/Linux news -- started in 2004. We're soon entering 2022.



  16. Approaching 100

    We'll soon have 100 files in Git; if that matters at all...



  17. Improving Gemini by Posting IRC Logs (and Scrollback) as GemText

    Our adoption of Gemini and of GemText increases; with nearly 100,000 page requests in the first 3 days of Decembe (over gemini://) it’s clear that the growing potential of the protocol is realised, hence the rapid growth too; Gemini is great for self-hosting, which is in turn essential when publishing suppressed and controversial information (subject to censorship through blackmail and other ‘creative’ means)



  18. Links 4/12/2021: IPFire 2.27 Core Update 162 and Genode OS Framework 21.11

    Links for the day



  19. Links 4/12/2021: Gedit Plans and More

    Links for the day



  20. Links 4/12/2021: Turnip Becomes Vulkan 1.1 Conformant

    Links for the day



  21. IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 03, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, December 03, 2021



  22. Links 4/12/2021: EndeavourOS Atlantis, Krita 5.0.0 Beta 5, Istio 1.11.5, and Wine 6.23; International Day Against DRM (IDAD) on December 10th

    Links for the day



  23. Another Gemini Milestone: 1,500 Active Capsules

    This page from Balázs Botond plots a graph, based on these statistics that now (as of minutes ago) say: “We successfully connected recently to 1500 of them.” Less than a fortnight ago more than 1,800 capsules overall were registered by Lupa, almost quadrupling in a single year



  24. [Meme] António Campinos and Socialist Posturing

    Staff of the EPO isn’t as gullible as António Campinos needs it to be



  25. António Campinos as EPO President is Considered Worse Than Benoît Battistelli (in Some Regards) After 3.5 Years in Europe's Second-Largest Institution

    The EPO's demise at the hands of people who don't understand patents and don't care what the EPO exists for is a real crisis which European media is unwilling to even speak about; today we share some internal publications and comment on them



  26. Media Coverage for Sale

    Today we're highlighting a couple of new examples (there are many other examples which can be found any day of the year) demonstrating that the World Wide Web is like a corporate spamfarm in "news" clothing



  27. Links 3/12/2021: GNU Poke 1.4 and KDDockWidgets 1.5.0

    Links for the day



  28. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 02, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 02, 2021



  29. Links 3/12/2021: Nitrux 1.7.1 and Xen 4.16 Released

    Links for the day



  30. Links 2/12/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.4 Alpha, Qt Creator 6

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts