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05.27.18

The Way Things Are Going in the Eastern District of Texas and Other US District Courts, South Korean Companies Might as Well Exit the US Like They Exit China

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Patents, Samsung at 2:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents on designs (controversially granted by the USPTO) are self-discrediting anyway

Judge Lucy Koh

Summary: Apple and Samsung conclude another major patent battle (after 7 years of chaos, taking up a lot of Judge Lucy Koh’s time), but many patent battles remain, which means that lawyers at both companies receive salaries which otherwise engineers would have gotten

THE Apple and Samsung patent battles are so long and boring that we’ve almost entirely quit covering them. When Apple started attacking Android with patents (Apple v HTC) we still wrote a lot about it.

Just because it’s Apple, the firm which champions hype and fantasy, the media in the US is sickly obsessed with it and it has been covering the case like it’s the only one that really matters. We’re assuming that our readers already saw the news elsewhere. If not, here are some articles [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. “Samsung argued it should pay only $28 million for infringement,” one article notes, rather than have the patents questioned (this trial wasn’t about the patents but the “damages” — a bizarre misnomer but an official/formal legal term).

“The fact is that Samsung won the smartphone wars back in 2012,” IAM claimed in “The smartphone wars were a triumph for Samsung, a defeat for Apple, but everybody won” (the editor published this a few hours ago).

Notice how even some pro-Apple news sites thought that Apple would lose. Ben Lovejoy wrote in 9 to 5 Mac:

The Apple versus Samsung patent trial that began in 2011 returned to court last week. Closing arguments were made on Friday, and it’s now up to a jury to decide whether the damages awarded to Apple will be increased, decreased or remain unchanged.

My expectation is that Apple will lose the case – and I’ll define ‘lose’ in a moment – and that, actually, that would be the right result …

But no, not really… because only lawyers won. It’s more like an internal fight within the companies rather than between them. The legal team is trying to make itself relevant and help itself expand. At whose expense? Likely the technical workers, who would rather add features than remove features to avert potential infringement.

This truly sickening, wasteful battle (7 years of court battles with judges and lawyers involved) should serve as a reminder; two companies wrestle themselves to death and only the lawyers enjoy the duel (they profit from it regardless of who wins which motion/s).

Three days ago, i.e. shortly after the decision, USA Today wrote: “Samsung must pay about $533.3 million for infringing on design patents. The jury said Samsung owes Apple an additional $5.3 million for infringing on utility patents.”

Florian Müller, who had followed this super-closely, stayed up until very late at night (or woke up as early as summer’s dark hours) to write about the outcome and these design patents. To quote some bits:

A cartoon showing Homer Simpson using an iPhone may indeed have had an impact on a high-profile smartphone patent dispute as the screen design patent it relates to apparently accounts for approximately half a billion dollars in design patent damages. After three days and a half of deliberation, the re-retrial jury in the first Apple v. Samsung case in the Northern District of California awarded Apple a total of approximately $538.6 million in damages from Samsung (related to some old phones–mostly the first two generations of the Galaxy S), $533.3 million of which relate to design patents and $5.3 million to utility (i.e., technical) patents. Here’s the verdict form (this post continues below the document)…

[...]

The jury had asked two questions, and both questions showed they were really struggling with determining the relevant article of manufacture (AoM). If the jury had determined that the design patents in question covered only certain components (casing and screen), the amount would have been in the tens–not hundreds–of millions of dollars, but given that Apple was seeking more than $1 billion, the jury would probably have been inclined (in that hypothetical scenario) to award substantially more than the amount Samsung described as reasonable (less than $30 million). At the same time, given that juries often come down somewhere in the middle, a billion-dollar award was a possibility, but far less probable than the combination of agreeing with Apple on the AoM but with Samsung on most or all of its deductions.

[...]

According to media reports, Apple reiterated how much value it attaches to design, and Samsung is now going to consider its options. Those options are post-trial motions and, possibly, another appeal.

When patent trials are done or decided by juries the impact is catastrophic. As CCIA put it the next day:

Yesterday, after almost four days of deliberation, the Apple v. Samsung jury decided Samsung owed Apple over $500 million of Samsung’s profits.

Faced with an artificial and unsound test, the jurors struggled to understand just what they were supposed to do.

Ultimately, the jurors awarded Apple profits on the entire Samsung device for Apple’s icon grid patent. One juror is reported to have explained that the article of manufacture for the icon grid patent “was the whole phone because you need the phone to see it.” If Microsoft Solitaire (with cards originally designed by Apple’s own expert witness) had an infringing design, all of a sudden the entire computer is at risk—without a processor, display, memory, and hard drive, there’s no way to display the cards. That logic creates real risks for the computing industry and for new industries like smart home and IoT products.

What a mess. So even the mere design of something can have someone — anyone — liable for infringement of patents. Even a mere part of something.

Is Apple happy about the precedent here? It would be damaging to everyone.

Going back nearly a month ago, Watchtroll suddenly recalls that old case against Siri — a case brought forth by an “Israeli camera startup” that becomes a serial litigator. Many news outlet reported on it at the start of this month (because it’s about Apple). “One of the patents added was not even granted until January 2018,” says one of those reports.

Guess whose side Watchtroll takes:

On April 30th, Tel Aviv, Israel-based camera tech developer Corephotonics filed a complaint alleging patent infringement against Cupertino, CA-based consumer tech giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the Northern District of California. This lawsuit comes months after Corephotonics filed a patent infringement suit against Apple last November, also in Northern California, with both suits alleging that Apple copied Corephotonics’ patented technology after Apple had allegedly expressed interest in a business relationship with the Israeli tech startup.

This sounds similar to the i4i v Microsoft situation (going about a decade back).

Samsung too is on the receiving end of such ‘nuisance’ lawsuits. Even in Texas. Apple’s arch-rival is being sued in the Eastern District of Texas, home of patent trolls. Who by? The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). There’s no escaping Korean patent aggressors then, not even in the US. Docket Navigator wrote about the latest twist in Kaist IP US LLC v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al as follows:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of defendants’ technical expert regarding defendants’ enablement and written description theories as irrelevant.

Docket Navigator also wrote about Plastic Omnium Advanced Innovation and Research v Donghee America, Inc. et al, but this one is less relevant to us albeit a similar new example because a motion to exclude. To quote: “The court denied defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of plaintiff’s damages expert regarding a reasonable royalty rate because his reliance on an unaccepted proposal was sufficiently reliable.”

KAIST is a curious case of Korean patent aggression, which is rare. We wrote quite a lot about it in recent years and IAM wrote about it as recently as a few days ago. To quote the summary:

An affiliate of a top South Korean tech university, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is currently locked in a US patent litigation battle with Qualcomm, GlobalFoundries and Samsung. A recent flap over the ownership of the underlying right reveals the missed opportunities that led to KAIST monetising the right, and underlines why universities in the country are changing their approach to patenting. KAIST IP US LLC, a university monetisation vehicle, filed the lawsuit in late 2016 accusing the three global chipmakers of infringing a single patent. The case was accompanied by a parallel complaint in South Korea.

KAIST is the exception rather than the norm in South Korea. Korean companies generally do not sue much; they do get sued, usually abroad, e.g. in China and in the US (this led LG to even withdrawing from the Chinese market). If Apple keeps suing like it does (always in the US), will it even be worth it for Samsung to still operate there? For the time being, owing to Samsung’s relatively high market share, the answer is probably yes, but for how long? Quite a few Chinese firms have begun moving out of the US, either because of US policies or lack of demand (partly the fault of the media).

The Patent Extremists Resort to Trump-Styled China-Baiting in an Effort to Destroy US Patent Policy

Posted in America, Asia, Deception, Patents at 1:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fear of the dragon can lead to irrational reactions

Chinese dragon

Summary: The patent microcosm, in its non-ending pursuit of patent maximalism, uses China’s truly misguided patent policy to alarm US lawmakers (based on false assumptions and deliberate misinformation)

EARLIER today we explained that Chinese patent law is nowadays a mess because of software patents. Patent trolls are surging in China and many patents are of highly questionable legitimacy (few of them or a minuscule proportion of them get ‘exported’ to other countries). China has come to account for the lion’s share of patents counted by WIPO, which could not care less about patent quality (it just wishes to see the number of monopolies rising and rising). Earlier today we saw this article (re)titled “Chinese Universities are patenting everyones research from AI journals” (it had a title totally unconnected to China beforehand). Suffice to say, such patents would be invalid based on prior art; they’re plagiarism. Never mind the fact that AI is software and thus invalid in the form of patents (almost everywhere except China).

“Sadly, we continue to see the “China!” phobia being used to steer or at least attempt to steer US patent policy.”Over at Watchtroll, a couple of days ago Anthony de Andrade and Venkatesh Viswanath wrote about pursuing patents in BRICS (“C” for China) economies. Among BRICS China is the only one that’s in IP5. The IP5 Offices are the European Patent Office (EPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A lot of companies come from these countries (or continents in the EPO’s case, albeit EPO goes beyond Europe and beyond the EU). Take for example Apple from the US and Samsung from Korea. We’ll write about their legal disputes in a later article.

