10.14.18

Gemini version available ♊︎

Federal Circuit Doubles Down on User Interface Patents, Helps Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Curtail the Prime Competitor of Microsoft Office

Posted in Google, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dan Bricklin
Dan Bricklin, photographed by Betsy Devine at a blogger brunch in Boston’s Chinatown 2/25/2007. Licence: CC BY 2.5

Summary: Patent trolls that are connected to Microsoft continue to sue Microsoft rivals using old patents; this time, for a change, even the Federal Circuit lets them get away with it

THE Federal Circuit (CAFC) with its current Chief Judge (Prost) is rather different from what it used to be. Perhaps it learned to accept that reversals by SCOTUS must end, not by means of changing SCOTUS itself but by getting rid of corrupt judges like Rader (he actually got caught).

Today’s CAFC is supportive of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) and typically affirms PTAB’s decisions — a topic we shall write about separately in view of newer/latest determinations. 35 U.S.C. § 101 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has enabled both PTAB and CAFC to rule out patents quite promptly, without having to engage in a lengthy process like search and assessment of prior art.

“Back in 1992,” Patently-O recalled for those who forgot, “Borland Software invented a tabbed spreadsheet for its Quattro Pro that was then copied by Excel, Google Sheets, and others. Today, the Federal Circuit finally found the patent claims enforceable (or at least patent eligible).”

Microsoft copied everyone, but nowadays it is suing everyone, including Corel.

Found initially via [1, 2, 3] was this article/blog post titled “Tabbed Spreadsheet — Patent Eligible”. It’s what Patently-O covered along/after the above tweet:

D.Delaware Judge Stark dismissed DET’s case on the pleadings — holding that the Borland/DET spreadsheet-tab patent claims were directed to abstract ideas. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has partially reversed — finding that some of the claims are directed toward “specific improved method for navigating through complex three-dimensional electronic spreadsheets” and thus are patent eligible. The decision here is authored by Judge STOLL and joined by Judges REYNA and BRYSON.

The patents at issue here basically cover the use of tabs in a spreadsheet document. You might be thinking – “WHAT I’VE BEEN USING TABS FOR 25 YEARS” — at least that is what I was thinking. The thing is that DET’s patents were invented by folks at Borland Software — baker of Quattro Pro — and claim priority back to 1992. BOOM! Microsoft came out with its tabbed version of Excel in 1993 following Borland’s release. Back then I used Quattro Pro – and tabs were awesome. The case here is against Google for its tabbed sheets.

As you’ll see below, the claims include a “notebook tab” — and that feature seems to be the key for patent eligibility. This aspect of the decision makes it fairly questionable.

I’ll note that this case may well fit into the IP case-books as a companion to the 1996 Supreme Court case on spreadsheet menu copyright. Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int’l, Inc., 516 U.S. 233 (1996).

“CAFC only exists to be reversed by SCOTUS,” Carlo Piana wrote about it (he became famous for his Samba lawyering).

Benjamin Henrion said: “Despite Alice, CAFC just founds “tabs in a spreadsheet” to be patent eligible. Software patents are back, specialized patent courts are dangerous, biased, populated by the patent establishment, and don’t want to listen http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/17-1135.Opinion.10-9-2018.pdf …”

“It’s actually not so unusual for CAFC,” I told Henrion, “as not too long ago they said OK to other GUI patents; not exactly the same as algorithms/callback functions…”

We wrote about this as recently as January. To Piana I said: “That was true when Rader, the corrupt man, was in charge. His successor is OK and CAFC improved…” (under Prost)

Paul Redmond Michel was also pretty bad (he still is), but unlike Rader he was not corrupt.

Since the above alludes to spreadsheets, noteworthy is also coverage about Microsoft’s ‘proxy’ Acacia. These patent trolls of Microsoft continue to sue Microsoft’s rivals using dubious software patents. To quote Law 360:

The Federal Circuit on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s invalidation of three patents asserted against Google LLC by a unit of patent licensing company Acacia Research Corp.

So a unit of a patent troll of Microsoft (Acacia Research Corp.) sued Google, Microsoft’s main rival in this sector. Patently-O revisited the subject, citing/mentioning Dan Bricklin (the so-called father of spreadsheets):

This week’s decision in DET v. GOOGLE focuses on patent eligibility of a muti-sheet spreadsheet displayed with notebook tabs. The case is reminiscent of a 2014 Patently-O post by Howard Skaist written in the still roiling wake of Alice and Mayo. In his post, Skaist considered ways that the inventor of VisiCalc (Dan Bricklin) might have claimed the computerized spreadsheet he first created in 1979.

[...]

In some pre-Bilski writing, Dan Bricklin explained why he didn’t actually try to patent the spreadsheet.

After Alice these patents would be null and void anyway. Microsoft insists that it wants "truce" (as recently as days ago), but here we have a Microsoft-connected troll attacking another OIN member, Google. OIN has no way/mechanism for dealing with intermediaries.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 19/10/2021: Karanbir Singh Leaves CentOS Board, GPL Violations at Vizio

    Links for the day



  2. [Meme] Giving the Knee

    The 'knee' champion Kratochvìl and 'kneel' champion Erlingsdóttir are simply crushing the law; they’re ignoring the trouble of EPO staff and abuses of the Office, facilitated by the Council itself (i.e. facilitated by themselves)



  3. Josef Kratochvìl Rewarded Again for Covering Up EPO Corruption and the EPO Bribes the Press for Lies Whilst Also Lying About Its Colossal Privacy Violations

    Corrupt officials and officials who actively enable the crimes still control the Office and also the body which was supposed to oversee it; it's pretty evident and clear judging by this week's press statements at the EPO's official Web site



  4. [Meme] Sorry, Wrong Country (Or: Slovenia isn't Great Britain)

    Team UPC is trying to go ahead with a total hoax which a high-level European court would certainly put an end to (if or when a referral is initiated)



  5. How Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden Voted on Patently Unlawful Regulations at the EPO

    We look back and examine what happened 8 years ago when oppressed staff was subjected to unlawful new “regulations” (long enjoyed by António Campinos, the current EPO autocrat)



  6. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVII: The Non-Monolithic Nordic Bloc

    We start our investigation of how countries in northern Europe ended up voting on the unlawful “Strike Regulations” at the EPO and why



  7. Proof That Windows “11” is a Hoax

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  8. Firefox Becomes as Morally Reprehensible as Apple, Facebook, or Uber

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  9. Links 19/10/2021: GNU dbm 1.22 and Godot 3.4 RC 1

    Links for the day



  10. [Meme] [Teaser] GitHub an Expensive and Dangerous Trap (Also: Misogyny Hub)

    The ongoing Microsoft GitHub exposé will give people compelling reasons to avoid GitHub, which is basically just a subsidised (at a loss) trap



  11. Norway Should Have Voted Against Benoît Battistelli's Illegal (Anti-)'Strike Regulations' at the European Patent Office

    Benoît Battistelli‘s EPO faced no real and potent opposition from Norwegian delegates, who chose to abstain from the vote on the notorious and illegal so-called ‘Strike Regulations’ (they’re just an attack on strikes, an assault on basic rights of labourers)



  12. Links 19/10/2021: Sequoia PGP LGPL 2.0+, Open RAN Adoption

    Links for the day



  13. [Meme] [Teaser] Benoît Battistelli, King of Iceland

    Later today we shall see how the current deputy of the head of the EPO‘s overseeing body was in fact likely rewarded for her complicity in Benoît Battistelli‘s abuses against EPO staff, including staff from Iceland



  14. IRC Proceedings: Monday, October 18, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, October 18, 2021



  15. Links 19/10/2021: MyGNUHealth 1.0.5 and Ubuntu 22.04 Now Developed

    Links for the day



  16. [Meme] [Teaser] Thrown Under the Bus

    Tomorrow we shall look at Danish enablers of unlawful EPO regulations, Jesper Kongstad and Anne Rejnhold Jørgensen



  17. The World Needs to Know What Many Austrians Already Know About Rude Liar, the Notorious 'Double-Dipper'

    Today we publish many translations (from German) about the Austrian double-dipper, who already became the subject of unfavourable press coverage in his home country; he’s partly responsible for crushing fundamental rights at the EPO under Benoît Battistelli‘s regime



  18. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVI: The Demise of the Austrian Double-Dipper

    Friedrich ‘Rude Liar’ Rödler is notorious in the eyes of EPO staff, whom he was slandering and scandalising for ages while he himself was the real scandal



  19. Links 18/10/2021: Porteus Kiosk 5.3 and Ventoy 1.0.55

    Links for the day



  20. [Meme] [Teaser] More to Life Than Patents

    Greedy sociopaths oughtn’t be put in charge of patent offices; this is what’s dooming the EPO in recent years (all they think about is money



  21. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement

    Microsoft contemplated buying GitHub 7.5 years ago; the goal wasn’t to actually support “Open Source” but to crush it from the inside and that’s what Microsoft has been doing over the past 2.5 years (we have some details from the inside)



  22. Links 18/10/2021: Linux 5.15 RC6 and 7 New Stable Kernels

    Links for the day



  23. [Meme] The Austrian School of Friedrich Rude Liar

    With reference to the Austrian School, let’s consider the fact that Friedrich Rude Liar might in fact be standing to personally gain by plundering the EPO‘s staff by demonising them while helping Benoît Battistelli crush them



  24. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, October 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, October 17, 2021



  25. How (Simple Technical Steps) to Convince Yourself That DuckDuckGo is Just Spyware Connected to Microsoft, Falsely Advertised as 'Privacy'

    In recent days we published or republished some bits and pieces about what DuckDuckGo really is; the above reader dropped by to enlighten us and demonstrate just how easy it is to see what DuckDuckGo does even at the client side (with JavaScript); more people need to confront DuckDuckGo over this and warn colleagues/friends/family (there’s more here)



  26. Austria's Right-Wing Politicians Displaying Their Arrogance to EPO Examiners

    The EPO‘s current regime seems to be serving a money-hungry lobby of corrupt officials and pathological liars; tonight we focus on Austria



  27. [Meme] Friedrich Rödler's Increasingly Incomprehensible Debt Quagmire, Years Before EPO Money Was Trafficked Into the Stock Market

    As it turns out, numerous members of the Administrative Council of the EPO are abundantly corrupt and greedy; They falsely claim or selfishly pretend there’s a financial crisis and then moan about a "gap" that does not exist (unless one counts the illegal gambling, notably EPOTIF, which they approved), in turn recruiting or resorting to scabs that help improve ‘profit margins’



  28. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XV: Et Tu Felix Austria…

    Prior to the Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos regime the EPO‘s hard-working staff was slandered by a corrupt Austrian official, Mr. Rödler



  29. Links 17/10/2021: Blender 2.93.5, Microsoft Bailouts

    Links for the day



  30. Links 17/10/2021: GhostBSD 21.10.16 and Mattermost 6.0

    Links for the day


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