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01.28.18

An Uphill Battle for Software Patents in the United States, Except When Catchphrases and Buzzwords Are Used

Posted in America, Patents at 1:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

20 Buzzwords you have to know in Artificial Intelligence
Reference: 20 Buzzwords you have to know in Artificial Intelligence

Summary: Barring or excepting misuse of buzzwords such as Artificial Intelligence, software patents have become incredibly hard to assert in the United States, albeit they’re possible to sneak past examiners and then license without any legal challenge

THIS summer, i.e. several months from now, Alice will turn four. The USPTO is still granting some software patents (that ought to have stopped), but the courts as well as PTAB barely tolerate any of that.

“The USPTO is still granting some software patents (that ought to have stopped), but the courts as well as PTAB barely tolerate any of that.”Watchtroll is still overtly promoting software patents, even in a so-called ‘webiner’. It’s like a front group. But worry not, they’re not getting their way.

One way remains to get software patents past examiners and sometimes judges too. It boils down to semantics; they just try to make software patents sound like something they’re not. They use all sorts of catchphrases and buzzwords — many of which we have named here before. That includes, more recently, artificial intelligence (AI).

“They use all sorts of catchphrases and buzzwords — many of which we have named here before. That includes, more recently, artificial intelligence (AI).”It has been particularly hard to overlook or ignore the “AI” buzzword (and media hype) this month. Everywhere one looks in the news — not just science news — it’s “AI”, “AI”, “AI”… it’s not even a new concept.

Wayne Ramsay, Chief Strategy Officer at Exigent, wrote about “AI” some days ago in relation to law firms. It’s time for law firms which neither understand “AI” nor care about “AI” to just say “AI” all the time:

Instead, alternative providers have taken a multifaceted approach to innovation: still applying the FTE billable hour model while slowly shifting to the faster, better quality, fixed-fee model enabled by Artificial Intelligence. [AI]

“We previously hypothesised and showed evidence for “AI” as a buzzword of choice for software patents, along with “machine learning” (ML) and other related terms.”All this hype about artificial intelligence has even reached IAM some days ago (“Patent search: the evolution from manual to artificial intelligence”), not to mention Lexology (“Artificial Intelligence: All Our Patent Are Belong to You 3.0″). This nearly sickening media hype around “Artificial Intelligence” (especially over the past month) is mystifying. Who is pushing this? The concept is many decades old. Why is it all of a sudden like the “next best thing”? We previously hypothesised and showed evidence for “AI” as a buzzword of choice for software patents, along with “machine learning” (ML) and other related terms. A lot of examiners might not be familiar with these concepts, which can make any old idea sound more novel/innovative. I actually implemented “AI” more than 15 years ago when I wrote game engines and wrote papers about machine learning about 15 years ago when working on my Ph.D. Even back then those things weren’t particularly cutting-edge. It’s statistics. It’s mathematics.

We kindly ask examiners as well as other readers not to be misled by buzzwords. They’re like fashion.

“We kindly ask examiners as well as other readers not to be misled by buzzwords. They’re like fashion.”Why does the US still grant some software patents on what’s clearly not eligible under Alice? A few days ago I saw this new press release about 4 newly-granted patents on computer vision (my research discipline). Do they really not know that it’s just mathematics (matrices)?

How about Walmart applying for a 3D image patent for online grocery? This too was in the news some days ago and again it’s computer vision, i.e. software/geometry. Stop granting monopolies on maths…

“As it’s a blanket/bulk licence, they might be paying for patents that aren’t even eligible.”To name one last example, Aterica licenses mMed patents [1, 2] on a “hardware and software platform,” which we assume means that some of these patents simply cover software. As it’s a blanket/bulk licence, they might be paying for patents that aren’t even eligible. This kind of bundling of decent patents with dubious ones has become so common. It’s one way to drive up the price of licensing or litigation (for instance, suing or threatening to sue a company with 100 patents, only a handful of which are decent). Patent maximalism is quite a disease and it’s antithetical to the theory of incentive.

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