Sadly, we continue to see the “China!” phobia being used to steer or at least attempt to steer US patent policy. Iancu, being rather clueless in the fields of science, is totally (maybe willfully) falling for it, repeating all the same propaganda we habitually see in sites like Watchtroll.

4 days ago Watchtroll himself (Gene Quinn) published “Navigating the Patent Landscape in China” (full of nonsense!) in which he said:

While the United States continues to struggle with what is patent eligible, and just yesterday USPTO Director Andrei Iancu told the House Judiciary Committee during an Oversight Hearing that in many technology areas what is patent eligible is unclear, and is depressing innovation, the Chinese are taking a different path. In April 2017, China provided revised guidelines relating to the patentability of both software and business methods.

How is that a good thing?

“It often seems like fear of China helps the ‘patent nuts’ (along the same lines of ‘gun nuts’) guide patent policy, almost in the same way that fear of Russia helps the war-mongers and hawks guide foreign policy in the US.”And why is Iancu falling for this propaganda, including the latest from the Chamber of Commerce?

It often seems like fear of China helps the ‘patent nuts’ (along the same lines of ‘gun nuts’) guide patent policy, almost in the same way that fear of Russia helps the war-mongers and hawks guide foreign policy in the US.

Looking at the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, a few days ago it published a sponsored ‘article’ from Sofia Willquist (AWA AB, Sweden), which says that JPO “invalidation rate has dropped from around 45% to around 20% (ie, once a patent is granted it seems difficult to invalidate it).”

That may simply mean that examination itself improved. Here’s what Willquist wrote with additional context:

As for appeals, the success rate is astoundingly high, at around 80%. Further, the invalidation rate has dropped from around 45% to around 20% (ie, once a patent is granted it seems difficult to invalidate it).

This is believed to be a deliberate strategy by the Japanese authorities to attract more companies to conduct business in Japan. With strong competition against other Asian markets, such as China and South Korea, Japan is showing a more lenient attitude towards patent applicants and the inventions they want to protect. According to Japanese patent attorneys, the main difference is in the approach to the assessment of inventive step, which makes it easier for applicants to argue in favour of their inventions.

This actually contradicts what we have been reading elsewhere because Japanese courts have become tougher and even software patents appear to have lost their footing in Japan. Might there be more to these statistics? The raw data is likely in Nippon/Japanese (日本語), so it would be hard to independently verify claims.

“This is about German patent law, which risks being overridden by the farce that’s the UPC (a Trojan horse for software patents). Thankfully, however, the UPC looks like it’s dead for good. The Germany constitution stands in its way.”Meanwhile, over here in Europe we carry on battling software patents, which the EPO under Battistelli tries to make 'normal' using buzzwords like 4IR. Three days ago a German case was recalled, noting that the “FCJ [had] held that when assessing inventive step the claim should be interpreted so that the disclosed embodiments are taken into account.”

This is about German patent law, which risks being overridden by the farce that’s the UPC (a Trojan horse for software patents). Thankfully, however, the UPC looks like it’s dead for good. The Germany constitution stands in its way.

Letting the USPTO Decide on Fees Would Lead to a ‘Battistelli Scenario’

Posted in America, Patents at 1:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t let Iancu become the ‘American Battistelli’

Silver Quarter

Summary: The US patent office, which ultimately profits from patent maximalism, is being given too much power/leverage over the laws/policy which govern its operations, enabling the Trump-connected new chief to implement rollbacks which would harm patent quality and empower patent trolls

THERE are several concurrent and ongoing efforts to sabotage the US patent system’s reform. This is part of the lobbying campaign for the litigation ‘industry’ (or pipeline) and a lot of the lobbying targets the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Thankfully, they haven’t been able to stop PTAB or even slow it down (not considerably anyway).

Several months ago we saw the USPTO‘s fee-setting authority misused/abused to make PTAB IPRs more expensive*, courtesy of Mr. Matal, who had helped bring AIA into full swing more than half a decade earlier.

Senator Coons has just shown up again. He’s far from a scientist, having studied Arts and then pursued a Master’s Degree in Ethics, according to Wikipedia. Why does he obsess so much over the patent system, which he clearly does not understand? He and his staff keep showing up in patent maximalists’ lobbying events. The patent trolls’ lobby has also just mentioned him as follows:

New USPTO fee setting powers could be approved by September, predicts Senator Coons

USPTO Director Andrei Iancu was back on Capitol Hill earlier this week for an appearance before the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee. With the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute, the proposed change to the claim construction standard in post-issuance proceedings and ongoing concern around uncertainty in the law on what constitutes patent eligible subject matter, there was certainly plenty for the members of Congress to grill him on. It was notable therefore that in his opening statement the first issue that Iancu addressed was the USPTO’s fee-setting authority.

