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04.24.18

Patent Maximalists Step Things Up With Director Andrei Iancu and It’s Time for Scientists to Fight Back

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 12:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lab

Summary: Science and technology don’t seem to matter as much as the whims of the patent (litigation) ‘industry’, at least judging by recent actions taken by Andrei Iancu (following a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee)

THE patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, will soon have the USPTO Director (Iancu) as a keynote speaker. This is a bad sign. He’ll be speaking alongside corrupt Battistelli from the EPO. Are officials from major patent offices just ‘tools’ of the patent ‘industry’ rather than the real industry? It was a lot better when the USPTO was run by Michelle Lee and the EPO by Professor Alain Pompidou. People with background in science are essential in order for patent offices to serve science and technology, not law firms.

“Are officials from major patent offices just ‘tools’ of the patent ‘industry’ rather than the real industry?”

It’s no secret that patents can be a massive waste of money. Case of point: Snapchat. Even IAM has just admitted it in “Snapchat’s failed gamble on AR” and to quote key parts:

Snapchat has millions in R&D spend and maintenance costs tied up in a US patent focussed on augmented reality and another AR patent in Korea (both in the same family). But, as reported in The Motley Fool, the company has a troubled history with optics-focussed innovation. In 2017, “It wrote down $40 million in inventory-related charges… laid off hardware workers and shook up management,” after the initial glitter of its spectacles began to fade.

[...]

And of the companies on this list, only Microsoft, Samsung and LG have drastically accelerated patent filings in recent years—indicating a growing commercial commitment to AR technologies and IP. This makes them more interesting candidates.

Notice Microsoft’s role in there; Microsoft is a major feeder of patent trolls and it is blackmailing — both directly and indirectly — many of its competitors. As it turns out, based on this news from yesterday, Microsoft’s super-close partner (Citrix) now uses software patents to squash/destroy a smaller rival. From the first article we saw about it (this mentions Microsoft also):

Software giant Citrix has filed a lawsuit against small-time collaborative cloud platform Workspot over claims of patent infringement and false advertising.

The reason behind the lawsuit is down to what Citrix is calling “Workspot’s intentional inclusion in their VDI platform of proprietary features”, which are protected by at least four of its patents.

Citrix believes that these patented features are core to its XenApp and XenDesktop products and are therefore important differentiators for the company, which is why it’s so keen to protect them.

[...]

“Our foundational innovations in application virtualisation and remoting protocols date back to the early ‘90s, are still at the core of our XenApp and XenDesktop products and cloud services today, and were even licensed to Microsoft in the second-half of the ‘90s to form the basis of their remote desktop protocol.”

These two cloud products are said to be protected by more than 3,500 issued and pending patents, so it’s no wonder Citrix has some patents ready and waiting to be infringed.

Citrix took the time and effort to explain in its post that the lawsuit isn’t just about the money, asserting that it has always welcomed competition.

Qudus Olaniran‏, an attorney from Microsoft, has just said that the US “PTO chief’s opinion on patentability of algorithm bodes well for AI” (he cites Watchtroll, the patent trolls’ favourite). I told him that “AI” is just a buzzword for algorithms that do something more clever than, say, rendering a UI. So it’s about software patents, to which SCOTUS has said “no” already.

Looking a little deeper, Monday was actually full of such nonsense. One patents-centric news sites propped up the inane “AI” hype (again in relation to patents on algorithms). To quote:

The US must embrace the AI revolution, or its global lead in intellectual property will be lost in time, like tears in rain

Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds cool. When you look at the breadth of fiction attached to the technology, you might consider it the impossible—the fantasies of authors and writers around the globe. It is this air that gives it its identity and its mystique. But AI is very much here, and with that, comes a particularly unique set of problems.

This is all fluff, marketing, and spin. “Artificial intelligence (AI)” is nothing new, so to say things like “US must embrace the AI revolution” is to suggest the writer follows marketing rather than underlying knowledge. The EPO too appears to have embraced this term; in fact, later this week we’ll show how “AI” gets used as “sheep clothing” for software patent “wolves”.

“The hearing was full of nonsense from politicians who don’t know what “AI” is, either.”Much of this “AI” nonsense can be traced back to last week’s hearing with Iancu, the USPTO’s chief who comes from a law firm and isn’t quite so technical. The hearing was full of nonsense from politicians who don’t know what “AI” is, either. They probably just heard that term quite a lot in the mainstream media.

The High Tech Inventors Alliance (HTIA), which represents technology firms, issued a statement about it. John Thorne (HTIA’s chief) had this to say:

“HTIA supports Director Iancu’s efforts to enhance innovation through a strong, reliable, and predictable patent ecosystem. Certainly a system that supports innovation through ensuring patent quality is one that everyone can support, and the Inter Partes Review (IPR) process accomplishes just that.

