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11.05.18

The US Patent and Trademark Office Continues Granting Abstract Software Patents Because of Buzzwords

Posted in America, Patents at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Those are fake patents, as per SCOTUS, and should never be granted in the first place

Summary: A quick look at some new patent grants and why they appear to be bogus, based on a superficial interpretation of the promotional press releases

THE granting of software patents based on buzzwords is a real problem. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) actively advertises some of these buzzwords, especially in the wake of 35 U.S.C. § 101 when applicants need to disguise algorithms (for fear of the Federal Circuit, district courts, and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs)).

Over the past week we’ve seen press releases about stuff like “advanced data analytics solutions and drone-based data gathering tools and services…”

It sure seems like Jim Loveland misuses the term “AI” to get fake (bogus) patents on abstract things and this isn’t the first. “When we founded Loveland Innovations, I saw a tremendous potential for drones and artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize the roof and property inspection world,” said Jim Loveland.

Stuff associated with drones is patentable if physical (although widespread adoption of drones didn’t happen until a few years ago due to several decades’ worth of a notorious patent thicket). As for “AI”? That just means algorithms.

Another new example of that speaks of passing data to a device. Definitely sounds like bogus software patents, but the USPTO is stamping away anyway. Helps bring money to the Office, right? “CleveMed has been issued a new patent (US Patent No. 10,076,269),” it says, “entitled “Devices and methods for sleep disorder diagnosis and treatment.” The patent covers technologies that enable data transfer from home sleep apnea therapy to the cloud through software apps on patient’s cell phones or other personal smart devices such as wearables.”

So combining algorithms with some vaguely-described “smart” “devices” makes code patentable? Nope.

On October 31st Jeff O’Neill published an analysis of grant rates at the USPTO; sadly, Watchtroll was the platform for publication (Adriana Burgy, Tom Irving and Stacy Lewis have also chosen it as a platform just because of its reach). So this is what Watchtroll said about the USPTO: “The lack of outcome consistency among patent examiners is a known issue that the USPTO is working on improving, and this article presents visualizations to help diagnose areas for improvement.”

That’s because some continue to grant fake software patents, whereas others do not. Make examination stricter and consistency as well as certainty will go up. We could go on and on analysing press releases about newly-granted patents, nitpickin any that look obviously abstract. But it’s a very time-consuming activity. All we can say is, the USPTO needs to become more strict; stricter rather than more lenient as Iancu wants it to be.

HTIA and CCIA — Two Front Groups of Technology Companies — Are Very Unhappy About Andrei Iancu’s Support for Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Patents at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Defending patent trolls by denying they exist (or that they’re a problem)

Trump and Hatch

Summary: Classic patent trolls (so-called ‘NPEs’) and the more ‘respectable’ Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) are a threat to advancement of science and technology because they don’t actually create or sell anything; but the person whom Donald Trump put in charge of the Office thinks that this problem is fictional

THE NEW leadership of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), appointed potentially due to nepotism, works for the litigation ‘industry’, neither for science nor technology. This is a problem. Examiners are well-educated scientists — not lawyers — and this tweet about Facebook’s Gilbert Wong says: “We’ve found that interviews with @uspto examiners have been extremely helpful in application process…”

John Thorne from HTIA responds to patent litigation ‘industry’ insider Iancu (his clients may have included patent trolls), who wants to destroy the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and promote software patents. Remember that Facebook is a leading proponent of PTAB and backer of HTIA, whose main/sole function is supporting PTAB.

The Conservative paper Washington Times published Thorne’s piece on Thursday, November 1st; and here are some portions from it: [via]

Last month, in a speech to the Intellectual Property Owners Association, the director of the Patent and Trademark Office, Andrei Iancu, challenged a fundamental feature of U.S. patent law, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS International on Section 101 of the U.S. Patent Act. His criticism was mistaken.

Section 101 defines what can be patented and, by implication, what cannot. In Alice, the court clarified what is not patentable. It held that using generic computer technology to computerize abstract ideas like business methods does not make the idea itself eligible for patenting. But if Mr. Iancu’s sentiments are translated into legislation, this line ensuring the quality of American patents will be blurred. American innovation will be stifled.

For more than 150 years, U.S. patent law has recognized that allowing patents on laws of nature and abstract ideas would turn off the tap of innovation. Rather than unleashing a creative flow, it would wall away the building blocks necessary to develop new technologies. A unanimous Supreme Court ruled in Alice that, as Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court, “merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”

[...]

Since Alice, R&D spending in software development has outpaced R&D in other industries by 27 percent. Job creation in the field has grown 14 percent. The market value of the software industry has significantly outperformed the S&P 500. No one but patent trolls will benefit if the result of guidance or legislation is re-creating the environment of bad patents that drove the explosive growth of patent litigation that Alice has reversed

In his speech, Mr. Iancu rightly called the American patent system a crown jewel. It is a jewel that must be preserved, not chipped away. Weakening Alice would only enrich patent trolls at a cost to ground-breaking technologies and the jobs they spawn. We must move forward to a future of continued innovation and economic growth, rather than backward to a past characterized by unneeded lawsuits, unnecessary costs and suppressed invention. Rather than stall technological progress, we must encourage it to flourish.

“A Patent Dream Come True” is how Watchtroll (Aaric Eisenstein) described Iancu the following day. Whose dream? Well, yes, a litigation ‘industry’ mole is a dream to those who profit from blackmail. Iancu is denying the troll problem, as does Watchtroll, which wrote: “Too often, this abusive behavior is conflated with ownership models to deflect attention from the real problems. PR efforts targeting “trolls” have warped stories of threats to mom & pop businesses to cast large companies as the equally helpless victims of these ruthless predators. In both examples above, the real issue is abusive behavior, and that’s what needs to be targeted.”

These are not “PR efforts”; a day earlier Watchtroll wrote about “Patent Assertion Entities” in an effort to defend another breed of trolls. “While the authors point out that they’re not claiming that patent trolls don’t exist,” it said, “nor is it clear that the RPX-identified PAEs are helpful intermediaries in the market. However, by “operationaliz[ing] the characteristics of harmful PAEs” based on claims made by the government and academic literature to yield testable predictions and building and analyzing a dataset regarding identified PAEs, the authors found that “the testable predictions of the patent troll hypothesis are inconsistent with the data.” The authors also specify evidence that would render their analysis invalid as a guide for future research.”

Watchtroll pushes that same old “R&D” talking point. It’s a far-fetched lie that relies on efforts of actual companies, not the PAEs which do shakedown activities.

While trying to be overly “diplomatic” about it, Josh Landau (CCIA) also weighs in. Now that the FTC looks into patent policy in the US — the impact of patent trolls included — he publishes [1, 2] the following outline:

Last week, the FTC held the fourth in its set of hearings focusing on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.” The first day focused on a review of the current landscape of intellectual property and competition. The second day featured a variety of panels focusing on the patent system, with panelists providing a wealth of important analysis.

Key takeaways included the common opinion of a need for a pause in changes to patent law in order to provide time for the law to settle and the impacts to be fully understood. When reviewing evidence of the impact of the changes to date, the conclusion is that the impact has generally been positive and hasn’t impacted operating companies at all, while having a more targeted impact on the exact NPEs intended to be targeted by these changes. A few panelists tried to claim that the changes have had negative impacts, but did so either without any evidence or with false data. Finally, the fourth and last panel of the day noted that the patent system is a balancing act—too strong is just as bad as too weak.

For more detail, you can read more detailed summaries of each panel below (and for much, much more detail, you can see my live-tweets of the conference.

[...]

The fourth panel featured Prof. Richard Gilbert of UC-Berkeley, James Bessen of Boston University, Prof. Michael Frakes of Duke, and Anne Layne-Farrar of Charles Rivers Associates. As economists, they perhaps unsurprisingly focused on economic aspects of intellectual property. The ultimate question they sought to answer is “Do patent rights actually fulfill their function of promoting progress?”

Prof. Frakes noted that we have some 19th century evidence they might, but that evidence may not apply to modern situations. Bessen presented some evidence that modern technological investment doesn’t diffuse down from the top the way it has historically, which might lead us to question the patent rights story. Initial innovations are important, but the innovations that follow on from those initial innovations, termed sequential or follow-on innovations, can have significantly more impact. Bessen pointed to evidence that PAE litigation reduces R&D expenditures. [1]. He also noted that patents—especially in software areas—appear to reduce follow-on innovation.

Prof. Frakes noted that the evidence for this varies by industry; while human gene patents don’t appear to have a meaningful impact—positive or negative—on follow-on innovation, software patents appear to have negative impact on follow-on innovations. In fact, he noted that one study found that in computers, communications, and medical devices, invalidation of patents tended to lead to increased follow-on innovation.

Criticizing the Kilbride and AIPLA testimony, Prof. Gilbert noted that the panelists had said that ‘the world would fall apart without strong IP rights.’ But, as he noted, there is good evidence that post-eBay, the raised injunction standard hasn’t had a negative impact on innovation.

Apart from Bessen and Frakes, a lot of the above are the patent ‘industry’; so while the panels aren’t entirely stacked, it does leave room for questions like, “is the government paying attention to scientists or mostly to lawyers?” (like those who became politicians)

The USPTO Under Director Andrei Iancu Actively Disses the Courts and Attacks Fundamental Patent Law

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They just don’t care what courts are saying

Trump and Iancu

Summary: Eliminating any perception of a separation of powers — much like Battistelli did at the EPO — the Iancu-led USPTO decides to just ignore what courts are saying, in effect opening the floodgates to fake patents (patents that don’t have any chance/legal bearing in courts)

THE European Patent Office (EPO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) aren’t quite allowed to grant software patents. software patents in Europe are in defiance of the EPC and software patents in the US are in defiance of 35 U.S.C. § 101. So the offices came up with loopholes to make software patents seem like something else, e.g. “blockchains” and “AI” (their favourite terms as of late).

Last week IAM ran an event that shamelessly promoted software patents. “We’re starting off the morning discussing the patentability of software globally,” IAM wrote, “with @uspto’s John Cabeca, @AmadeusITGroup’s Jean François Cases, @AlibabaGroup’s Roger Shang and @facebook’s Gilbert Wong #SoftwareIP pic.twitter.com/D2M945Q2CK”

So much for ‘balanced’ panel…

IAM is just lobbying as “news” and lobbying as “panels” or “events”. That’s a fraud of a site. It’s like an unregistered think tank and it’s not hard to see who’s funding it.

IAM’s patent zealot Richard Lloyd ended up writing such obvious falsehoods [1, 2], based on what the patent trolls (income source of IAM) need…

Without entertaining or amplifying what’s there, let’s just say that they speak to nobody who actually writes software. The event is called “Software IP” even though nobody there actually develops software/codes. To make matters worse, IAM (the patent trolls’ lobby) is intentionally lying. These people know they lie. Just take the headline above for example: “Soon-to-be-released USPTO examination guidance looks like being good news for applicants”

Lloyd means “good news for trolls and litigation firms” (applicants would just lose money, wasted on worthless, bunk patents that courts would reject).

Let’s look at what Lloyd is alluding to. For the perception of public input, as we noted last week, the “USPTO seeks comment on AIA guidelines,” to quote one headline. From the article: “The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking comments on its updated America Invents Act (AIA) guidelines for standard practices before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in post-grant trial procedures. [...] The USPTO also wants comments on the proposed timelines designed to ensure completion within 12 months from institution, as well as a number of specific questions.”

Here is what Patent Docs wrote:

In AIA post-grant proceedings — specifically, Post-Grant Review (“PGR”), Inter Partes Review (“IPR”), and Covered Business Method (“CBM”) review — the patentee has the right to seek to amend the claims rather than fight over the issued claims. However, in 90% of the cases in which a motion to amend has been decided by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”), the motion has been denied. Based significantly on the dismal success rate of those motions to amend, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has now proposed an altered protocol for considering motions to amend in AIA post-grant proceedings. Specifically, it proposes having the PTAB provide a preliminary review of whether amended claims would satisfy statutory and regulatory requirements, then allowing the parties to react and a Patent Owner to potentially revise the motion to amend. Separately, the Office asked whether it should reallocate the burden of persuasion in motion to amend proceedings. Comments on these proposals are due by December 14, 2018.

That’s Josh Rich on what lobbying if not entryism by the litigation ‘industry’ has done to the US patent office that’s nowadays PTAB-hostile (because it’s trying to reduce patent quality). Nothing else has worked so far, so they are trying to change the rules. When it comes to Berkheimer, a court case that was massively hyped by the patent zealots (in vain), Dennis Crouch found just 4 examples in CAFC (that’s once a week!) in which it was cited last month. So the lawsuits ‘industry’ lied to its clients again. “In Berkheimer,” Crouch recalls, “the Federal Circuit explained that underlying factual disputes might prevent a motion on the pleadings or summary judgment decision. In this post, I looked at four recent district court cases that cite Berkheimer.” All he found was 1) In iSentium, LLC v Bloomberg Fin. L.P. 2) In ECOSERVICES, LLC, Pl., v CERTIFIED AVIATION SERVICES, LLC 3) In CardioNet, LLC v InfoBionic, Inc. and 4) KROY IP HOLDINGS, LLC, Pl., v GROUPON, INC.

The hopeless USPTO has therefore decided to just ignore the court or cherry-picking outcomes. An article by Julian Asquith and Tobias Eriksson explains that the “USPTO Director Suggests New Test For Software Patents” and to quote:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) director, Andrei Iancu, recently gave a talk at the IPO’s annual meeting, and he had some exciting news regarding subject matter eligibility, which affects the patentability of software. Ever since the Supreme Court Alice decision in 2014, many applicants have found the examination of software patents in the US inconsistent and unpredictable. Iancu readily acknowledged the existing problems with determining patentable subject matter, and in particular with determining whether or not protection is sought for an “abstract idea”, which is not patentable in the US under section 101. In an attempt to solve these problems the USPTO is now contemplating new guidance to simplify the test for an “abstract idea” and to improve the consistency and predictability of examination.

He actually said this to IPO. It’s like IPO got together with Iancu, trying to bring back software patents in defiance of US courts because Iancu’s appointing authority hates judges anyway. From IAM’s event we have [1, 2, 3]: “@uspto SIlicon Valley office head John Cabeca – we’re currently in the clearance process for new 101 guidance [...] We fully expect that there will be fewer 101 rejections after guidance is issued [...] Ultimately what we want to do is bring more certainty for patent owners…”

No, they are doing exactly the opposite. Iancu and Cabeca want to grant yet more fake patents that courts would then invalidate (if they reached the courts). Less legal certainty is thus inevitable. That just means that far fewer USPTO-granted patents will be valid. More bogus software patents granted for courts to invalidate. Is patent law under attack? And if so, by who? Not judges but the Office. Not PTAB but USPTO management.

As Janal Kalis noted last week: “The PTAB Affirmed an Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Claims of a Bayer Patent Application for Measuring Analyte with a Biosensor System: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017001517-10-17-2018-1 …”

Kalis gave another example: “The PTAB Affirmed an Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Claims in a Philips Patent Application for an Apparatus for Determining Parameters for Measuring Sleep Apnea: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017007834-10-16-2018-1 …”

Iancu wants to change that, making applications harder to reject. That’s the same mistake Battistelli made at the EPO. With IPO et al calling the shots, one has to wonder whose agenda is being served. Groups like AIPLA and the IPO are legal zealots whose sole goal is more lawsuits. They attack science, innovation, whatever. They only care about themselves.

Now watch this report from last week:

The Boston Patent Law Association (BPLA) has come out in support of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) and American IP Law Association (AIPLA)’s joint proposal concerning section 101 of the US Patent Act.

The proposal, which was delivered to US Patent and Trademark Office director Andrei Iancu on 3 May, calls for restored certainty in the predictability of patent subject matter eligibility.

AIPLA and the IPO notified Iancu that the organisations had adopted a unified legislative proposal, which would amend section 101 of the patent act.

Boston Patent Law Association is in the same ‘business’ as AIPLA and the IPO, so why should that even sound like surprise? Watchtroll wrote about the above, calling it a “Fix” (Watchtroll’s headline was “Boston Patent Law Association Announces Support for IPO-AIPLA Section 101 Legislative Fix” [sic]).

Lawyers support their own front groups and an attack on legal certainty. How is that even remotely surprising?

Then there’s the Intellectual Property Association, the European equivalent of IPO.

That the Intellectual Property Association is acting as a front group against Alice/Section 101 (and for software patents) is hardly surprising; what’s less expected, however, is the shamelessness. These people attack Alice by lying about its impact on behalf of the litigation ‘industry’ (vandals). As IP Kat reported last week from another event (“Report from 2018 Annual Meeting of the European Policy for Intellectual Property Association”): “He discussed this issue in relation to the difficulties of bringing to bear financial sources for risky R&D activities. He argued that the ‘abstract idea test’ devised in the Alice case has created uncertainty in the US patent system and has done harm to R&D, given that investors’ main concern is the return of their investment.”

Complete nonsense. This has been repeatedly refuted. They are in essence attacking the law itself. Watchtroll does that too; only days ago it pretended not to understand why SCOTUS rejects software patents and patents on life. It always pretends because its founder does not want to understand and tries to get Congress involved. To quote a portion: “As insulting as it is that the Supreme Court refuses to define the term “abstract idea”, the Supreme Court also uses the terms “natural phenomena” and “laws of nature” interchangeably, saying that they do not need to precisely identify which of the judicial exceptions they are using when analyzing the patent eligibility of a claimed invention in the life sciences sector. Again, this is their own test, and the Supreme Court mandates its application but refuses to define the key terms and phrases. How any jurist trained in the American system can believe an extra-statutory test is consistent with norms of American jurisprudence is a mystery, but hiding the ball and refusing to define key terms and concepts is truly unbelievable.”

It is pretty obvious what it means, but those who made a living pursuing fake patents (no longer worth even a dollar) refuse to understand. As recently as last night Watchtroll published another such attack on the law and the courts. Iancu could possibly claim that he isn’t attacking the courts and attempting to change the law; but the evidence speaks for itself and his connections to Watchtroll do not help.

Blockchain Hype Exploited by the EPO and by Patent Law Firms to Wrongly Assert Free/Libre Software Can Coexist With Software Patents

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 12:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Managing IP and ‘Software IP’ (IAM) among other think tanks of patent trolls and litigators continue to advance a toxic agenda while the EPO openly and endlessly promotes software patents under the guise of blockchain “innovation”

THE management of the USPTO has been receiving backlash recently. Blockchain, AI and other media buzz get used to grant software patents. A lot of people aren’t happy about it. Soon, to make matters potentially worse, IBM will take over Red Hat. IBM is a strong proponent of software patents.

Last week Red Hat’s McBride was quoted as saying: “we have been very single minded about patents – we don’t see any value in them other than the deterrent impact they have…”

But that does not deter patent trolls. In fact, it doesn’t really accomplish anything.

Will things improve/change for the better any time soon? That depends. In a sense, things improved a little when Microsoft left only its patent trolls to do the battles. Microsoft will not refrain from lobbying for software patents and it still pursues some of its own (there’s a new article right now about “virtual keyboard methods for Xbox and touch” — another patent from Microsoft).

The way we see it, there’s a battle between the litigation ‘industry’ (or ‘in-house’ legal teams at large corporations) and geeks who actually write code and make things. The former group is trying to justify its existence and for that there’s a constant need for litigation (like weapons makers rely on perpetual war/conflict).

“In-house counsel from confectionery, biopharmaceutical, telecommunications, technology, plastics and medical research companies explain how they’re measuring patent worth to find cost-saving wins,” this article from a site of the litigation ‘industry’ (Managing IP) wrote some days ago. Extortion “on a budget”? This is a truly sick ‘industry’ of litigation and threats and what “cost-saving wins” means is neither cost-saving nor a win.

“AMERICAS Thirteen practitioners from McKool Smith have established a litigation boutique called Reichman Jorgensen with offices in Silicon Valley, Atlanta and New York,” Managing IP wrote around the same time. These vultures and parasites call their extortion rackets “boutiques”; McKool Smith represents a lot of patent trolls.

It has meanwhile emerged that there’s another AIPLA echo chamber lobbying event. It calls for software patents because greedy lawyers want lots of frivolous lawsuits to profit from at geeks’ expense. Ellie Mertens (Managing IP) wrote:

The software patent eligibility situation in the US is “a really high fence” that requires some sparkle to pass while the European test is drier

The software patent eligibility situation in the US is “a really high fence,” said Sarah Knight of Talem IP in a panel at the AIPLA Annual Meeting last week, “when it should be just a threshold.”

Managing IP is on the same bandwagon; just look at who sponsors Managing IP. The same goes for IAM, which ran a pro-software patents event last week. In their own words: “First session of day at our #softwareIP event focusing on patentability of software globally with great panel comprising USPTO, Amadeus, Facebook, Alibaba, Lung Tin IP and Haseltine Lake [] Jean-Francois Cases of Amadeus – 10/15 years ago it was impossible to get a software patent granted in Japan, now it’s one of easiest jurisdictions. For us right now India is hardest place to get a software patent…”

More so than Europe.

The corrupt EPO has made software patents far too easy to get. Blockchain patents (software patents) are outside the scope of European patent law, but today’s EPO routinely ignores and violates the law anyway. Here is what the EPO wrote before the weekend: “#Blockchain technology is not without controversy. You can discuss patenting it with patent specialists and blockchain professionals at this #conference: http://bit.ly/EPOblockchain18 ”

The EPO is nowadays plagued with nepotism and rapidly-declining patent quality; its founding document (EPC), European authorities and the rule of law are routinely spat at. Even insiders notice. They write about it. They sign petitions.

Even outsides complain: “Dear @EPOorg – blockchains are not device, they’re not software. “𝘉𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘯” 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳 𝘴𝘶𝘣𝘴𝘦𝘵 (merkle trees) 𝘰𝘧 𝒑𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒉! There’s no software involved, it doesn’t require computers. Pen & paper works too…”

Yes, blockchains aren’t exactly new; few people understand the underlying concepts and the EPO exploits that. Here again the EPO is promoting software patents ever so shamelessly. That’s just merkle trees: “What are the main challenges in patenting #blockchain & its applications? Experts will discuss that and their solutions at this event we’re co-hosting with @GoI_MeitY: http://bit.ly/indoeur pic.twitter.com/hZjqGCr4Sn”

The mentions of blockchains are endless at the EPO. Here again the EPO does it: “Are you involved in #patents and #blockchain developments? Then this is the event to attend!”

The management of the EPO does not understand blockchains (the people at the top are not scientists and they were selected for nepotism); it got a lot worse under António Campinos, who is merely a quieter version of Battistelli.

IAM wrote: “Amadeus’s Cases – in Europe our experience is that once an examiner has made up their mind on an application it’s very hard to change it…”

Examiners at the EPO simply lack the time to properly assess applications. We know it because they say so, usually anonymously.

Notice what the EPO wrote some days ago: “Elke von Brevern, PCT Expert at the EPO, and Richard Garvey, Key Account Manager at the EPO, will tell you how you yourself can make the PCT system more efficient. Join them in Washington…”

And Houston, Texas. Yes, also in Texas, where many law firms work with patent trolls. Notice what the EPO has turned into and who it’s attempting to appeal to. Where next? Dallas? This latest roundup from “Dallas Invents” contains a lot of software patents (also creepy ones like “Apparatus and method for deploying an implantable device within the body”).

Today’s EPO is very much on board with patent trolls’ agenda and IAM’s too. Citing Alibaba’s Roger Shang, IAM wrote about software patents again; “we don’t see a contradiction between open source and patents,” Shang is quoted as saying. That’s a lie.

Alibaba was also mentioned a few days ago in relation to patents on blockchains, not in China (where software patents are permitted) but in the US. “Alibaba Files Patent For Blockchain System,” says the headline. So these ridiculous software patents from China have spread to the West with Campinos and Iancu eager to allow software patents. From the article: “Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a blockchain based system that allows a third party administrator to intervene in a smart contract in case of illegal activities. The USPTO published the patent application on October. 4, 2018.”

Alibaba Group is a big “client” to the USPTO, so we won’t be surprised to see such patent applications accepted. Doubling down on the lie above, days ago we saw a new article titled “10 Things to Know About The Intersection of Blockchain Technology, Open Source Software, and Patents”. Complete nonsense right from the get-go or the headline, courtesy of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. Blockchain patents are fake patents that would be rejected by courts and these patents are clearly not compatible with the distribution model of Free/Open Source software. The article says: “This set of issues is important now because blockchain technology is on the verge of mainstream commercialization and much of it relies on open source software. As with any technology where there is rapid innovation, the number of patents being filed and obtained is increasing. The interplay between patents and open source is often confused. The recent changes to the scope of patentable subject matter under U. S. patent laws have created uncertainty over what is patentable. This is particularly true with respect to blockchain-based inventions and how innovations in this space are disrupting business processes.”

This is misleading because those things (what they call “blockchain-based inventions”) have always been around to some degree. Terminology may have changed, but like “cloud” there’s a hype explosion and it’s mostly associated with a word, not substance. These patent law firms are trying to destroy software development and they’re misleading people by saying software patents are OK if you say “blockchain”. Mind this days-old spammy press release, published under the headline “Can You Patent the Blockchain if it is Open Source?”

The actual text starts under “Why Businesses using Blockchain Technology are Filing for patents and Other Useful Info about Software Patents” (after that they merely promote their services). We’re assuming that they hope people may search the Web, perhaps searching for “Blockchain” and “Open Source”, then give them a call.

Here’s another new one: “10 Lessons On Blockchain And Open-Source Licenses”

So says Law 360‘s James Gatto and the patent ‘industry’ when they try to impose software patents on Free/Open source developers, mainly by using hype waves. “On their own,” Gatto says, “blockchain technology, open-source software and patents each present legal issues that are often complex and frequently misunderstood. When combined, the complexity and misunderstandings of these three topics are…”

The only real connection between these three is that a lot of code associated with blockchains is Free/libre software and companies try to take control by claiming monopolies on the algorithms — something which they should not do.

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