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09.25.16

Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s not alleged infringers who resort to foul play but those who game the system to classify everyone and everything “infringer” (so as to tax everyone and everything)

Randall R. Rader
Photo from Reuters

Summary: The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government

“The district court found all of Sprint’s asserted claims invalid as indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 2.”

This is one among various new stories which speak of the tightening of patent scope in the USPTO or outside of it, i.e. the kind of stories that patent law firms don’t want the public to see. It’s not good for lawyers’ business. The stories patent lawyers refuse to cover are notably stories where CAFC smashes software patents to pieces with Alice (or §101) as the basis (it happens almost all the time). How can they overlook so many cases which involve either PTAB or the courts? Are they that biased and dishonest? Yes, apparently they are. Here is another case covered this past week by Patently-O. It says that CAFC “affirms that Affinity’s challenged claims invalid as directed to an abstract idea. when “stripped of excess claim verbiage”, Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,970,379 “is directed to a broadcast system in which a cellular telephone located outside the range of a regional broadcaster (1) requests and receives network-based content from the broadcaster via a streaming signal, (2) is configured to wirelessly download an application for performing those functions, and (3) contains a display that allows the user to select particular content.” Slip opinion.”

“Even today, on a weekend, McRO still pops up in news feeds.”A few articles that we mentioned before, e.g. [1, 2], continue to resurface in news feeds along with others (new ones [1, 2, 3, 4]), serving to distract from cases like the above. The patent microcosm in the US is still trying to resurrect software patents and misleading or selective coverage seems to have become the means, as was the case earlier this year with Enfish. The cherry-picking involves even two patent lawyers at Watchtroll — a site which blasts the UN for what it calls an “Attack on Patents”, dubbing the UN’s report “fundamentally flawed” because it’s not good for maximalists. We’re not sure whether to laugh or cry because in the eyes of these people patent scope is just a nuisance or a travesty, rather than the thing which serves to legitimise the patent system and sometimes even protect investment in research (not the case when it comes to particular domains). At the middle of the month we said that software patenting proponents can go on for weeks milking McRO [1, 2] and this is exactly what is still happening (for nearly a fortnight now). Even today, on a weekend, McRO still pops up in news feeds. Why just McRO and why not the many other CAFC cases which deemed software patents invalid? That’s part of their propaganda tactics. It’s sad and we challenge anyone out there to prove that it’s untrue.

“Just more wishful thinking from patent maximalists looking for the right moment to stack statistics and issue some self-serving, deceiving statements.”A patent attorney who promotes software patents (and confronted yours truly on the subject before hiding behind a block) relies on small sample set of just 4 (yes, four!) to lie about the status quo. The other day he wrote: “Over the past 2 weeks, District Courts have denied motions to dismiss patent infringement cases based on 101/Alice 3X and granted 1X.”

Based on that tiny sample set he said: “We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the patent slaughter by Alice. It will take awhile for the USPTO to catch up.”

Are these patents (on software) coming back? Not by a long shot. Just more wishful thinking from patent maximalists looking for the right moment to stack statistics and issue some self-serving, deceiving statements. Same as Team UPC (see proponents of the UPC having a go again this weekend, e.g. in the IP Kat‘s comments [1, 2, 3], copying in their Google Plus posts into IP Kat while repeating the old tired talking points).

“They hope to attract more business, i.e. patent applications, litigation, etc.”The patent microcosm (both in the EU and the US) continues to lobby for its own interests and lies about all sorts of things. This leads us to the assumption that patent lawyers can be dishonest to the extreme and that their assessments of the status quo are more like shameless self-promotion, not objective advice. They pretend not to see what they prefer not to see. They are not helping clients, they are misleading them. They hope to attract more business, i.e. patent applications, litigation, etc.

The McRO hype one sees in the media this month is in vain; it was the same with Enfish. It barely changed anything at all. Even proponents of software patents (for many years now) — those who do not necessarily gain financially from them (as they just write about the topic) — go with the headline “Despite the CAFC’s recent 101 decisions don’t expect a deal frenzy or rapid rises in patent values”. To quote this article from the end of last week:

Over the summer, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued three decisions in software patent cases which, collectively have resolved some of the questions hanging over just what is eligible for patent protection. The most recent decision, McRO (dba Planet) v Bandai Namco Games America which was issued last week, has made arguably the biggest impression on the patent-owning community. Microsoft’s IP head Erich Andersen declared in a blog post that the decision “strengthened the law related to software patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act”.

Now bear in mind that’s what IAM says. It is typically amplifying Microsoft and their former ‘IP’ people (heck, their entire online system is heavily/purely Microsoft-based, which is rather unusual in this area of computing). Even IAM does not believe that McRO is going to change much. Regarding the person they cite, we have mentioned the above from Erich Andersen at least thrice since the McRO decision, noting that it proves just how much Microsoft pushes for software patents (even paying a lobbyist, David Kappos, for this purpose). Has David Kappos already registered as a corporate lobbyist? If not, he should. It would embarrass the USPTO for sure, but disclosure requirements for public officials are imperative. Is the USPTO’s pension plan so appalling that former officials need to turn into lobbyists for money (corrupting influence)?

“Even IAM does not believe that McRO is going to change much.”Speaking of corrupting influence, Randall Rader, the corrupt CAFC judge (we wrote about it before), joins the industry after he left (or was ejected) in disgrace. Systemic corruption doesn’t get any worse than this…

Here is what IAM wrote about the subject:

It’s all happening at China’s latest high-tech darling LeEco – one of the country’s fastest growing brands. Recently, it has pulled off a series of apparent coups as it continues to shore up its IP credentials ahead of expansion at home and abroad. But it also seems that one high-profile name has left the company after a matter of months.

Randall Rader, former chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and one of the world’s most renowned IP jurists, signed a “strategic cooperative agreement” with LeEco while visiting the company’s headquarters in Beijing, according to a report yesterday from Beijing-based IP agents firm Sanyou.

Speaking to IAM, a spokesperson for LeEco’s IP department confirmed that Rader will be formally collaborating with the firm, but could not give further details; so, we’ll have to wait for more information on his role. When Rader quit the CAFC back in June 2014, China, and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly, featured significantly in his post-retirement plans. What exactly he will bring to the company isn’t clear. Perhaps his participation points to a belief on the part of LeEco management that they could potentially be involved in a lot of litigation once they enter the US market in earnest. Alternatively (or additionally), Rader is well-known as an IP teacher, so could be working with LeEco IP personnel to bring them up to speed with key international issues and doing in-depth training.