“IPR has achieved Congress’s goal for the AIA of improving patent quality and restoring public confidence in the patent system, which had eroded due to bad quality patents that were harming innovation.

“Supreme Court decisions striking down abstract patents have benefited innovation. HTIA looks forward to working with Director Iancu and providing guidance in this critical area regarding the best way to increase the predictability of the patent granting process. However, legislation stripping the vitality of Section 101 is unnecessary and would be harmful to innovation by creating higher levels of uncertainty.”

The High Tech Inventors Alliance is comprised of eight technology companies: Adobe, Amazon, Cisco, Dell, Google, Intel, Oracle and Salesforce. These companies have over 447,000 employees in the United States, have invested $62.9 billion in research and development in the past year, and hold a total of over 115,000 U.S. patents.

“Supreme Court decisions striking down abstract patents have benefited innovation,” Thorne noted. He was right to say that.

“Will Iancu fall in line with these extremists? He might. This is why we worried about his nomination and appointment all along.”HTIA, Engine, CCIA, EFF and so on are sadly outnumbered. The patent law firms have a larger lobbying brigade. A few people like Thorne (maybe half a dozen people in total) are no match for AIPLA, which has just said: “The USPTO issued a request for comment concerning its subject matter eligibility guidance…”

We wrote about that last week.

Not only front groups like AIPLA are intervening; Foley & Lardner LLP (large law firm) has just published “USPTO Issues Patent Eligibility Examination Guidance Under Berkheimer” and it’s another example of 'pulling a Berkheimer' (they even came up with the buzz/sound bite "Berkheimer Effect"). To quote:

As announced in a Federal Register Notice dated April 20, 2018, the USPTO has issued a new memorandum to the Examining Corps providing supplemental patent eligibility examination guidance under Berkheimer, a Federal Circuit decision that addressed the evidentiary requirements for establishing that something is “well-understood, routine, or conventional.”

Watch what vocal patent extremists are saying. One of them has just said: “Gossip from the USPTO: One Examiner Speculated in a Phone Call today, “[Section] 101 is gone in about a month;” Another Examiner Commneted [sic], “I think the pendulum will swing 2/3 back.””

Sounds incredibly unlikely, but that’s just what patent extremists are claiming. They claim what they want. Another extremist responded with: “[Section] 101 will only go away once it becomes more work than [Sections] 102/103, and we are still a long ways off from that…. the new Berkheimer memo is just going to add another form paragraph to the rejection…”

All that really happens isn’t much; the USPTO just seeks comments about Section 101, that is all.

One can count on patent extremists to make it sound Earth-shattering and Dennis Crouch has in fact resumed his cheerleaders for patent maximalism. He wants Iancu to make software patents easier to pursue, so less than a day ago he published yet another post to say:

Director Iancu has made clear that the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence is untenable. Examiners need clear guidance — something he and I both see as lacking in the Supreme Court jurisprudence. In addition to being ambiguous, we also share the perspective that the Alice/Mayo test unduly restricts the scope of eligible subject matter. The PTO’s action here involves several fronts: (1) issuing guidance that is as-clear-as-possible for examiners and applicants; (2) working with Congress to legislatively broaden eligibility scope; (3) using the PTO’s to push public sentiment toward supporting strong and broad patent rights (when an underlying invention truly exists).

On the first front, the USPTO has: (1) issued a new “Berkheimer memorandum” focusing on the Federal Circuit’s holding in Berkheimer that”[w]hether something is well-understood, routine, and conventional to a skilled artisan at the time of the patent is a factual determination;” and (2) issued a Request for Public Comment on USPTO “subject matter eligibility guidance, and particularly … guidance in the Berkheimer memorandum to the Patent Examining Corps.”

This “Berkheimer memorandum” isn’t much; moreover, it’s (Berkheimer) not from the Supreme Court. Here comes another patent extremist, this one from IAM (Richard Lloyd is their most extreme writer/lobbyist). He calls patent trolling “monetisation market” and joins the patent bullies in pressuring Iancu, urging him to become a patent zealot like they are. To quote:

Since Andrei Iancu took over as USPTO Director in February it has been hard to fault his engagement with the user community. As well as sitting down with IAM just a few weeks into his tenure (he is the cover star of our latest issue), he has been a regular on the conference circuit, outlining his vision for the agency and the US patent system in general, reassuring patent owners that he wants to strengthen the predictability of their rights and championing the power of patented inventions as a driver of the US economy.

Lloyd (IAM) already lobbied Iancu in person a month ago, inciting him against PTAB. IAM already tried to put in charge of the USPTO a widely-disgraced person who calls PTAB "death squads" (very offensive term).

Will Iancu fall in line with these extremists? He might. This is why we worried about his nomination and appointment all along.

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