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IBM Bemoans the Collapse of Software Patents in the US and Wants US Congress to Intervene for ‘Certainty’

Posted in America, Apple, Europe, Patents at 4:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reza SarbakhshPhoto source (Sarbakhsh): “IP Monetization”, New York (2015)

Summary: The bizarre ‘friend’ of Free/Open Source software (FOSS), IBM, is still trying to ensure patentability of software whereas Apple and SAP, based on new stories, surprisingly enough serve to crush or at least weaken some

THE IMPACT of the Alice case has been great. Everyone is happy about it. Unless one is a patent lawyer or a software monopolist…

The American Intellectual Property Law Association (with its dodgy Microsoft Windows site) is an echo chamber that has just regathered and congregated many stakeholders, excluding people who actually invent and create things. The audience profits from patents, so it’s not an unbiased event that’s open to the wider public or at least offers the public speaking opportunities.

Just like the UPC Forum Munich, which lobbies regarding courts and litigation (money to be made by lawyers), the American Intellectual Property Law Association thinks in a narrow-minded way.

Now, let’s talk about IBM, which is actively spreading (or trying to spread) software patents to even more countries. People who made a career out of cataloging the patent monopolies of massive corporations (that’s where the big money is) are pursuing as many of them as possible, even 50,000 for just one company. Small business with an infinitesimal number of patents hardly every become a bleep on the radar and lawyers who work for them do nothing but drive them closer to bankruptcy, without any obvious benefits. Remember that the EPO also discriminately deals with applicants, prioritising large corporations even when these are not European (prominent patent practitioners — to use a euphemism — are still discussing the impact of this).

According to this new report from LES 2015, the “lead IP attorney” at IBM (whatever that actually means) isn’t happy about Alice. Here are some quotes:

Legislation will ultimately be required to address the uncertainty created by the Alice Corp v CLS Bank ruling, a lawyer from IBM told the LES 2015 Annual Meeting.

Reza Sarbakhsh, who is lead IP attorney at the company, said the decision has provided little guidance on what is patentable in the computer software space.

“As with any other business, uncertainty is the enemy,” he said, asking whether legislation should be required.

While he admitted that “I don’t know if we can convince Congress to address problems from our perspective” in the short term, “eventually legislation is the answer”.

Sarbakhsh was speaking during a lively discussion on the impact of the US Supreme Court’s ruling from last June. The court said computer-implemented inventions are not eligible for patent protection.

Sarbakhsh does not explicitly say it, but knowing that he works for IBM, a booster and lobbyist for software patents, by clarity he means advocacy. To quote the author’s paraphrasing: “Sarbakhsh said some large corporations are still pursuing software patents because the costs of getting them issued and the subsequent maintenance fees have not increased, even if patent value might be lower.”

“It’s not a business, it’s protectionism. It ensures money continues to flow from the powerless to the powerful.”Sarbakhsh said (direct quote): “Simply because one or two patents have been invalidated doesn’t mean we’re getting out of the patent business.”

It’s not a business, it’s protectionism. It ensures money continues to flow from the powerless to the powerful.

The overall tone of this lawyers-led event is similarly saddening. Then see the article (paywalled) titled “AIPLA 2015: Don’t dump portfolios due to section 101, patentees told”. To quote the excerpt: “Software patent owners should not jettison their portfolios despite worries over the impact of Alice Corporation v CLS Bank and its application of section 101, an industry conference heard.”

Why not? Because it harms the profits of patent lawyers?

Alice is a very big deal.

Apple is trying to invalidate software patents using Alice, whereupon “Ericsson says Apple’s Alice motion against wireless patents threatens to swallow all of patent law,” to quote Florian Müller.

Well, if it swallows all of patent law, or software patents in this particular case, then all the better.

One person wrote to us, “so if Apple succeeds then that may be troublesome for many other patent holders on wireless communication.”

Separately, in Twitter and in his blog, Müller says that “Google-SAP cross-license agreement announced: is SAP once again critical of software patents?”

As we showed earlier this week, SAP is still trying to patent software in Europe, so we very much doubt a change of policy is in the making. However, with this cross-license pseudo-’peace’, one might assume that SAP won’t take any legal action against Android, and perhaps by extension GNU/Linux.

We’re living in interesting times as we are at the crossroad when it comes to software patents. Lose it, as IBM wishes, and software patents may expand to the entire world. If we win this battle, then maybe we can still contain this injustice, even put an end to it worldwide. Patent lawyers won’t give up and sit idly until everything, including life itself, becomes patentable (i.e. profitable to them).


US Patent ‘Industry’ (Parasites) Defends Patently Broken System That It Profits From, Pushes for UPC in Europe

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Promoting a swindle. Whose patent system is it anyway?

Big wheel

Summary: The USPTO, patent lawyers and the rest of the patents ‘industry’ carry on pushing for even more radical a system where parasites (like themselves) rather than inventors are financially rewarded, discouraging and retarding innovation in the process

THE USPTO has created a toxic environment for small businesses (and to a lesser degree medium- and large-sized businesses too) in the United States. In this new letter/column, published only yesterday, the author bemoans the current state of affairs:

Businesses large and small are unexpectedly receiving letters demanding money for alleged patent infringement.

“It leads to a false consensus, shaped for the most part by patent lawyers and other people who profit from the broken status quo.”This is not a bad interpretation/opinion, even though it focuses on patent trolls rather than patent scope (software patents for instance). There is clearly dissatisfaction with this state of affairs, but people from the USPTO shut their ears and pretend that everything is great. Last month we showed how David Kappos, the former head of the USPTO, became rather delusional because he is stuck in the echo chamber of patent lawyers and is now profiting from it (directly). Now we see the lobbyists’ favourite newspaper, The Hill, saying that “Attacks on patent system are unfounded” (that is the headline). Guess who wrote it… someone from an “intellectual property group” and the USPTO’s “former commissioner for patents”. No conflict of interests there? He pretends all fine and dandy at the USPTO and generally resists change. Quoting his own disclosure in full: “Stoll is a partner and co-chair of the intellectual property group at Drinker Biddle & Reath and a former commissioner for patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”

Why are so many voices weighing in on these matters not scientists and people who actually apply for patents? Or people who actually create stuff (without necessarily applying for patents)? It leads to a false consensus, shaped for the most part by patent lawyers and other people who profit from the broken status quo.