Recall articles of ours like "The Corrupt Judge Rader (of CAFC) Still Pursuing Bad (More Aggressive) Patent System in the US" and "Judge Randall Rader Redefines “Patent Troll”". Expect to hear more about this scandalous figure in years to come, this time due to his capacity inside the private sector (like revolving doors).

09.22.16

Patent Law Firms, David Kappos, and IAM ‘Magazine’ Still Shelter Software Patents by Cherry-Picking and Lobbying

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 5:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ignoring the bulk of cases or inter partes reviews in order to advance their agenda

Many cherries

Summary: Amid the gradual collapse of software patents in the United States there are disingenuous efforts to bring them back or maintain a perception that these patents are still potent

FOLLOWING the CAFC-level McRO case we have seen a new wave of software patents lobbying. We last wrote about it in yesterday's sole article and prior to it we showed how McRO got exploited for software patents agenda by the patent microcosm [1, 2, 3]. We estimated that we would probably see it lasting for weeks in the media and indeed, even a week later we still see new examples. Fenwick & West LLP of Bilki Blog is promoting software patents using this decision and watch this sensationalist and misleading headline from Paul Hastings LLP (a truly gross generalisation). They are intentionally extrapolating/generalising while ignoring all the court outcomes that they don’t like (because it disproves their claims/marketing).

Judging by the article “Alice Ruling Limits Patentability of Business Processes”, David Kappos is still at it. He is a software patents lobbyist (he used to be an official, namely USPTO Director, but he is taking money from Microsoft and IBM these days). He bemoans Alice at every turn and here’s the latest talking point from him:

David Kappos, a former director of the patent office, is quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek saying that invalidation of patents is “out of control” and has “definitely gone too far. Important software innovations that are highly technical are being deemed unpatentable. You can get software patents allowed in both China and Europe that aren’t allowable in the U.S. anymore.”

Other proponents of software patents, sites like IAM for instance, cherry-pick data (in this case focusing on “most frequent filers”) to make PTAB progress look like it’s stalling, even when figures from MIP suggest otherwise. Fun with statistics; they’re being shaped based on one’s desired conclusion.

The loudest proponent of software patents, Gene Quinn, wrote many articles bashing PTAB and insulting PTAB. He also published quite a few article celebrating McRO and now he helps the coordinated effort to [cref 95347 belittle abuse (even fraud) by the USPTO. Such is the modus operandi of people with such an agenda. If only more Web sites bothered pointing this out…

09.21.16

The Patent Law Firms in the US Relentlessly Lobby for Software Patents Resurgence by Placing Emphasis Only on Rare Outcomes

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 6:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The fine art of cherry-picking…

On cherry-picking

Summary: Decisions against software patents continue to be ignored or intentionally overlooked by patent law firms, which instead saturate the media with the few cases where courts unexpectedly rule in favour of software patents

LAST week we said that the patent microcosm would start amplifying (repeatedly mentioning and hyping up) McRO for software patents agenda [1, 2, 3]. We have since then seen several dozens of so-called ‘analyses’ from the patent microcosm (these drown out actual press articles) and just like with Enfish, this can on for weeks (here are some of the latest examples [1, 2, 3]). It’s not hard to see what patent law firms are trying to accomplish; they want more power for themselves at the expense of everybody else.

“It’s not hard to see what patent law firms are trying to accomplish; they want more power for themselves at the expense of everybody else.”The Eastern District of Michigan (not Texas) has just had a court foolishly accept a software patent. To quote the patent lawyers’ media: “Bruce Zak, an individual, sued Facebook, Inc. for patent infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on two of his software patents — United States Patent Nos. 8,713,134 and 9,141,720. Facebook moved for summary judgment arguing that the subject matter of the two patents is not eligible for patent protection under § 101. The District Court denied Facebook’s motion for summary judgment even though the representative claim was found to be directed to an abstract idea, since the claim was further found to recite enough details to specify how a solution will be implemented that addresses a business challenge particular to the Internet.”

Facebook itself has been stockpiling and suing with software patents as well.

In other news, trolls in the Eastern District of Texas (we mentioned this before because Acacia is involved) got some money out of Apple. As MIP put it: “A jury in the Eastern District of Texas has found Apple willfully infringed a wireless technology patent, and awarded $22.1 million to Acacia subsidiary Cellular Communications Equipment. The case is before Judge Nicole Mitchell.”

“Facebook itself has been stockpiling and suing with software patents as well.”Don’t sob for Apple. As Daniel Nazer (EFF) shows this week (see image), “Apple has applied for a utility patent on a white paper bag. Here, in its entirety, is Claim 1 of the application…”

And speaking of Apple, here we have CAFC interfering in PTAB matters, in order to help Apple in “patent bully” mode with its software patents. To quote this short report from Patently-O: “In a divided opinion, the Federal Circuit has sided with Apple Inc. and reversed the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) — finding that no substantial evidence supported the USPTO’s factual findings regarding what was taught by the prior art. Application No. 11/968,067 (2007 priority date). The application here is one of 75+ that all claim priority to the same 2007 provisional application.”

“The patent microcosm tries hard to restore the potency of software patents and we oughtn’t lose sight of that.”Patently-O published another new post about CAFC, this one about Yeda Research v Abbott. “On appeal,” explained Patently-O, “the Federal Circuit ruled that the original disclosure “inherently discloses the remaining amino acids in the N-terminus sequence” and therefore “serves as adequate written description support for the patent claiming TBP-II.””

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has generally been more vigilant and strict after Alice, but historically it was very lax/lenient, especially when it comes to software patents. Therefore, it’s worth keeping abreast of what it does, especially after the McRO decision. There is enormous pressure being put on SCOTUS (or Section 101), CAFC, PTAB and even US Congress. The patent microcosm tries hard to restore the potency of software patents and we oughtn’t lose sight of that.

09.20.16

Microsoft and Patent Law Firms in the United States Can’t Stop Writing About McRo in a Coordinated Push to Resurrect Software Patents

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Although not centrally orchestrated (top-down/peer coordination), the patent microcosm in the US knows what it is trying to accomplish

A grave's stone

Summary: Microsoft is pursuing more Linux ‘patent tax’ (using software patents) and patent law firms are preoccupied flooding the media with their shameless self-promotion which is also software patents promotion

OVER the past week we repeatedly wrote about our expectation which turned out to be true. McRO has truly become the latest go-to case when a patent law firm tries to fool software developers into pursuing patents on algorithms, even in a climate that is so hostile towards them. One aspect of it which we mentioned here twice before was Microsoft’s role. Here is a direct link to what Microsoft said in its lobbying blog (later cited by numerous Microsoft advocacy sites, in order to give it the veneer of “news” or “report”). From the company that brought us patent lawsuits against Linux, e.g. Microsoft v TomTom comes yet more advocacy of software patents. And they tell us that they “love Linux”? This may mean that Microsoft would be happy also with the CAFC case that it lost to Enfish, as this outcome was desirable for software patents in general. In other related news, this new report from the Microsoft-friendly IAM, citing another report from Korea, reminds us that Microsoft wants more money from patents, now in terms of a refund of tax. This probably alludes to taxation on money from LG and Samsung, which both surrendered to Microsoft nearly a decade ago. Microsoft signed patent deals specifically covering their use of Linux (we covered this in 2007) and Microsoft now wants more money from this extortion (using software patents which are probably not even valid) and is suing the Korean authorities for it. What a bunch of thugs. ‘New’ Microsoft they say? Loves Linux? What a load of nonsense. To quote IAM: “Korean newswire Pulse recently reported that Microsoft had filed a claim with the country’s internal revenue services requesting the return of 600 billion won ($533.1 million) in corporate taxes it had been charged on patent licence fees and royalties paid to it by Korean businesses. The US company argued that it had been taxed on licences relating to patents covering jurisdictions other than South Korea, when the government of that country should only be able to collect revenue on patents applied for and issued domestically.”

Put in very simple terms, Microsoft, which is openly calling for more software patents, continues to use these to tax Linux and wants even a higher share of the money squeezed out of successful companies. Microsoft has attacked Linux users with software patents for about a decade (raising the costs of everything) and now it sues the Korean tax authorities to get additional extortion money. Coming from one of the world’s biggest tax evaders, which also got caught engaging in financial fraud, surely this takes some nerve and audacity. One can only hope Microsoft layoffs will accelerate fast enough to remove it from the planet (there have been Microsoft layoffs for a while and this month there are Microsoft layoffs in the UK). Recall that Microsoft also pays David Kappos to help resurrect software patents, in his capacity as former Director of the USPTO. It may not be classic bribery but lobbying. He is one of the fiends responsible for the biggest software patents push right now; he is a malicious, greedy man. Software patents remain a key issue that determines success/failure of FOSS; Section 101 is a possible solution and they try to put an end to it. We need to work against a huge patent microcosm which plays dirty behind closed doors. Unpatent is “fighting the smoke rather than the base of the flames,” told me one person yesterday and the President of the FFII thinks so too. Unpatent has good intentions, no doubt (I spoke to its founder several times), but it won’t ever work towards resolving big issues like this massive lobbying push which targets or strives for purely legislative changes (system-wide).

So who else is promoting McRO this week? Pretty much everyone who would be profiting from an upswing in software patents. Here is Watchtroll promoting software patents again (in the form of a “Free Webinar”) and here are some so-called ‘analyses’ or articles from today and yesterday. To quote just the headlines, “Widely Watched Federal Circuit McRO Decision Holds Certain Software Claims to Be Patent Eligible”, “McRo v. Bandai: Evidence related to claimed improvement is key to whether claims are directed to an abstract idea”, “Important Federal Circuit Decision Provides More Clues On Software Eligibility”, “Important Federal Circuit Decision Provides More Clues On Software Eligibility”, “Federal Circuit Highlights Claim Construction in Patent Eligibility Analysis”, “What the Federal Circuit’s Decision in McRO v. Bandai Could Mean for Computer-Based Inventions and Other Innovations”, “McRO v. Bandai: Latest Federal Circuit § 101 Decision Breathes New Life into Software Patents”, “McRO v. Namco – Fed. Cir. Reverses s. 101 Invalidation of Animation Method Patents”, “Important Federal Circuit Decision Provides More Clues On Software Eligibility”, “Federal Circuit is In Sync with Patent’s Validity Under Section 101″, “Gone Enfishing: Software Patentees Reel in Another Huge Win at the Federal Circuit”, and “Widely Watched Federal Circuit McRO Decision Holds Certain Software Claims to Be Patent Eligible”. Every single one of these was published by a patent law firm and they effectively flood news feeds with these (the signal, or actual journalism covering this case, has been washed away by now). These people are just trying to attract clients and we are still seeing lots of these patent law firms piggybacking McRO to promote software patents and make their sales pitch. Judging by what happened after Enfish, this can carry on for weeks to come. Utterly misleading and self-serving — that’s what it all about. This perturbs public understanding of the case. There is hardly even any pretense of balance when it comes to software patents whenever patent law firms just try to sell us more lawsuits.

The patent laws we have typically get written by politicians who are lawyers and lobbyists, not scientists like software developers, hence the sordid state of affairs. Watch how Bilski Blog is attempting to discredit courts for not understanding science, as if patent law firms are that much better at it. From the latest part of “Bad Science Makes Bad Patent Law”:

The Supreme Court in Mayo acknowledged that “Courts and judges are not institutionally well suited to making the kinds of judgments needed to distinguish among different laws of nature.” Indeed. And it is precisely because the courts cannot make such distinctions, that the Supreme Court needs to correct the problem it created by adopting a more scientifically coherent approach to laws of nature.

It’s been argued that it’s too soon for the Court to take up another patent eligibility case, having only recently decided Alice. But it’s been just over four years since the Mayo decision. The Supreme Court “corrected” Parker v. Flook (1978) only three years later in Diamond v. Diehr (1981). And fixing this problem is necessary before more patents (and patent applications) are improperly invalidated for important inventions in diagnostics and treatments.

The Court had that opportunity in Ariosa but it denied Sequenom’s cert. petition. Now the Court has the opportunity again. Genetic Technologies has filed for certiorari. The Court should take up the case for the reasons I’ve articulated in these posts.

More specifically, the Court can address two issues. First, the Court can articulate a more complete and “patently” useful definition of a law of nature. In the past, the Court has expressed a particular distaste for bright line rules in the patent law, preferring instead flexible standards. Consider the Court’s rejection of the “machine-or-transformation” test in Bilski, and the rejection of the “teaching-suggestion-motivation” test in KSR. However, the Court’s current definition is such a bright-line rule, by making any natural relationship a de jure law of nature. A revised definition need not be perfect, only more in concert with current scientific theory and practice.

