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01.21.17

Shakeup Against Patent Parasites in the US and More Rumours/Speculations About USPTO Director Michelle Lee After Trump’s Inauguration

Posted in America, Apple, Patents at 5:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The US patent system is becoming ever more hostile towards patent trolls, owing in part to reforms introduced under Michelle Lee’s tenure, but people are still not certain that she will maintain her job and continue to fix the system

THE phones that are being made in east Asia are attracting many patent parasites and patent trolls, as we last noted yesterday. The same goes for tablets, wristbands, watches etc. albeit their overall worth (or market size) is relatively small. Qualcomm has been one among the top parasites in this area (harming both Android OEMs and Apple) and its behaviour is belatedly getting the attention of the FTC, not too long after it published a study about PAEs (a sort/type of patent trolls). The corporate media including Reuters is still writing about it:

Apple files $1 billion lawsuit against chip supplier Qualcomm

Apple Inc filed a $1 billion lawsuit against supplier Qualcomm Inc on Friday, days after the U.S. government filed a lawsuit that accused the chip maker of resorting to anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over a key semiconductor in mobile phones.

Qualcomm is a major supplier to both Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd for “modem” chips that help phones connect to wireless networks. The two companies together accounted for 40 percent of Qualcomm’s $23.5 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year.

IAM’s slant on the news wants us to think that Trump is going to change it all, even though there are no indications of any imminent changes at the USPTO. The article starts as follows:

After an investigation lasting more than two years, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Qualcomm on Tuesday over what it alleges are the chipmaker’s anti-competitive practices in the supply of its baseband processors and the licensing of its patent portfolio. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California, is the latest example of Qualcomm’s licensing practices being placed under the microscope by regulators around the world.

The FTC’s case is framed around three main points: first, that Qualcomm adopted a “no licence, no chips” policy, whereby it refused to sell its chips to those companies that declined to take a licence to its patent portfolio; second, that the tech giant refused to license its competitors; and, finally, that Qualcomm put in place a deal with Apple in which the iPhone maker was precluded from sourcing baseband processors from competitors from 2011 to 2016.

IAM then veers off into seemingly irrelevant spin involving Trump. According to this short update, confusion over the vocation of the USPTO remains. To quote Patently-O:

Folks are having fun today with Federal Government web page conversions.

We still do not have confirmation that Michelle Lee will stay-on as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director. The newly updated COMMERCE.GOV website shows the position vacant while other positions remain filled.

It should all be figured out by Monday.

Lee’s roots in east Asia and Trump’s rhetoric against China (unlike Taiwan, which he uses as a sort of provocative weapon where he also has business investment) is something which we mentioned before in relation to this. As mentioned by many people before, Trump’s appointments are predominantly white, male, straight, and old (sometimes also corrupt). Someone like Rader seems like he fits the bill.

It will be interesting to see what happens this coming week and we shall watch it closely.

There are meanwhile some developments in the patent world that are worth noting. In Taiwan, for example, according to this new article, invalidity of a patent can have a ripple effect. “In patent infringement civil lawsuits,” it says, “the accused party cannot only claim invalidity of the patent with the civil court, but can also initiate a cancellation action with the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) for the invalidation of the patent. Such a two-track mechanism may lead to a difference of opinion between the civil court and TIPO.”

A lot of US patents are being invalidated these days,

“Visually negligible” is another type of subject which is being explored. We covered it earlier this month.

Right now we are eager to see an unambiguous confirmation of Lee’s (re)appointment.

01.20.17

Watchtroll and His Swamp Still Blame Google (Where Michelle Lee Came From) for Improving and Gradually Fixing Aspects of the US Patent System

Posted in America, Google, Patents at 11:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One Watchtroll author showed his professionalism just moments ago (promoting that baseless conspiracy theory about Google and Kushner):

Paul Morinville on Google

Summary: Shooting the messengers (even wrongly associating yours truly with Google) in an effort to undermine patent reform when it is so desperately needed due to serious injustices

The news about Michelle Lee — truly good news which we mentioned here last night and again this afternoon — has made it into corporate media (e.g. [1, 2]) and more blogs that focus on patents, e.g. Watchtroll citing this latter article to state: “Some are speculating that a meeting between Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Jared Kushner, the influential son-in-law of President-Elect Trump, may be the reason why Lee will be asked to remain as head of the Patent Office.”

