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11.07.16

Patent Law Firms and Their Publishers Latch Onto Rare CAFC Cases Where Software Patents Somehow Survive

Posted in America, Patents at 1:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But these are only about 10% of all cases (can be counted with the fingers of one hand this year), i.e. still the small if not minuscule minority

Stat

Summary: A roundup of District Court and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) news regarding software patents

HAVING just covered the good news, namely the decline/descent of software patents, now come the less convenient news, or the news that can throw a wrench at the party if one blindly believes the spin that accompanies the news. The ascent of Alice since 2.5 years ago profoundly changed everything in the domain of software patenting. It’s not hard to see why and it’s difficult to argue against it… unless one is a paid lobbyist like David Kappos, former USPTO Director.

First we have the case of Evolved Wireless, LLC v Apple Inc., a District Court (not Texas for a change) where the patents were ruled not ineligible. Here’s the gist of it:

The court denied defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that plaintiff’s wireless communications patents encompassed unpatentable subject matter because the claims were not directed toward abstract mathematical algorithms

If this decision is appealed and reaches CAFC, expect the patents to die. Just look at CAFC’s recent track record. It’s as hostile as can be toward software patents and a key judge, the one responsible for software patents’ emergence, changed his mind and slammed software patents in a key decision involving the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures. We already published several articles about this historic decision.

Meanwhile, says this patent attorney, “US Pat 7,412,510, Software Patent Survived Alice at the CAFC” and another proponent of software patents says “inexplicably CAFC did NOT kill this claim under 101: “computer code … to enhance” an accounting record http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/15-1180.Opinion.10-28-2016.1.PDF … HOPE YET??”

What they hope for is that CAFC will change its course and stop “killing” (their term for invalidation) software patents, but they’re cherry-picking cases most of the time. It lets them shower potential or existing clients with dangerous optimism.

Michael Loney, writing from New York, says that “Federal Circuit finds software claims patent eligible for fourth time this year,” but four in a year is not much. To quote Mr. Loney:

“There is no such single, succinct, usable definition or test” for defining an abstract idea, the Federal Circuit said while allowing a software patent to survive a Section 101 analysis for the fourth time since May

Here is another article about this:

One major take away from this case is that this panel of the CAFC clearly believes software is patent eligible subject matter. At least some of the representative claims discussed (e.g., claim 1 of the ‘065 patent, page 20) is a computer readable medium claim reciting computer code for performing a series of operations. This is very welcome after comments in recent cases from certain judges suggesting that software should be per se unpatentable.

This decision can probably be appealed to the Supreme Court, at risk of overriding Alice. Here is corporate media, namely Barbara Grzincic at Reuters, covering this latest development as well:

A long-running patent fight between network-software rivals Amdocs (Israel) Ltd and Openet Telecom Inc will go at least another round, after a U.S. appeals court overturned a ruling that had invalidated four of Amdocs’ patents.

Other coverage came from lawyers’ sites [1, 2, 3] and pro-software patents lobbying sites [1, 2] where there are no disclosures about vested interests. Some of these articles contain misleading claims, such as “Federal Circuit seems to be loosening the reins on 101 software subject matter disqualifications,” even though CAFC is actually ruling against software patents in a large number of cases, especially high profile cases (like the aforementioned Intellectual Ventures case). No matter what the patent microcosm tries to say (usually spin), CAFC is basically trashing a lot of software patents and the recent decision from Judge Mayer was a death knell to many of them. Lawyers’ sites are understandably desperate for spin because spin sells (it attracts their target audience). The same happens in Europe; European “IP” news sites try to maintain an amicable relationship with the EPO, so they only say good things or nothing at all.

“Has IAM ever given a platform to opponents of software patents and to pessimists? It’s a rarity because that’s not what readers (paying subscribers) want to see.”Speaking of one such European “IP” ‘news’ site, once again it gives Bart Eppenauer (from Microsoft) a megaphone, and as usual in defense of software patents. He is trying to say that all is well for software patents, which is utter nonsense. Here is what IAM wrote under the headline “Key CAFC decisions confirm software is patentable in post-Alice world, says Microsoft’s former patent chief”.

Has IAM ever given a platform to opponents of software patents and to pessimists? It’s a rarity because that’s not what readers (paying subscribers) want to see.

Well, this sure is getting shallow and tiresome. Why don’t they just recruit Eppenauer and give him his own column at IAM? What he talks about isn’t news; it’s not even a new decision, just more entertainment of old staff with attribution to an overhyped person whom they like to grease up a lot (almost every month).

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