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

02.28.19

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Will Waste No Time on Section 101. It Will, However, Waste Its Time on Obvious Patent Trolls.

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The future looks bright for software development in the US because software patents have perished

The green shirt

Summary: A roundup of American patent affairs; in short, nothing is really changing on the patent (scope) front and that’s a positive thing

THINGS are in general going well outside the chaotic EPO where António Campinos openly promotes software patents in Europe. Things improve in the sense that much of the world — including the US, Australia and Canada — are leaving software patents behind. They recognise that only lawyers and trolls want such patents; software developers strongly reject if not abhor such patents.

Deplorable patent lawyers from north America will never rest. They will never give up. Bereskin & Parr LLP’s Cameron Gale, for instance, has just willfully given bad advice to businesses in spite of knowing software patents are worthless; these people even blast the law itself (or the policy of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)). Pure greed. But we have gotten accustomed to that. As it turns out, based on LWN’s article “Patent exhaustion and open source” (it was freed from the paywall on Thursday morning, or about 10 hours ago), lawyers have even entered Free/Open Source software events. This one is about Lindberg and it mentions Alice:

A patent is a limited legal monopoly granted to protect an invention, giving the holder the right to exclude others from using, making, selling, and importing the invention (including things that embody the invention) for a fixed period of time. Much has been said and written over the years about the extension of patents to cover ideas that are expressed in software, but software patents are definitely with us at the moment.

There are, however, a number of limitations on the rights that a patent grants. One of these is patent exhaustion, which protects the ability of those lawfully in possession of goods embodying patents to use, sell, or import those goods without interference from the patent holder. Exhaustion prevents the patent holder from profiting more than once from the sale of any particular item; in Lindberg’s words, as soon as the patent holder puts something “into the stream of commerce”, the patent rights are exhausted. If Alice holds a patent for an invention embodied in a widget, and she sells a widget to Bob, then Bob is protected against accusations of patent infringement because he acquired the widget from the patent holder. If Bob sells his widget to Carol, she is similarly protected; not because she has licensed the patent from Alice, but because Alice’s patent interest in that widget was exhausted by that first sale to Bob.

[...]

We in the free software world have repositories, distributions, and mirrors; copies of source code are hosted by companies willy-nilly. Suppose that some company had mirrored a copy of a Linux distribution, with its thousands of constituent programs, each of which might embody one or more patents. Then that same company, because it is an authorized licensee for such of those patents as the company itself either held or had a right to use (by virtue of being in one or more patent pools or cross-licensing arrangements), would have exhausted those patent rights with respect to that software. Lindberg did add a caveat, however: courts frequently try to avoid surprising outcomes, therefore a court might follow the argument but decide not to allow it anyway.

At this point, Lindberg reminded attendees that Microsoft bought GitHub. After a short pause, the entire room, with a large proportion of lawyers in the audience, giggled, a sound that can only be described as chilling, then applauded. He then went further and proposed an N-way merge across copies of code bases sanitized by different distributors with respect to their different patent portfolios, to create code bases that are exhausted with respect to all patents that all those various distributors are authorized to use.

That Microsoft part is neither funny nor worthy of the applause. It is a real problem because Microsoft has weaponised patent trolls in order to sell Azure surveillance and entrapment. Maybe one day it will use the same tactics to push all code — private code too — into GitHub (for a fee).

While it seems unlikely that Alice is going away (any time soon), it’s worth keeping vigilant. The CCIA‘s Joshua Landau wrote on Twitter [1, 2] about Iancu’s attitude towards patent trolls and Alice: “This quote is a problem. American *patents* don’t treat anyone; progress does. Might need patents to make that progress, but as @PatentScholar, @colleen_chien, etc., argue, we don’t know for sure. Iancu could pursue the policy experiments to prove it. Not his priority. [...] The quote is symbolic of the misconception held by far too many – apparently including the @uspto director – that patents have inherent value, as opposed to being an instrument to drive progress and only being valuable insofar as they do so.”

“It is a real problem because Microsoft has weaponised patent trolls in order to sell Azure surveillance and entrapment.”Iancu is disgracing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by deliberately ignoring caselaw and granting patents he knows to be fake (like the President who gave him this job after his private firm had worked for him). Iancu is a symptom of the political meltdown and corruption under Trump. Decline in US patent quality has had the expected effect on litigation and application. Both are down, the former very sharply. It’s good news to everybody but lawyers (remember where Iancu came from).

Seeing that there’s no recourse, the lawyers have reverted to more action in Congress. Clueless Coons continues with his zombie legislation (two years in the making already [1, 2], still going nowhere in this fight against 35 U.S.C. § 101). It’s a bill that will never pass because technology companies have more power than the litigation industry. Here is what the litigation industry’s section of Bloomberg wrote some days ago:

House and Senate lawmakers are ramping up efforts to rewrite the definition of patent eligibility, in a bid to create greater legal certainty around patents held by pharmaceutical, life sciences and technology companies.

Lawmakers are quietly meeting with company and trade group representatives to ask for suggestions on how to rewrite Section 101 of federal patent law, which defines what inventions may be patented. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a series of decisions on patent eligibility that practitioners say have left the law poorly defined. Companies are uncertain about what inventions are patentable, and which granted patents can survive challenges.

“There have been a few Supreme Court rulings that have affected the ability of the patent office to know with certainty what is patentable, particularly in the realm of medical diagnostics and computer software, and these are areas of great growth,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), the new chairman of the House Judiciary’s intellectual property subcommittee, told Bloomberg Law.

This “Bloomberg Law” thing is just a litigation lobby in “news” clothing; we wrote about it before. We’re not surprised that they try to give rather than clip wings of this zombie legislation, which can be safely ignored for now (there are more such bills and they too have vanished).

“The person in question is an Internet troll, not just a patent troll.”It is also not surpising that patent maximalists like Dennis Crouch have not gotten tired of trying to push Section 101 questions into SCOTUS. Seeing that all these abstract patents are finished (good for nothing but putting in a frame and hanging on the wall like a trophy), they urge patent maximalists to give persuasive input and compel Justices to reevaluate the
Federal Circuit‘s stance.

It truly bothers these patent maximalists that not only courts throw out software patents (we have just seen several new outcomes to that effect and added these to our daily links because we no longer cover American patent cases); Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) have the same effect at a much broader scale (thousands of patents). Get used to it.

Speaking of SCOTUS, mind last night’s article about an upcoming case. Authored by Mike Masnick, it deals with two topics that TechDirt likes to cover: patents and attacks on free speech. “Calling a company a patent troll is not defamatory,” Masnick asserted. Here’s the introduction:

Over the years, there have been a few attempts — usually by companies that most of us would call patent trolls — to argue that calling a company a patent troll is defamatory. These arguments rarely get very far, because they completely misunderstand how defamation works. However, a company with some questionable patents around bank ATMs, called ATL, tried a few years back to sue a bunch of its critics over the “patent troll” name. Thankfully, the local court in New Hampshire correctly noted that calling someone a patent troll is protected speech under the First Amendment and is not defamatory.

The person in question is an Internet troll, not just a patent troll. He has been trolling me in Twitter even though I ignored him. A long time ago I came to consider that person to be borderline insane or a stalker and I was rather shocked to learn that the Supreme Court will give him even a minute of its time. Who next in SCOTUS? David Ike?

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

What Else is New


  1. The Linux Foundation is Not About Linux

    Linux Foundation (LF) objectives/missions do not resemble what the Open Source Development Labs, Inc. (OSDL) was founded to accomplish; this puts at grave threat the very raison d'être of both GNU and Linux



  2. Guest Post: The Linux Foundation Needs to Define “Support”

    Part of an ongoing series of articles we do about the Linux Foundation



  3. Dimitris Xenos on Unconstitutional Supranational Arrangements for Patent Law: Leaving Out the Elected Legislators and the People’s Participatory Rights

    A new paper from a British scholar proves to be timely because of the EPO's violations of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and failed push to force-feed Europe with the unconstitutional Unified Patent Court (UPC)



  4. The Campinos-Battistelli Strategy is Working: Patent Trolls Are Coming to Europe!

    It cannot be any less obvious that today's European Patent Organisation (and Office) works for patent offices and for those who pay these patent offices (law firms) rather than for science, technology and the public (including the European public)



  5. Links 25/3/2019: Linux 5.1 RC2, Nano 4.0, PyPy 7.1

    Links for the day



  6. Links 24/3/2019: Microsoft Does Not Change; Lots of FOSS Leftovers

    Links for the day



  7. Just Published: Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office

    Iancu and his fellow Trump-appointed "swamp" at the USPTO are urged to consult academics rather than law firms in order to improve patent quality in the United States



  8. Microsoft Paid the Open Source Initiative. Now (a Year Later) Microsoft is in the Board of the Open Source Initiative.