“If readers thought witnessing the Unified Patent Court legislative package wheedle its way through European legislation was fun…”
Here in Europe we are seeing more or less the same thing. “We are currently witnessing some patent owners enforcing their patent rights exclusively using the European courts,” wrote some US patent lawyers (this is a site of patent lawyers and vocal software patents proponents), referring to patent trolls that attack Europe as just “patent owners”. These people also want the UPC, as one can imagine, because it can help patent lawyers make more money, also from the US (they can sue or issue cross-continental injunctions). “Now with the Unified Patent Court on the horizon,” the author wrote, as if it is inevitable. Well, the EPO sure wants and lobbies for the UPC, which means more money and power to the EPO (at the expense of ordinary European citizens). It often seems like Europe allows itself to be the vassal not just of other countries but mostly corporations (not just European), with passage of TPP, potentially UPC, and perhaps yet more secret deals and laws that serve nobody except big businesses.

“If readers thought witnessing the Unified Patent Court legislative package wheedle its way through European legislation was fun,” wrote this longtime proponent of the UPC (so-called ‘IP’ lawyer, going by the pseudonym AmeriKat) just hours ago, “they will equally enjoy the saga of the draft EU Trade Secrets Directive proposed by the European Commission.”

It would be “fun” to “enjoy” only if one is sadistic, or an ‘IP’ lawyer perhaps.

Yes, well, at least we now know where we are heading if we continue to allow this whole ‘public’ debate to be managed by supposedly benevolent wolves, promising to guard misinformed or uninformed sheep. Practitioners in software and other disciplines need to rise up and speak up, or else things will only get worse. Patent examiners too needs to examine the impact of their work on society; who is ultimately being helped when large monopolists get the fast lane at the EPO? Who is this whole system really for?


Patents Roundup: Software Patents Continue to Die in the US, TPP Threatens Developers With Their Expansion, Europe Still in a Limbo

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: News from around the world about patents, and software patents in particular, in light of recent and very important developments

TODAY we look at some good news and bad news regarding software patents. In order to make it easier to digest, we have decided to break it down by country/continent.

Software Patents in the US

Banner & Witcoff Ltd released an article titled “Certain Uncertainty: The Future Of Computer Software Patents” (in numerous legal sites [1, 2). It serves to reinforce our observations, as recent as last week's, that in the US software patents are arguably dying (or at least suffer a rapid decline). “Since the Alice decision came down last June,” explain the lawyers, “the world of computer software patents has been upended, both in litigation and in prosecution. In the realm of prosecution, patent applications dealing with e-commerce and business methods have been hit particularly hard at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with Alice rejections, but even those applications dealing with relatively more “technical” concepts have also been facing a harsh new reality in which eligibility rejections are lurking behind every corner and claim amendment.”

“The software patenting business seem to have collapsed due to lack of demand.”“705 Companies Have Abandoned All Their Pending Patent Applications Due to Alice Rejections,” Patent Buddy wrote earlier today, linking to the rather good Bilski Blog (still doing plenty of detailed research into such matters). To quote Robert R. Sachs, his “analysis was based on approximately 300,000 office action and notices of allowance received from Patent Advisor.”

It is nice to see some supportive statistics as in this case. This makes it easier to refute proponents of software patents (patent lawyers specialising in this area) who do what they can to distract from these Earth-shaking changes.

“Quality of patents is at gutter level.”According to recent reports such as [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15], the US protectionism office, USPTO, moves close to its big software patents clients in Silicon Valley . Worry not, however, as according to this, it only “Plans to hire 80 examiners, 21 judges”. That’s not much. It’s probably a lot smaller (order of magnitude even) than people once foresaw. The software patenting business seem to have collapsed due to lack of demand. There are still areas, such as this one (plane designs), that require patents, but they are not anywhere near Silicon Valley. In the United States, based on some USPTO statistics, 92% of all patent applications are eventually “successful”, so the distinction between patents and patent applications is remarkably weak. Quality of patents is at gutter level and when patents are brought before a court they are likely not to survive, especially if they are software patents on abstract ideas.

Software Patents in New Zealand

Software patents in New Zealand have been a big topic this past summer because the TPP was alleged to be covertly changing New Zealand’s laws so as to create new loopholes, or simply declare software patents formally valid.

We are gratified to see that politicians like Clare Curran are now getting involved to stop this, and the media (IDG in this case) helps raise awareness. To quote an article from this week: “New Zealand’s tech sector faces an uncertain future if a hard-fought for exclusion for software patents is missing from the final text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“That’s the view of Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran, who believes clarity is required sooner rather than later from the Government on the issue.”

Software Patents in Australia/Canada

Selling of software patents in Australia/Canada, where the status of software patents is worse (more favourable to them) than in New Zealand, caught our eyes yesterday. To quote the Canadian press, “Techlink Entertainment’s software and its patents are a key draw for bidders looking to purchase the now-defunct Sydney firm’s personal property.”

This reminds us of a Canadian company, BlackBerry/RIM, which can still become somewhat of a patent troll or just a big pile of patents.

Why are software patents are being sold and who are they going to be sold to? Maybe some patent troll will end up grabbing them for extortion purposes.

Software Patents in Europe

Software patents in Europe have been a subject that we cover here quite a lot, sometimes in conjunction with EPO scandals. Speaking of the situation in Norway, which is not in the European union, this somewhat new article alludes to what we deem collusion between patent hoarders, or a conspiracy to pacify the public. To quote the opening paragraph: “On February 8 2012 the Department of Justice proposed new legislation regarding the establishment of pledges on IP rights. The bill was introduced by the government in the form of a proposition one year later (Prop 101 L (2013–2014)) and was approved on January 1 2015, in a process which took a lot longer than what most practitioners had expected. The new legislation came into force on July 1 2015; it is thus now possible to establish pledges on patents, patent applications and patent licences in Norway, in accordance with Sections 4 to 11 of the Mortgage Act. The new rules also require that anyone with rights under a patent must record these in order to ensure protection. The priority of the pledge is the time of registration in the official Patent Register.”

“The only “good” patent on software is one that is totally invalidated.”Patent pledges are pretty worthless, for reasons we explained many times before. They are usually used to excuse oneself for hoarding patents, which may, some time down the line, be sold to patent aggressors and then be used offensively. Thankfully, after various cases such as Oracle versus Android (Google), more people are aware of such issues. The only “good” patent on software is one that is totally invalidated.

The University of Wisconsin’s Lawsuit Against Apple Should Alarm Everyone, Not Just Apple Proponents

Posted in America, Apple, Patents at 5:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Numen Lumen

Summary: An aggressive arm of the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, is going after Apple, vainly demanding (and probably getting) almost a billion dollars from Apple alone, using a single patent which potentially covers just about everything with multiple CPU cores

NOT MUCH is happening in Wisconsin, which isn’t known for academic excellence (definitely not on par with redbrick universities and in the 2015 QS World University Rankings, its best university was ranked only 54th, according to Wikipedia). Microsoft lost a case in Wisconsin, having committed competition crimes there [1, 2, 3], but we haven’t heard much since then.

The University of Wisconsin is now serving to embarrass Wisconsin as a whole, by acting like a greedy opportunist and patent aggressor.

“These claims can easily be used to target not just Apple but a lot of software and many devices that have multiple cores.”The top 3 most read articles at WIPR right now are about the EPO [1, 2, 3] and number four is the Apple case that was covered by WIPR several days ago. What is it all about? A couple of articles from Ars Technica (and a patent trolling expert whom they hired after he had blogged a lot on these issues) provide a decent introduction. The patent in question is patent number 5,781,752, which based on our reading relates to memory and computation management at the CPU level (“the processor may fetch multiple instructions at a single time and an allocation circuit allocates those instructions to separate processing units.”)

These claims can easily be used to target not just Apple but a lot of software and many devices that have multiple cores. Apple is just a rich target, hence convenient to sue, but if we let Apple lose this case, who will the University of Wisconsin go after next? Watch just how much damage is caused by just one single patent. We therefore hope for appeal/s, despite the fact that we don’t support Apple in general (it is a malicious company).

“The people behind this patent receive (or received) a salary from a state university, having enjoyed their cushy, quasi-state-level job.”See the article “Apple faces $862M patent damage claim from University of Wisconsin”. To quote: “A jury has found Apple’s A7 and A8 chips violate a patent belonging to the licensing arm of the University of Wisconsin, and the world’s richest smartphone maker is now on the hook for up to $862 million in damages.

“The Wisconsin jury reached a verdict on Monday that Apple infringed US Patent No. 5,781,752, and the trial now enters a separate damages phase. The patent is owned by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a university patent-licensing organization that was suing over patents before it was cool.”

What a gross amount in so-called ‘damages’. The people behind this patent receive (or received) a salary from a state university, having enjoyed their cushy, quasi-state-level job. Do they want to become big millionaires overnight, using an old piece of paper that a state university helped them get? It’s more than just patent ‘welfare’. We have been covering the patent greed of some universities before, but noting ever came close to this.

Also see the article “Jury orders Apple to pay $234 million for infringing university patents”. It says that “Apple lost a patent case on Monday, when a federal jury in Wisconsin found that the smartphone giant infringed a patent that originated at the University of Wisconsin, and is now held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

“That ended the liability phase of the trial, and the judge overseeing the case decided that damages should be decided in a separate phase. The damages trial concluded today when the jury came back with its decision that Apple should pay $234 million for its infringement.”

Wow, what a ‘bargain’. Who is WARF going to go after next?


Patent Trolls Roundup: MPHJ, Kyle Bass, Acacia, Intellectual Ventures, Unwired Planet, Core Wireless, Vringo, and Unified Patents

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 9:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent trolls are increasingly appearing and litigating in Europe, too


Summary: An outline of recent developments in the US and even in Europe, focused entirely on patent trolls, patent parasites, and actions against them

“Out of the 47 patent lawsuits filed today,” wrote United for Patent Reform earlier last week, “42 of them were filed by patent trolls.”

“In 2000,” it continued, “East Texas ranked 35th for patent cases; it’s been 1st for the past 9 years as trolls take advantage of the friendly venue.”

“Another course of action is elimination of software patents because an overwhelming majority of troll lawsuits involve software patents, based on statistics gathered some years ago.”It is abundantly clear that the US has a serious problem with patent trolls, who are most typically (albeit not always) using software patents to launch legal assaults (or threats thereof, in hope of settlement) against a large number of practising companies. The defendants are sometimes large corporations, but such corporations — unlike small companies (such as startups) — neither have paranoia over it nor an existential risk as they have dedicated lawyers and much money in their coffers. European institutions like the EPO are still, increasingly, allowing this plague to enter Europe. We must stop this.

In this post we gather several weeks’ worth of news, mostly in sincere hope of shedding light on just how big a headache patent trolling can be. It should be avoided at all costs and one way to tackle this problem (although it is suppressed in the corporate media) is reduction of cross-border action (compartmentalisation) — something which the UPC (more like globalisation) seeks to promote in Europe, thereby inviting patent trolls, much like in the US where separate state are not legally separable. Another course of action is elimination of software patents because an overwhelming majority of troll lawsuits involve software patents, based on statistics gathered some years ago.

Biases in the Patent Trolls Debate

The Internet says a great deal about patent trolls, unlike software patents (the latter debate has been abandoned, perhaps at the behest of large stakeholders who also influence and sometimes own the media). One recent headline said that a “Stanford Professor [Stephen Haber] Insists Consumers Are Helped By Patent Trolls”. Here is a portion of the counter-argument from Mike Masnick: “Actual research shows that the leading reasons for innovating have absolutely nothing to do with patents. Rather, people and companies tend to innovate because (1) they need something themselves or (2) they see a need in the market. And the “ensure they are paid for their invention” makes no sense. If they have an invention people want, then they can sell that product and make money that way. You don’t need patents for that. Yes, some others may enter the market as well, but that’s called competition, and that’s a good thing.” The case that Stephen Haber alludes to will be discussed later on, in the section about Unwired Planet, which attacks Android/Linux.

Patent trolls are a parasitic element. Claiming them to have had a contribution is akin to claiming that diseases are good because they help depopulate and thus keep the human population ‘in check’. The aforementioned professor was mentioned here before (a few times earlier this year) for other, similarly pro-trolls, views. He has a conflict of interests, as his very own bio serves to demonstrate. See Masnick’s articles for further details.

Here we have the patent maximalists of IAM glorifying trolls. As Benjamin Henrion put it, “IAM just published a hate list of the best patent trolls and other patent bullies” (IAM responded to him dismissively).

In a sense, patent lawyers stand to gain from patent trolling, even in Europe (where IAM’s writers are based). We should always take their views with a barrel of salt and perform some cui bono analysis.

“Don’t foolishly look away or naively expect it to always remain just a US problem, however, as we increasingly hear about trolling in Europe.”Days ago the plutocrat’s media, Fortune, published an article titled “Are patent trolls taking over the fashion industry?”

To quote bits of interest, “Shar Simantob and his Los Angeles-based textile company, United Fabric International, are used to following trends in the fashion industry. The company works as a middleman between mills and labels to develop fabrics and prints in line with what tastemakers say will be hot in the coming seasons. [...] According to figures sourced from Bloomberg Law, Doniger/Burroughs has filed more than 700 copyright infringement cases over the past five years, including more than 30 since August 1. Most of the complaints are filed in Southern California, which is now home to more than twice as many fashion, textile, and wholesale jobs as New York City, as well as $18 billion in revenue for fashion companies based in the region, according to a 2014 report sponsored by CIT Group for the California Fashion Association.”

For the time being this is a US problem. Don’t foolishly look away or naively expect it to always remain just a US problem, however, as we increasingly hear about trolling in Europe. It’s trendy and it’s expanding.

This time, for a change, a Stanford Professor actually opposes trolls. “Prof. Goldstein quoted on rising trend of patent trolls in fashion industry,” wrote Stanford Law. He is quoted as saying: “There is this gap that puts all citizens at a disadvantage. Anybody can sue anybody over anything. You are out of pocket and inconvenienced until you get back attorney fees. That is one of the prices you pay for living in a society under the rule of law.”

Looking at Wharton’s site (another academic source), they now have an article there titled “Why Investment-friendly Patents Spell Trouble for Trolls”. They refer to trolls using a euphemism, “NPEs”. To quote some bits from it: “There is little doubt that the world of patent monetization is dominated by patent trolls. A troika of favorable patent assertion fora, contingency-fee based legal services, and a proliferation of patent ownership structures that stand divorced from commercialized inventions has produced breathtaking return multiples for so-called non-practicing entities (NPEs, which are organizations that own patents but do not commercialize them). The currency of this assertion market is the vast arbitrage exploited by the NPEs. Several factors account for this – including the lack of any acceptable, up-front methodology for valuing patent as assets per se, the significant legal expense defendants face from such assertions, and the costly and post-facto timing of court-ruled infringement determinations. All these work to dislocate the patent market from the commercial market in which patents are used in the real economy.”

“Patent derivatives,” as Henrion calls them, are “the next bubble” (yet to have burst like the bubble of software patents in the US).

So-called ‘Reform’ Focused on Patent Trolls Only

Once upon a time patent reform focused on various aspects like patent scope, i.e. which domains should be excluded from patentability criteria (software for instance). Nowadays all the bills which are tabled regarding “reform” deal almost exclusively with “trolls” and get watered down by large corporations (some of them behaving just like trolls), to the point of being worse than useless. We wrote literally dozens of articles about it.

Watch how GOP-leaning sites come out for and against patent reform, still. To quote one of them: “Trial lawyers, for instance, hate patent reform because it will deprive them of an easy cash cow. In fact, it was their opposition that drove Harry Reid to kill patent reform in the last Congress. Needless to say, the interests of the trial bar are not something a Republican Speaker has any reason to lose sleep over.”

This is actually a correct observation. It’s one that we alluded to above, specifically in relation to IAM, whose biases we shall deal with again later on.

Here is the large corporations-funded site Patent Progress remarking on patent reform in relation to the corporations-leaning (and corporations-shaped) PATENT Act [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

To quote Patent Progress: “Whether we on the pro-reform side agree with the complaints isn’t relevant here. The reality is that some compromise is necessary to get the changes we need to deal with patent trolls. The PATENT Act left the Judiciary Committee containing unacceptable language on how to handle amendments during IPR and a promise to keep working on it. And the Senate Judiciary Committee staff came up with a creative solution.”

The Apps Alliance, which is obsessed only with patent trolls and not patent scope (as it represents mostly victims of trolling), wrote: “How will ​the ​STRONG​ Act​ help small ​businesses? Looks like a handout to trolls.​”

Whatever reform one looks at these days, it’s rather useless or worse than useless. See the AOL article titled “Patent Reform Tries Again”. It wrongly frames big companies as the victims when it says: “Technology companies and their lobbyists in the software and high-tech industries that have been victimized by PAE lawsuits in the past, such as Overstock.com and The Software & Information Industry Association, have applauded the legislation.”

This misses the fact that many of those same technology companies (Microsoft and Apple for instance) are themselves patent aggressors and the most important victims of patent trolling are actually small companies. Some of them get crushed out of existence, whereas for companies like Microsoft and Apple trolling often means reduced profits (imagine the wrath of millionaire shareholders!). Don’t expect corporate media like AOL to get this story straight though. This is not what AOL does and since it bought Tech Crunch we haven’t seen much worthwhile reporting over there. Once upon a time, some time around 2007 (before the AOL takeover), Tech Crunch informed myself and my colleagues that we were about to get laid off (before our software-centric employer said so, having been forced to do so by such independent media).

“SCOTUS has NPEs on the mind,” wrote some patent boosters, “see J Kennedy’s dicta on NPEs in Commil which involved no NPEs” (recall that SCOTUS already helped tackle software patents in the US, quite effectively in fact).

Let’s look at some recent story involving particular patent trolls, some being more famous (or conversely, infamous) than others.

MPHJ Technology Investments

We previously wrote about Mac Rust, a notorious patent troll who made a splash and received a lot of publicity by suing a lot of companies. Thankfully, Rust is now losing it all. As a trolls expert put it: “One of the most maligned patent trolls, MPHJ Technology Investments, will have to face claims in state court that it violated Vermont’s consumer protection laws.

“MPHJ and its owner, Texas attorney Mac Rust, gained national attention after sending tens of thousands of letters out to small and medium-sized businesses stating that any business using scan-to-e-mail technology owed MPHJ around $1,000 per worker for patent infringement.”

Let’s hope that we never hear of MPHJ ever again. Somehow we doubt it’s the end of all that because this troll bet his entire farm on litigation and extortion. There are no products to offer or actual business to revert back to.

Kyle Bass

Earlier this year, at the end of summer or thereabouts, Kyle Bass made it into a lot of news headlines because of his dirty tricks with patents. It’s like a new kind of patent extortion (or trolling), but not the conventional type.

Bass is “exploiting [a] weakness in [the] system,” say his victims to the corporate media and lawyers/bloggers continue writing about it. To quote IP Kat: “So why is Bass making these challenges? The America Invents Act allows for reviews of poor quality patents by using an Inter Partes Review Procedure (usually referred to as an IPR) and the hedge fund managers have seized an opportunity to use the new relatively low-cost system to their advantage. Reviewing a patent is likely to affect share prices, making companies attractive for the short selling market while stock prices fall. Shire’s price fell after the decision.