The USPTO probably should not be in a position like that. There should be further separation of authority and power because the USPTO strives to make as much money as possible, which sometimes means granting as many patents as possible and revoking almost none (as that might discourage applicants, or so-called ‘repeat/regular clients’).

The CCIA recalls the dying anti-PTAB bill of Coons and then speaks of a “Fee-Setting Reauthorization Bill”. The CCIA’s Josh Landau writes:

As I wrote back in March, fee-setting authority is critical to USPTO operations and it expires this September. This authority ensures that the Office is properly funded, and helps ensure that the Office isn’t financially incentivized to grant patents that would not otherwise have been granted. The Chabot-Johnson companion bill would renew this authority, providing the Office with the ability to continue to recover the costs of examination. Without their bill, PTO operations will be less efficient and we’ll likely see more bad patents issue.

These “bad patents” are what we worry about; there need to be affordable appeal mechanisms such as PTAB. Affordability is key. Don’t allow Iancu to price it out of reach.

Watchtroll, the patent extremists’ voice, has mentioned politicians like Lofgren and Issa (pro-patent reform) in relation to this. Quoting:

On Tuesday, May 22nd, the House Judiciary Committee convened a hearing regarding oversight of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Appearing before the committee to testify on the agency’s actions was USPTO Director Andrei Iancu. Among the major topics discussed by members of the committee were the agency’s authority to set fees collected from users, the potential diversion of those fees to other agencies within the Commerce Department, as well as recent changes proposed by Director Iancu to bring aspects of patent validity trials conducted by the Office into alignment with standards practiced in Article III district courts.

Several questions are hanging on the balance right now, including patent scope (because Iancu is 'pulling a Berkheimer'), PTAB procedures (because of SAS Institute v Iancu) and the cost of various ‘products’ (or services). Based on what we have seen so far (a few months), Iancu is a foe of patent reform (AIA) and more or less an extension of the patent microcosm, albeit he’s bound by courts’ decisions. He should not be the one to determine law/rules, including the costs of associated services. Just look no further than what happened to the EPO, where Battistelli started telling his bosses (the Administrative Council) what to do rather seek advice (or formal proposals) from them. They became ‘rubber stampers’.
____
* The EPO‘s Battistelli did something similar to PTAB’s equivalent (BoA) at Europe’s largest patent office. He did this repeatedly even; maybe because it helps hide the decline in patent quality.

Another Week of Federal Circuit Supporting PTAB and Acting Tough for Patent Quality in the United States

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The patent elimination ‘pipeline’

Secret documents

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) maintain a productive cycle of patent elimination, except when the patents do have merit (e.g. when they’re on physical inventions and not nature or code)

THE Federal Circuit under its current chief has been doing a good job, encouraging — shall we say for the most part — the USPTO to evolve/improve patent policy. Sure, there are some exceptions which we shall cover separately, but generally speaking the judges grasp the Supreme Court’s views or interpretation of the law. They’re undoing decades of unbridled patent maximalism. One decision at a time they narrow down patent scope and litigation scope. This is good. It will help scientists at the expense of lawyers. It’s about time, too.

The other day XY, LLC v Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. was brought up by a patent maximalists’ site, which mentioned a “split decision [that] reveals an important dispute between Federal Circuit judges over the impact of AIA trials on pending litigation. In this case, XY’s six patents in suit relate to the sorting of semen by gender (used for farm animal breeding). My discussion below focuses on only one of the patents that was first enforced by the district court but later cancelled by a PTAB action.”

“One decision at a time they narrow down patent scope and litigation scope. This is good.”The author is a foe of PTAB and would like to see AIA trials phased out/replaced by something else. But he has not been getting his way. That’s an understatement actually; his whole world crumbles around him and his readers. They’ve tried everything to undermine PTAB and nothing seems to work. We shall cover that separately in a later post.

The underlying patents in this case aren’t on software but arguably on life (animal breeding). As is widely known by now, some companies like Monsanto have been attempting to patent nature/life everywhere in the world (it’s a lot harder in India, owing to the Supreme Court’s recent judgment). It’s not just about breeding processes or genetic manipulation; later on some companies patent the resultant animals, too! Crazy world we live in, eh?

