EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

02.09.18

Joe Mullin Joins the EFF to Fight Mean Software Patents, Starting With Coverage About Unified Patents Defeating Sportbrain

Posted in America, EFF, Patents at 5:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: CAFC Meddling in PTAB Affairs; Unified Patents Fights a Good Fight by Invalidating Software Patents

Joe Mullin
Joe Mullin’s Twitter account

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has just smashed another troublesome patent and Joe Mullin was there, this time in EFF clothing, to cover it

THE previous post spoke about patent trolls with USPTO-granted patents and the EFF’s response to them. The good news is, not only does the EFF tackle the right issues (it used to have a poorer and rather misguided strategy). The EFF has just hired Joe Mullin for activism/journalism against software patents and patent trolls — something he had done in a blog before some media companies took him on board. Eventually he must have realised that advocacy without the whole pretense of “balance” would be better use of his time; at least that’s what happened with me (more than a decade ago I wrote for media companies, but they did not give me sufficient freedom to express myself).

“The EFF has just hired Joe Mullin for activism/journalism against software patents and patent trolls — something he had done in a blog before some media companies took him on board.”“I’m happy to report I’m working at @EFF now,” he announced in Twitter, “working mostly on IP-related things.

“Here’s my first blog post,” he wrote after had published this piece about Sportbrain [1, 2, 3] (covered here before). To quote:

The importance of the US Patent Office’s “inter partes review” (IPR) process was highlighted in dramatic fashion yesterday. Patent appeals judges threw out a patent [PDF] that was used to sue more than 80 companies in the fitness, wearables, and health industries.

US Patent No. 7,454,002 was owned by Sportbrain Holdings, a company that advertised a kind of ‘smart pedometer’ as recently as 2011. But the product apparently didn’t take off, and in 2016, Sportbrain turned to patent lawsuits to make a buck.

A company called Unified Patents challenged the ’002 patent by filing an IPR petition, and last year, the Patent Office agreed that the patent should be reviewed. Yesterday, the patent judges published their decision, canceling every claim of the patent.

The ’002 patent describes capturing a user’s “personal data,” and then sharing that information with a wireless computing device and over a network. It then analyzes the data and provides feedback.

After reviewing the relevant technology, a panel of patent office judges found there wasn’t much new to the ’002 patent. Earlier patents had already described collecting and sharing various types of sports data, including computer-assisted pedometers and a system that measured a skier’s “air time.” Given those earlier advances, the steps of the Sportbrain patent would have been obvious to someone working in the field. The office cancelled all the claims.

That means the dozens of different companies sued by Sportbrain won’t have to each spend hundreds of thousands of dollars—potentially millions—to defend against a patent that, the government now acknowledges, never should have been granted in the first place.

Joe Mullin was debunking patent myths and naming trolls even recently (he had covered other topics too). He often referred to (and cited) EFF posts, but now he’s joining Ranieri and Nazer (there used to be more staff assigned to deal with the patent matters)‏. He’ll be working alongside them rather than writing about them. Mullin is a very knowledgeable person; I spoke to him on the phone last year.

Sportbrain’s patent has been “found invalid,” Unified Patents said some days ago (a day after it was confirmed). We saw that almost immediately because we’re subscribed to the RSS feed. To quote: “On February 6, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Harry Heslop & Sportbrain Holdings, LLC, IPR2016-01464 invalidating all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 7,454,002, owned and asserted by Sportbrain Holdings, LLC. The ’002 Patent, which describes a system for monitoring and providing feedback on a user’s physical data, has been asserted 148 cases (17 of which were pending at the time of this decision). Defendants in these cases span across multiple industries and include such companies as Verizon, Fitbit, Microsoft, LG, TomTom, Garmin, Louis Vuitton, ZTE and Apple.”

“Joe Mullin was debunking patent myths and naming trolls even recently (he had covered other topics too).”Apple is named last. Apple very recently settled in patent dispute, shelling out $871,500. It could possibly just fight against that patent until the end, but it chose not to. Less than a million dollars is ‘slush funds’ to Apple. As the article notes, it recently paid far more to settle other patent cases.

