After Ruinous Kappos (Former IBM) Tenure at USPTO the Big Blue — Along With Front Groups — Muscles Its Way Into US Patent Policy
IBM also stands for International Bullying Machine, says Florian Müller
Summary: IBM’s patent zealots continue to make the company look really ugly and growingly hostile towards software developers, even if they are hiding behind front groups like IPO and David Kappos’ new shell when they lobby for software patenting in the United States
IBM and its former employee David Kappos (still works for them as a lobbyist) have done despicable enough things already — things that are purely and unequivocally detrimental to Free/Open Source software or even software developers in general. How much more foolish are they trying to look? Except when they sue smaller companies using software patents? What happened to Samuel Palmisano's IBM? That was the IBM we could actually support.
“What happened to Samuel Palmisano’s IBM?”“Innovation” is what IBM calls litigation, we must assume, based on tactless tweets like this one. “Innovation fuels economic growth and #patents promote #innovation,” it says.
The other day we showed how IBM is lobbying for software patents along with patent maximalists who conveniently (for their wallets) prop up IPO with its shameless lobbying. The so-called “task” for software patenting is led by IBM staff and attorneys who lobby for software patents are obviously supportive. IBM basically wants to restore software patents (their eligibility) by discrediting the examination process, as in this example that says: “That this question has been asked is itself evidence of how conflated #patent subject matter eligibility and obviousness have become – ugh!”
“IBM basically wants to restore software patents (their eligibility) by discrediting the examination process…”This is also what they pay Kappos to say. They’re pretending there’s some kind of confusion which prevents them from pursuing software patents, which is rather ironic coming from the company that files the lion’s share of application and every year tops the list of USPTO patentees. To IBM, at least as far as patents go, nothing is ever enough!
Here, for example, IBM applauds IBM-led lobbying for software patents, linking to this echo chamber (other sites that are pro-software patents). Manny Schecter (IBM’s patent chief) gives “More applause for IPO’s resolution to amend 35 USC 101 here, though I don’t understand the bit about a cocked hat…”
“To IBM, at least as far as patents go, nothing is ever enough!”He never bothered mentioning that it’s IBM embedded inside IPO doing this. They’re just using it as a front group. IPO, a front group for corporations, tries to write the rules that impact its funders (not the poor, the rich) and Patently-O too dives in with “IPO’s Next Legislative Proposal: 35 U.S.C. 103″. It says: “Following IPO’s recent proposal to effectively eliminate 35 U.S.C. 101, a Patently-O reader (“MM”) proposed the following amendment to 35 U.S.C. 103 for the organization’s consideration” (there’s no stopping IPO, is there?).
Days prior to this, an article by Dennis Crouch helped this lobbying campaign by IBM et al. To quote:
In a newly published whitepaper, the IPO explains its proposed legislative amendment. [PDF: 20170207_ipo-101-tf-proposed-amendments-and-report]
Following an explanation rejected by the Supreme Court in its eligibility doctrine, IPO explains that the traditional subject matter exceptions including abstract ideas and laws of nature were part of the pre-1952 “invention” requirement. That requirement was eliminated in the 1952 Act in a way that, according to the IPO, should have opened the door to broad subject matter jurisprudence. As the organization sees it, the Supreme Court began to go off track in the 1970s – a path revived in recent years.
With this avenue of legal argument rejected by the courts, the IPO sees itself forced to appeal to Congress for a more direct statement of broad subject matter eligibility.
Why IPO Is Wrong About Section 101
It certainly seems that the technology industry is producing better and more exciting products than ever. Virtual reality is becoming, well, a reality; we have drones, self-driving cars, better artificial intelligence, amazing new games, and smarter smartphones. These innovations are all driven by software, even though the landscape for software patents has changed over the last few years due in part to several decisions by the Supreme Court.
This changing landscape has escalated the debate over the role of patents in promoting software innovations. Should we have limits on software patents? Are some “inventions” too abstract to qualify for patent protection? The Supreme Court has answered “yes” to both of those questions.
Bilski v. Kappos, which set the current course for subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, was decided six years ago. Since then, the Supreme Court has decided two more major cases on patent eligibility, Mayo v. Prometheus and Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. The U.S. technology sector has, despite a general economic slowdown, done fairly well in that time.
Looking at the IPO’s proposal in more detail, it’s clear that the language is a smoke screen. This amendment would essentially do away with any limits to software patenting. The “exception” that IPO’s proposal leaves open is so narrow as to be non-existent, at least in the technology sector. It excludes from patent-eligibility only those inventions that “exist solely in the human mind.” With the possible exception of patent applications being transmitted telepathically, any invention that’s written down exists outside the human mind. With all seriousness, anything that involves a computer even minimally would fall outside the exception.
The bottom line is that there’s no evidence of an actual decline in innovation due to Mayo and subsequent cases. Creating chaos because a few patent lawyers are unhappy is hardly good policy. The reality is that the Federal Circuit is doing a generally good job of interpreting Alice, and we should let the court keep going.
“150+ years of case law have held that abstract ideas and laws of nature cannot be patented,” United for Patent Reform stressed a few days ago. But what would poor IBM sue over if not software? IBM has made cash cows out of practicing companies that are not IBM. In other words, it has become a patent bully and sometimes (in areas where it doesn’t operate, e.g. social media) patent troll. Litigation great again? Is that what they want? If so, then better make IBM bankrupt. The sooner, the better. They’re already heading in that direction, having outsourced many of the valuable jobs and sold large chunks of the business to China (notably Lenovo). █