Australia, which still has issues with software patenting (developers of software oppose these, but they have little or no impact on the law), inherits a lot of the ills of the US patent system. One patent law firm from Australia asks, “Does Australia Have a (US-Style) Two-Step Test for Patent-Eligibility?” These systems are inherently different, but proponents of software patents (like the author in this case) try to assimilate them. To quote:

In its Mayo/Myriad/Alice series of cases, the US Supreme Court has established a two-step test in order to determine whether a claimed invention defines patent-eligible subject matter or not. In the first step, the claims are examined to determine whether they are ‘directed to’ a patent-ineligible concept, i.e. an abstract idea, law of nature or natural phenomenon. If not, then the subject matter of the invention is eligible for patenting. Otherwise, the analysis proceeds to step two, in which the claims are further analysed to determine whether or not they comprise some additional element, or combination of elements, that is ‘sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the [ineligible concept] itself.’

That latter part alludes to the loophole often used inside the EPO or even in New Zealand. it often seems as though the USPTO gets more similar to what used to be the EPO while the EPO becomes more like the USPTO pre-Alice. In fact, some people theorise that Battistelli is trying to attract the bottom of the barrel by welcoming all the worst patent applications which even the USPTO would reject. This is a recipe for disaster.

As an aside, there is pressure to impose software patents on countries that don’t formally have them. For instance, the media in Taiwan says that the ITC “launches probe into alleged patent infringement by Advantech,” noting that based on “the complaint filed by Rockwell in August, the three accused firms violated the U.S. law by importing into the U.S. market and selling industrial control system software, systems using the same, and components that infringe upon patents…”

These are software patents by the sound of it. These threaten to embargo physical products from Taiwan, where some of the best products are made (in several sectors). So much for innovation…

For Abuse Like Plagiarism and Malpractice, the US Patent System is Still World Champion

Posted in America, Patents at 10:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When all that seemingly matters is money, not innovation and society’s wellbeing…

Coins

Summary: Low patent quality, abusive litigation (e.g. by patent trolls) and various other elements that globally discredit the USPTO are only symptoms of a wider problem, which is a greedy system motivated by neo-liberal values rather than professionalism and servitude

YESTERDAY we wrote about patent lawyers that had engaged in plagiarism during the preparation of documents like briefs. It put patent lawyers in a not-so-flattering light and today we have this article about an outcome that says plagiarism of this kind of definitely not Fair Use, which means that some patent lawyers, who insist on respect for patent law, do not respect copyright law. To quote:

We’ve talked about online electronics retailer Newegg quite a few times here on Techdirt, usually in the context of its noble fight against patent trolls. I, personally, have a lot of respect for Newegg’s Chief Legal Officer, Lee Cheng. So it surprised me a bit to see that Newegg is suing another lawyer for copyright infringement on one of its briefs. And, so far Newegg is winning, as the judge has ruled that using the brief is not fair use.

The details here do matter. The defendant, lawyer Ezra Sutton, had worked alongside Newegg in one of the many patent troll lawsuits. Sutton was representing another company sued in the same lawsuit as Newegg by a patent troll, Adjustacam. They had won the case against the troll, and both Newegg and the company Sutton represented, Sakar International, filed motions seeking attorneys’ fees.

It was Patently-O that earlier on wrote about this topic and it now has this new article about patent malpractice in which it’s said:

The malpractice claim arose out of an interference proceeding and has an interesting twist. The lawyer needed to claim priority to an earlier-filed Japanese patent application that had been domesticated through a PCT. The Japanese application and the PCT were in Japanese. Regulations required that a motion to claim benefit had to include English translations of the earlier applications in the claim. The lawyer filed a US translation of the (first-filed, obviously) Japanese application, but not the PCT.

The Board awarded the earlier Japanese filing date. Seed won.

The Federal Circuit reversed. It held that without the English translation of the PCT, the Board erred in awarding giving the application the filing date of the Japanese application, and, as a result, Seed lost the interference.

Hence the malpractice case.

This article speaks of a Japanese application, i.e. application from the new hotbed of patent trolling (we wrote about this earlier this month). It seems clear that some of the abusive elements which the USPTO became infamous for are now penetrating east Asia, not just Europe (because of Battistelli with the direction he chose for the EPO). China’s patent bubble, for example, is truly a problem — an observation that even a new survey seems to support.

We often write about the EPO and frequently complain about the decline of patent quality there, not just alleged fraud. Expect us to write a lot more about it in the days or weeks to come. The EPO is gradually becoming another USPTO (and it’s not a compliment).

09.19.16

Patents Roundup: Disclosure Requirements, Mobile Patents, Patent Lawyers’ Plagiarism, USPTO Getting Sued, and Corporate Domination of the Patent System

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 4:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Called “patent sharks”, they bought dormant agricultural patents and then sued farmers who were unknowingly using protected technology. This brass knuckles tactic outraged rural activists and led to the same calls for sweeping patent reform that we hear now.” —Gerard N. Magliocca, Blackberries and Barnyards: Patent Trolls and the Perils of Innovation

Blackberries and Barnyards

Summary: The unwanted elements of the patent system (as it stands at present) illuminated by very recent news and patent court cases

WE sometimes worry that our growing focus on the EPO has distracted somewhat from the patent quality problems at the USPTO. We spend an enormous amount of time looking into patent news from all around the world and occasionally something catches our eye that needs a quick comment but not a comprehensive rebuttal. Herein we lay out some recent patent news, with or without further comment.

Disclosure Requirements

“Patents cannot be used defensively, only as means of retaliation (M.A.D.) so that both sides suffer and only lawyers win (they profit from patent wars irrespective of the outcome).”When it comes to patents, rules vary wildly depending on the country. Here we have Switzerland-based site praising its own country on patents, but it’s only part of the story because for a rich country to have a lot of patents makes a lot of fiscal sense, for reasons we explained last month. The Swiss patent system and the role of Switzerland in the EPO requires taking into account Switzerland’s rather unique economy.

Mobile Patents

According to the patents-centric media, Judge Koh, probably best known in recent years for her involvement in Apple and Samsung trials, is still going strong. “The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 13-7 to approve the nomination of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to the Ninth Circuit,” says this report.

One article, this one coming from a niche Web site, wrongly assumes that ‘app’ (buzzword, usually meaning software for mobile devices) development requires patents. If you develop a mobile ‘app’ and waste time/effort worrying about patents on software, then you’re probably doing it wrong and wasting resources. Patents cannot be used defensively, only as means of retaliation (M.A.D.) so that both sides suffer and only lawyers win (they profit from patent wars irrespective of the outcome). Deterrence using patents does not exist when trolls are involved.

“Microsoft had extorted HTC using patents as well; HTC chose to settle to avoid legal action and potential embargoes.”“Apple Was Hit with a $22M Verdict for Infringing an Acacia Patent,” wrote a patent attorney the other day. Acacia is a Microsoft-connected patent troll. As for Apple, when it sued HTC 6 years ago it showed that it too was quite a patent bully. “According to the complaint,” says another new report, HTC is being sued again and “the plaintiff [Infogation] alleges that Infogation Corp. suffered damages to its business from having its patent infringed. The plaintiff holds HTC Corp. and HTC America Inc. responsible because the defendants allegedly manufacture and distribute mobile phones containing software that infringes the plaintiff’s patents.”

They just can’t leave HTC alone, can they? Microsoft had extorted HTC using patents as well; HTC chose to settle to avoid legal action and potential embargoes. Speaking of embargoes (or injunctions), another example of the ITC being exploited for embargoes (using patent allegations before even a proper trial) can be seen in this new press release. So much for promoting innovation, eh? Promoting racketeering maybe… Microsoft has used the ITC for embargoes using patents for nearly a decade now.

“What’s a Patent Worth?”

“Patents are a lot like financial bubbles and are also an instrument of tax evasion some of the time.”That’s the headline of this article which says: “When a technology business fails, and the flesh of the going concern is stripped away, often the only thing that remains is a paper skeleton of potentially valuable patents. In 2011, Nortel Networks’ patent portfolio of wireless technology patents sold for $4.5 billion. A few years later in 2013, Kodak’s portfolio of digital imaging patents brought in $525 million. Now, Yahoo’s patent portfolio of nearly 3,000 patents is on the block, and experts estimate that it could sell for $1 billion. While “expert” valuations are not always accurate, (Nortel’s portfolio was initially valued at $1 billion, and Kodak’s portfolio was initially valued at $2.2-2.6 million; see http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/the-lowballing-of-kodaks-patent-portfolio) the estimates for Yahoo’s portfolio work out to more than $300,000 per patent, well in excess of the cost of acquisition.”

As we explained before, Yahoo’s patents are mostly software patents, thus they’re pretty worthless right now (after Alice).

Patents are a lot like financial bubbles and are also an instrument of tax evasion some of the time.

Hartig Drug Co. v Senju Pharmaceutical Co.

“Microsoft does this a lot to vendors that sell GNU/Linux, Chrome OS, and Android devices. It’s a form of extortion, depending on how it’s done and how severe the threats are, quality of patents (if disclosed) aside.”A patent maximalism site said about a fortnight ago: “Perhaps one of the most influential first year law school classes for the task of learning how to “think like a lawyer” is civil procedure. Particularly when the professor is bold enough to engage students on the intricacies of the topic, its intricacies can make for a challenging final exam. These experiences should come to mind for many antitrust lawyers when considering the Third Circuit’s decision in Hartig Drug Co. v. Senju Pharmaceutical Co., where the Court applied subject matter jurisdiction principles to reverse a District Court’s dismissal of Hartig’s antitrust allegations on the pleadings.”

Notice the antitrust element of it. It’s quite common when it comes to patent monopolies.

Asetek v AVC

“Patent lawyers say we need to respect patents, but they sure don’t respect copyrights some of the time.”This recent coverage of a case involving patents on cooling systems is also noteworthy. To quote: “The Asetek patents cover liquid cooling systems used to cool integrated circuits (such as those on a computer). Over the past several years, Asetek has sued several competitors for infringing the patents including CoolIT and Cooler Master. In 2014, Asetek sent AVC a letter accusing the company of infringing — however the letter mistakenly accuesd AVC of manufacturing the Liqmax 120s (it does not). After some letters back-and-forth, Asetek eventually sent a letter that it “believes that AVC is likely selling other infringing products in the United States.” After an unsuccessful meeting, AVC filed its declaratory judgment action. The question is whether these facts are sufficient to show an actual controversy between the parties.”

So this can formally become a lawsuit pretty soon, unless money is coughed out in pre-trial settlement. This too often turns out to be of an antitrust nature. Microsoft does this a lot to vendors that sell GNU/Linux, Chrome OS, and Android devices. It’s a form of extortion, depending on how it’s done and how severe the threats are, quality of patents (if disclosed) aside.

Stryker v Zimmer

Earlier this month we found some coverage of the case at MIP which explained: “The Federal Circuit has affirmed the jury’s finding of wilful infringement but vacated and remanded the district court’s award of treble damages, in its Stryker v Zimmer decision”

“Patent lawyers are so dishonest about so-called innovation, so why not plagiarise too?”We wrote about Stryker/Halo in the past. “The jury awarded Striker [sic] $70 million in lost profits,” explains another site. “On appeal,” it added, “the Federal Circuit affirmed as to infringement, validity and damages. [...] Most of the new Stryker opinion involves a recitation of the Federal Circuit’s previous opinion affirming the district court as to infringement and validity. The last three pages, however, deal with the § 284 enhancement issue on remand. What’s interesting is that the Federal Circuit is maintaining its bifurcated approach to enhancement of damages, first requiring a predicate willfulness determination followed by the judge’s discretionary determination of whether and how much to enhance damages. This is essentially the same process as before. See i4i Ltd. Partnership v. Microsoft Corp., 598 F.3d 831 (2010). Pre-Halo, the second step of the process (the district judge’s determination of whether and how much to enhance damages) was a totality-of-the circumstances analysis that was reviewed for abuse of discretion (i.e.: basically the same as the court required in Halo). Id. The Federal Circuit’s post-Halo approach to enhancement involves the same two steps, with the exception that the willfulness determination itself is guided by the holding in Halo rather than requiring the two-element objective/subjective determination of Halo. (The enhancement determination is too, but it’s hard to see much difference there.) Under Halo, the subjective component alone can be enough to establish willfulness.”

This was very good news for patent trolls. It still is.

Patent Lawyers and Plagiarism

“It sure looks as though patent trolling is a ‘thing’ in east Asia right now…”Patent lawyers say we need to respect patents, but they sure don’t respect copyrights some of the time. There is even plagiarism reported and potentially a lawsuit to provide evidence of it. “This creates some very interesting problems for lawyers,” said a patents pundit, “and calls to my mind the case a few years ago where a patent prosecutor was sued for using language from a patent in a specification for another client. I’m not a copyright lawyer, and so just raise this case for you to think.”

