02.09.18

Gemini version available ♊︎

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 in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. [Meme] EPO Applicants Unwittingly Fund the War on Ukraine

    As we’ve just shown, António Campinos is desperately trying to hide a massive EPO scandal



  2. EPO Virtue-Signalling on the Ukrainian Front

    António Campinos persists in attention-shifting dross and photo ops; none of that can change the verifiable facts about the EPO’s connections to Lukashenko’s 'science park' in Minsk



  3. Links 19/05/2022: PostgreSQL 15 Beta 1 and Plasma 5.25 Beta

    Links for the day



  4. A Libera.Chat Anniversary and Happy Birthday (Maybe the Last) to 'Leenode'

    What became known as the so-called ‘Leenode’ is a cautionary tale, but maybe it is also a blessing in disguise because IRC as a whole seem to have become a lot more decentralised (as everything should be)



  5. Links 19/05/2022: The Gradual Fall of Netflix/DRM

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 18, 2022

    IRC logs for Wednesday, May 18, 2022



  7. Links 18/05/2022: Qt Company Loses Chief; OpenSUSE Leap Micro 5.2 and RHEL 9 Final

    Links for the day



  8. Jim Zemlin's Wife is Funded by Puppies (Microsoft)

    Jim Zemlin — like his wife — is bagging millions from Microsoft, but that’s clearly a conflict of interest for the Linux Foundation



  9. Links 18/05/2022: More Defections From WordPress to Gemini

    Links for the day



  10. Links 18/05/2022: PikaScript and cURL's Annual User Survey

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, May 17, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, May 17, 2022



  12. Phoronix: Microsoft and Phoronix Sponsor (and Close Microsoft Partner) AMD All Over the Place

    When you’re taking massive 'gifts' from AMD (and also some from Microsoft) maybe it’s not surprising that editorial decisions change somewhat…



  13. EPO Has No F-ing Oversight

    Earlier today SUEPO mentioned this new article demonstrating that EPO President António Campinos can very obviously and blatantly violate the Code of Conduct of the Office without facing any consequences; there are translations too, so the report is now available in four languages



  14. [Meme] Linux-Rejecting Foundation

    The Linux Foundation never really leads by example; by default, it uses proprietary software



  15. Linux Foundation Almost Never uses Open Source

    The Linux Foundation uses proprietary software (look where they hire and take money from) and be sure they're probably not even aware of it



  16. Links 17/05/2022: Many More Games on GNU/Linux, YaST Development Report

    Links for the day



  17. Links 17/05/2022: Rocky Linux 8.6 and Budgie Desktop in Fedora

    Links for the day



  18. Patent Examiners Rising Up Against EPO Abuse

    Unhappy with the law-breaking autocracy (the EPO‘s management breaks the law as a matter of routine), fast-deteriorating working conditions and rapidly-decreasing quality of work (or lack of compliance with the law), workers have escalated further, topping off strikes and industrial actions with a large-scale petition



  19. [Meme] What Managers (Really) Mean by Acting Professionally

    The myth of 'professionalism' needs to die along with the façade of conformity as prerequisite for employment (Linus Torvalds can work just fine in a bathrobe in his own home)



  20. Internal Poll: 93% of European Patent Office (EPO) Workers Are Unhappy With the EPO

    On top of strike/s and industrial action/s there are now also petitions; at the EPO, almost all staff is "disgruntled" because of utterly corrupt and defunct leadership



  21. Links 17/05/2022: OpenSUSE Leap 15.4 Release Candidate

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Monday, May 16, 2022

    IRC logs for Monday, May 16, 2022



  23. Links 16/05/2022: FreeBSD 13.1 and Inkscape 1.2 Released

    Links for the day



  24. Archiving Latest Posts in Geminispace (Like a Dated Web Directory But for Gemini)

    Earlier today we saw several more people crossing over from the World Wide Web to Gemini; we're trying to make a decent aggregator and archive for the rapidly-expanding Geminispace, which will soon have 2,500 capsules that are known to Lupa alone



  25. Microsoft Vidal Does Not Want to Listen (USPTO is Just for Megacorporations)

    Microsoft Vidal knows her real bosses. They’re international corporations (multinationals like Microsoft), not American people.



  26. Links 16/05/2022: China Advances on GNU/Linux and Maui 2.1.2 is Out

    Links for the day



  27. Jim Zemlin: Chief Revenue Officer in 'Linux' Seat-Selling Foundation

    Board seats in the Linux Foundation are basically a product on sale, based internal documents



  28. Reminder: Linux Foundation's Last IRS Filing is Very Old (Same Year the CFO Left)

    People really need to ask the Linux Foundation, directly, why its filings are years behind; this seems like a sensitive subject



  29. Linux Foundation Does Not Speak for GNU/Linux Users

    There's a serious problem in the "Linux" world as the so-called 'Linux' Foundation claims to speak for us (the GNU/Linux community) while in fact speaking against us (on the payroll of those looking to extinguish us)



  30. IBM's Lennart Poettering on Breaking Software for Pseudo Novelty

    Recently-uploaded ELCE 2011 clip shows a panel with Linus Torvalds, Alan Cox, Thomas Gleixner, Paul McKenney, and Lennart Poettering (relevant to novelty or perceived novelty that mostly degrades the experience of longtime users, e.g. Wayland and systemd)


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

Recent Posts