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08.21.18

Software Patent Trolls Are Dropping Like Flies in the United States

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 1:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flies

Summary: Colossal losses for patent trolls, who increasingly face challenges for a plethora of reasons including venue, competitive aspects, and 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101)

THE US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has deterred and repelled patent trolls. Nobody would deny that, not even the trolls themselves. The SCOTUS Justices even used the term “patent trolls” (which surprised some observers), so they’re well aware of this problem.

“The SCOTUS Justices even used the term “patent trolls” (which surprised some observers), so they’re well aware of this problem.”Of most interest to us there’s 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101), notably the Alice case. Lots of EPO-granted software patents (EPs) are nowadays disguised as “AI” or similar terms. The EPO promotes this. The EPO has done that almost every weekday since António Campinos took over. The same thing is happening in the US. Sometimes they say “ML” instead of “AI”. I personally wrote ML code and technical reports a great deal before, since a decade and a half ago, so I’m fairly familiar with the underlying concepts. Those are statistics and maths, i.e. they’re all abstract and invalid as per Section 101/Alice . Yesterday an article was published under the headline “What the ML Patent Application Boom Means for Tech”. It’s tempting to say say that it means bad patents, which are hard if not impossible to enforce in courts, are being pursued. From the article:

There has been a surge in applications of machine learning over the last few years as companies look for ways to leverage big data in their products and services. That has corresponded with a big increase in another type of machine learning application – i.e. those sent to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for protection. But the ramifications of the machine learning-patent uptick are not yet clear.

Statistical and anecdotal evidence suggests we’re in the midst of major upswing in patent protection requests for machine learning inventions. While hard numbers can be tough to come by due to intricacies of the USPTO process (and the fact that it will conceal applications upon request), several researchers have identified what they see as a surge in interest in protecting machine learning products over the past several years.

They’re just trying to build/assemble a patent thicket around “AI” or “ML” or whetever, irrespective of the value or validity of the pertinent patents.

“They’re just trying to build/assemble a patent thicket around “AI” or “ML” or whetever, irrespective of the value or validity of the pertinent patents.”Abstract — as per Alice/Section 101 — patents should not be granted. Apple’s very latest bunk software patents show USPTO examiners asleep at the wheel again. It’s more of that “AI” nonsense.

But in better news regarding Apple, there’s something about Wireless Licensing SARL, which is part of Conversant (formerly MOSAID). The case was covered in this relatively new post of ours as well as by Jan Wolfe, who wrote in Reuters about it:

A federal appeals court on Thursday took a step toward throwing out a $7.3 million patent infringement verdict a licensing company won against Apple Inc, saying the iPhone maker did not infringe one of the two wireless technology patents at issue in the case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a finding by a California jury in favor of patent holder Core Wireless Licensing SARL. The appeals court did not disturb the jury’s finding that Apple infringed a different Core Wireless patent but asked the lower court to reconsider its enforceability, opening the door for Apple to nix the verdict entirely.

This is going to have far-reaching ramifications because the troll has targeted many companies, including Linux vendors. Apple is just one of the more ‘lucrative’ targets (more in potential ‘damages’).

“It’s more of that “AI” nonsense.”Consider Apple’s history with a troll known as Mirror Worlds. We wrote about that before, e.g. in [1, 2, 3] and this troll was also covered here shortly after the decision last week. “Facebook still wasting money on defending itself over software patents,” Benjamin Henrion wrote about this report. But Facebook does patent bullying of its own. It makes Facebook part of the problem, its much-appreciated support for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) notwithstanding. To quote:

Facebook has prevailed in a suit over its iconic news feed and claims it ripped off the idea from a patent troll.

Judge John Koetl granted Summary Judgement [PDF] to House Zuck, approving its motion to dismiss an allegation that the Facebook timeline violated Mirror Worlds’ purchased patents on the organization of messages and news items.

Well, that timeline is software-based (arguably “AI”) and such patents aren’t valid anymore, especially after Alice (Apple didn’t enjoy the full benefit of it).

“This is going to have far-reaching ramifications because the troll has targeted many companies, including Linux vendors.”We are probably going to see a lot more cases like these in the news. Those are all software patents (very easy to spot based on a succinct description) and it seems like none can endure a court as high as the Federal Circuit.

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