“It’s pretty clear here that this patent maximalists’ site cherry-picks cases with the agenda of undermining Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board which these fall under.”The author explains “that the final paragraph is somewhat confusing because it appears to state two separate principles – (1) that affirmance of an invalidity finding [by the Federal Circuit] creates collateral estoppel on the issue of validity and also (2) that a final decision of patent invalidity moots pending district court findings of no invalidity. This begs the question of what would be the proper result if this case had been decided after the IPR decision cancelling the claims but before deciding the outcome of this appeal. When the court recognizes the potential issue – I expect that in most situations it would coordinate the appeals.”

It’s pretty clear here that this patent maximalists’ site cherry-picks cases with the agenda of undermining Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board which these fall under. This isn’t new. This has gone on for years and Oil States was the latest blow to such agenda. Later on we shall show how patent “scams” too have failed to undermine IPRs.

The same site also picked another Federal Circuit case, D Three Enterprises v SunModo Corp., which was about claim construction. This patent is at least on something physical. To quote:

D-Three’s patents in suit are directed to roof-mount sealing assemblies for solar panel installation. U.S. Patent Nos. 8,689,517; 9,068,339; and 8,707,655. The district court found the asserted claims invalid as obvious or anticipated. The basic central dispute, however, was whether the claims could rely upon a 2009 provisional application filing date. Although the formalities of the priority chain was met — the district court found a substantive problem. In particular, the court ruled that the 2009 provisional did not sufficiently disclose the inventions as claimed — i.e., failure of written description. Going one layer deeper, it seems that the real dispute is about claim construction — do the claimed assemblies require a “washerless” approach? The courts found that the claims recite a washerless assembly but that the limitation was not disclosed by the provisional application — so no priority.

Kluwer Patent Blog has meanwhile delved into another patent case where PTAB and the Federal Circuit dealt with a patent on something physical. “In an interference proceeding,” it said, “the Patent Trial and Appeal Board correctly determined that claims 65-67 of applicant General Hospital Corporation’s (GHC’s) U.S. Patent Application No. 13/789,575 for methods of removing hair by using nanoparticles to damage hair follicles lacked sufficient written description under § 112 of the Patent Act, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled.”

“…what we continued to see this past week was a strong and consistent record of patents-sceptic Federal Circuit which fully supports PTAB.”PTAB was defended for this, as usual. Watchtroll — being the most anti-PTAB site out there — chose to deal with this Federal Circuit case wherein PTAB had dismissed a challenge (and was later defended by the court). To quote:

Gilead produces and sells several products containing an antiviral agent used in the treatment of AIDS, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (“AHF”) buys these products to provide care to persons afflicted with AIDS. AHF filed suit requesting declaratory judgment of invalidity for five patents purportedly covering the antiviral agent and associated products, hoping to “clear out the invalid patents” such that AHF could partner with generic makers and purchase generic versions of the antiviral agent as soon as it could become available on expiration of the five-year New Chemical Entity exclusivity provided by FDA approval of the antiviral agent. The district court dismissed, ruling that AHF’s status as a mere consumer and its interest in purchasing such products did not create a case of actual controversy.

On appeal, AHF argued that it is an indirect infringer of the patents because it requested potential producers to provide the patented products, Gilead’s non-response to AHF’s request for a covenant not to sue created a present controversy, and public policy favors invalidation of invalid patents.

It is strange to say that “public policy favors invalidation of invalid patents.” Obviously if patents are invalid, then they are invalid, no matter what policy might say. Either way, what we continued to see this past week was a strong and consistent record of patents-sceptic Federal Circuit which fully supports PTAB. Had it not been the case, patent maximalists would make a huge deal out of it and herald that everything changes (like they nowadays do with Berkheimer v HP).

The Irish Knowledge Development Box (KDB) is Just Another Tax Evasion Ploy

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nothing to show for it…

An open box

Summary: Ireland — like several other nations across the world — opens to business by basically giving tax breaks to large companies under the guise of ‘innovation’ (as measured superficially by quantity of patents etc.)

What are “patent boxes”? As we explained before, it’s tax evasion ploys, constructed by and for those who have an ‘allergy’ for paying taxes and also have legions of lobbyists with access to lawmakers [1, 2].

“To suggest that SMEs have something to gain from this “Knowledge Development Box” nonsense is like suggesting that SMEs want or would benefit from the Unified Patent Court (UPC).”“The Knowledge Development Box [KDB] allows companies to access a lower rate of corporate tax,” Irish media has just explained. As expected and predicted all along, however, these “boxes” (which involve patents) are just being used for tax evasion under the guise of being deserved as a reward for “innovation” (variant of the “job creator” myth). In practice, suffice to say, only by massive/foreign corporations get these tax reliefs, i.e. at the expense of local SMEs (the latter would have to pay higher taxes to compensate for the formers’ tax cuts or suffer national deficits).

