No “New Life to Software Patents” in the US; That’s Just Fiction Perpetuated by the Patent Microcosm
Summary: Selective emphasis on very few cases and neglect of various other dimensions help create a parallel reality (or so-called ‘fake news’) where software patents are on the rebound
“In 2014,” Joe Mullin recalls in a new article (published earlier today), “the US Supreme Court dealt a major blow to software patents. In their 9-0 ruling in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank, the justices made it clear that just adding fancy-sounding computer language to otherwise ordinary aspects of business and technology isn’t enough to deserve a patent.”
“Since then,” he continues, “district court judges have invalidated hundreds of patents under Section 101 of the US patent laws, finding they’re nothing more than abstract ideas that didn’t deserve a patent in the first place. The great majority of software patents were unable to pass the basic test outlined by the Supreme Court. At the beginning of 2016, the nation’s top patent court had heard dozens of appeals on computer-related patents that were challenged under the Alice precedent. DDR Holdings v. Hotels.com was the only case in which a Federal Circuit panel ruled in favor of a software patent-holder. The Alice ruling certainly didn’t mean all software patents were dead on arrival—but it was unclear what a software patent would need to survive. Even DDR Holdings left a teeny-tiny target for patent owners to shoot at.”
“The patent law firms want us to believe that software patents are rebounding or something, even though CAFC invalidates them as quickly as ever, SCOTUS repeatedly rejects attempts to override Alice, and the number of lawsuits involving software patents sank considerably this past year, based on numerous comprehensive/exhaustive surveys.”Ignoring some of the biggest cases of 2016, Mullin then argues that “[j]udges on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found three more cases in which they believe that software patents were wrongly invalidated. What once looked like a small exception to the rule now looks like three big ones.” What about that one single CAFC case involving not one but three invalidations, courtesy of the judge some hold responsible for software patents in the US? Here is a new article about it (bumped earlier today):
Intellectual Ventures recently filed for a rehearing en banc in Intellectual Ventures LLC v. Symantec Corp. and Trend Micro Inc. for a decision made in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that invalidated three of its software patents. The variety of patents at issue, colloquially dubbed the “Do-It-On-A-Computer” patent, have been increasingly invalidated after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.
The Intellectual Ventures loss (covered here many times at the time) isn’t the only such loss this year (for software patents at CAFC). We actually covered quite a few other such cases, but the patent microcosm prefers to obsess over just 3 or 4 cases, i.e. less than it takes one hand’s fingers to count. In our humble assessment, Mullin, who is an excellent journalist, fell prey/victim to the endless propaganda from the patent microcosm. The patent law firms want us to believe that software patents are rebounding or something, even though CAFC invalidates them as quickly as ever, SCOTUS repeatedly rejects attempts to override Alice, and the number of lawsuits involving software patents sank considerably this past year, based on numerous comprehensive/exhaustive surveys. █