Patent lawyers are so dishonest about so-called innovation, so why not plagiarise too? Another article by Dennis Crouch speaks of patent malpractice today. It’s part of an outline of upcoming SCOTUS cases. To quote the introduction:

The Supreme Court will begin granting and denying petitions in early October. Meanwhile, several new petitions are now on file. Last week I wrote about the TC Heartland case as a mechanism for limiting venue. Without any good reason, the Federal Circuit overruled a 1957 Supreme Court case that had strictly limited patent venue as spelled out in the patent venue statute 1400(b). See VE Holdings (explaining its overruling of Fourco Glass). A result of VE Holdings is the expansive venue availability that facilitated the rise of E.D. Texas as the most popular patent venue. TC Heartland simply asks the Supreme Court reassert its Fourco holding – something that could almost be done with a one-line opinion: “REVERSED. See Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222 (1957).” The best arguments for the Federal Circuit’s approach are (1) the reasoning of Fourco itself is a bit dodgy; and (2) VE Holdings is well settled doctrine (decided 26 years ago) and Congress has revised the statutory provisions several times without amending. As a side note, several members of Congress have suggested they will act legislatively if SCOTUS fails to act.

Two new petitions (Grunenthal v. Teva and Purdue v. Epic) stem from the same Federal Circuit OxyContin case and focus on anticipation and obviousness respectively. Grunenthal v. Teva questions how ‘inherently’ operates for anticipation purposes. Purdue suggests that – despite the final sentence of Section 103, that the actual circumstances of the invention should be available to help prove non-obviousness (but still not be available to prove obviousness). Another new petition includes the BPCIA case Apotex v. Amgen that serves as a complement to the pending Sandoz case questioning the requirements and benefits of providing notice of commercial marketing.

USPTO is Getting Sued Again

“What they mean by “monetisation” is shakedown or a gentle form of blackmail.”Last week we wrote about fraud at the USPTO, or examiners defrauding taxpayers as Florian Müller and others chose to frame it. According to this article, the USPTO has another embarrassment to cope with. To quote: “In Hyatt v. USPTO, Civ. No. 16-1490 (D.Nevada, Filed June 22, 2016), Hyatt asks for injunctive relief to stop the PTO from repeatedly ‘reopening prosecution’ in his cases and consequently shielding the cases from judicial review by either the PTAB or Article III courts. Hyatt is experiencing the common reality of examiners reopening prosecution once an appeal brief is filed.”

The Ts: Patent Tax and Trolls

“Well, patents on corn oil extraction are deemed invalid by a court, probably because the USPTO just issues a patent for every piece of paper that comes in, leaving courts to clean up their mess.”In recent weeks we wrote about what had happened in east Asia, where patent trolling is becoming an epidemic. It sure looks as though patent trolling is a ‘thing’ in east Asia right now and here is IAM writing about a new non-practicing entity (IAM would never use the T word). To quote: “Just over a month since display maker Sharp came under the formal control of Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), big changes to its IP operations are already in the offing. Nikkei Asian Review reported on Tuesday that the Japanese company’s IP function would be hived off into a separate IP management company on October 3rd, with one goal being to create more value from Sharp’s massive global patent portfolio. Speaking exclusively to IAM, Foxconn IP chief YP Jou confirmed how the responsibilities for the Sharp portfolio will be divided within the sprawling Foxconn IP apparatus, and revealed the team’s priority when it comes to monetisation.”

What they mean by “monetisation” is shakedown or a gentle form of blackmail. Speaking of so-called ‘monetisation’, this new report says that “[f]ive big holders of cellular patents, including Qualcomm Inc., are joining an effort proposed by Ericsson AB to jointly license patents in an emerging field called the Internet of Things.”

“Some person with an MBA spreads some myths about patents right now, as if companies just can’t do without them.”Here comes the patent tax to surveillance of all Things (IoT). “Qualcomm has long derived a chunk of their revenue from licensing,” said this one person, “so this isn’t a big change for them.”

Qualcomm also came under heavy regulatory scrutiny for it. Watch what IAM wrote about this. These guys are looking at the surveillance of all Things (IoT) only from the point of view of patents; yes, patents alone.

Patents on Corny Stuff

“Unless we get engineers to enter the political systems, we’ll continue to have lawyers with their lawyer buddies from college writing laws, including patent laws.”Well, patents on corn oil extraction are deemed invalid by a court, probably because the USPTO just issues a patent for every piece of paper that comes in, leaving courts to clean up their mess. This new press release says that “GreenShift Corporation (OTCQB: GERS) provided an update regarding the ongoing patent infringement action involving GreenShift’s subsidiary, GS CleanTech Corporation (“CleanTech”), and its corn oil extraction patents.”

Corporate Domination of IP [sic] Law

Some person with an MBA spreads some myths about patents right now, as if companies just can’t do without them. Watch the corporate sob story: “It’s clear the current system is working for no one except those who want money for nothing. America’s inventive spirit has been the lifeblood of our economic growth for generations, moving us from horse-drawn carriages to electric cars in just over a century. Missteps by the courts, Congress, and the Patent Office have threatened to drive that underground, unwittingly rewarding a few large corporations happy to profit off the work of others at no cost to themselves. That’s not the American way.”

“…TPP threatens to spread software patents almost everywhere. It is a truly villainous back room deal and it should be crushed.”What he is trying to say is that people accused of infringement “want money for nothing” and that it’s the “American way” to give large companies monopolies, so as to prevent others from competing. He advocates protectionism, not an American way. Unless we get engineers to enter the political systems, we’ll continue to have lawyers with their lawyer buddies from college writing laws, including patent laws. It’s the sad truth. Here is another new lawyers’ congregation (EPIP) where they speak ‘on behalf’ of inventors, developers etc. Notice the “IP” in the event’s name. The notion of so-called ‘IP’ (an umbrella for several totally separate things) helps mislead people into equating patents with copyrights and secrets; this event wasn’t about patents as it covered other aspects of so-called ‘IP’ (an umbrella for several totally separate things) and when people say “IP” we should always ask them to be specific. IP means nothing; copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets do. Here is how EPIP started: “The plenary session kicked off with Professor Rochelle Dreyfuss highlighting the expansion of trade secrets protection globally, and the worrying potential unintended consequences. There are increasing concerns that trade secrets and economic espionage law in the US is being used to racially profile researchers. (Interesting coverage on the targeting of Chinese-American researchers here.) Dreyfuss discussed the potential negative impact of non-compete clauses on innovation, employees and economic growth. She argued that criminalisation related to trade secrets generates an especially strong chilling effect as high-tech workers are unwilling to risk incarceration. Dreyfuss also observed that TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) does not create a minimum trade secrets standard, and is trying to express a new norm that information shouldn’t be free.”

Just to remind readers, TPP threatens to spread software patents almost everywhere. It is a truly villainous back room deal and it should be crushed.