“Drug companies have asked the USPTO to stop what they see as an abuse of the review process by hedge fund managers, but this recent decision which broadens the “real party in-interest” definition looks like that will not succeed. The phenomenon of reverse trolling hedge fund trolls is going to be a tricky issue to handle politically. Lobby groups and technology companies see the advantage of challenging the hold they perceive that large corporations have on controlling markets, especially in the biotech and software areas. These lobby groups often have the ears of the politicians and high drug prices, especially in the US is a thorny issue: see the views of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”

It will be interesting to see to what degree — if any — the USPTO will ever bother responding to this. Issuing bogus patents and later invalidating them is sound business for both patent lawyers and those who issue patents.


Techrights wrote a lot about Acacia after it had taken staff from Microsoft and then started to sue Linux companies. There is a setback at Acacia right now because, according to this new report: “The nation’s top patent court has given its seal of approval to a hefty $1.4 million award of legal fees against the largest publicly traded “non-practicing entity,” Acacia Research Corporation.

“The award was granted one year ago by US District Judge Gregory Sleet, and it was one of the first to be decided under the new Octane Fitness caselaw, which makes it easier for defendants to get their legal fees in baseless patent suits. On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld (PDF) Sleet’s decision without further comment.”

Acacia is not the only Microsoft-connected troll that attacks Linux. Remember Intellectual Ventures.

Intellectual Ventures

IAM’s patent maximalists give a platform by which to glamourise giant trolls like Intellectual Ventures right now. “Last week we ran a story on a surge in speculation that Intellectual Ventures is up for sale,” the author said. “IV strongly denied that it was on the block and in discussions with a Chinese buyer, and we were happy to print what the firm had to say.”

This increasingly-defunct troll (with layoffs and everything) will hopefully vanish sooner rather than later because as we mentioned here quite recently, it’s connected to attacks on Android/Linux. This patent troll is connected to Microsoft through Intellectual Ventures and it attacks Linux devices other than Android, by the millions.

Unwired Planet

Speaking of attacks on Linux and Android (which is based on or built on top of Linux), the patent boosters have this new article titled “Unwired Planet v Huawei: FRAND showdown begins in UK court”.

As we stated last week, patent trolls have come to the UK (and hence, by extension, Europe) to attack Linux/Android. “Some of android’s biggest players prepared for battle this week,” wrote the patent boosters, “after Unwired Planet’s patent infringement suit trial against Google, Samsung and Huawei began in the UK.”

This is a great example of the grave dangers of allowing patent trolls to enter Europe.

Core Wireless

“Patent Troll based in Luxembourg wants to redefine the meaning of an integer,” Henrion wrote, alluding to the Luxembourg-based (part of Europe) trolls that just like MOSAID (with patents from Nokia) received their patents from Nokia. To quote the alarming EFF message, titled “Our Broken Patent System at Work: Patent Owner Insists the “Integers” Do Not Include the Number One”:

Patent trolls are a tax on innovation. The classic troll model doesn’t include transferring technology to create new products. Rather, trolls identify operating companies and demand payment for what companies are already doing. Data from Unified Patents shows that, for the first half of this year, patent trolls filed 90% of the patent cases against companies in the high-tech sector.

Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. is one of the patent trolls attacking the high-tech sector. Core Wireless is incorporated in Luxemburg, and is a subsidiary of an even larger troll, Canada-based Conversant. It owns a number of patents that were originally filed by Nokia. It has been asserting some of these patents in the Eastern District of Texas. In one case, a jury recently found that Apple did not infringe six of Core Wireless’s patents. In another case, it is asserting sixteen patents against LG. One of its arguments in the LG case came to our attention as an example of what patent trolls think they can get away with.

We will surely hear more about this in the future. This is yet another example of patent trolls entering Europe.


IAM’s patent maximalists still like to defend patent trolls, saying that the matter (regarding trolls) is “less black and white than they [EFF] like to pretend” (as if there is such a thing as “good” trolls).

“You have got to admire Mark Cuban’s chutzpah,” they said, “if nothing else. As a self-proclaimed enemy of patent trolls, a vocal advocate for fundamental change to the US patent system and the funder of the EFF’s Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents, Cuban has long been a darling of the patent-sceptic side of the US reform debate. Never mind that back in 2012 he became a major investor in Vringo, Cuban is on the side of the angels.”

We already mentioned Vringo’s actions and Cuban’s support of them. As IAM puts it: “As part of that redemption process, Cuban might want to sit down with the EFF and other anti-patent groups to explain that perhaps this whole troll thing is much less black and white than they like to pretend, that SMEs and lone inventors often need third party support to enforce their rights and that backing legislation which makes it even more expensive and even riskier to assert patents is going to make securing such support even harder than it is now.”

Well, Cuban’s involvement in the EFF (by paying the EFF to hire some lawyers) has been repeatedly criticised here because they now try to crack down on “bad” patents rather than software patents and we often find the EFF’s Cuban-funded campaigns rather useless, even though Cuban himself once slammed software patents, explicitly. Now we see that proponents of many patents (including software patents) use Cuban to discredit the EFF and the EFF’s message overall against trolls. Great move, eh? The patent maximalists of IAM aren’t too stupid, just selfish (for profit), and they are quick to exploit what’s rightly perceived as hypocrisy. The other day IAM wrote that the US “Supreme Court has said No to Vringo’s appeal against CAFC decision in IP Engine case. No surprise, but frightening” (frightening to lawyers who profit from litigation and trolling, that’s for sure).

Unified Patents

Henrion, who had led the fight against software patents in Europe for quite a few years, took Unified Patents to task over this charade. To quote a lawyers’ news site: “Unified Patents, the San Jose-based provider of consulting services to help businesses deter lawsuits filed by nonpracticing entities (NPEs), has launched two new programs designed to help start-ups avoid the threat of frivolous litigation.

“The first, called Secured by Unified, enables members to include a logo on their homepage indicating they are members of the group. This would signal to abusive NPEs, also known as patent trolls, that attempts to extort money by threatening litigation will not work.”

Henrion sarcastically says that patent “trolls will be scared by a logo on a website? How many of those failed strategies are we gonna see?”

Unified Patents said that it “Launches Program to Help Startups Avoid Troll Litigation,” but we too are sceptical. It’s not going to lead to a solution. It’s probably just a waste of focus, time, and effort.

In the coming weeks we are going to write a lot more about patent trolls and about the situation in Europe. It’s not just about software patents anymore. It’s a global disease, so universal vaccination is very urgent a matter.


Many New Losses for Software Patents in the US, Courtesy of Alice Case/§101

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Defeatism or learned helplessness increasingly unjustified in the fight against software patents

Eye in the sky

Summary: The United States’ supposed leadership in software patenting grinds to a halt as more software patents simply die in the courtrooms and patent lawyers try hard to overcome this new debacle of theirs, usually by misleading current and prospective clients

COMPANIES that are consciously — as matter of strategy in fact — patenting software usually patent everything in bulk. A handful of patents would just be ineffective, unless one is a patent troll (i.e. lacking any real products) or plans to sell the patents to a patent troll somewhere along the way (e.g. bankruptcy). There is no one patent for every single program or — put another way — there is no one-to-one correspondence between a component in a program and a single patent. Think of poetry and ponder the equivalence involving a program’s components and verses (or paragraphs). Software is, by its very basic nature, quite suitable for copyright assignment (not at a binary level) but not for verbal descriptions asserting a monopoly over a mathematical (implemented and executed by a machine) idea. In practice it means that in order for a company to effectively use software patents (offensively) it needs a huge pile of software patents — much bigger than those of its competitors. Suffice to say, such a state of affairs favours and inevitably benefits vast companies such as IBM. No small software company can sue IBM over software patent infringement because IBM, in response, can sue with far greater a number of patents, covering an almost infinite number of software that can conceivably be created. It’s shameless stockpiling that makes up deterrence. People who have actually looked into pertinent software patents will probably know why; they’re so vague and often so trivial that almost every simple program can infringe on thousands of patents (some patents may already be expired, inferring woes for past generations and possibly planned retardation of science and technology).

“No small software company can sue IBM over software patent infringement because IBM, in response, can sue with far greater a number of patents, covering an almost infinite number of software that can conceivably be created.”Thankfully, courts in the United States have not lost sight of last year’s SCOTUS ruling — an important and very widely-referenced ruling which determined that abstract software patents (that’s a lot of them!) have no room in the system. Not only has that discouraged filings of new software patents and lawsuits; it also helped invalidate existing software patents which, once brought forth litigiously (even defensively, in response to offensive action), were subjected to lengthy challenges in courts, whereupon they stood little chance of surviving (statistically-speaking, so far). Today we present some new examples that we have been gathering over the past 4 weeks. We will start, however, with a cautionary tale or two. It is largely reactionary as we still see misconceptions about patents in the mass media.

The Mirage of ‘Defensive’ Software Patents

The Alice Case/§101 has already shut down many cases involving software patents, but not everyone caught up with the news. Some companies carry on pursuing software patents. Bank of America, for instance, is patenting software [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] pertaining to cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.

“Does Coinbase really think it can take on Bank of America when it comes to patent battles?”Coinbase, a Bitcoin company, is already patenting software too (applying for nine patents at the moment) although according to this article: “The CEO went on to say that while he does not personally believe in software patents, the company would invest effort in ensuring it would “play nice” while navigating the realities of the patent space.”

Does Coinbase really think it can take on Bank of America when it comes to patent battles? Who would be bankrupted first due to quickly-amassing legal fees? Which side would have more leverage in a court of law? Patenting of software is the core issue; the solution to it isn’t acquiring more patents of one’s own.

“We continue to protect our freight tracking software with new patents,” said this statement some weeks ago, from a company which is apparently hoping it can block competition using software patents. Has it not heard the news about the status of software patents in the US? Has it considered hypothetical scenarios in which this patent can actually help the company? Is this patent just purely for marketing/posing (as is often the case these days)?

“These examiners put aside science for the sake of business-minded considerations.”Misguided USPTO examiners will no doubt continue to issue some software patents, in order to increase their profits (quantity rather than quality). By rushing their job (not properly reviewing the applications and searching for prior art) they actually increase income rather than compromise their income (rewarded for doing a poor job as opposed to a proper job). These examiners put aside science for the sake of business-minded considerations. They operate in somewhat of a business now, and they treat other patent offices as “competition”. The EPO has had the same problem in recent years and it even prioritised large applicants (discrimination by design), disgracing the very foundations of this overly glorified occupation.

The USPO still glamourises monopolies (patents) in a bunch of recent articles in which the sheer number of patents is publicly boasted, as if the more patents get granted, the merrier (irrespective of the quality/thoroughness of an examination job). China has a huge number of patents (probably the most granted per year in recent years), but that doesn’t mean that China is at the forefront of innovation. To quote one article: “The US Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched PatentsView(link is external), a new patent data visualization platform. The PatentsView beta search tool allows members of the public to interact with nearly 40 years of data on patenting activity in the United States.”

It does not really say much except lenience in acceptance of applications. Consider the fact that about 92% of US patent applications eventually reach "success" (granted). It’s nothing to brag about, it highlights the poor quality of these patents and the USPTO’s incompetence (if not corruption).

“Consider the fact that about 92% of US patent applications eventually reach “success” (granted).”Courts, unlike the USPTO, don’t earn any less or any more based on the validity of patents. They usually just do their job and each time a patent gets re-examinated (and usually then trashed after a court’s intervention) it serves to discredit the USPTO. Below are recent examples of this.

Video-On-Demand Patent Killed by Alice Case/§101

Earlier this month we learned from this post that the famous “pen and paper” analogy was used to invalidate (or in the process of invalidating) a software patent. Here is the core of the story: “The court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment that plaintiff’s video-on-demand patent was invalid for lack of patentable subject matter and found that the claims were directed toward an abstract idea. “Plaintiff briefly complains that Defendants’ descriptions of the patent claims are ‘oversimplifications,’ but it does not delineate what, if anything, Defendants leave out. . . . [T]he patent claims the concept of ‘using the same hierarchical ordering based on metadata to facilitate the display and locating of video content.’ To do so, the patent exploits matches between hierarchical identifiers – uploaded at one end of the process as metadata, and read at the other end to display listed videos – in order to facilitate the automatic [electronic program guide] listing of videos sent to cable companies by outside publishers. . . . Even though the [patent-in-suit] anticipates that its steps will be performed through computer operation, it describes a process that a person could perform ‘[u]sing a pen, paper, and her own brain.’””

Signal Transmission Patent Killed by Alice Case/§101

“Another signal transmission patent [was] held invalid under 101/ Alice,” Patent Buddy noted, linking to this analysis (same blog as above). To quote: “The court granted defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings that plaintiff’s signal transmission patent was invalid for lack of patentable subject matter and found that the patent was directed toward the abstract concept of translation. “Plaintiff argues that the claimed invention is not directed to an abstract idea because it addresses a problem that ‘specifically arises in the context of communication networks due to the presence of incompatible devices and formats.’. . . This problem, however, does not ‘specifically aris[e] in the realm of computer networks,’ and the solution is not ‘necessarily rooted in computer technology.’ Incompatible communication types have existed since before the emergence of computers and the Internet. Translators have been used for centuries to facilitate communication between individuals who speak different languages. The translator receives a message in one language, translates it into another, and delivers the translated message. Here, the claims require a computer system that receives a payload in one media form, translates it into a different media form, and delivers the translated payload. This is no different than the function of a translator.”

“Courts, unlike the USPTO, don’t earn any less or any more based on the validity of patents.”Take note of the punchline, so to speak. “This is no different than the function of a translator.”

eDekka Lost to 84 Defendants Thanks to Alice Case/§101

“Notorious Patent Troll, eDekka,” wrote Patent Buddy, “Lost Patent and 84 Defendants with one Alice/101 Kill” (cited case).

This has also been covered by Joe Mullin, who wrote: “The most prolific patent troll of last year, eDekka LLC, has had its patent wiped out. The ruling (PDF) will shut down 168 lawsuits that eDekka filed based on US Patent No. 6,266,674, according to Texas Lawyer, which first reported the ruling.

“The ruling comes from a surprising source: US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, the East Texas judge who has been criticized for making life extra-difficult for patent defendants. Gilstrap, who hears more patent cases than any other US judge, will eliminate about 10 percent of his entire patent docket by wiping out the eDekka cases.”

“Patent profiteers try to sell the impression that all is fine and dandy for software patents.”Over the weekend it was mentioned here too, with the author saying that there is a lot of public interest in the outcome (many victims, hence widespread concern).

Sole Survivor of Alice Case/§101

We only know of one case where a patent seemingly withstood challenge from Alice Case/§101 in recent weeks. This is about US patent number 6,963,859 and it’s quite a rare case where software patents are successfully defended in court. Patent lawyers, understandably, always latch on to such rulings and hype them up (endless jubilation and repetition). Patent profiteers try to sell the impression that all is fine and dandy for software patents. They are cherry-picking for their desired bias.

Let’s look at what patent lawyers have had to say about the status quo in recent weeks.

What Patent Lawyers (Profiteers) Are Saying

“Maybe they would rather not pay attention or remain in denial over the facts, or the statistically-meaningful number of rulings against software patents since Alice (2014).”The spin from patent lawyers is very much expected. Asking them about the situation here is like asking companies which manufacture weapons about the state of war (or peace) in some countries where weapon sales are imminent, possible, or at risk. Patents are the armament equivalent in the field of patent litigation.

“Value of software patents has fallen by 80% since SCOTUS decisions in Mayo and Alice,” wrote one ‘IP’-centric account at IPO Annual Meeting (#IPOAM15). Another, from IAM's patent maximalists, said: “No surprise that it’s standing room only for #IPOAM15 session on software post-Alice and Oracle” (the case of Oracle has been covered here too).

In short, patent lawyers try to deny the importance of Alice. There are some exceptions to this, but they are few. Here we have “Hawley Troxell partner Brad Frazer, with contributions from Hawley Troxell Patent Group Chair Phil McKay and patent attorney Allison Parker,” going with the dramatic headline “Software patents are dead! Long live software patents!” The article is in fact in favour of software patents and claims that they are far from dead. Here is the punchline: “So the next time you hear or read that software patents are dead because of Alice, think of young King Tommen and remember that a good experienced software patent attorney can still do much to obtain patent protection for your software-based inventions.”

“It’s sometimes referred to as cognitive dissonance.”It doesn’t seem as though they have been paying attention. Maybe they would rather not pay attention or remain in denial over the facts, or the statistically-meaningful number of rulings against software patents since Alice (2014). It’s sometimes referred to as cognitive dissonance.

Here we have proponents of software patents who are also patent lawyers admitting (in the headline even) that “Statistics show Alice PTAB interpretation not favorable to patent applicants”. To quote some relevant parts: “The United States Supreme Court is commonly known to resolve difficult issues of law. Yet, Alice v. CLS Bank[ii], last year’s unanimous Supreme Court decision, has caused confusion about whether computer-implemented business methods and software innovations are patentable under 35 U.S.C. §101. The question of patentability of software-related innovations – even those involving merely implementations of business-related innovations – seemed settled after State Street v. Signature Financial[iii], the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s 1998 decision[iv].

“After State Street, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) granted thousands of patents related to computer-implemented business methods and software.[v] Simultaneously. America experienced an explosion of growth in e-commerce, Internet, and mobile phone technologies. Nonetheless, without even mentioning the terms “business method” or “software,”[vi] Alice has upended the understanding that computer-implemented business method innovations and software innovations are patentable under §101. One veteran litigation attorney starkly stated that the decision left us with the question of “[a]re software patents dead?”[vii] The Federal Circuit’s decisions after Alice have not provided much clear guidance to answer this question.”

“To say that software patents are as potent as ever before is to shamelessly lie.”The author says that the USPTO “granted thousands of patents related to computer-implemented business methods and software.” But how does the number relate/compare to previous years? There was a reported slowdown in litigation, application, etc. To say that software patents are as potent as ever before is to shamelessly lie.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP (patent lawyers) decided to come out with a gross dichotomy that frames secrecy and software patents as very much necessary. What about copyrights? They are not even mentioned before therein no lawyers fees are likely to ever materialise/emanate. To quote the lawyers-like language: “There are many ways to obtain intellectual property protection for software creations. Many keep the software code confidential and maintain the software as a trade secret. Others seek patent protection on the software, which discloses the higher-level concepts surrounding the software without explicitly publishing the source code. Recent changes in patent law have changed what types of software inventions are patentable and the requirements for obtaining such patents. However, the evolution of the law has been ongoing for quite some time.”

What about copyrights? They just pretend that it does not exist. How convenient. Gross propaganda terms like “intellectual property” are used instead.

“Parasitic, self-serving elements (or Hubris) in any patent system are ultimately its Nemesis.”IAM’s own patent maximalists (patent lawyers who profit from it) accept that software patents are now besieged by courts, albeit not in the USPTO. We mentioned the reasons for this earlier on. This is an institutionalised conflict which needs to be overcome by structural changes. Both the USPTO and patent lawyers profit from the injustice of dealing with bogus patents. Technical people are the ones whose personal wealth will be afforded and wasted. IAM uses the word “uncertainty” to say invalidity — the same word that other patent maximalists use (“Uncertainty is Where Patentability Resides”). Why are patent lawyers and lobbyists of software patents so eager to associate bogus patents with uncertainty? Is that really what they mean to say? That’s like saying that only in case of error or bad decisions will software patents be granted right now. It’s almost like admitting that they are trying to fool, game, and maybe even corrupt the system. Some cynics would nonchalantly say that this is what they indeed do; it’s their job and this is what they’re paid for. Parasitic, self-serving elements (or Hubris) in any patent system are ultimately its Nemesis.


NASA Gives Back What It Took Away in the Form of Patent Monopolies for Private Gain

Posted in America, Patents at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NASA Windows

Summary: Criticism of NASA’s habit of clinging onto patents when it is actually the public which pays for everything

THE ISSUE that we occasionally tackle here in Techrights (and the #techrights IRC channel) is unjust monopoly acquired or protected by hoarding of patents. It is especially unjust when it’s public money (tax) subsidising this kind of monopoly. Such was the case with NASA when it sold patents (paid for by the public) to patent trolls about 3 years ago. NASA had previously helped protect and expand Microsoft’s illegal monopoly [1, 2, 3].

“Some of the people who helped NASA build its rockets are the same people (and by extension their teams) that helped launch rockets into London in the second world war.”This time, for a change, NASA decides to give these patents back to those who paid for them, setting these patents free to all [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. It is claimed that as many as 1200 patents (if not more) will be set free, but there are some caveats (see headlines that mention “free access to its patents for startup entrepreneurs”).

NASA’s work is funded by taxpayers, so the very idea of them ‘donating’ patents is ludicrous (or indicative of corruption). NASA shouldn’t waste its time on patents in the first place; it can just publish its ideas and inventions in its public-facing Web site.

Don’t romanticise too much over NASA and its glorified patents. Yours truly used to believe the popular lie that space exploration of NASA gave us Teflon. Well, Teflon was made for nuclear weapons (cold war), so even this isn’t a good example of NASA’s so-called ‘inventions’. Some of the people who helped NASA build its rockets are the same people (and by extension their teams) that helped launch rockets into London in the second world war.


Patents Roundup: Europe’s and India’s Software Patents Affair, US Continues to Demote Software Patents With Alice Case

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bridgewater Hall

Summary: A roundup of news of interest regarding patents, especially software patents whose impact on Free/Open Source software is exceptionally profound

THE NEXT couple of weeks will be quiet for this site because we’re taking a two-week break. Before we go, however, here are some important news from around the world.


There is an EPO demonstration tomorrow. It tackles issues that relate to human rights, not to software patents or the UPC, but nonetheless, those latter issues too are a growing threat to European interests. According to a lawyers’ site, UPC’s “new regime will sit alongside rather than replace the existing patent system and will therefore require businesses to make careful choices about how they intend to protect their inventions and enforce their patent rights.

“The decisions they take could affect their patent litigation strategy and exposure to risk for years afterwards.”

All one needs to know about it is that it is going to empower international/multinational companies and their patent lawyers. For everyone else it’s a slap on the face.


We have been writing a lot about India as of late, in relation to software patents. Dr. Glyn Moody has a good article on this subject, comparing what India is doing right now to what Europe has been doing in recent years (since the Alison Brimelow days). To quote Moody: “These are very similar to the exclusions listed in Article 52 of the European Patent Convention (EPC), which governs patent law in Europe. And where the EPC uses the phrase “as such” when it comes to computer programs, the India exclusions contain the equivalent phrase “computer programme per se”. As Techdirt readers know, the inclusion of “as such” as a qualifier to the exclusion of computer programs from patentability has opened up a huge loophole through which clever lawyers have driven many thousands of software patents. The fear — quite justified — is that exactly the same will happen in India because of the new guidelines’ interpretation of what that “per se” phrase means…”

Indians will hopefully stand up and fight this injustice. It’s a form of colonialism in the patents sense, akin to what large pharmaceutical companies are trying to do in this vast market (many potential ‘customers’).

United States

A few days ago we learned about yet another defeat for software patents in the United States.”Five Blue Spike Patents Killed by Alice/101,” Patent Buddy wrote the other day, linking to this decision [PDF]. Notice the defendant; it’s a common target of Microsoft.

The patent maximalists from IAM are meanwhile reporting that ZTE, an Android player which we mentioned here recently for patent assaults on it (from Microsoft and its trolls), wants to “develop high-quality patent assets” (complete nonsense expressed using the language of patent propagandists). To quote the maximalists: “The average US consumer might not be familiar with the ZTE brand, but the latest figures from global intelligence firm IDC show that it has moved into fourth place in the American smartphone market, behind Apple, Samsung and LG. The Chinese company grabbed an 8% share of sales in the second quarter, up from just 4.4% at the start of 2014. ZTE has not exactly consolidated its gains yet, but its impressive growth offers a tentative success story for other would-be market entrants from China.”

The last thing ZTE needs in the world, including the lucrative US market, is more patents. Let’s hope that the US system will be healed over time, obviating the perceived need for such wasteful strategies that artificially elevate the price of products (lawyers’ tax).

“Let’s hope that the US system will be healed over time, obviating the perceived need for such wasteful strategies that artificially elevate the price of products (lawyers’ tax).”Reporting from the AAMA webinar, AAMA Info wrote: “The patent troll itself admitted that less than 3 percent of such lawsuits ever make it to trial,” adding that “97% settlement rate suggests a very good return on investment for the patent troll!”

Matt Levy wrote that he “was on a panel the other day discussing patent reform, and a funny thing happened. While we disagreed about a number of aspects of patent reform, basically everyone on the panel agreed that it’s ridiculous for one district (i.e., the Eastern District of Texas) to host so much patent litigation.

“Even those on the panel who didn’t like the current venue provision in the Innovation Act felt that it just needed some small tweaks in the language. They agreed with the basic approach of venue reform.”

We are still hopeful and very much positive about the US patent system because it seems to be moving more in the direction of hostility towards software patents, whereas India and Europe go the other way.

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