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04.16.17

Alice Decision and PTAB Are Both Constantly Under Attack From the Patent Microcosm and Its Lobbyists

Posted in America, Patents at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent practitioners in the US are frogs in hot (if not boiling) water

A frog

Summary: A Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision against software patents, combined with a chopping block of software patents (whose efficiency is still increasing), is causing trolls and their facilitators (like patent law firms) to resort to dirty tricks and attempt to reshape the system to better suit them, averting irrelevancy

IMAGINE being a patent law firm in the US right now. It’s tough. Litigation figures have sunk, software patents are harder to get, and even if one gets them the courts will typically throw these away. This means that not many people even pursue such patents anymore. We constantly hear new stories about patent trolls that close shop and occasionally about legal firms which are centered around patents closing shop or being absorbed (i.e. their staff finding some new employer).

“We constantly hear new stories about patent trolls that close shop and occasionally about legal firms which are centered around patents closing shop or being absorbed (i.e. their staff finding some new employer).”Things aren’t going to improve for this occupation, which is nothing but a tax on everything (including so-called ‘innovation’). Understandably, the people associated with this pseudo ‘industry’ are fighting back and we need to watch what they are up to as they habitually attempt nefarious things, including an appalling witch-hunt against the head of the US patent office (Director Lee).

We don’t really know when SCOTUS is expected to deliver a determination on Impression v Lexmark (there is no deadline or expected date, but estimates can be made by those intimately familiar with such pertinent cases). What we do know, however, is that the case may have ramifications for software, too. As one site put it the other day, in the words of a legal firm that cited Alice as an example:

The Supreme Court noted several times that Impression was seeking a significant expansion of the existing scope of the exhaustion doctrine. Justice Kennedy asked Pincus why the exhaustion doctrine had not been codified in the 1952 patent statute and whether the failure to codify the doctrine suggested that the court should be “cautious” in “extending” the doctrine’s reach. Justice Alito noted that the “Federal Circuit’s rule on this is 25 years old” and Justice Sotomayor observed that Impression’s position on the question of foreign sales raised “serious issues” and “negative consequences”. Pincus acknowledged that Impression’s position could have such consequences, but observed that the Supreme Court has disrupted the settled expectations of patentees before to “get…the law right”, citing the Alice decision as an example.

Yesterday, in spite of the holiday, Watchtroll advocated getting rid of Alice again, by calling software patents “Computer Related Inventions” and trying to work around Alice. His allies (e.g. IBM’s patent chief and that ilk of patent bullies) recently tried again to undermine PTAB, having lobbied endlessly for negative action. Days ago IBM’s patent chief wrote that it’s “[g]reat that #USPTO will review and consider reform of PTAB #patent proceedings, bad that it took 5 years to happen…”

“They just want to crush Alice, crush PTAB which enforces it efficiently, and basically bring back software patents, which made America Not Great but a hub of patent trolls.”As we noted here the other day, it seems like an effort to appease the software patents lobbyists — something to which other patent radicals are now contributing. “Speakers discussed PTAB issues of interest,” Manging IP wrote the other day, “and other hot topics at Managing IP’s US Patent Forums, includ[ed] estoppel, a reawakening of APA issues at the Federal Circuit, the upcoming en banc rehearing of Wifi One v Broadcom, stay success rates, best strategies for using experts before the Board, and life sciences’ better survival rate in final written decisions”

All of the above is intended to shape PTAB to better suit the patent microcosm rather than the real industry and the public. The USPTO ought not surrender to them. They just want to crush Alice, crush PTAB which enforces it efficiently, and basically bring back software patents, which made America Not Great but a hub of patent trolls.

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