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03.13.19

In the Age of Trumpism EFF Needs to Repeatedly Remind Director Iancu That He is Not a Judge and He Cannot Ignore the Courts

Posted in America, EFF, Patents at 2:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trump and Iancu

Summary: The nonchalance and carelessness seen in Iancu’s decision to just cherry-pick decisions/outcomes (basically ignoring caselaw) concerns technologists, who rightly view him as a ‘mole’ of the litigation ‘industry’ (which he came from)

AS WE have noted many times before, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Director Iancu cannot do anything to change courts' decisions unless he attacks judges the way Battistelli did at the European Patent Office (EPO) — something that he began doing in subtle ways some months back. His agenda was all along very clear to see (no surprise here; Iancu is worse than Ajit Pai and it’s not hard to see why he got this job at the USPTO), but the EFF’s alarmist headlines did not help. We have confidence that 35 U.S.C. § 101 will be upheld by SCOTUS, the Federal Circuit, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), whose inter partes reviews (IPRs) were also upheld as constitutional (as per the US Constitution) less than a year ago. The EPO, by contrast, no longer respects its ‘constitution’, the EPC. It was in fact promoting software patents in Europe as recently as half a day ago, pretending these patents are “for SMEs” and “medical”. This is why EPO abuses have taken priority for coverage here.

“We weren’t always supportive of the EFF’s approach; in fact, we often condemned it as weak and poorly thought out (from a strategic perspective).”The EFF’s Alex Moss has just published this blog post to say that the US “Patent Office should instruct its examiners to apply [Alice] as well—not to effectively rewrite its own wishes into the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Here’s more:

Last month, we asked EFF supporters to help save Alice v. CLS Bank, the 2014 Supreme Court decision that has helped stem the tide of stupid software patents and abusive patent litigation. The Patent Office received hundreds of comments from you, telling it to do the right thing and apply Alice, not narrow it. Thank you.

Last week, EFF submitted its own comments [PDF] to the Patent Office. In our comments, we explain that Patent Office’s new guidance on patent-eligibility will make it harder—if not impossible—for examiners to apply Supreme Court law correctly. If examiners cannot apply Alice to abstract patent applications, more invalid patents will issue. That’s not only bad for innovation, it also violates fundamental principles of divided government. The Supreme Court interprets laws that Congress passes, not executive branch agencies like the Patent Office.

The Patent Office’s new guidance aims to undermine Alice in two ways. First, the Guidance narrows ineligible abstract ideas to only three possibilities: mental processes, mathematical formula, and methods of organizing human activity. No Supreme Court or Federal Circuit has ever said only three categories of abstract ideas exist. In fact, the Supreme Court in Alice went out of its way to explain that it was not going to “labor to delimit the precise contours of the ‘abstract ideas’ category in this case.”

That omission is not incidental. Instead, of defining a precise “abstract idea” category, the Court endorsed an approach that should be familiar to lawyers: figuring out whether the claims in a given case are abstract, by using past cases. That’s how the Court determined that the Alice patent—which covered the idea of using a third-party intermediary—was abstract. It was similar to other abstract patents, like one on the idea of hedging risk. Following Alice, courts have repeatedly recognized abstract ideas by comparing them to other abstract ideas. That is the method the Supreme Court has approved, and the Patent Office should instruct its examiners to apply it as well—not to effectively rewrite its own wishes into the Supreme Court’s decision.

Nazer, a colleague of Moss, recently moved to Mozilla and last week or the week before that he published an article at the same site that Mullin, now an EFF employee, used to write for. As we noted yesterday, patent extremists want us to believe that everyone who opposes software patents is just “EFF”. We weren’t always supportive of the EFF’s approach; in fact, we often condemned it as weak and poorly thought out (from a strategic perspective). In recent years, however, the EFF openly condemned and focused on software patents, not just trolls. EFF people have also, in general, been supportive of Techrights. There’s a lot in common, except Google money.

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