    The progression of Microsoft entryism in FOSS-centric institutions (while buying key "assets" such as GitHub) isn't indicative of FOSS "winning" but of FOSS being infiltrated (to be undermined)



  9. Jim Zemlin's Linux Foundation Still Does Not Care About Linux Desktops

    We are saddened to see that the largest body associated with Linux (the kernel and more) is not really eager to see GNU/Linux success; it's mostly concerned about its bottom line (about $100,000,000 per annum)



  10. Links 23/3/2019: Falkon 3.1.0 and Tails 3.13.1

    Links for the day



  11. The Unified Patent Court is Dead, But Doubts Remain Over the EPO's Appeal Boards' Ability to Rule Independently Against Patents on Nature and Code

    Patents used to cover physical inventions (such as engines); nowadays this just isn't the case anymore and judges who can clarify these questions lack the freedom to think outside the box (and disobey patent maximalists' dogma)



  12. Patent Law Firms Still Desperate to Find New Ways to Resurrect Dead Software Patents in the United States

    There's no rebound and no profound changes that favour software patents; in fact, judging by caselaw, there's nothing even remotely like that



  13. Links 22/3/2019: Libinput 1.13 RC2 and Facebook's Latest Security Scandal

    Links for the day



  14. Why the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) Cannot Ignore Judges, Whereas the EPO Can (and Does)

    The European Patent Convention (EPC) ceased to matter, judges' interpretation of it no longer matters either; the EPO exploits this to grant hundreds of thousands of dodgy software patents, then trumpet "growth"



  15. The European Patent Office Needs to Put Lives Before Profits

    Patents that pertain to health have always posed an ethical dilemma; the EPO apparently tackled this dilemma by altogether ignoring the rights and needs of patients (in favour of large corporations that benefit financially from poor people's mortality)



  16. “Criminal Organisation”

    Brazil's ex-President, Temer, is arrested (like other former presidents of Brazil); will the EPO's ex-President Battistelli ever be arrested (now that he lacks diplomatic immunity and hides at CEIPI)?



  17. Links 21/3/2019: Wayland 1.17.0, Samba 4.10.0, OpenShot 2.4.4 and Zorin Beta

    Links for the day



  18. Team UPC (Unitary Patent) is a Headless Chicken

    Team UPC's propaganda about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has become so ridiculous that the pertinent firms do not wish to be identified



  19. António Campinos Makes Up Claims About Patent Quality, Only to be Rebutted by Examiners, Union (Anyone But the 'Puff Pieces' Industry)

    Battistelli's propagandistic style and self-serving 'studies' carry on; the notion of patent quality has been totally discarded and is nowadays lied about as facts get 'manufactured', then disseminated internally and externally



  20. Links 20/3/2019: Google Announces ‘Stadia’, Tails 3.13

    Links for the day



  21. CEN and CENELEC Agreement With the EPO Shows That It's Definitely the European Commission's 'Department'

    With headlines such as “EPO to collaborate on raising SEP awareness” it is clear to see that the Office lacks impartiality and the European Commission cannot pretend that the EPO is “dafür bin ich nicht zuständig” or “da kenne ich mich nicht aus”



  22. Decisions Made Inside the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Lack Credibility Because Examiners and Judges Lack Independence

    The lawless, merciless, Mafia-like culture left by Battistelli continues to haunt judges and examiners; how can one ever trust the Office (or the Organisation at large) to deliver true justice in adherence or compliance with the EPC?



  23. Team UPC Buries Its Credibility Deeper in the Grave

    The three Frenchmen at the top do not mention the UPC anymore; but those who promote it for a living (because they gambled on leveraging it for litigation galore) aren't giving up and in the process they perpetuate falsehoods



  24. The EPO Has Sadly Taken a Side and It's the Patent Trolls' Side

    Abandoning the whole rationale behind patents, the Office now led for almost a year by António Campinos prioritises neither science nor technology; it's all about granting as many patents (European monopolies) as possible for legal activity (applications, litigation and so on)



  25. Where the USPTO Stands on the Subject of Abstract Software Patents

    Not much is changing as we approach Easter and software patents are still fool's gold in the United States, no matter if they get granted or not



  26. Links 19/3/2019: Jetson/JetBot, Linux 5.0.3, Kodi Foundation Joins The Linux Foundation, and Firefox 66

    Links for the day



  27. Links 18/3/2019: Solus 4, Linux 5.1 RC1, Mesa 18.3.5, OSI Individual Member Election Won by Microsoft

    Links for the day



  28. Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

    Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network



  29. Director Iancu Generally Viewed as a Lapdog of Patent Trolls

    As Director of the Office, Mr. Iancu, a Trump appointee, not only fails to curb patent trolls; he actively defends them and he lowers barriers in order to better equip them with bogus patents that courts would reject (if the targets of extortion could afford a day in court)



  30. Links 17/3/2019: Google Console and IBM-Red Hat Merger Delay?

    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