As the Irish media put it:

The government says it included features in the KDB to specifically encourage small and medium businesses (SMEs) to make claims.

One such feature was that smaller companies may be able to claim relief on assets which are patentable, but not patented. As opposed to larger companies that may only claim relief in respect of searched and examined patents or copyrighted software.

In order to make a claim, companies need to apply to for certification that the assets are eligible. The Knowledge Development Box KDB Certification of Inventions Act was passed last year.

However, the Minister for Finance has admitted that so far no SMEs have applied for the KDB certificate.

Don’t expect them to, either. To suggest that SMEs have something to gain from this “Knowledge Development Box” nonsense is like suggesting that SMEs want or would benefit from the Unified Patent Court (UPC). They would only suffer.

Software Patents Advocacy and UPC Lies Go Hand in Hand

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hand in Hand

Summary: The push for UPC, which accompanies the lobby for software patents in Europe, is still based on a large pile of lies and false projections of commencement

Has crooked Benoît Battistelli corrupted enough European/French media at the expense of EPO users (stakeholders, applicants) for this media to ignore his serious abuses of the law if not overt corruption? In a new article from AFP (France), mentioning Battistelli and António Campinos (the two Frenchmen who are friends), we are seeing little more than classic talking points and even lies. “Brevet unitaire européen: l’OEB est prêt, assure son président” is the headline and is has been cross-posted by various French-speaking sites, e.g. [1, 2].

“Where are the European authorities/authoritarians? Where are all the French politicians? When will they understand that the EPO under Battistelli has become an enormous liability for their reputation?”The EPO has become a loose monster, totally out of control and without anything that resembles accountability, let alone oversight. The EPO has long misused its budget to corrupt/pay/bribe the media, to corrupt academia, to pay for illegal spying and to hire several law firms to bully yours truly among other critics.

Where are the European authorities/authoritarians? Where are all the French politicians? When will they understand that the EPO under Battistelli has become an enormous liability for their reputation? The UPC is an EU thing, unlike the EPO. It cannot go on like this; it’s highly damaging to Europe. A couple of days ago europa.eu published this programme from the Competitiveness Council (due to start tomorrow). See the part which says:

Any other business: (not in public session)
- Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court

Is the EU hiding the fact that it promotes a ruinous conspiracy of law firms eager to shatter the European industry for the sake of legal bills? Will they listen to/learn why Spain, one of the largest EU economies, refuses to participate in UPC?

Apparently not…

“Will they listen to/learn why Spain, one of the largest EU economies, refuses to participate in UPC?”Going a little further back in time, we’re seeing Team UPC publicly promoting the lie that the UK is ready to participate (it cannot!) and articles that we missed at the time include this one from Roger Green (Watermark Intellectual Property), another one from WilmerHale (also published in the same lawyers’ sites at the time), and even this from ElectronicsWeekly (odd place to find such a thing). “Unitary Patents almost a reality,” says one headline. That’s untrue.

An article by Tim Wilson of Dehns (part of Team UPC) was published a couple of days ago under the title “The Value Of Patenting Software Innovation” (the overlap between UPC boosters and software patents lobbyists has been noted here for over half a decade). To quote Wilson:

Software is a relative new-comer to the patent arena. Over the last few decades, government patent offices have struggled to decide how to deal with software patents. There is a widely-held view that software simply can’t be patented, particularly in Europe. Fortunately, this is not at all correct: the right type of software innovation can most certainly be patented in all the world’s major patent offices.

Dehns Partner, Tim Wilson, recently hosted a seminar on this topic and provided strategies for maximising the prospects of getting a software patent successfully granted. Below is a summary of key points from the seminar, as well as examples of a few questions that came up.

“Yetserday IP Kat‘s Tian Lu promoted the lobbying event of patent extremists under the wing of the leading software patents lobbyist, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO).”Also a couple of days ago there was this article by Charles Bond and John Coldham (Gowling WLG) about the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which Team UPC often relates to UPC, pretending that Brexit is somehow — miraculously enough — still compatible with UPC (it’s not).

Yetserday IP Kat‘s Tian Lu promoted the lobbying event of patent extremists under the wing of the leading software patents lobbyist, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). IPO’s 2018 European Practice Committee Conference, based on this first part of two, is a total farce. It’s also farcical based on who’s attending. No balance at all. They’re lobbying on 35 U.S.C. § 101, against PTAB, for software patents etc. Does Lu realise what (or whose) agenda she’s promoting?

