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12.30.18

2019 in Techrights: New Datacentre, New Focus

Posted in IBM, News Roundup, Patents, Red Hat at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As Techrights continues to grow we move to a new hosting environment and we’ll be covering technology a little more than court cases with legalese and pertinent caselaw

SEEING that patent extremists like Gene Quinn throw in the towel after two decades and seeing that patent blogs are becoming a lot less active, we’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest problems at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are being gradually addressed, notably software patents that the Federal Circuit and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) help squash. We’ve seen several new examples over the past fortnight, but we’re not going to cover these. Instead, seeing that António Campinos promotes software patents in Europe under the auspices of tbe European Patent Office (EPO), we’re going to shift focus somewhat. The main difference in the coming year will be less coverage about the US patent system. It’s viewed as a lower priority because, as we said a few days ago, “we feel like goals have been fulfilled.” If elimination of software patents was the goal, SCOTUS and 35 U.S.C. § 101 sealed the deal. Several times earlier this year we pointed out that SCOTUS continually rejects appeals from cases like Alice. It’s not interested in reconsideration. Nothing will change.

“IBM has been stockpiling loads of US patents for several decades and even gave some of these to trolls like Finjan.”The demise of software patents has expectedly caused the number of patent cases (lawsuits) to collapse and many patent trolls go out of ‘business’ (it was never a legitimate business in the first place).

David Perry, senior patent lawyer at Red Hat, wrote for CNBC on Boxing Day. Being a lawyer who will soon work for IBM albeit subject to approval in 2-3 weeks’ time (IBM is overzealously in favour of software patents), he framed the question as a matter of hirings; this has nothing to do with hirings however. Gross slant from people whose job depends on patent litigation. “Companies lose as much as $80 billion every year to litigation brought by patent aggressors,” he explained, perhaps failing to note that his next employer is among those aggressors. To quote:

Tech companies are fighting an $80 billion legal battle to help attract the most talented software engineers

[...]

So-called “patent trolls” may not be top of mind for the public, but they’re certainly on the mind of technology innovators. Nine out of the top ten global internet companies — including Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Google — and hundreds of other companies (including mine) have joined forces against them.

These trolls – also known as patent assertion entities — acquire patents for the sole purpose of suing other companies for money. They cost companies $80 billion in lost wealth every year, and are responsible for over 85 percent of U.S. high-tech patent litigation.

What about IBM? Look no further (back) than its patent aggression earlier this year. IBM has been stockpiling loads of US patents for several decades and even gave some of these to trolls like Finjan. Then there’s the scam which is misuse of patents for tax purposes. Luxembourg, for instance, is still facilitating tax evasion using patents as loophole/cover (there's a patent trolls infestation there). An article by Oliver R. Hoor and Samantha Schmitz-Merle (ATOZ Tax Advisers) alluded to this some days ago:

Therefore, IP rights covered by the new Luxembourg regime are patents defined broadly and copyrighted software. These IP rights fall within the scope of the new regime to the extent that they are not marketing-related IP assets and were created, developed or enhanced after 31 December 2007 (the former IP regime provided the same limitation in time) as a result of research and development (R&D) activities…

These tax breaks are benefiting, by design, the richest people and corporations. The monopolists who can afford loads of patents (like IBM) profit from this.

In the coming year we intend to focus a little less on the US patent system (notably courts and Office). Instead we’ll write more about technology companies like IBM and Red Hat, not to mention mischievous Microsoft. EPO coverage will remain unchanged and it will be our highest priority.

A server migration was completed successfully yesterday, but only for the sister site, Tux Machines. We may soon attempt the same with Techrights although this migration will definitely be more complicated for several reasons (3 CMS components, 3 domains and so on). Fingers crossed. Downtime is likely with or without DNS changes taking hours to propagate.

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