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

09.03.18

Apple Suffers From Patent Trolls in the Eastern District of Texas Where Microsoft Uses Its Trolls (Connected to Intellectual Ventures) to Bully Apple, Linux/Android and Other Microsoft Rivals

Posted in America, Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 3:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hublink, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary

Summary: A quick look at misguided sites which celebrate new patents of infamous patent bullies and the latest actions from patent trolls, including Microsoft’s own (Intellectual Ventures)

The connections between Dominion Harbor and Microsoft aren’t as blurry as Microsoft might have hoped. It’s not hard to see where this patent troll is receiving the lion’s share of its patents from. Microsoft uses trolls such as this to sell its ‘protection’ racket [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20]. We offered a new example of it only several days ago.

Microsoft’s new patents are being celebrated in Apple and Microsoft advocacy sites [1, 2, 3], where people like Christian de Looper and Apple fans (that celebrate Apple patents) take note of new Apple patents and/or patent applications [1, 2] never mind if Microsoft and Apple are both notorious for their patent aggression. Brand loyalty can blind some people.

To be fair to both, they are also on the receiving end of troll lawsuits. We hope that many such lawsuits can eventually compel them to rethink their stance on patents and their patent strategy.

As the mainstream media noted a few days ago, Apple might need to pay over half a billion dollars to just one patent troll. The Eastern District of Texas supports this particularly notorious patent troll, VirnetX, which targets large companies. Time to appeal for the Federal Circuit (or even SCOTUS perhaps) to step in?

There has been lots of media coverage such as “VirnetX +35.6% after judge denies Apple a new trial”, “VirnetX Receives District Court’s Final Judgment Affirming Jury’s Verdict of $502.6 Million”, and “VirnetX Holding Corporation: VirnetX Receives District Court’s Final Judgment Affirming Jury’s Verdict of $502.6 Million”. Here’s a portion from “Court Sides With VirnetX, Affirms $506 Million Judgment Against Apple” (there’s so much more about this news because it’s about Apple, which means the media can get ‘hits’):

VirnetX Holding Corp. (NYSEAMERICAN: VHC) announced Friday morning that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has affirmed an April 2018 jury verdict granting the company a $506.2 million award in a patent infringement case against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The court denied Apple’s request for a new trial in the case, and it also includes supplemental damages, a sunset royalty (paid when infringing products are phased out) and interest and costs.

What the media failed to pay as much attention to is a case that does not involve ‘famous’ Apple. It’s about fairly new patent which is abstract and was also asserted in the Eastern District of Texas. As Watchtroll put it:

The ‘748 patent itself is titled “System and Method for Data Management” and, according to the complaints, it “addresses the need to collect location-specific information on a variety of hardware and software platforms without the need to create separate and individualized software for each of the numerous manufacturers of remote computing devices.”

[...]

Additionally, the complaints preemptively make certain allegations regarding the patentability of the ‘748 patent, apparently assuming a validity challenge in this wonderful world of Alice in which we are all forced to live. The patentability allegations list technical problems ostensibly addressed by the ‘748 patent, possibly to frame the ‘748 patent as an improvement to computer functionality for future reliance on the Federal Circuit’s guidance in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016) that such improvements may be found non-abstract at step one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s two-step Alice framework for determining patent eligibility. The allegations regarding patentability found in Fall Line’s complaints also include statements that certain claim elements are not well-understood, routine, or conventional, apparently in case the ‘748 patent is held to be abstract and thus necessitating reliance on step two of the two-step Alice framework.

[...]

It’s also worth noting that even though the terminal disclaimer issue might be a fatal blow to Fall Line’s ability to enforce the ‘748 patent, Fall Line’s problems do not end there. The ‘748 patent has also had an inter partes review (IPR) instituted against it as of April 5, 2018, though the IPR was not instituted against Claim 1. Furthermore, petitioner Unified Patents did not challenge the validity of Claim 1 and so even after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute v. Iancu back in April that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board does not have the authority to partially institute a petition for IPR against some but not all requested claims, Claim 1 looks like it will survive. But that’s not to say any of the defendants accused of infringement by Fall Line will refrain from filing their own IPRs to challenge Claim 1.

The inter partes review (IPR) would likely put this lawsuit to rest, but how much money will have been spent on lawyers by then?

It is meanwhile being reported in an article by Arthur W. Coviello, Richard Goldenberg and William G. McElwain from WilmerHale that Microsoft’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, suffers yet another CAFC setback:

Reyna, J. Vacating and remanding the PTAB’s IPR decision because the PTAB erred in not considering portions of the petitioner’s reply brief. Specifically, the PTAB erred in determining that certain reply arguments were improper new arguments under 37 C.F.R. § 42.23(b). The Court held that the petitioner’s reply arguments should have been considered because they cited “no new evidence and merely expand[ed] on a previously argued rationale as to why the prior art disclosures are insubstantially distinct from the challenged claims.”

Intellectual Ventures was also mentioned by Watchtroll’s Steve Brachmann a few days ago because CAFC was “remanding the case to the PTAB for further proceedings.” It happened last week, but the media mostly ignored it:

On Monday, August 27th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in Ericsson Inc. v. Intellectual Ventures I which vacated a previous decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to uphold patent claims owned by Intellectual Ventures in light of an obviousness challenge from Ericsson.

The case (Ericsson Inc. v Intellectual Ventures) isn’t a new one; we’ve covered it before. It does show that Microsoft’s patent troll is still very much active; it’s a shame that almost no investigative journalists are left out there to properly cover it. All they seem to care about is traffic, so they focus on companies such as Apple.

RALIA, Inventor Protection Act, STRONGER Patents Act and Other Attacks on PTAB (Because It Raises the Patent Bar)

Posted in America, Deception, Law, Patents at 1:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lobbyists and bribed politicians still attempt to undo patent reform in Washington

Don't enter

Summary: Anti-PTAB legislations (whose sole purpose is to lower patent quality) try to make their way past common sense; the patent microcosm is boosting these while courts carry on doing their job, which nowadays more often than not involves rejection of erroneously-granted US patents

THE USPTO would almost certainly be granting patents like a patent-printing machine if it wasn’t for constant scrutiny from patent courts and groups like the EFF, CCIA and so on. Sadly, as we’ve just noted, 35 U.S.C. § 101 isn’t taken seriously enough by the Office. The new Director, a litigation person whose firm worked for Donald Trump, keeps trying to water it down. It cannot be done unless courts leave an opening/gap to be cherry-picked; as things stand, SCOTUS supports Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) and the Federal Circuit gave away nothing but Berkheimer, which the Director (Iancu) was happy to exploit irrespective of the facts (Berkheimer has not changed anything in the courts).

We’ve been carefully watching the latest attacks on patent quality. Watchtroll, for instance, was belatedly catching up with Click-To-Call at PTAB (among other news that may mean patent law firms will carry on rotting away). Robert Schaffer wrote about IPR time-bar* [1, 2] on a couple of occasions and together with his colleague Joseph Robinson he was covering the matters/affairs of the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in light of recent cases, such as this 35 U.S.C. § 285 case (typically about whether the accused gets awarded legal fees by the trigger-happy accuser). We’ve pretty much covered all these cases before or at least mentioned these in passing. Joseph Robinson wrote about another important CAFC case — one wherein we saw software patents invalidated by a high court. The defendant, BuySeasons, did a good job leveraging the law against US Patents numbers 6,035,294, 6,243,699, and 6,195,652 [1, 2]. Quoting Watchtroll:

On August 15, 2018, the Federal Circuit affirmed the invalidation of BSG Tech LLC’s (“BSG”) patents as ineligible subject matter. See BSG Tech LLC v. Buyseasons, Inc., No. 2017-1980, 2018 WL 3862646 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2018) (before Reyna, Wallach, and Hughes, J.) (opinion by Hughes, J.).

BSG asserted three patents with similar specifications that were directed to a “self-evolving generic index” for organizing information stored in a database — U.S. Patents No. 6,035,294, 6,243,699, and 6,195,652. The patents were “self-evolving” because users of the database could “add new parameters for use in describing items”, with guidance from the system, which would allow the database to be searched according to the new and existing parameters.

We generally prefer not to quote Watchtroll, but in order to understand what patent maximalists are up to it’s helpful to keep an eye on Watchtroll. Last week they used the term “IP Assets” in the headline (three lies in two words). Katharine Wolanyk generally alludes to universities using taxpayers-funded research to feed patent trolls that then attack the public as “Legal Finance” (what a breathtaking euphemism!). Her innovation seems to be that of euphemisms for bad practices that should be banned if not severely punished for (penalties, fines, maybe even sanctions).

Fenwick & West LLP’s Nina Srejovic and Charlene M. Morrow wrote a few days ago about IPRs in relation to appeals; This too was about a recent CAFC case. To quote:

The Federal Circuit further restricted a petitioner’s ability to appeal a decision by the Patent and Trademark Appeal Board upholding the validity of a patent. The court this month found in JTEKT v. GKN Automotive that a competitor who filed a petition for inter partes review could not appeal the PTAB’s validity determination because its product design was not definite enough to create a concrete and substantial risk of infringement or the likelihood of a claim of infringement. If this line of decisions stands, it will make it harder for competitors to clear the field of conflicting patents that they believe are invalid, as there would be no ability to appeal from an adverse Board decision.

They generally try anything they can to thwart PTAB and thus defend invalid/bogus patents from scrutiny. Gene Luoma, writing for Watchtroll yesterday (a Sunday), promotes the misleadingly-named “Inventor Protection Act” — one among several bills striving to take down patents like his. “This is why we need your support to help us restore our patent rights,” he concluded, mistaking patents for “rights” (they’re not rights, technically and legally speaking). He pleaded: “Please help us in our fight to pass H.R. 6557, the Inventor Protection Act, which has been introduced into the House of Representatives. After a decade of destruction of our patent rights, this bill restores patent rights to inventors like me who own their patents, helping us to continue supporting our families with the money earned from our inventions.”

This is nonsense. He also uses his disability to add an angle that has nothing to do with his patent/s; sympathy-garnering exercise at best. If his patent is worth what he believes, why should he fear PTAB? In our experience, people who loathe PTAB are those whose patents are of questionable quality (and deep inside they know it).

A few days earlier the American Enterprise Institute wrote about RALIA, another anti-PTAB bill. Michael Rosen from this patent zealots’ front group (American Enterprise Institute has always been misleadingly named) is trying to reduce patent quality and help patent trolls, not enterprises. Here is what he wrote (soon to be boosted by patent maximalists):

Shortly after several new patent reform bills were introduced in Congress over the summer, a new, even more radical piece of legislation has entered the scene.

[...]

RALIA would also rewrite the statute on patent eligibility, making it easier to obtain software and so-called business method patents, a process that the Supreme Court’s 2014 landmark Alice decision has strongly affected. The legislation contends that “the Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence concerning subject matter patentability has harmed the progress of science and the useful arts” and loosens its strictures.

No, it does the exact opposite. But don’t let facts get in the way of career lobbyists.

Russell Slifer, part of the patent microcosm, then defines “bad” as what’s bad for the litigation ‘industry’. The lobbyists’ media of choice, The Hill, seems very happy if not eager to let these vultures do their lobbying. Slifer promotes the STRONGER [sic] Patents Act as follows: “One good place to start is the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act, H.R. 5340, introduced by Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and its companion Senate bill, S.1390, introduced last year by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). These bills address some of the negative unintended consequences of the 2011 America Invents Act. To truly return America as a world leader in intellectual property protection, Congress must resolve to reverse the Supreme Court and allow our new industries to protect their innovations in the U.S, not China and Europe.”

These are all just anti-PTAB bills whose net effect is reduction in quality assessment and decline in patent quality. They rely on the perception that there’s anger, that there’s a scandal, and that there are feuds.

Alluding to last month’s RPX setback and Judge Reyna’s role in an earlier case, McDermott Will & Emery’s Brian A. Jones wrote about news several months too late (almost two months). Why now? To quote:

Addressing whether an inter partes review (IPR) petition was time barred under 35 USC § 315(b), the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a finding by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the petitioner was not a real party in interest to the entity that had been served with an infringement complaint in district court more than one year earlier. Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corp., Case Nos. 17-1698, -1699, -1701 (Fed. Cir. July 9, 2018) (O’Malley, J) (Reyna, J, concurring).

Applications in Internet Time (AIT) sued Salesforce.com, a software company, for patent infringement. Salesforce was served with a copy of the complaint on November 20, 2013.

[...]

Judge Reyna wrote separately to point out an independent ground for vacating the PTAB’s decision, namely that it failed to address whether RPX was also a “privy” of Salesforce. A petitioner is time barred under § 315(b) from filing a petition more than one year after the “petitioner, the real party in interest, or privy of the petitioner is served with a complaint.” Judge Reyna explained that a number of additional factors must be considered to determine privity, including whether a legal relationship exists between the parties or whether one party acted as a proxy/representative for the other party. In the case of RPX and Salesforce, a contractual relationship existed, and RPX may have been acting as Salesforce’s proxy. Therefore, Judge Reyna would have instructed the PTAB to also thoroughly review whether RPX and Salesforce were in privity in these circumstances.

This is one of those rare PTAB cases where patent maximalists have something to gain. They will carry on cherry-picking and then boosting such cases. Knowing that politicians soon return to work (many come back tomorrow), they want to provoke them into endorsement of anti-PTAB bills.
___
* In his latest PTAB post, Kevin E. Noonan provided a more balanced interpretation, including some background:

Patent law has traditionally been considered to be fraught with traps for the unwary, which in practice just means that it is unwise to assume anything (see Carl S. Koening, “Clarifying Patent Terminology and Patent Concepts – An Introduction to Some Basic Concepts and Doctrine,” 15 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1 (1966)). Petitioner for an inter partes review proceeding, Vizio, Inc., v. ATI Technologies ULC suffered the consequences of one of those traps, when its petition for review of U.S. Patent No. 7,633,506 was deemed untimely under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) because the petition was not filed within one year of Patent Owner filing suit against Petitioner Vizio. While a seemingly simple docketing matter, in this case the error arose over when (i.e., what date) the complaint was filed.

As set forth in the Board’s Decision denying institution, the facts are these. Vizio filed its IPR petition on February 1, 2017, one year after receiving the complaint. Patent Owner filed an affidavit of service, establishing that Patent Owner had mailed the complaint to Vizio on January 30, 2017. The question before the Board was whether the one-year time period under § 315(b) for filing an IPR petition ran from the date of mailing by Patent Owner or the date of receipt of the complaint by Petitioner Vizio.

To answer this question, the Board looked to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h)(1)(A), which states that a corporation is served “in the manner prescribed by Rule 4(e)(1) for serving an individual.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(1) states that service on an individual under the Rules is done “following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located” (or where service is made). Thus, the Board reasoned, the time and manner where service was accomplished was a matter of Delaware law (where the Patent Owner was incorporated).

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts