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

08.19.18

From the Eastern District of Texas (US) to Australia Patent Quality Remains a Problem

Posted in America, Australia, Patents at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents of all colours of the rainbow

Appeal to swatches

Summary: Patents on anything from thoughts to nature/life (in the US and in Australia, respectively) demonstrate the wildly wide range (or spectrum) of patents nowadays granted irrespective of their impact on innovation

A FEW HOURS ago Eibhlin Vardy published this post (part of a series) celebrating patent maximalism at the USPTO, whose ten millionth patent may ironically enough be bunk.

“We might already be in the midst of such a decline, i.e. a restoration of patent quality.”What if patent grants started to decline in terms of number, e.g. each year that goes by (rather than the opposite)? We might already be in the midst of such a decline, i.e. a restoration of patent quality.

Well, a system which strives to grant as many patents as possible isn’t one that necessarily encourages innovation and in many cases it actually prioritises monopolisation at innovation’s expense for numbers’ sake; that would practically discourage innovation.

A few days ago we saw this news report about a patent on “[s]ystem and method for data management,” i.e. a software patent and hence bunk patent. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas is a national and international laughing stock because of stuff like this:

Papa John’s International and its subsidiary Star Papa have been sued over the US-based pizza franchise’s mobile app.

Oklahoma-based Fall Line Patents filed its patent infringement complaint yesterday, August 15, at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Fall Line Patents is the owner of US patent number 9,454,748, called “System and method for data management”.

According to the complaint, the patent “teaches methods for managing and collecting data from a remote computing device” by gathering location-specific information on different hardware and software platforms on one device.

This is a relatively new patent, judging by its number. This ought to go to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) through an inter partes review (IPR); if needed, the Federal Circuit would likely affirm an invalidation; Papa John’s can afford this. Such is the high cost of sloppy patent grants pertaining to abstract ideas. Watch who got the patent; it’s an entity outside Texas (Oklahoma is far away) and it’s called “Fall Line Patents”. We wrote about it last year and a few months ago when Unified Patents implicitly called it a patent troll. Why are these patents still around? Moreover, why are such patents still being granted after Alice?

Are patents being granted for the sake of numbers or for the sake of innovation? Judging by this new press release [1, 2], the repository is nowadays treated like some kind of literature. “This new section provides easy access to historical patent and exclusivity data for FDA-approved drugs,” it says. They’re typically just evergreening their patents in order to ensure drug exclusivity persists (perpetuity). It’s neither beneficial to innovation nor is this healthy for patients.

Lately we have been writing a great deal about how patents get granted on software owing to a bunch of hype and/or buzzwords. Yet more bunk patents, for example, came from Walmart (it labels some “Blockchain”). Days ago, based on media reports [1, 2, 3], Walmart was shown to be riding the “VR” wave, exploiting buzz when a patent (or application) at hand has absolutely nothing to do with VR innovation/s but merely utilisation thereof from the software side. Here is what Matthew Boyle wrote about it:

The world’s biggest retailer wants to find out, according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The company has applied for two patents that detail a “virtual show room” and fulfillment system that would connect shoppers clad in VR headsets and sensor-packed gloves to a three-dimensional representation of a Walmart store. Customers could wander digital aisles from home and “grab” items, which would be immediately picked and shipped from a fully automated distribution center.

The supposed invention involves no improvement to the hardware; it’s ridiculous and it’s what we have come to expect.

Earlier today Patent Docs mentioned a “Webinar on Blockchain and IP,” once again invoking that hype about blockchains, which most lawyers are unable to even explain. “Blockchain”- and “Bitcoin”-washing have become popular because they can make everything sound novel and cutting-edge. It’s especially necessary in the US, unlike China for example. Anything goes in China, including software patents, because SIPO — to the chagrin of WIPO — doesn’t give a damn about patent quality. Shouldn’t the US care more? Coinbase is now attempting to get a US patent on a “new bitcoin payment system” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], relying perhaps on the examiners not understanding that it’s pure software and thus not patent-eligible. Can the lawyers find a way to manipulate/fool the examiner? That’s perfectly possible and they can retry until they get the ‘right’ examiner.

Days ago in Mondaq and in Lexology we saw this new article from Aird & Berlis LLP | Aird & McBurney LP’s Tony Sabeta. He starts with a Big Lie, insinuating that “blockchain applications are patent-eligible” even though they’re not. They're software patents. Bunk, waste of paper. They may eventually get granted, but no high court would tolerate these. The USPTO advertises and brags about these, which actually says a lot about the USPTO and its attitude. To quote Sabeta:

As a patent practitioner, one of the questions I often get asked is whether distributed ledger technology (DLT), such as blockchain, is patentable. I naturally respond in the affirmative (with some qualifiers of course), and inevitably there is a deluge of follow-up questions and statements such as: “That can’t be! Blockchain is just software, and isn’t it nearly impossible to get patents for software these days? or “This technology has been around for almost 10 years, there is nothing new to patent here,” and so forth.

It’s not even about novelty; it’s about it being an abstract concept and therefore patent-ineligible.

We live in crazy times, however, so to examiners who are rewarded for granting more patents rules will be convenient to bend. That’s how we ended up with so many patents on algorithms, life, and nature (even though the rules forbade all of them). Over at Watchtroll two days ago Ted Mathias, Stacie Ropka, and Rebecca Clegg published “The CRISPR Tug of War” — yet another one of those promotions of ‘life monopolies’ (or monopolies on life itself). That was around the same time Merck was awarded a CRISPR patent in Australia:

Merck has been awarded a patent for CRISPR nickases by the Australian Patent Office.