“It cannot be stressed strongly enough that UPC would be a Trojan horse by which to bypass national laws forbidding software patents; Team UPC knows that and it’s one among many reasons it lobbies so hard for the UPC, oftentimes making up false statements in the process.”“On May 3rd,” she wrote, “the 2018 European Practice Committee Conference organized by IPO’s European Practice Committee took place at InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, the much-loved landmark on the Amstel River banks with more than 150 years of elegance.”

A couple of days ago we also found this new “Newsletter” about Italy. “Software is not patentable in and of itself,” it says, but then it names the EPO’s tricks for bypassing the rule:

Software is not patentable in and of itself, as under Article 45 of the Industrial Property Code (and the corresponding Article 52 of the European Patent Convention) it belongs to a group of innovations that “are not considered as inventions”. As a result, a piece of software’s source code and its external appearance on a computer screen, rather than the ideas behind them, can be protected by copyright. However, Article 45 of the Industrial Property Code specifies that this scenario applies only if the software is “considered as such”. If the software is used in a new and inventive way to solve a technical problem that goes beyond the mere operation of the computer on which it is installed or in particular, is used to operate a machine or a system external to the computer (eg, a lighting system), it becomes patentable.

Further, when an invention consists of a concrete (and not purely abstract) scheme of links that allows a computer system to operate, this scheme becomes patentable. The European Patent Office guidelines state that:

“if the claim specifies computers, computer networks or other conventional programmable apparatus, a program therefor, or a storage medium carrying the program, for executing at least some steps of a scheme, it may comprise a mix of technical and non-technical features, with the technical features directed to a computer or a comparable programmed device. In these cases, the claim is to be examined as a ‘computer-implemented invention.”

Such a scheme is patentable under the usual conditions for all inventions – namely, where it is new, inventive, lawful, susceptible to industrial application and described in a way that allows an expert in the field to implement it. Italian case law has long recognised the validity of computer-implemented inventions. The landmark case in this regard is a 2004 decision regarding an online system for the rental of holiday homes by means of special software.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that UPC would be a Trojan horse by which to bypass national laws forbidding software patents; Team UPC knows that and it’s one among many reasons it lobbies so hard for the UPC, oftentimes making up false statements in the process. Why is the media so silent about that? We have a rough idea.

IAM Warns That China is Outpacing the United States at Granting Rubbish, Unproductive Patents on Abstract Things

Posted in America, Asia, Deception, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Protectionist measures taken to the extreme are self-harming and commercially-insulating

The great wall of China

Summary: Sites that speak for patent maximalists tell us that we should envy if not fear or mimic China’s self-defeating patent scope, which basically welcomes patents on just about anything under the Sun

TECHRIGHTS wrote many articles about how words like “AI” and “blockchain” get (mis)used to patent software. Some of these words are just acronyms whose expansion is a load of rubbish, e.g. “4IR” at the EPO or “IoT” at the USPTO. With words like “revolution” or “things” (yes, literally that!) in the acronym you just know you’ve exited the realms of science and are now grappling with a bunch of clueless marketing people.

“With words like “revolution” or “things” (yes, literally that!) in the acronym you just know you’ve exited the realms of science and are now grappling with a bunch of clueless marketing people.”IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, has long been ‘envious’ of China because of its wholehearted embrace of patent maximalism — a subject we shall revisit later this weekend in relation to Watchtroll and others (they bash the US and make China sound like a miracle which it isn’t just to advance their patent agenda). Here’s what IAM wrote just before the weekend:

More patents related to artificial intelligence and blockchain technology were filed in China than in any other country in 2017, it has been revealed. With much of this growth being linked to a booming start-up scene, it looks like the playing field for these technologies is slowly but surely shifting east. China’s start-up scene has rapidly caught up the US’s, according to a recently released Global Start-up Ecosystem report by Oakland-based firm Startup Genome. A comparison has found that over the last six years, the share of start-up funding into Asia-Pacific countries has grown – especially in China…

Don’t actually ask IAM authors to explain artificial intelligence and blockchain. The authors there lack a background in science; all they know is, they need to keep repeating the lies from patent trolls and litigious firms that fund them. It’s rather grotesque at times. For just over a year now a routine talking point was “China!” or “China is coming!” (we wrote many rebuttals to these dramatising lies).

“A lot of buzzwords have changed (or got phased in). Many things that used to be called servers now get labeled “cloud” and many things with databases in them (that’s a lot!) get called “blockchain”. Algorithms are becoming something like “AI”.”A few days ago James G. Gatto (Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton) wrote about framing software parents as “blockchain” patents (just to get patents on software, never mind if courts reject these anyway; courts would be harder to fool than examiners). Under “Recent Blockchain Patents Of Note” he wrote: “As we have previously reported, the number of blockchain patents being filed and granted is continuing to increase. According to a Thomson Reuters report, 225 out of the 406 blockchain patents (55.4%) filed in 2017 came from China, followed by 91 (22.4%) from the U.S. and 13 (3.2%) from Australia. The following is a brief summary of a few such patents that have been recently filed or granted in the U.S.”

This is utter rubbish. A lot of buzzwords have changed (or got phased in). Many things that used to be called servers now get labeled “cloud” and many things with databases in them (that’s a lot!) get called “blockchain”. Algorithms are becoming something like “AI”.

“…we may continue to see software patents landing inside the belly of the Patent Office, peppered and seasoned with buzzwords and acronyms like “AI” and “IoT”.”Notice the obligatory mention of “China” again. This is their method of choice. Maybe if they keep expounding and insisting with “China China China China!” the officials/lawmakers will panic enough to make patent laws more lenient. We shall write about that later this weekend. We shall also write about software patents in the US in light of news or press releases like this new one. “The technology could be used to enable devices without specific authentication hardware or software to leverage the capabilities of nearby devices, or send data to an authentication service,” it says. Classic software patent? Why was it granted? Will the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) even give it a closer look and the Federal Circuit reaffirm the judgment? Not likely. At this current pace of patent grants (in the US at least) and the far lower pace of IPRs (maybe about 1% apply to applications rather than granted patents, i.e. only 1 in 100 examiners’ decisions reach PTAB) we may continue to see software patents landing inside the belly of the Patent Office, peppered and seasoned with buzzwords and acronyms like “AI” and “IoT”. That’s a problem.

On Ethics of Patent Lawyers

Posted in Patents at 5:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The simple rule: be honest, be good.

Tech eye

Summary: Ethics in the legal community, including the practice of patent attorneys/lawyers, are paramount; they need to live up to the notions of law and justice, not greed and extortion

I DO NOT dislike lawyers. I think many lawyers do an important job. Many do it pro bono, too (some have done that for us). We always try to distinguish between what we call patent microcosm/maximalists, for example, and ordinary people who offer honest advice. Some patent lawyers are good people and not all patents are bad. Some patent lawyers have in fact become the Nemesis of EPO management simply because they say the blunt truth, e.g. regarding UPC.

“Many of them are good people. Many are scientists, especially those dealing with examination (more so than administrators).”We’ve always encouraged patent lawyers, whether European or American, to remember that their goal ought to be advancing science and technology, not excessive litigation, injunctions etc. The same goes for examiners, either European or USPTO clerks. Many of them are good people. Many are scientists, especially those dealing with examination (more so than administrators). One writer at Patently-O (David), a former patent court clerk, writes a lot about ethics in patents and practice surrounding patents.

Just before the weekend the Docket Navigator highlighted a new case wherein a patent lawyer’s alleged conflict of interest was revisited in Rio Brands, LLC v GCI Outdoor, Inc. To quote:

The court denied plaintiff’s motion to disqualify defense counsel who had previously represented plaintiff for 20 years on intellectual property matters and concurrently represented plaintiff in patent prosecution matters during seven months of the instant case because counsel’s misconduct did not taint the underlying trial.

Many scholars regularly speak for ethics and for patent reform. We should also note that some CCIA staff comes from the legal profession (sometimes with spousal connections at the USPTO) and still objects to patent maximalism. Does that make these people “anti-patent”? Of course not. Only extremist sites like Watchtroll would accuse anyone who isn’t equally extreme of being “anti-patent”? Watchtroll even calls courts and judges that — a subject we shall revisit later in this Bank Holiday (long) weekend.

“Our world needs innovation fostered by few (and strong) patents, not litigation fostered by plenty of rubbish patents.”There’s a profound issue when it comes to already-underfunded and already-understaffed media; many articles are nowadays composed either directly or indirectly (e.g. extensively quoting) by patent law firms, which means they dominate the debate about patents. Engineers, developers etc. are rarely even being asked about their views, let alone given “media space”. Just the other day we saw this typical sales pitch from the patent microcosm (“Patent 101: Patent Process FAQs for Inventors”) wherein Ward and Smith serveed some new examples which showed overselling of prospects (patenting, litigation) just to bill for utterly wasteful bureaucracy. Please stop doing that. If your law firm lacks ‘demand’ (or ‘business’), then maybe it’s time to change profession and not resort to media distortion. Our world needs innovation fostered by few (and strong) patents, not litigation fostered by plenty of rubbish patents.

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