Remember that Watchtroll and his swamp like to blame Google for everything (they did some nasty pieces about it), if not insult Lee directly. They want us to believe that patent reform is the fault of Google and that Google is some kind of “pirate”. They would rather see corruption at the top (with rumours about Rader) as long as it serves their agenda. “I would expect significant shake-up in PTO Senior Staff in the coming months,” Patently-O wrote several days ago, but that didn’t quite happen as far as the Director was concerned. To quote:

Recognize that these transitions and traditions are subject to immediate adjustment by the incoming Trump Administration. I would expect significant shake-up in PTO Senior Staff in the coming months: General Counsel, regional PTO Directors, and perhaps Solicitor and PTAB Director. However, every president struggles through how to deal with career federal employees loyal to the efforts of the prior administration.

When we speak about patent corruption we speak about all sorts of things, ranging from nepotism to vastly worse thing. One issue that emerged some days ago in Patently-O was akin to privateering. “The Bayh-Dole Act,” explains this new post, “allows private entities to patent inventions developed through federal funding.”

Sometimes they even sell these to trolls, as we showed here before. “The [James Love-run] KEI filing,” the above notes, “is in the form of a letter to Inspector General of HHS (parent of NIH) asking for an investigation and action.”

For those who are not aware of what’s wrong with the above(not just privateering), basically it’s about enriching someone using public (taxpayers’) money and then letting that same someone get patents and tax the public (taxpayers) yet again. It is an incredibly huge injustice that ought to be tackled by the government. Another new example of privateering-like practices came from IP Watch just yesterday. To quote: “A range of civil society organisations have issued a public statement opposing the United States Army’s proposed grant of an exclusive licence on technology necessary to produce a Zika vaccine to French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The letter cites concerns that the exclusive licence might violate US law and could lead to high priced medicines as consumers buy back taxpayer-funded research.”

Also see yesterday’s article “Why Patent Protection In The Drug Industry Is Out Of Control” (not exactly what it sounds like).

It sure sounds like more journalists and observers out there are starting to ‘get’ it. All these issues need to be tackled. Blaming “Google” for every bit of patent reform is immature — possibly infantile enough only for Watchtroll to actually do.

In an Age of Necessary Patent Reform and Permanent Uncertainty for Software Patents the Patent Microcosm Looks for Workarounds and Spin

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 9:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Source: “Patent Office head to keep spot in Trump administration” (report from yesterday)

Michelle Lee on software patents and trolls

Summary: Commentary on the status quo in the Michelle Lee era and some examples of bias from the patent microcosm, as well as news regarding the NFL getting sued by the Kudelski Group

THE PAST couple of years have been very encouraging for patent reformers. Reformist transitions are occurring (except in the EPO and SIPO) which limit patent scope in lieu with public interest and those who make a living purely out of patents aren’t liking any of it. It has gotten so bad that they now insult the USPTO's Director, insult examiners, and even insult judges. What next? Will racist attack too become prevalent?

“Nothing seems to be going in favour of the patent microcosm these days, especially not high-profile cases.”National Law Review, a large publication which covers patents among many other things, has this new list of “Intellectual Property Cases to Watch in 2017″. Nothing in the list challenges Alice itself (a de facto ban on many is not most software patents) and number 2 in the list can be the end to most patent trolls. 2017 should be interesting, we believe, unless Trump makes a mess of it with SCOTUS nominations/appointments which go beyond filling Scalia’s empty seat (swapping one Republican bigot with another).

Watchtroll, still trying to recover from the ‘horrible’ news which is more of the same (patent reform), now complains about § 101 (related to Alice) broadening its scope to challenge yet more patents. Nothing seems to be going in favour of the patent microcosm these days, especially not high-profile cases. They know it and they desperately cherry-pick cases to make it look as though they are gaining ground.

“We hope that Director Lee will add some more judges to the PTAB.”Computer vision is my professional field of research. I used to write a lot more about patents in this area and why they oughtn’t be granted (it's all reducible to mathematics and can be conceptualised with pen and paper). Vision patents are generally patents that oughtn’t be granted, yet the USPTO has just let another one slip in. Someone should petition PTAB for an IPR (inter partes review), but PTAB is already overworked and arguably understaffed. We hope that Director Lee will add some more judges to the PTAB. This would help improve the image and value of US patents.

Writing about SCOTUS, Minter Ellison, a law firm, recalls the Alice moment, not mesmorising but mourning. “Approximately two years ago,” it says, “the US Supreme court in the Alice decision considered the in principle patentability of software patents. Since then, gaining US software patents has been very difficult. In 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the ‘Court’) has considered numerous appeals from district courts relating to patentable subject matter. This blog post discusses the two-step test from the Alice decision and how the test was applied by the Court in 2016, the developing trends for patentable subject matter in the US as it relates to software patents and the take-away messages for 2017.”

As can be expected from a firm that profits from software patenting, tips are offered therein for dodging or side-stepping the rules, thus sneaking software patents past examiners (until or unless courts/PTAB throw these way). Here is a similar new guide for getting business method patents past examiners, based on the latest eligibility guidelines:

About a week before the holidays, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office quietly published a trio of new subject matter eligibility examples directed to the abstract idea exception to patentability. These are the latest in a series of examples provided by the USPTO to its examining corps, the series including previous examples published in December 2014, January 2015, and July 2015 (other USPTO publications include example claims directed to the law of nature and natural phenomenon exceptions). While the focus of this guidance is to educate examiners about how to determine whether pending claims are valid under 35 U.S.C. § 101, practitioners and patentees will find the examples to be helpful when considering how to draft and amend claims.

A lawyers’ portal, one which is even more overt, does very little to hide its bias as it gives tips for promoting and defending software patents in an age when they’re dying. “There are key concepts,” it says, “but no bright line rules on software patents. The best approach is to follow the common law, comparing and contrasting prior patent cases.”

The problem is, they’re typically cherry-picking only the cases which suit their agenda. It leads to bad advice, e.g. to clients or to readers of their so-called ‘analyses’. Trying to improve one’s chance of success is not in itself a problem; that’s what lawyers do. Some new advice like “importance of a prior art search” is better because it’s not about misleading examiners (or judges) but about ensuring one’s idea is really innovative and thus eligible.

“Software patents are a pain in the behind to a lot of producing (or productive) companies out there.”Sadly, not only patent law firms encourage the ‘tricking’ of examiners. IBM is doing that too (the former Director of the USPTO in fact came from IBM and is still being paid by IBM) and the corporate media fails to critically assess IBM's aggressive behaviour, to the point where even weeks later IBM is celebrated as some kind of champion, simply because it paints software patents as “cloud” (buzzword) or AI (an older buzzword).

Software patents are a pain in the behind to a lot of producing (or productive) companies out there. IBM now attacks a lot of legitimate companies, including medium-sized ones. According to the latest news, even the NFL has found itself sued by such patents (plenty of press coverage this week, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]). Lawsuits are a symptom of disagreement over patents. They are far from the ideal outcome and they are desirable to nobody except patent lawyers.

Michelle Lee, USPTO Director, Should Recognise That the Patent Microcosm is Her Enemy Which Hates Her

Posted in America, Patents at 8:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No comment necessary…

Paul Morinville sickened

Summary: The latest outburst from the patent microcosm, which has a temper issue and notorious disdain for judges it does not agree with, is more of what we have come to expect

WE now know that Lee is here to stay. There is a mixture of reactions, with left-leaning folks like the EFF celebrating the news (collective sigh), whereas the patent microcosm gets all ugly.

“A lot of technologists truly appreciate the reforms implemented under her wing.”Jeff Roberts has provided some excellent news coverage regarding patents this past year and he is happy about the news, unlike Watchtroll and his swamp (part of the software patents lobbying swamp), who bemoan the news and get all rude about it (Paul Morinville in this case, a regular author at Watchtroll). Here is what Watchtroll wrote two days ago: “A second credible source confirmed for me that Michelle Lee was attempting to stay on as Director. This confirmation came from an independent channel of information separate from the initial lead given to me earlier in the day. I was told that PTO Officials were refusing to confirm or deny any rumors relative to Lee, both on and off the record.”

Seeing all the hate directed at Lee reinforces our view that she has been a good Director and we encourage her to continue doing what she has done over the past couple of years. A lot of technologists truly appreciate the reforms implemented under her wing. Those who suffer the most are those who are taxing technologists, as they are becoming growingly obsolete.

01.19.17

Shame on MapR for Pursuing Software Patents While Pretending to Stand for Free/Open Source Software

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 6:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MapR

Summary: The patents gold rush sees another company joining the ‘fun’, albeit this company should campaign hard against software patents rather than pursue any

After all that openwashing (or “open” marketing) by MapR, today we were greeted by headlines such as “MapR claims open source big data victory with patent award” and “MapR Nabs a Patent for its Converged Data Platform” (that’s software). CBR says the patent “covers key components such as protection for file, table and stream processing for technology advances such as convergence, fast processing with low latency, high availability and Strong consistency, and security.”

“If MapR intends to join the patents gold rush, then it is not a serious cooperative participant in the Hadoop community.”We can’t quite see a cause for celebration here because any new (additional) software patent is a case of adding fire to the fire, no matter who pursues and gets granted such a patent. There are no “good” software patents; there are benign ones, like those which got invalidated and can therefore not be sold, either (e.g. Red Hat getting liquidated and having its patents sold to trolls, or acquired in a potentially hostile takeover by a patent aggressor).

We recently noted that Blockstream had no patents yet oddly enough pledged not to sue using patents (which we therefore assume it was pursuing). We more recently wrote about the patent menace around Blockchain [1, 2] and now there is this new article about it:

Banks, Startups and Trolls to Duke Over Blockchain?

Reports came out during the holiday season last year of banks quietly stocking up on blockchain patents. Banks will compete with startups making the same moves. They will also compete for patents with trolls who suppress innovation.

The future of blockchain innovation depends on who exactly holds the keys to blockchain technology.

Trolls

Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Mastercard have all submitted requests for and hold patents for blockchain technologies.

The Economist reported that “startups, including Coinbase, Chain and 21 Inc, have been busy, too.”

If MapR intends to join the patents gold rush, then it is not a serious cooperative participant in the Hadoop community. It needs to rethink its strategy, wherever it got it from (probably some self-serving law firm/s), then focus on development and dissemination of code, not patents.

Doomsday Scenario in the Back Mirror as Michelle Lee Keeps Her Job (and Much-Needed Patent Reform) at the USPTO

Posted in America, Patents at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law is very slow to evolve, but under Lee (on the left below) it has evolved nicely

USPTO panel

Summary: The future of patent reform, i.e. tackling overpatenting and patent trolls, looks somewhat more promising with today’s confirmation of Lee’s ‘extended tenure’ at the Office

THE USPTO remains in fairly safe hands with Michelle Lee in charge. Despite some worrisome reports of rumours that she was leaving earlier today IAM wrote: “BREAKING NEWS – IAM understands an announcement could be made today that Michelle Lee will remain as USPTO Director in Trump administration.”

Shortly thereafter it published an article about it and it says the following:

Michelle Lee set to remain as Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office under the Trump administration

Well-placed sources have told IAM that the USPTO could announce as early as today that Michelle Lee will continue as the agency’s director under the Trump administration when the new President takes office following his inauguration tomorrow. If confirmed, the reappointment would not be subject to approval from the Senate.

Lee has helped make the USPTO “Great Again” by improving patent quality and tightening scope, unlike David Kappos, her predecessor who now receives money from big corporations to lobby for the USPTO to get worse again. Shame on him. Never again!

In the mean time, the Wall Street media says that infringement litigation figures — not just over patents but also over copyrights — are down sharply. The gist of it:

Intellectual property infringement complaints in U.S. federal courts dropped in 2016 from a year ago, driven by declines in patent and copyright infringement claims, Bloomberg Law data shows.

Patent infringement filings totaled 4,624 complaints in 2016. That represented a 22 percent drop from a year earlier, as recent case law and regulation have made it tougher for patent licensing companies, also called non-practicing entities (NPEs), to mount and win legal fights. Patent infringement complaint filings rose steadily starting in 2010 and peaked in 2013, when 6,314 cases were filed in federal courts.

We pessimistically thought that Trump would make the patent litigation mess "Great Again" (he still can, but with Lee in charge even after his inauguration it remains to be seen). We don’t know who was behind the decision to keep Lee in charge and whether that can change after Trump’s inauguration (we hope not). These are somewhat political appointments and today is the Democrats’ last day in charge.

Speaking of litigation numbers going down (under Lee’s watch), the trolls’ business is declining and Detkin’s move away (partly away) from Intellectual Ventures is certainly a good sign. Even a trolls-funded ‘news’ site, which habitually grooms Intellectual Ventures, tacitly that admits patent trolling is an iffy/dying business. See this week’s article:

But it was Detkin’s move that looked particularly significant. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the IV co-founder and Rivette are two legends of the patent transactions and strategy world. As our story made clear, the pair estimated that they have been behind around $5 billion-worth of IP-related deals. Having scaled back his IV workload in late 2014, Detkin will continue to spend 50% of his time working for the patent giant, while joining forces with Rivette will enable him to focus more on advising larger companies on their IP strategies.

These moves come at a time when we’re seeing a huge shakeout in the licensing industry. Over the last few years large numbers of senior executives, some with very respectable track records have been on the move, in many cases not of their own volition as assertion strategies have struggled. With that in mind a comment last week from Rivette stood out in particular. “It’s not just about focusing on monetisation anymore,” he remarked. “Instead it is a lot more nuanced than can we sue or sell.”

Trolls are more reluctant to sue after Alice. See what recently happened to Intellectual Ventures at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). It lost so badly that judge Mayer eliminated not only Intellectual Ventures’ software patents but also — by extrapolation/extension — almost all software patents out there.

01.17.17

Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Donald Trump's friend Bill Gates as President is likely good news for Bill’s close friend, Nathan Myhrvold from Intellectual Ventures

Nathan Myhrvold as Trump

Summary: Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism

With President (starting Friday) Donald Trump rumoured to be putting a corrupt man in charge of the USPTO (a man who also promotes software patents and defends patent trolls) we have some legitimate reasons for concern. United for Patent Reform said: “The best thing the administration and Congress can do is to let USPTO continue on this course” (citing an article we mentioned here a few days ago). But the Director of the USPTO is said to be on her way out and Trump is likely to nominate/appoint some pro-business Conservatives to SCOTUS Justice positions. Not too promising…

As Patently-O has just put it in its SCOTUS 2017 patent review:

A new Supreme Court justice will likely be in place by the end of April, although the Trump edition is unlikely to substantially shake-up patent law doctrine in the short term.

Patent trolls are a symptom of the patent maximalism syndrome. When even basic algorithms are considered patentable a whole lot of companies become easy litigation targets and some opportunistic non-producing firms exploit that.

Pieter Hintjens died a few months ago and he knows the cost of being a target of patent trolls. “If you have not read it yet,” Benjamin Henrion told me, “there is a chapter in Confessions of a Necromancer [PDF] on AllisBlue patent troll” (mentioned here 7 years ago as it attacked many companies).

“When I started to work with him in late 2005, he was firing all the people that were working on the SMS@ gateway project. Search for SMS@ in the PDF, there are other mentions as well.”

Here is one of the relevant parts from the PDF:

Around the same time, I got involved in the FFII, fighting software patents in Europe. One of my motivations was that our SMS@ application had been attacked by a patent troll (AllIsBlue). I’d fought back by building an industry association, yet was the only firm willing to take a stance. In the end I shut the app and fired that team, too.

Fighting software patents was easy at that stage. The FFII was in chaos after a long and hard fight in the European Parliament to defeat a law that would have let firms patent software, along the American model. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me yet, I was elected president. Somewhat out of nowhere, I’d no such ambition.

Sadly, the US continues to have an epidemic of patent trolls, albeit the problem is getting smaller. It is always a very bad sign when company has nothing to show except patents. Here is an example from last night. This is all BOS Global has to show:

Then there is also Microsoft, which totally failed in the mobile market (barely any sales!) and increasingly relies on patent blackmail against Android, ChromeOS, and other operating systems with Linux in them. Last night we found at least a dozen articles in English about the latest Microsoft patent, e.g. [1, 2], including puff pieces from Microsoft boosters. How long before Microsoft uses this patent to extort if not embargo Linux-based products? In the same way it has done for almost a decade…

“If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.”Also based on news from last night, Cisco uses patents to embargo its competition yet again [1, 2, 3]. Background about Cisco’s strategy of using patents to virtually embargo Arista’s products can be found in [1, 2, 3].

It’s going to be interesting to see if later in the year patent aggression and trolling will see a resurgence. If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.

01.15.17

Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The legal paper ‘industry’ is walking away, gradually

Moving paperwork

Summary: Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform

IN ORDER to understand what goes on in the mysterious (or cryptic) world of patent trolls we often turn to IAM ‘magazine’, which is paid by some trolls to embellish or soften their image. We read IAM ‘magazine’ very critically and try to extract from it some morsels of information. The other day we saw IAM ‘magazine’ conflating patents with “markets” again, as if patents are products up on the shelf or something (to trolls they are). It was also writing about this patent troll which got fed by Stanford University, whose patents were derived from publicly-funded research. To quote some background to this:

WiLAN has stepped up its campaign against the growing personal digital assistant market filing six lawsuits before and after Christmas against a series of big tech companies including Amazon and HTC over patents that underpin Siri, the popular electronic assistant on Apple devices. The most recent case was filed on Tuesday against ZTE in district court in Delaware, bringing the total number of suits that the NPE’s subsidiary IPA Technologies has filed in this campaign to 11.

WiLAN acquired the patents in question in two tranches, including a package of nine grants in May 2016, from SRI International, a non-profit research institute which spun out of Stanford University more than 40 years ago. SRI began developing the technology for a voice-controlled electronic assistant following a grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), eventually setting up Siri Inc which was spun out as an independent entity in 2007 and was then bought by Apple in 2010.

We wrote about WiLAN many times before (6 years ago we named the person behind it, Jim Skippen). It’s regarded or understood to have become a pain in the bottom to a lot of Linux/Android OEMs, not just to companies like Apple. It’s a destructive entity which Canada should take shame — not pride — in.

The other day IAM also mentioned RPX, which is a massive troll that Microsoft joined 7 years ago. IAM wrote about it in the context of litigation decline — a subject which we covered here many times in the latter half of 2016. America Invents Act and PTAB had a lot to do with this decline, as IAM admits:

The headline numbers for the 2016 litigation year in the US were out last week and showed a big drop in the total number of new patent infringement cases. According to Unified Patents there were 4,382 new cases, a drop of almost 25% on the 2015 figure. That is the lowest level since 2011 when the America Invents Act (AIA) came into force and new joinder rules had a significant inflationary effect on litigation volume.

RPX also released some stats and included a numbers of interesting data points. Among them was a big fall in the number of NPE campaigns against companies with revenues of $50 billion or more. Those companies are, of course, typically among the most popular targets for licensing efforts but they’re also the ones most likely to fight back in long, drawn-out lawsuits.

RPX basically speaks of itself, as it tends to engulf and attack large entities. After Alice and some of the aforementioned reforms we don’t expect RPX to find quite the same level of ‘success’ (shakedown). In fact, like many other trolls we hope it will cease operations. We know for a fact that Intellectual Ventures is suffering and even laying off a lot of staff.

The patent microcosm, growingly irritated by the sharp drop in litigation, is already sucking up to Donald Trump, hoping that he will put someone corrupt like Randall R. Rader in charge, assuring regressions in law. On the other hand, Matt Levy, who opposes patent maximalism and calls for further patent reforms, has just published these suggestions to the Trump Administration, focusing in particular on patent trolls (a side effect or symptom of low patent quality):

What the new administration should be doing with patents

[...]

Continue to Fight Patent Trolls

It is true that patent troll litigation dropped in 2016, but according to a recent RPX report, nearly all of that drop is due to fewer lawsuits against very large, well-funded companies. Patent trolls seem to be shifting their focus to smaller businesses that can’t afford to defend themselves effectively. Trolls’ venue of choice continues to be the Eastern District of Texas, as I’ve written about a number of times.

A new paper by Brian Love and James Yoon confirms why this is true: patent trolls use the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) because its procedures increase costs for defendants quickly. In fact, 90 percent of cases there are filed by patent assertion entities. The paper also shows that only 18 percent of EDTX cases have any local link to the original inventor, original patent owner, or the first named defendant. By comparison, nearly 88 percent of the cases filed in the Northern District of California (which includes Silicon Valley) have such a link to the district.

The reality is that we need venue reform. Congress needs to fix the patent venue statute so that patent owners can’t sue a company virtually anywhere. The evidence is simply undeniable that patent trolls are taking advantage of a court with overly friendly rules in order to extort money, and there’s no reason to allow this to continue any longer.

Do No Harm on Patentable Subject Matter

With recent Supreme Court decisions, there has been a lot of handwringing about the patentability of software, diagnostic methods, and certain biotech inventions. There have even been proposals to do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether.

Congress needs to let the law develop slowly. The courts are gradually coming to some reasonable interpretations based on previous case law, and that’s as it should be. There are a lot of stakeholders with competing interests, and the best way to develop this law is a bit at a time. Yes, it’s painfully slow, but it’s the way our legal system works.

These calls to “do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether,” (or at least weaken them) as Levy puts it, were often funded by companies like IBM and Microsoft, which paid a former USPTO Director (David Kappos) to become their lobbyist and undermine Alice, bringing back software patents in a crooked fashion that’s akin to bribery of officials.

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