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06.25.17

As Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Ramps Up Its Campaign Against Software Patent Trolls the Patent Microcosm Attacks the Messenger (EFF)

Posted in America, EFF at 1:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A new campaign regarding Alice Corp. v CLS Bank is launched by the EFF, triggering an attack by the lobby that tries to undermine this decision

IP Watchdog and EFF
We saw Watchtroll doing this before

Summary: In an effort to thwart Alice and the EFF (two birds, one stone) the patent microcosm goes behind the scenes and saturates the media with misleading articles, including attacks on the EFF itself

THE EFF, having observed the damage caused by US-granted patents to practicing companies (typically software patents wielded by patent trolls), fights back.

Its latest target is the STRONGER Patents Act, which we covered before. It explains “How the STRONGER Patents Act Would Send Innovation Overseas”, having explained last month that there is “No Evidence that “Stronger” Patents Will Mean More Innovation”. To quote:

Right now, the patent lobby—in the form of the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the American Intellectual Property Law Association—is demanding “stronger” patent laws. They want to undo Alice v. CLS Bank and return us to a world where “do it on a computer” ideas are eligible for a patent. This would help lawyers file more patent applications and patent litigation. But there’s no evidence that such laws would benefit the public or innovation at all.

One of the primary justifications we hear for why patents are social goods is that they encourage innovation. Specifically, the argument goes, patents incentivize companies and individuals to invest in costly research and development that they would not otherwise invest in because they know they will be able to later charge supracompetitive prices and recoup the costs of that development.

This push from the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the American Intellectual Property Law Association was mentioned here last month and we have some detailed articles about that coming soon. We have a lot of material/evidence related to this, so it might take a while to organise and put together.

We are gratified to see that the EFF, Patent Progress and various other groups already wake up and respond to this threat. We are generally very glad to see the EFF, which is well funded, picking up these battle against software patents because it lets us concentrate on the issues in Europe. The EFF’s approach used to be rather weak (squashing one patent at a time). Days ago they started a whole series of articles about Alice — a series which includes stores like this one:

A Startup Runs Into A Patent on Picture Menus

[...]

If you’ve ever seen a picture menu, you’ve seen the supposed ‘invention’ claimed by U.S. Patent 6,585,516. Although it had a complex-sounding title (“Method and system for computerized visual behavior analysis, training, and planning”), the patent simply claimed using picture menus on a computer. Patent troll DietGoal Innovations, LLC, sued over 70 companies for supposedly infringing this ridiculous patent.

“Saved by Alice: How a Key Supreme Court Decision Protects Businesses from Bad Patents” is another new article on the matter and then there’s “Small Business Fights for its Life, Wins with Alice” and “The Patent Troll and the Scavenger Hunt”. To quote a portion:

But Ken’s new business hit a roadblock. On January 6, 2017, a patent troll called Locality Leap, LLC, sued Coopercode alleging that Klikaklu infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,320,495 (the ’495 patent), entitled “Treasure Hunt Game Utilizing GPS Equipped Wireless Communications Devices.” The patent claimed a method of playing a game that involves receiving a message, generating a message, and then having a player move to a location based on those messages. It didn’t involve any new technology. Rather, it suggested using messaging and GPS technology to assist with the age-old pastime of treasure hunts.

Well, IBM and Microsoft lobby against this (Section 101 and Alice), but with heavyweights like the EFF entering the scene we expect the lobby to fall flat on its face. We should not take the opposition for granted, for we already see it coming under attack.

How to attack Supreme Court decision (Alice) against patent maximalists? Simple. Shoot the messenger, or the EFF. Watch what patent maximalists have published (“Alternative Facts on Patent-Eligibility from the Electronic Frontier Foundation”). Quite a few patent maximalists already link to this with glee and it was pushed into other sites (maybe paid-for copies, hosted where Google News will pick this up too). So the approach of patent maximalists when losing their power is to attack the EFF (the messenger). It’s not the first time that they do this. We’ve covered other such attacks before. The problem with these attacks is that they can be effective. Watchtroll, for example, is indexed by Google News and if one searches Google News for anything patents-related, we estimate that about 90% of the results will be pure marketing, not journalism (either articles by the patent ‘industry’ or ones that quote it). They dominate information channels by throwing money at it and they are attempting to impose their world view while technical people — those affected by software patents — are mostly apathetic. They don’t seem to get involved in writing to politicians or writing for Web sites. They’re too busy writing just code.

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