The application covers a foundational CRISPR strategy in which two CRISPR nickases are targeted to a common gene target and work together by nicking or cleaving opposite strands of chromosomal sequence to create a double-stranded break.

Merck said in a statement that these paired nickases will “improve CRISPR’s ability to fix diseased genes while not affecting healthy ones”.

In addition to allowing a patent application on paired nickases, the Australian Patent Office also announced the formal grant of Merck’s 2017 CRISPR integration patent, following withdrawal of four independent, anonymously filed oppositions.

Australia grants such ridiculous patents on life because of CSIRO and the influence of lawyers. There’s an ongoing fight over the matter at the EPO because the authorities say no to such patents whereas EPO management actively flouts the rules. As it always does…

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 24/5/2019: PostgreSQL 12 Beta 1 and Rust 1.35 Released

    Links for the day



  2. EPO Strikes Further Diminish Chances of UPC Ever Materialising (in Any Shape or Form)

    The EPO crumbles under the weight of its own corruption while an increasingly-insane Team UPC pretends all remains normal and a patent trolls-friendly system is ready to take off



  3. EPO Allegedly Becoming Insolvent (Pretext for Cuts), So Staff Gets Punished While Management Takes the Jackpot

    The corporate 'logic' at the EPO follows the "shareholders' value" propaganda line as if the EPO is a private company looking to maximise revenue rather than serve the public



  4. EPO President Still Not Obeying Courts' Rulings

    Federation of International Civil Service Associations (FICSA) sent a message to António Campinos yesterday (the same day SUEPO publicly made a call for strike)



  5. António Campinos Has Run Out of Time and EPO Staff is Going on Strike (Skipping Mere Protests)

    European Patent Office strikes are to resume; as SUEPO recently put it, people have come to accept that EPO leadership has not really changed and none of the underlying issues is being tackled



  6. Links 23/5/2019: Elisa 0.4.0, OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Released

    Links for the day



  7. Links 22/5/2019: Mesa 19.0.5, Huawei and GNU/Linux, Curl 7.65.0, End of Antergos, Tails 3.14, ownCloud Server 10.2, Firefox 67.0

    Links for the day



  8. Quality of Patents is Going Down the Drain and Courts Have Certainly Noticed

    Uncertainty or lack of confidence in the patent system has reached appalling levels because heads of patent offices are just striving to grant as many patents as possible, irrespective of the underlying law



  9. EUIPO and EPO Abuses Growingly Inseparable

    'Musical chairs' at CEIPI and the EPO/EUIPO (Battistelli, Archambeau, Campinos) as well as joint reports never fail to reveal the extent to which EPO abuses are spreading



  10. Links 21/5/2019: China's GAFAM Exit, DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3

    Links for the day



  11. Links 20/5/2019: Linux 5.2 RC1, LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha, DXVK 1.2.1, Bison 3.4 Released

    Links for the day



  12. South Korea's Government Will Show If Microsoft Loves Linux or Just Attacks It Very Viciously Like It Did in Munich

    Microsoft's hatred of all things GNU/Linux is always put to the test when someone 'dares' use it outside Microsoft's control and cash cows (e.g. Azure and Vista 10/WSL); will Microsoft combat its longstanding urge to corrupt or oust officials with the courage to say "no" to Microsoft?



  13. Links 19/5/2019: KDE Applications 19.04.1 in FlatHub and GNU/Linux Adoption

    Links for the day



  14. The War on Patent Quality

    A look at the EPO's reluctance to admit errors and resistance to the EPC, which is its very founding document



  15. Watchtroll, Composed by Patent Trolls, Calls the American Patent System “Corrupt”

    Another very fine piece from Watchtroll comes from very fine patent trolls who cheer for Donald Trump as if he's the one who tackles corruption rather than spreading it



  16. Unified Patent Court Won't Happen Just Because the Litigation Microcosm Wants It

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) hopefuls are quote-mining and cherry-picking to manufacture the false impression that the UPC is just around the corner when in reality the UPC is pretty much dead (but not buried yet)



  17. Links 17/5/2019: South Korea's GNU/Linux Pivot, Linux 5.1.3

    Links for the day



  18. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 4: Happy Birthday to the Kötter Group?

    This year the Kötter Group commemorates the 85th anniversary of its existence. But is it really a cause for celebration or would a less self-congratulatory approach be more fitting? And does it create the risk that a routine tendering exercise at the EPO will turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot?



  19. Links 16/5/2019: Cockpit 194, VMware Acquires Bitnami, Another Wine Announcement and Krita 4.2.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  20. The EPO's Key Function -- Like the UPC's Vision -- Has Virtually Collapsed

    The EPO no longer issues good patents and staff is extremely unhappy; but the Office tries to create an alternate (false) reality and issues intentionally misleading statements



  21. Stanford's NPE Litigation Database Makes a Nice Addition in the Fight Against Software Patent Trolls

    As the United States of America becomes less trolls- and software patents-friendly (often conflated with plaintiff (un)friendliness) it's important to have accurate data which documents the numbers and motivates better policy; The NPE (troll) Litigation Database is a move towards that and it's free to access/use



  22. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 3: “Ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”

    A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi



  23. EPO Had a Leakage Problem and Privacy of Stakeholders Was Compromised, Affecting at Least 100 Cases

    The confidentiality principle was compromised at the EPO and stakeholders weren't told about it (there was a coverup)



  24. Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

    Links for the day



  25. False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

    Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions



  26. The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

    The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)



  27. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

    An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO



  28. Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

    Links for the day



  29. Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

    Links for the day



  30. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 1: Urgent Shitstorm Alert

    Experts at the European Patent Office's (EPO) weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon


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