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. The Whitewashing of the EPO Under António Campinos

    The charm offensive of the 'new and improved' EPO President seems to mostly boil down to a PR campaign, as we expected all along



  2. Links 22/1/2019: Kodachi 5.8, LibreOffice 6.2 Finished

    Links for the day



  3. Software Patents Are a Dying Breed, So Marks & Clerk and Other Legal Monoliths Promote the EPO's Buzzwords (Loopholes)

    Patents that courts would almost certainly reject (and invalidate) are routinely promoted as "AI", "SDV" and similar acronyms and buzzwords, either misleading or intentionally misplaced (nowadays "AI" is often just a synonym for "machine" or "algorithm")



  4. A Fortnight After His Diplomatic Immunity Ends Outgoing EPO Vice-President Željko Topić is in Court in Zagreb, Croatia

    Court minutes for a Željko Topić case heard 5 days ago



  5. Links 20/1/2019: Exo 0.12.4 and Libhandy 0.0.7 Released

    Links for the day



  6. JUVE Creates English Site, Promotes Unified Patent Court (UPC)

    The generally good press outlet has taken a turn for the worse; it looks like it's doing more lobbying than reporting nowadays



  7. The Indian Ministry of Commerce Tries to Bend Patent Law in Favour of Foreign Monopolies

    There's an attempt to tilt patent law against the interests of India; but vigilant few are observing and reporting it, even in English



  8. The EFF Must Return That 'Internship' Money to Google or It Would Disgrace the Patent Reform Movement (by Association)

    Whether real or perceived, the EFF’s alleged bias is at stake now that Google money — not just money from a billionaire (Cuban) — lands on its lap; it can, by extension or association, serve to discredit patent reformers



  9. EPO Defying Patent Restrictions/Limits From the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Countries It Claims to Represent

    The departure from the EPC (and from the rule of law) at the EPO still means that patents are being granted on things that, as per the constitutions, should never have been patentable



  10. The UPC is Dead. But Bristows is Now Fully Engaged in Necrophilia.

    In an effort to float a dead project the deceiving folks from Team UPC pretend that everything is ready to go (commence) because they've managed to find some gowns and robes



  11. Links 19/1/2019: Wikipedia Cofounder Moves to GNU/Linux, Wine 4.0 RC7 Released, Godot 3.1 Beta 2, NomadBSD 1.2 RC1

    Links for the day



  12. Links 18/1/2019: Mesa 18.3.2, Rust 1.32.0

    Links for the day



  13. Links 17/1/2019: ZFS Debate Returns, AWS Pains Free Software

    Links for the day



  14. US Patent Lawyers Will Need to Change Profession or End up Becoming Abundantly Redundant, Unemployed

    In the age of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) and 35 U.S.C. § 101 it’s too risky to sue with dodgy patents; moreover, the Federal Circuit‘s growing adoption of Alice means that no recent cases have given hope to patent maximalists and litigation frequency has fallen again (at double-digit rates)



  15. Links 16/1/2019: Deepin 15.9 Released and Mozilla Fenix

    Links for the day



  16. Brexit Has Failed, But So Has the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Even though all signs indicate that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will never become a reality spin is to be expected from Team UPC, still looking to profit from more litigation and expanded scope



  17. IBM, Which Will Soon be Buying Red Hat, is Promoting Software Patents in Europe

    Even days apart/within confirmation of IBM's takeover of Red Hat IBM makes it clear that it's very strongly in favour of software patents, not only in the US but also in Europe



  18. Team UPC on Dead UPC: Choosing Gowns for Corpses

    The campaign of lies, long waged by Team UPC in order to manipulate politicians and courts, hasn’t stopped even in 2019 (IAM threw in the towel, but some of Team UPC is still ‘embalming’ UPCA)



  19. Links 15/1/2019: MX Linux MX-18 Continuum Reviewed, Mageia 7 Artwork Voting

    Links for the day



  20. Council of Europe (CoE) Recognises There's No Justice at the EPO

    It’s now the Council of Europe‘s turn to speak out about the grave state of international organisations that exist in Europe but aren’t subjected to European law (which they routinely violate with impunity)



  21. Dominion Harbor -- Armed by Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll -- Goes After the World's Biggest Android OEMs, Huawei and Samsung

    Dominion Harbor, the patent troll that gets bucketloads of patents from Intellectual Ventures (a patent troll strongly connected to Microsoft and Bill Gates), is still suing using shell entities



  22. Links 14/1/2019: Linux 5.0 RC2 and DXVK 0.95 Released

    Links for the day



  23. Only the Higher Courts -- Not Trump's 'Poster Child' -- Can Bring Back Software Patents

    Software patents are not making a "comeback" as some like to claim; in fact, the latest court cases and notably their outcomes suggest that nothing has changed



  24. “Uniloc is a Lawsuit Factory”

    Apple is a very secretive company, so it is hard to know what goes on with the patent troll Uniloc



  25. European Patent Office a Textbook Example of Lawless, Rogue Institutions

    The tyrannical nature of the EPO is still being demonstrated by the sad fate of Patrick Corcoran; technical judges at the EPO are feeling intimidated by nontechnical politicians and bankers



  26. No, Software Patents Are Not Poised to Make a Comeback Under New US Patent Office Rules

    Poor understanding of the difference between patent courts and patent offices is to blame for widely-spread misinformation from Ars Technica (part of Condé Nast)



  27. IP Kat Has Turned From EPO Critic (to the Point of Being Blocked by the EPO) to EPO Whitewasher That Gags EPO Whistleblowers

    The EPO tried to forcibly gag (block) IP Kat like it blocks Techrights (since 2014); failing that, the EPO got the blog to just act as a whitewashing operation for Team Campinos (more or less the same as Team Battistelli)



  28. Linspire 'Reborn' is Still Working for Microsoft and Facilitating Surveillance on GNU/Linux Users

    GNU/Linux spyware scandals may be back (and it's not about Canonical and Amazon but Linspire and Microsoft); Microsoft is meanwhile exposing innocent kids to pedophiles and it refuses to explain or defend this



  29. Links 12/1/2019: Wine 4.0 RC6, X-Plane 11.30, SuperTuxKart 0.10 Beta, LibreOffice 6.2 RC2

    Links for the day



  30. The EPO's Low Patent Quality Can Kill the European Software Industry and Kill People Too

    The patents granted by the EPO are often invalid as per courts' decisions, which means that fake/illegitimate European Patents saturate the market and discourage development (e.g. of software and life-saving drugs)


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