09.18.16

After McRO v Namco Case (at CAFC) the Patent Microcosm Works Overtime to Produce Pro-Software Patents Propaganda, Smear the Supreme Court

Posted in America, Australia, Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 3:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Writing their nonsense only when it helps them attract ‘sales’ (where desired ‘products’ are typically lawsuits)

A typewriter

Summary: Increasingly desperate to convince people to pursue software patents and/or use their software patents to initiate growingly risky lawsuits (high risk of losing), the patent microcosm hugs McRO v Namco while distorting the complete record of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on this subject

WITH patent quality still a huge problem at the USPTO, as we last noted in our previous post, it’s only expected that many invalid software patents remain inside the system, probably hundreds of thousands of them (some have expired by now and will thus never be invalidated).

After Alice (2014 decision by the Supremes) a lot of software patents essentially became invalid, but only upon reassessment/assertion/challenge/appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), quite notably, finds them invalid about 80%-90% of the time. CAFC is where software patents typically come to die (the question has not returned to the Supreme Court since 2014). There’s rarely a chance for appeal after that, maybe just a referral or some other extraordinary circumstances.

“They’re most upset at (and growingly vicious against) PTAB because it reverses decisions to grant (post-grant) at a very high rate and at a low cost (to the petitioner/appellant).”Patent lawyers are rightly upset (from their point of view that is hinged on profits from legal fees) at the Supremes for ‘interfering’ with the patenting of software. They are also upset at CAFC for invaliding so many software patents. They’re most upset at (and growingly vicious against) PTAB because it reverses decisions to grant (post-grant) at a very high rate and at a low cost (to the petitioner/appellant).

How do patent law firms respond to the current situation? Simple! They lie. They cherry-pick, they spread half-truths, they insult judges, they shame or block other people (yours truly included), and they generally show their true selfish selves. I have spent years writing about this and I saw how bad this can get. These people are not friends of investors and inventors. They’re leeches. They just try to come across as professional, objective, and law-abiding.

Last week we wrote several articles about McRO v Namco noting (quite correctly as it turned out) that patent law firms would start another Enfish-like extravaganza in the press. They latch onto this decision in an effort to market themselves and mislead the public (potential clients). Here, in one of their blogs, the predators are trying to take down the Supreme Court’s decision on Alice. Section 101 is named as though it’s a nuisance that needs to be removed. Here is one of the predators saying that he is “not sure CAFC using “preemption” in same way envisioned by SCOTUS in Alice-MCRO seems more like “passes step 2″ case” (refers to steps in the law).

“They just try to come across as professional, objective, and law-abiding.”An ‘article’ or ‘analysis’ (really marketing/self promotion) by Joel Bock, David Metzger, andEric Sophir of Dentons says “McRo decision gives software/computer-based patents a big boost,” but that’s pure sensationalism. This headline is wishful thinking nonsense as it ignores ~90% of CAFC’s decisions on the subject. How convenient…

Where were sites like these each time CAFC ruled AGAINST software patents? Don’t believe patent lawyers who say software patents in the US are suddenly fine. For those who think it’s just an isolated article or few articles, see also [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. We don’t have time to rebut each of these individually, but what we have here is rigged “media” of lawyers. Over 20 articles have been produced about a CAFC decision in favour of software patents and usually there are zero or very few about decisions against software patents. “Liars” might not be the right word to describe the authors by; they’re just opportunistic and they are selectively covering things so as to promote software patents under the guise of ‘analysis’. We saw this many times before and provided evidence of it.

“Don’t believe patent lawyers who say software patents in the US are suddenly fine.”Noteworthy is the fact that the legal firm which fought for software patents here is the same firm that works for Microsoft (on patents) and the EPO hired to bully me (Mishcon de Reya). Here is their press release about it. They are clearly hostile towards people like me, for at least 3 reasons (EPO pays them to send me threatening legal letters, Microsoft pays them to fight on the patent front, and they are working to defend software patents). Speaking of Microsoft, the company still says it “loves Linux” but it also loves software patents which are inherently not compatible with Linux. Here is yet another ‘article’ (from a Microsoft advocacy site) showing that Microsoft celebrates the above decision. We gave another example of this several days ago. The intersection of interests here is uncanny.

What did Watchtroll say about all this? We mentioned some of his responses before (widely-cited by others in the patent microcosm on the face of it), but now there’s more on other subjects [1, 2], still advancing a patent maximalism agenda (as if limiting patent scope is a sin).

Proponents of software patents, including those who track the impact of Alice closely, latch onto this one single decision in favour of a software patent while mostly ignoring the rest.

IAM’s writers, longtime propagandists of software patents and PTAB bashers, carry on passing off agenda as 'news', this time with the headline “After the CAFC’s Planet Blue decision early Alice motions may now fade away” (citing only the patent microcosm, e.g. a partner in New York-based firm Kroub Silbersher & Kolmykov).

“Proponents of software patents, including those who track the impact of Alice closely, latch onto this one single decision in favour of a software patent while mostly ignoring the rest.”We are still waiting for IAM to give a platform not just to patent lawyers who profit from software patents but actual programmers. Not that it ever happens…

“In the following piece,” IAM wrote, “Silbersher argues that the true significance of the case is not what it says about software patentability, but in the way it may affect how and when courts handle motions to dismiss based on the Supreme Court’s Alice decision. Read with the earlier CAFC judgments in Enfish and Bascom, Silbersher states, Alice motions at the front end of a litigation are set to become significantly less attractive. For patent owners, that is very good news.”

That’s just another example of lawyers name-dropping Enfish and Bascom, hoping that readers will pay attention to none of the other decisions (all against software patents as of late). This isn’t reporting, it’s lobbying.

Speaking of lobbying, David Kappos rears his ugly head again. He was hired by large corporations including IBM (his former employer) to help demolish Section 101 and “IBM’s Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter welcomed the McRO decision,” according to the above. Indeed, based on his tweet, IBM is still against the Supreme Court and for software patents. Benjamin Henrion told him that “freedom of programming is a one liner.”

“How far will the patent lawyers go in their attempt to save software patents?”The software patents proponents of IBM, a huge patent bully, are at it again. They just don’t seem to care what the Supremes say. Here comes IAM trying to shoot down Section 101 at a legislative level. To quote: “Of course, the likes of former Chief Judge Michel would argue that the fundamental test that the court is trying to apply to determine whether something is patent eligible remains inherently flawed. But as the case law on 101 as it applies to software begins to mount from the Federal Circuit, members of the tech community can at least rest a little easier that question marks no longer hang over large parts of their patent portfolios. If nothing else, that is to be welcomed.”

IAM says that “members of the tech community can at least rest a little easier” with software patents, but that’s a lie because technical people dislike these. Reading IAM about patents is like watching Fox ‘news’ coverage of all things Obama. It’s just agenda disguised/dressed up as news. It’s agenda presented in the form of ‘news’, and truly a great service to Battistelli when he needs to support some lies of his.

Watch the patent microcosm trying to resurrect software patents by trashing the Supreme Court [1, 2] in light of the above. It’s like that pack of hyenas we wrote about a week ago. How far will the patent lawyers go in their attempt to save software patents?

“Is the Technology for Self-Driving Cars Patent-Eligible?”

“Had the USPTO never granted these software patents, all these efforts, time and money (going into the pockets of patent law firms) would be spared.”That’s the headline of this new ‘analysis’ from the patent microcosm, writing about software patents that are disguised as 'device' (cars), prior art being the driver. The answer is probably no; no for the courts but yes for the USPTO, which continues to grant almost everything that comes in, irrespective of quality, scope, prior art, etc. The examiners cheat on their timesheets (defrauding taxpayers), so shoddy work seems to be the norm. Here we have an article about Goldman Sachs filing for software patents on electronic payments — the one area where the invalidation rate of software patents is extremely high (around 90% of patents invalidated). Blockstream says it is pursuing patents in this area/domain, but it has not got any. Patent examiners oughtn’t grant any, either (citing the CLS Bank case).

Elsewhere in the news we find this short docker report about a case in the court of choice of patent trolls, one of several in the Eastern District of Texas. It upholds software patents, as usual, probably because it’s a farce of a court and it likes to brag about being friendly to the plaintiffs, especially trolls. Upon appeal, and if it reaches CAFC (expensive), the patent would probably be invalidated. This can be a rather traumatic experience to people who thought they had earned valid patents from the USPTO. Take the case of Keith Raniere; he used several software patents for frivolous litigation and got penalised very badly for it, as we noted earlier this month. Another new report about it says: “The plaintiff, Keith Raniere, filed the suit in February 2015 against AT&T and Microsoft, alleging the companies were using a number of his patents for intelligent switching systems for voice and data. In his lawsuit, Raniere claimed that AT&T used the software patents in its AT&T Connect service and Microsoft used the patents in its Lync 2010 products. [...] Following dismissal, both AT&T and Microsoft filed a motion to have their attorney fees covered by Raniere. AT&T requested that $935,300 be paid by the plaintiff and Microsoft presented $202,000 in costs and fees to be covered. Lynn requested both parties present proof of the costs and fees incurred from the case and denied Raniere any chance to correct or modify his lawsuit.”

Had the USPTO never granted these software patents, all these efforts, time and money (going into the pockets of patent law firms) would be spared. But therein lies the key point. The greater the mess, the more profit the patent microcosm makes. This isn’t only a US problem but a European one too (see all the UPC lobbying).

“The greater the mess, the more profit the patent microcosm makes.”We previously wrote about software patents in Australia (they sort of exist). This new post from the patent microcosm says: “The expansive approach of NRDC was subsequently relied upon by the Federal Court in 1991 to establish that computer programs were not excluded from patent eligibility under Australian law, a decision that effectively opened the gates for software patents in Australia.”

As we wrote about this before, we can safely say that Australian software developers are upset by that. They never wanted such patents; it’s the patent microcosm that did (while trying to convince developers that they too need software patents).

Poor Quality Control at the US Patent Office Gives Birth to ‘Unpatent’ and Gives a Voice to Critics

Posted in America, Patents at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unpatent

Summary: The USPTO must up its game on patent quality (not relying on PTAB and the courts correcting its errors after the grants) or face growing backlash that tarnishes its public image

When rogue entities like patent trolls and greedy lawyers virtually take over the patent system (for self enrichment, not for innovation) it leads to blowback like this. That’s just what happens when your patent office approves nearly every crappy application:

Unpatent Launches Combination Crowdfunding/Crowdsourcing Platform To Invalidate Stupid Patent

I’m always super interested in new ideas for hacking the patent system to get around just how broken it is — and the fact that Congress still seems to have no real desire to fix things — mainly because some of the largest patent system exploiters are standing in the way of necessary reform. So it’s always cool to hear of new ideas to try to fix things without having to bother with changing the law.

The latest interesting idea: Unpatent — a combination crowdfunding/crowdsourcing platform with the goal of invalidating stupid patents. Each stupid patent gets its own crowdfunding campaign, in which Unpatent looks to raise at least $20,000. This money does two things: it is used to pay for a legal challenge (a so-called “ex parte” challenge) of the patent at the Patent Office and to pay out rewards to those who find the compelling prior art to invalidate the patent. As you’ve likely figured out by now, that’s where the crowdsourcing comes in. Individuals can submit their own prior art examples, and if their examples are used in invalidating the patent, they can share in some of the money raised.

They’re kicking it off by challenging a patent on customizing stuff on the internet. It’s US Patent 8,738,435 on a “method and apparatus for presenting personalized content relating to offered products and services.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because it was EFF’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” back in February. The company holding this patent, Phoenix Licensing, has filed a bunch of troll lawsuits in (of course) the Eastern District of Texas.

This sounds similar to initiatives we covered before. People clearly understand that the USPTO (and growingly the EPO too) grants many patents in error. Being granted a patent these days does not mean you invented something novel, at least not until some court looks properly into it (profound analysis).

“Despite Ongoing Efforts,” says this new headline from IP Watch (perhaps referring to PTAB, which is under a constant attack), “USPTO Still Faces Patent Quality Issues” and to quote the outline: “The US Patent and Trademark Office continues to face claims of low patent quality despite a major initiative to address the situation. The agency has been the subject of several critical reports by oversight agencies and recently defended its patent quality improvements before Congress. Patent practitioners say that while patent quality may not actually have worsened over the past few years, the USPTO’s ongoing lack of financial and other resources, and inconsistent judicial decisions, are among the factors causing problems.”

One might think that the USTPO should heed the warning and stop issuing software patents. The courts sure don’t like them. But no, the USPTO’s examiners grant new software patents even though courts continue to invalidate them (new example). Is this quality control?

Here is a new brag that says “CyberArk, the cybersecurity company, announced on Wednesday (Sept. 14) it was awarded another patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for security risk detection technology.”

Again, that’s a software patent. There are many more like it and they serve to show that examiners at the USPTO are still doing a poor job. If there were to apply Section 101 (Alice), then these applications would not get far.

Efforts such as Unpatent serves to damage the legitimacy of the USPTO (affecting also its reputation when it comes to trademarks, not just patents), so it’s in the interest of the Office to correct this, in lieu with the recent reports of GAO.

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