Ignoring the facts and insulting Supreme Court Justices instead
Credit: Bilski Blog chart
Summary: A quick glance at where the debate over software patents in the United States stands and how profiteers (such as patent lawyers) not only mislead the public but also bully the messengers
THE situation in the United States gives much hope for those looking to abolish software patents. The USPTO begrudgingly adopts Alice and makes it harder to attain software patents, irrespective of what the court (or PTAB) says about them. But make no mistake, the proponents of software patents fight hard to change this, using lobbying (misleading the decision makers), propaganda (misleading the public), and false marketing (bamboozling clients with false hopes).
Curiously enough, recently we learned that software patents and their injustice gave birth to the original Pirate Party (in Sweden). To quote Benjamin Henrion, “Pirate Party founder Falkvinge mentions software patents fight in 2005/2006 as one of the reason for starting” (that was around the time of the famous directive on software patents in Europe, after Falkvinge had worked for Microsoft and Microsoft had lobbied hard for software patents in Europe — a subject that Florian Müller wrote an entire book about).
“But make no mistake, the proponents of software patents fight hard to change this, using lobbying (misleading the decision makers), propaganda (misleading the public), and false marketing (bamboozling clients with false hopes).”To this date, proponents of software patents, notably large corporations and their patent lawyers, work hard to promote and cement a broken system. “A New Hope For Software Patents?” is the title of this new analysis, reusing even words after more than a month with many dozens of so-called ‘analyses’ (marketing for one’s services around software patents). Gordon & Rees LLP has just published “Is the Enfish Case “A New Hope” For Software Patents?”
Notice the question mark. They know the answer, but they create uncertainty in the hope of attracting customers. Isn’t it time to say “enough with this propaganda,” as not much has changed since the decision except the flood of pro-software patents ‘analyses’ from patent lawyers? We wrote many detailed articles to highlight this wave of misinformation.
“To this date, proponents of software patents, notably large corporations and their patent lawyers, work hard to promote and cement a broken system.”“Enfish for Alice: a software win”, says another so-called ‘analysis’ [via Bastian Best], as if patent trolls winning is “a software win”…
“Good news for software patents,” says the author. “The negative impact of the 2014 SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the US) “Alice” decision (invalidating some business method and financial software patents) has been somewhat mitigated by the recent “Enfish” court decision.”
No, not really. Barely. Nothing at all or not much has changed more than a month afterwards. In fact, how many other cases have been ruled in favour of software patents since? Anyone can count those on one hand if not zero hands. According to some number-crunching work from Bilski Blog (very informative blog by the way) and those who comment on it, “The Supreme Court Did Not Consider Alice v CLS Bank to Be a Software Patent Killer But the Dist. Cts and PTAB Do” (not CAFC).
“It’s increasingly amusing to see how patent lawyers squirm over Alice, simply not accepting that software patents should never have been possible in the first place.”That’s rather misleading an interpretation regarding the above as SCOTUS (the Supreme Court) did not express an opinion on software patents explicitly, so overall it’s a rather misguided/misleading claim to make. What the cited analysis shows is that the vast majority of patent cases involving software are unfavourable to software patents, much to the panic and horror of people like Patent WatchTroll (Gene), who is now trying to reach new lows, probably in grave frustration. Watch his latest effort to shame the Justices into approving software patents. “It is truly ironic,” he said, “even downright funny, how the Supreme Court can so clearly see that the Federal Circuit is not being true to the simple, easy to understand, straightforward terms of a statute but at the same time lack the capacity to similarly see that they are themselves doing the very same thing. If intellectual honesty means anything the Supreme Court would hold themselves to the same standard and stop applying judicial exceptions to patent eligibility that enjoy no textual support in the statute. I’m not going to hold my breath.”
Gene, being the software patents cheerleader he has always been (for his own profit), is mocking the intelligence of people who don’t agree with him (Gene already blocked me in Twitter, having lost the argument, perhaps fearing further debating), even when they’re Justices at the Supreme Court! It’s increasingly amusing to see how patent lawyers squirm over Alice, simply not accepting that software patents should never have been possible in the first place. Our next post will show some more pearls of ‘wisdom’ from Gene… █
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Like watching a flower being squashed to perfume oneself
The Office — much like Paris — is better known as a militaristic operation now, not an examination institution
Summary: Another depressing look at how Battistelli manages the EPO, once a meritorious patent office which has become a laughing stock not only among EPO employees but also among the stakeholders who are the source of the EPO’s income
Benoît Battistelli is embarrassment to the EPO. He does to the image of the EPO and the European Union what Blatter did to the reputation of FIFA and UEFA.
Benoît Battistelli is once again (as in many times in the past year) exploiting terror attacks (warning:
epo.org link) to pretend that he’s anything other than a thug, or a bully who terrorises staff, terrorises lawyers, terrorises delegates, and even terrorises bloggers. What a total hypocrite. This is a typical routine of his, after every major terror attack (we covered other such examples in the past). This helps boost/feed the fictitious narrative of urgent need for 6 bodyguards [1, 2, 3] and makes it seem like he’s the “defensive” party. What next? Will he be strutting around with a plaster across his face like Blatter did? Cosby too used such strategies to garner sympathy. Are these blog posts written with advice from FTI Consulting? Maybe ghostwritten by the PR team? These have been written since the initial FTI Consulting deal. Is Battistelli sitting up there in his office near the Isar waiting for the next terror attack so that he can write blog posts and ‘private’ letters (opportunistically published to the whole world), painting him as sympathetic and caring? The latest is being sent to the head of the USPTO, a terrible patent system with no real quality control and a lot of patent trolls (i.e. what Battistelli strives for with the UPC). There is hardly any connection between her and the victims. She probably lived in the West Coast and is of East Asian decent, whereas the attack happened in the (South) East Coat and mostly killed Latinos. But never mind all that; terror attacks are always convenient excuses for policy-pushing (gun control, foreign policy etc.), especially for politicians like Battistelli. He’s not a scientist, he's a politician, which in itself is a problem. This could disqualify him if not rationalise impeachment.