PTAB has been doing very well lately and we’ll have a lot to say about it over the weekend. To quote some recent statistics: “On January 31, the PTAB Affirmed Examiners’ 101 Rejections for 9 Cases; Denied Reconsideration of 101 Rejections in 3 Cases and Reversed Examiners’ 101 Rejections in 2 Cases.”

“In the past 2-3 years — and not just owing to Alice — we often get the feeling that we’re finally ‘winning’ (as some might put it) and the US patent system gets reformed to better suit science and technology, not patenters and litigators.”So they deal with quite a few patent applications, not just patents that are either used in litigation or for threats of litigation. This helps limit patent scope. One journalist focused on patent matters said the other day that “Senator Susan Collins told @BloombergLaw the Special Committee on Aging is working to draft a bill to restrict certain types of patents on drugs, such as new formulations, to limit evergreening, reports @BronwynMixter…”

“Fantastic news,” I responded to her. “A push back against patent maximalism, which made the patent system lose its sight on purpose…”

In the past 2-3 years — and not just owing to Alice — we often get the feeling that we’re finally ‘winning’ (as some might put it) and the US patent system gets reformed to better suit science and technology, not patenters and litigators. That’s the desirable thing for a patent system anywhere.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 24/5/2018: RIP Robin “Roblimo” Miller, Qt 5.11 Released

    Links for the day



  2. Walmart, Bank of America, Allied Security Trust (AST) and the Rush for 'Blockchain' Patents

    The hoarding of patents on novel-sounding code has reached ridiculous levels; very large corporations and even patent trolls arm themselves with such patents, hoping to make returns by means of litigation or an 'arms trade'



  3. Stupid Blogs, Stupid Lawsuits, and Stupid Patents

    The stupidity of the patent microcosm, which would like to see everything in the world patented and which would gleefully smear or even sue its critics (the EFF was sued several times for libel over its "Stupid Patent of the Month" series)



  4. Perpetuating the Big Lie That Unitary Patent (UPC) is About to Kick Off

    The (in)famous old lie about UPC being "just around the corner" is still being circulated, mainly if not only by patent law firms which stand to benefit from a litigation Armageddon in Europe



  5. EPO Validation in Former French Colonies That Have Zero European Patents

    The strategy of the EPO seems to be centered around the interests of Benoît Battistelli and his political career rather than that of the EPO; validation deals and dubious 'Inventor Awards' seem to be part of this pattern



  6. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": The Cautionary Tale of SIDRU and Its “Toxic Loans”

    The town where the EPO‘s President (Battistelli) is a deputy mayor has a track record of financial hardship and alleged financial misconduct, attributed to the same financial practices Battistelli has just implemented at the EPO



  7. Links 23/5/2018: DragonFlyBSD 5.2.1 and Kata Containers 1.0 Released

    Links for the day



  8. Masking Abstract Patents in the Age of Alice/§ 101 in the United States

    There are new examples and ample evidence of § 101-dodging strategies; the highest US court, however, wishes to limit patent scope and revert back to an era of patent sanity (as opposed to patent maximalism)



  9. PTAB's Latest Applications of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Obviousness Tests to Void U.S. Patents

    Validity checks at PTAB continue to strike out patents, much to the fear of people who have made a living from patenting and lawsuits alone



  10. France is Irrelevant to Whether or Not UPC Ever Becomes a Reality, Moving/Outsourcing de Facto Patent Examination to European Courts Managed in/Presided by France

    Team UPC is still focusing on France as if it's up for France to decide the fate of the UPC, which EPO insiders say Battistelli wants to be the chief of (the chief, it has already been decided, would have to be a Frenchman)



  11. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": The Emperor’s New Investment Guidelines

    Details about a secret vote to 'gamble' the EPO's budget on "a diversified portfolio managed by external experts"



  12. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": Cautionary Tale for the EPO?

    Preface or background to a series of posts about Battistelli's French politics and why they can if not should alarm EPO workers



  13. Links 22/5/2018: Parrot 4.0, Spectre Number 4

    Links for the day



  14. Chamber of Commerce Lies About the United States Like It Lies About Other Countries for the Sole Purpose of Patent Maximalism

    When pressure groups that claim to be "US" actively bash and lie about the US one has to question their motivation; in the case of the Chamber of Commerce, it's just trying to perturb the law for the worse



  15. Links 21/5/2018: Linux 4.17 RC6, GIMP 2.10.2

    Links for the day



  16. The Attacks on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Have Lost Momentum and the Patent Microcosm Begrudgingly Gives Up

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), reaffirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and now the Supreme Court as well, carries on preventing frivolous lawsuits; options for stopping PTAB have nearly been exhausted and it shows



  17. Software Patenting and Successful Litigation a Very Difficult Task Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

    Using loads of misleading terms or buzzwords such as "AI" the patent microcosm continues its software patents pursuits; but that's mostly failing, especially when courts come to assess pertinent claims made in the patents



  18. António Campinos Will Push Toward a France-Based Unified Patent Court (UPC)

    Frenchmen at EPO will try hard to bring momentum if not force to the Unified Patent Court; facts, however, aren't on their side (unlike Team UPC, which was always on Team Battistelli's side)



  19. In Apple v Samsung Patents That Should Never Have Been Granted May Result in a Billion Dollars in 'Damages'

    A roundup of news about Apple and its patent cases (especially Apple v Samsung), including Intel's role trying to intervene in Qualcomm v Apple



  20. Links 20/5/2018: KDevelop 5.2.2 and 5.2.3, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  21. Aurélien Pétiaud's ILO Case (EPO Appeal) an Early Sign That ILO Protects Abusers and Power, Not Workers

    A famous EPO ‘disciplinary’ case is recalled; it’s another one of those EPO-leaning rulings from AT-ILO, which not only praises Battistelli amid very serious abuses but also lies on his behalf, leaving workers with no real access to justice but a mere illusion thereof



  22. LOT Network is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

    Another reminder that the "LOT" is a whole lot more than it claims to be and in effect a reinforcer of the status quo



  23. 'Nokification' in Hong Kong and China (PRC)

    Chinese firms that are struggling resort to patent litigation, in effect repeating the same misguided trajectories which became so notorious in Western nations because they act as a form of taxation, discouraging actual innovation



  24. CIPU is Amplifying Misleading Propaganda From the Chamber of Commerce

    Another lobbying event is set up to alarm lawmakers and officials, telling them that the US dropped from first to twelfth using some dodgy yardstick which favours patent extremists



  25. Patent Law Firms That Profit From Software Patent Applications and Lawsuits Still 'Pull a Berkheimer' to Attract Business in Vain

    The Alice-inspired (Supreme Court) 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains unchanged, but the patent microcosm endlessly mentions a months-old decision from a lower court (than the Supreme Court) to 'sell' the impression that everything is changing and software patents have just found their 'teeth' again



  26. A Year After TC Heartland the Patent Microcosm is Trying to 'Dilute' This Supreme Court's Decision or Work Around It

    IAM, Patent Docs, Managing IP and Patently-O want more litigation (especially somewhere like the Eastern District of Texas), so in an effort to twist TC Heartland they latch onto ZTE and BigCommerce cases



  27. Microsoft Attacks the Vulnerable Using Software Patents in Order to Maintain Fear and Give the Perception of Microsoft 'Safety'

    The latest patent lawsuits from Microsoft and its patent trolls (which it financially backs); these are aimed at feeble and vulnerable rivals of Microsoft



  28. Links 19/5/2018: Mesa 18.0.4 and Vim 8.1

    Links for the day



  29. Système Battistelli (ENArque) at the EPO is Inspired by Système Lamy in Saint-Germain-en Laye

    Has the political culture of Battistelli's hometown in France contaminated the governance of the EPO?



  30. In Australia the Productivity Commission Decides/Guides Patent Law

    IP Australia, the patent office of Australia, considers abolishing "innovation patents" but has not done so yet (pending consultation)


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts