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

12.02.18

35 U.S.C. § 101 Continues to Crush Software Patents and Even Microsoft Joins ‘the Fun’

Posted in America, Courtroom, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 4:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents are truly a threat to Free/Open Source software

“Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too. [and also] Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy. [...] Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.” [...] Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. “We’re happy to get you under license.” That was code for “We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download” – the digital version of a protection racket.”

Jonathan I. Schwartz, Sun

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and even courts below it continue to throw out software patents or send them back to PTAB and lower courts; there is virtually nothing for patent maximalists to celebrate any longer

AS promised earlier today, here’s a quick outline of the smashing of software patents, erroneously granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) only to be squashed in district (lower) courts, the higher court (Federal Circuit, CAFC) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), where inter partes reviews (IPRs) are undertaken.

As usual, it’s hard to find even a single example of a software patent withstanding scrutiny at a higher court (CAFC or SCOTUS). Those are rare exceptions — ones that patent extremists would tout for many months if not years.

“An appeal would likely have this decision overturned because of the district’s notoriety.”Looking at the blog dedicated to advocacy of software patents (it’s a law firm’s blog), Mark St. Amour looks downwards to the notorious Eastern District of Texas for examples — however rare — of software patents finding feet (until CAFC throws them out if defendants can afford justice). He found this: “In IDB Ventures, LLC v. Charlotte Russe Holdings, Inc. (2:17-CV-660-WCB-RSP), the Eastern District of Texas highlighted the effectiveness of showing that a patent claim is directed to a specific improvement to computer functionally for overcoming a challenge based on 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

An appeal would likely have this decision overturned because of the district’s notoriety. Charles Bieneman, a colleague of Amour apparently, meanwhile admits that gifting (or a gift certificate) is not an “invention” just because you do it “on a computer” or “over the Internet”; why does the USPTO grant such laughable software patents in the first place?

To quote Bieneman (this is in Delaware, not Texas):

Patent claims directed to electronic gift certificates are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, according to a US magistrate judge’s recommendation to grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Coqui Technologies, LLC v. Gyft, Inc., No. 17-777-CFC-SRF (D. Del. Nov. 16, 2018). The court found that claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,580,864, entitled “Method for circulating an electronic gift certificate in online and offline system,” were “directed to the abstract idea of selling, gifting, and using electronic gift certificates” without an additional inventive concept.

Another new pick/highlight comes from the District in California, which finds software patents pertaining to “User Interface Features Not Patent-Eligible,” according to Mike McCandlish. Thanks to 35 U.S.C. § 101, as usual…

Finding a lack of technical innovation, a court held claims for three features for a user-vehicle interface to be directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas under the Mayo/Alice test and 35 U.S.C. § 101. Thunder Power New Energy Vehicle Development Co. Ltd. v. Byton North America Corp., No. 18-cv-03115-JST (N.D. Ca., Oct. 31, 2018).

Plaintiff, Thunder Power, alleged infringement by Defendant Byton of claims of Patent Nos. 9,547,373, 9,563,329, and 9,561,724. Byton moved to dismiss, contending that the asserted claims failed to recite patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The court granted the motion to dismiss.

Did Watchtroll find anything new that it can trumpet and shout about? No, not really. It returned to a month-old case, Ancora Techs. v. HTC Am., Inc.

The firm behind the outcome is still celebrating in paid articles and seeing how Watchtroll is still falling back on the HTC case (old news that it covered several times before) is rather revealing. There has been nothing for them to brag about for a very long time. “The Federal Circuit,” they said, “recently [sic] reversed the Western District of Washington’s grant of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where the district court held that the claimed subject matter was ineligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

“Did Watchtroll find anything new that it can trumpet and shout about? No, not really.”They say “recently” about something roughly a month old. They find it noteworthy because it’s a CAFC case, but Watchtroll is begrudgingly coming to accept that the high court, CAFC, is even stricter than PTAB when it comes to software patents as software patents almost always come there just to be thrown away. As Steve Brachmann put it a few days ago, “Federal Circuit Vacates PTAB Decision That Video Messaging Patent Claims Were Nonobvious” (most patent maximalists just tried to ignore it as it doesn’t suit their agenda).

Funnily enough, Rachel Elsby, Rubén Muñoz and Dorian Ojemen (Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP) would have us believe that CAFC gives or offers “tips” but that’s actually shameless self-promotion from them. We spotted this earlier today and our only comment is amusement. “On Wednesday, November 14th,” they argued, “the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in WhatsApp, Inc. v. TriPlay, Inc., which vacated a final written decision terminating an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding and remanded the case back to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).”

Wow. So basically it’s back to PTAB. What a ‘victory’…

CAFC very much insists that software patents are bunk and void. Here’s a new example titled “Fed. Circ. Won’t Reconsider Nixing Robotics IP Under Alice” (Section 101 basically).

“CAFC very much insists that software patents are bunk and void.”“The Federal Circuit has refused to reconsider its September ruling that parts of four robotics patents asserted against Invensys Systems Inc. and other automation companies are invalid,” Law360′s Matthew Bultman wrote. His colleague Tiffany Hu wrote that “Microsoft scored a win Tuesday when the Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated a technology company’s patent covering a way to attach conversation point reminders for mobile contacts…”

When Microsoft doesn’t blackmail the competition using software patents it is trying to invalidate others’. Precious.

Speaking of Microsoft’s patents, OIN has just recalled Microsoft’s history when it comes to such patents and the Irish media covered it as follows some days ago:

“OIN was conceptualized about 15 years ago largely in response to some activities that Microsoft was involved in. Microsoft funded litigation by a company called SCO against Red Hat, IBM and Suse. While these three companies were sued for violations of copyrights, the litigation triggered a concern around broader IP risks.

There was a belief that patents could be used to slow or stall the progress of Linux. The rhetoric from Balmer and Gates historically had been very negative about Linux being a ‘cancer’ and that it would be eradicated. It was for hobbyists. It would never be used for mission-critical applications. It wouldn’t scale. All the things ironically that IBM said against personal computing 20/25 years before. It was eerily similar. It’s what happens when you control the market and can’t make sense of what you see so you retreat to fear, you retrench to control.”

Reuters’ Jan Wolfe, who routinely covers patent matters, took note of another defeat for notorious patents. CAFC has gutted fake patents of a patent troll from Canada (WiLAN). To quote:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday said it would not reconsider an earlier decision that likely doomed patent litigation cases the licensing firm WiLAN Inc brought against industrial automation companies Rockwell Automation Inc, Schneider Electric SE and the Emerson Electric Company.

Joe Mullin (EFF) has meanwhile named and shamed some more fake patents granted by the USPTO even though software patents are bogus, worthless, and harm society, science etc. This is the latest “Stupid Patent of the Month”:

In some fields, software bugs are more than the proverbial pain in the neck. When software has to ensure that an airplane lands safely, or that a pacemaker keeps operating, there’s no room for error.

The idea that mathematical proofs could be used to prove that software is error-free has been around since the 1970s, and is known as “formal verification.” But like a lot of technologies that some visionaries saw coming, it took time to develop. In recent years, computing power has become cheap enough for formal verification to become practical for more software applications.

Unfortunately, last month, the field had a monkey wrench thrown into it, in the form of U.S. Patent No. 10,109,010, which the patent office awarded to a U.K.-based company called Aesthetic Integration Ltd.

Claim 1 of the patent describes creating mathematical “axioms”—formal mathematical statements—that describe a computerized trading forum. The patented method then describes analyzing, with a “computer assessment system … the mathematical axioms that describe the operation of the trading forum.” In other words, the patent describes using formal proofs to check for bugs in a “computerized trading forum.” It’s formal verification—just applied to the financial services industry.

Of course, Aesthetic Integration didn’t invent formal verification, nor did the company invent the idea of software powering a “trading forum.” The company has apparently created software that utilizes formal verification in the financial services space, and that software might be perfectly good. But the Patent Office has effectively allowed the company to patent a whole sector of formal verification.

[...]

Ultimately, the ’010 patent reflects a broader problem with Patent Office’s failure to apply a meaningful obviousness standard to software patent applications. We have explained before that the Patent Office is all too willing to hand out patents for using known techniques in a particular field. Flow charts and whirligigs can make a concept look new when it isn’t—especially when a patent owner fills its application with obscure language and “patentese.” The Federal Circuit has also encouraged this through its hyper-formalistic approach to obviousness. The end result is an arms race where people rush to patent routine software development.

Perhaps one day the USPTO will stop issuing such patents. Patent quality is very important, more so than revenue of the Office.

“In a better world there would be far fewer patents, albeit ones that are strong, solid, and defensible based on public interest and scientific merit (as opposed to law firms’ and Office revenue).”Michael Risch has just cited this relatively new paper from Christopher Anthony Cotropia (University of Richmond’s School of Law) and David L. Schwartz (Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law), introducing it as “Patents Used in Patent Office Rejections as Indicators of Value” and remarking:

The quest for an objective measure of patent quality continues. Scholars have attempted many, many ways to calculate such value, including citations, maintenance fee payments, number of claims, length of claims, and so forth. As each new data source has become available, more creative ways of measuring value have been developed (and old ways of measuring value have been validated/questioned).

From the abstract of the corresponding paper:

The economic literature emphasizes the importance of patent citations, particularly forward citations, as an indicator of a cited patent’s value. Studies have refined which forward citations are better indicators of value, focusing on examiner citations for example. We test a metric that arguably is closer tied to private value—the substantive use of a patent by an examiner in a patent office rejection of another pending patent application. This paper assesses how patents used in 102 and 103 rejections relate to common measures of private value—specifically patent renewal, the assertion of a patent in litigation, and the number of patent claims. We examine rejection data from U.S. patent applications pending from 2008 to 2017 and then link value data to rejection citations to patents issued from 1999 to 2007. Our findings show that rejection patents are independently, positively correlated with many of the value measurements above and beyond forward citations and examiner citations.

It is interesting that they study Section 102 and 103 rejections (prior art and obviousness) but not Section 101 rejections — the subject recently explored by Colleen Chien and Jiun Ying Wu based on a lot of data. In a better world there would be far fewer patents, albeit ones that are strong, solid, and defensible based on public interest and scientific merit (as opposed to law firms’ and Office revenue).

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

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

What Else is New


  1. Links 12/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.1 Released, CNCF Takes Control of etcd

    Links for the day



  2. EPO Trust, Leadership and Commitment

    "Trust, leadership and commitment" is the latest publication from EPO insiders, who in the absence of free speech and freedom of association for the union/representation are an essential spotlight on EPO abuses



  3. Links 11/12/2018: Tails 3.11, New Firefox, FreeBSD 12.0

    Links for the day



  4. Number of Filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Highest in Almost Two Years

    Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which [cref 113718 typically invalidate software patents by citing 35 U.S.C. § 101], are withstanding negative rhetoric and hostility from Iancu



  5. With 'Brexit' in a Lot of Headlines Team UPC Takes the Unitary Patent Lies up a Notch

    Misinformation continues to run like water; people are expected to believe that the UPC, an inherently EU-centric construct, can magically come to fruition in the UK (or in Europe as a whole)



  6. The EPO Not Only Abandoned the EPC But Also the Biotech Directive

    Last week's decision (T1063/18, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04) shows that there's still a long way to go before the Office and the Organisation as a whole fulfil their obligation to those who birthed the Organisation in the first placeLast week's decision (T1063/18, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04) shows that there's still a long way to go before the Office and the Organisation as a whole fulfil their obligation to those who birthed the Organisation in the first place



  7. Patents on Abstract Things and on Life (or Patents Which Threaten Lives) Merely Threaten the Very Legitimacy of Patent Offices, Including EPO

    Patent Hubris and maximalism pose a threat or a major risk to the very system that they claim to be championing; by reducing the barrier to entry (i.e. introducing low-quality or socially detrimental patents) they merely embolden ardent critics who demand patent systems as a whole be abolished; the EPO is nowadays a leading example of it



  8. Links 10/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC6 and Git 2.20

    Links for the day



  9. US Courts Make the United States' Patent System Sane Again

    35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and other factors are making the patent system in the US a lot more sane



  10. Today's USPTO Grants a Lot of Fake Patents, Software Patents That Courts Would Invalidate

    The 35 U.S.C. § 101 effect is very much real; patents on abstract/nonphysical ideas get invalidated en masse (in courts/PTAB) and Director Andrei Iancu refuses to pay attention as if he's above the law and court rulings don't apply to him



  11. A Month After Microsoft Claimed Patent 'Truce' Its Patent Trolls Keep Attacking Microsoft's Rivals

    Microsoft's legal department relies on its vultures (to whom it passes money and patents) to sue its rivals; but other than that, Microsoft is a wonderful company!



  12. Good News: US Supreme Court Rejects Efforts to Revisit Alice, Most Software Patents to Remain Worthless

    35 U.S.C. § 101 will likely remain in tact for a long time to come; courts have come to grips with the status quo, as even the Federal Circuit approves the large majority of invalidations by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) panels, initiated by inter partes reviews (IPRs)



  13. Florian Müller's Article About SEPs and the EPO

    Report from the court in Munich, where the EPO is based



  14. EPO Vice-President Željko Topić in New Article About Corruption in Croatia

    The Croatian newspaper 7Dnevno has an outline of what Željko Topić has done in Croatia and in the EPO in Munich; it argues that this seriously erodes Croatia's national brand/identity



  15. The Quality of European Patents Continues to Deteriorate Under António Campinos and Software Patents Are Advocated Every Day

    The EPC in the European Patent Office and 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the USPTO annul most if not all software patents; under António Campinos, however, software patents are being granted in Europe and the USPTO exploits similar tricks



  16. Team UPC is Still Spreading False Rumours in an Effort to Trick Politicians and Pressure Judges

    Abuses at the European Patent Office, political turmoil and an obvious legislative coup by a self-serving occupation that produces nothing have already doomed the Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC); so now we deal with complete fabrications from Team UPC as they're struggling to make something out of nothing, anonymously smearing opposition to the UPC and anonymously making stuff up



  17. Patents on Life and Patents That Kill the Poor Would Only Delegitimise the European Patent Office

    After Mayo, Myriad and other SCOTUS cases (the basis of 35 U.S.C. § 101) the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reluctant to grant patents on life; the European Patent Office (EPO), however, goes in the opposite direction, even in defiance of the European Patent Convention



  18. EPO 'Untapped Potential'

    "Campinos is diligently looking for ways to further increase the Office’s output without increasing the number of examiners," says the EPO-FLIER team



  19. Links 9/12/2018: New Linux Stable Releases (Notably Linux 4.19.8), RC Coming, and Unifont 11.0.03

    Links for the day



  20. Links 8/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.0, Mageia 7 Beta, WordPress 5.0

    Links for the day



  21. The European Patent Organisation is Like a Private Club and Roland Grossenbacher is Back in It

    In the absence of Benoît Battistelli quality control at the EPO is still not effective; patents are being granted like the sole goal is to increase so-called 'production' (or profit), appeals are being subjected to threats from Office management, and external courts (courts that assess patents outside the jurisdiction of the Office/Organisation) are being targeted with a long-sought replacement like the Unified Patent Court, or UPC (Unitary Patent)



  22. Links 7/12/2018: GNU Guix, GuixSD 0.16.0, GCC 7.4, PHP 7.3.0 Released

    Links for the day



  23. The Federal Circuit's Decision on Ancora Technologies v HTC America is the Rare Exception, Not the Norm

    Even though the PTAB does not automatically reject every patent when 35 U.S.C. § 101 gets invoked we're supposed to think that somehow things are changing in favour of patent maximalists; but all they do is obsess over something old (as old as a month ago) and hardly controversial



  24. The European Patent Office Remains a Lawless Place Where Judges Are Afraid of the Banker in Chief

    With the former banker Campinos replacing the politician Battistelli and seeking to have far more powers it would be insane for the German Constitutional Court to ever allow anything remotely like the UPC; sites that are sponsored by Team UPC, however, try to influence outcomes, pushing patent maximalism and diminishing the role of patent judges



  25. Many of the Same People Are Still in Charge of the European Patent Office Even Though They Broke the Law

    "EPO’s art collection honoured with award," the EPO writes, choosing to distract from what actually goes on at the Office and has never been properly dealt with



  26. Links 6/12/2018: FreeNAS 11.2, Mesa 18.3 Later Today, Fedora Elections

    Links for the day



  27. EPO, in Its Patent Trolls-Infested Forum, Admits It is Granting Bogus Software Patents Under the Guise of 'Blockchain'

    Yesterday's embarrassing event of the EPO was a festival of the litigation giants and trolls, who shrewdly disguise patents on algorithms using all sorts of fashionable words that often don't mean anything (or deviate greatly from their original meanings)



  28. The Patent Litigation Bubble is Imploding in the US While the UPC Dies in Europe

    The meta-industry which profits from feuds, disputes, threats and blackmail isn't doing too well; even in Europe, where it worked hard for a number of years to institute a horrible litigation system which favours global plaintiffs (patent trolls, opportunists and monopolists), these things are going up in flames



  29. Links 5/12/2018: Epic Games Store, CrossOver 18.1.0, Important Kubernetes Patch

    Links for the day



  30. Links 4/12/2018: LibrePCB 0.1.0, SQLite 3.26.0, PhysX Code

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts