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Patent Maximalism Around the World

Posted in America, Asia, Australia, Patents at 2:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It is common to argue that intellectual property in the form of copyright and patent is necessary for the innovation and creation of ideas and inventions such as machines, drugs, computer software, books, music, literature and movies. In fact intellectual property is not like ordinary property at all, but constitutes a government grant of a costly and dangerous private monopoly over ideas. We show through theory and example that intellectual monopoly is not neccesary for innovation and as a practical matter is damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty.”Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine

Summary: A roundup of stories or spin observed over the past week, mostly favouring those who profit from patents rather than creation of anything

“Patentism” can be a lot like theism. It can be the blind faith in the ludicrous idea that patents in their own right — not anything else — are “innovation” or something along those lines. In reality, patents may grant incentives for original works to made where investment (time, money, material) is needed for these works. In the case of software, copyrights provide such an incentive. When someone writes code, unless it is marked as “Public Domain”, that code is attributed to or gets assigned to the author (coder).


“When someone writes code, unless it is marked as “Public Domain”, that code is attributed to or gets assigned to the author (coder).”It’s not hard to see why the patent ‘industry’ distorts the history and purpose of patents. These people just try to defend their own job, which involves no production or innovation at all. A few days ago, revisiting the debate about abstract patents in India, LexOrbis was once again pushing banned patents (out of scope). It’s far from the first time and LexOrbis typically uses IAM as the platform. It’s trying to advocate/legitimise patents on “financial methods” (similar to business methods, which are similar also to software patents) and it doesn’t seem to matter to these people that India neither wants nor needs such patents.


“It’s trying to advocate/legitimise patents on “financial methods” (similar to business methods, which are similar also to software patents) and it doesn’t seem to matter to these people that India neither wants nor needs such patents.”Speaking of IAM, watch how it becomes a megaphone to Qualcomm, repeating the "China!" panic and alarming the US as if patent trolls moving to China is a bad thing. “The Qualcomm licensing chief predicted that China would be a huge player in 5G technology at a time when the country is developing an increasingly sophisticated IP system,” IAM wrote. China probably will become a major player in everything that involves electronics and telecommunications, but that has nothing to do with patents. As Qualcomm does little but derive money from patent licences (including software patents), it is not hard to see why it worries about trends in US patent litigation.


Australia, as we noted earlier this year, is moving away from software patents. It seems crystal clear to the government that patent maximalism is not desirable, yet this same government seems to have allocated so much tax money to CSIRO, which is, according to IAM, suing again:

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed two months ago by BASF Plant Science points toward another IP licensing initiative in a very different sector that CSIRO and its partners have been pursuing for several years. The organisation is working with Australian company Nuseed and the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation to commercialise canola that contains long chain, omega-3 fatty acids – health-friendly fish oil. BASF has teamed with Dow AgroSciences and Cargill on a similar effort.

Beginning in October 2016, according to court documents accessed using Lex Machina, Nuseed has conducted negotiations with BASF, which it wants to take a licence to a portfolio omega-3 patents; these name CSIRO as the assignee. According to BASF, Nuseed has been clear about its intention to litigate if a deal could not be reached. By April 2017, talks appear to have reached an impasse. “With the numbers you’re talking about, there is no path forward,” a Nuseed representative is quoted as saying. BASF seemingly agreed, suggesting the parties “should be in court” if Nuseed was unwilling to revise its offer.

Lex Machina has helped uncover all sorts of disputes like that. What’s most noteworthy and also notorious about CSIRO is the pursuit of patents on genome (and enforcement of such patents).

America (US/Canada)

This days-old press release speaks of the decision “in which a unanimous High Court invalidated software patents of Alice designed to facilitate the exchange of financial obligations between two parties by using a computer system as a third-party intermediary.”

Based on this press release, it certainly looks like Canada is granting software patents. These are, suffice to say, unlikely to survive a court’s scrutiny, so why grant them in the first place? There’s this actual court case going on right now where the portfolio at stake sounds like software patents, with terms like “recipe app platform”. To quote:

The ongoing court battle between Perfect Company and the maker of the Drop scale took another turn this week when Perfect announced a new patent and an additional patent infringement claim again Adaptics Limited, the maker of the Drop scale.

Perhaps they throw yet more patents into the mix because the original patent/s they sued with would not withstand the court’s scrutiny. Such is the nature of desperate lawsuits where quantity is used to make up for lack of quality.

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