“But never mind all that; terror attacks are always convenient excuses for policy-pushing (gun control, foreign policy etc.), especially for politicians like Battistelli. He’s not a scientist, he’s a politician, which in itself is a problem.”Speaking of the low patent quality at the USPTO, it seems evident that Battistelli — whether inadvertently or not — emulates the same thing (including the patent trolls). Meldrew wrote today that: “There is a bouncing ball that might be spun in different ways.” Meldrew alluded to number of patent grants, which help demonstrate that Battistelli killed patent quality at the EPO; how long will it take for applicants to realise this and for value of existing (and future) patents to be accordingly/appropriately depreciated? In his/her blog, Meldrew wrote: “Applying some rough and ready guesswork, one can guess a total number of patents granted in 2016 as in the region 88,000 to 102,000 representing an increase of 29-49% in the number of grants over 2015.”
Yes, how ‘natural’. Unless the industry as a whole suddenly experienced a 29-49% growth in ‘innovation’…
That’s ENA’s neo-liberalism ‘at work’, racing to the bottom to help portray the businessman (Battistelli) as a king of all trades, master of jacks, and holder of no scientific qualifications. Meldrew asked: “What is happening in the background that explains this sudden increase?”
Well, recall the push to grant quickly, even at the expense of examination quality. Also recall the apparent fudging of numbers [1, 2, 3]. Another person explained this as follows:
A partial explanation… Grants actually reflect work done 7-8 months previously as the decision to grant is based on the intention to grant delayed by time for translation and any amendments. Thus the current ‘surge’ is actually a surge taking place in early 2015.
That relates to a time when Early Certainty From Search started and examiners dossier management system prioritised search over examination. With one exception! Grants could be made immediately even if they were low ranked and the system identified files which were possibly ready for grant based on the info supplied for ESOP or WOISA. In order to reach targets examiners thus took this option and, in effect, non-grantable files became secondary at best. Priority was search and grant. Examination had to wait for search deadlines (priority 1) to be met. This may change soon so the apparent surge may not continue. Indeed, at some point examiners will have to do the examinations as priorities will change. But in the meantime the examination work is skewed to grant rather than further communications, even if the applicant has amended and feels it is ready for grant the examiner must deal with highly ranked files – legal search deadlines etc. – first and is not allowed to choose lower files.
Meanwhile, the EPO’s Twitter account (i.e. PR people) is still milking the staged events and linking to puff pieces like this one. Applicants’ money is apparently being wasted by the millions on a silly festival rather than a thorough/comprehensive/exhaustive patent search (for prior art). Cutting corners to improve the bottom line in the short term seems like ENA ideology. If Battistelli manages to survive until the end of his term, why worry about the mess he leaves behind him? It’s like a 4- or 8-year presidential cycle, where one typically leaves the bubble for successors to grapple with as it implodes.
“Grossenbacher has earned quite a negative reputation, for reasons we named here before. Some suspect he is also the reason Brimelow stepped down and made room for Battistelli.”EPO and Battistelli are busy wasting a lot of money on a lobbying event, dressed up as an award ceremony or science. Here is Battistelli writing about his lobbying event (warning:
epo.org link) which took place one week ago. This event, which he spent millions of Euros (EPO budget) on, will “continue to assert itself as the ‘Nobel prize’ of innovation,” according to Battistelli’s blog post. So he thinks he’s Nobel again, having said something to that effect at the event as well (we covered this at the time). Megalomania at work?
Speaking of megalomania, Battistelli must be so intolerant toward quality control at the EPO that he is still working towards demolition of appeal boards (like court of appeals). Based on today’s legal news [1, 2], a fortnight from now the boards may be further marginalised. “Early Certainty,” the EPO labeled it today (euphemisms galore), “new opposition procedure from 1 July.”
We have already mentioned it here the other day, as it’s clearly an attack on appeal rights and hence on the boards. Patent quality would be severely damaged. That was a cornerstone of the EPO and it was how the high costs (fees) were justified for decades. These fees are presently being wasted by Battistelli, who is buying the media to control the message (improve an image) rather than improve the Office. To the tune of millions of Euros, Battistelli flushes money down the toilet because the image of the EPO remains tarnished.
Many comments appeared today at IP Kat and we wish to quote some relevant ones. At the EPO, according to one person, Roland Grossenbacher (who is Swiss like Blatter and the person who started the Investigative Unit) “must be viewing the present mayhem with a certain satisfaction.”
Grossenbacher has earned quite a negative reputation, for reasons we named here before. Some suspect he is also the reason Brimelow stepped down and made room for Battistelli. To quote the comment in full:
Personally, I have always seen the dead hand of Eminence Grise Roland Grossenbacher (or ‘Roland’ as BB warmly refers to him in meetings of the AC) in all this. He has led the hawkish element in the AC ever since he became head of the Swiss delegation and if there is any concertation involved in the various measures introduced by the BB regime, he is at least the arranger, if not the bandmaster. This is not to say BB is his creature: I think Benoît is now beyond anyone’s control. But Roland must be viewing the present mayhem with a certain satisfaction.
As for the third leg of the milking stool, I suspect that Jesper thought he was playing as an equal with the big lads, but probably now realises that the game has got too rough for him. Certainly, he does not seem to be exercising any leadership in the AC, for someone who is supposed to be its chairman.
“If an ordinary CEO had done [what Battistelli did] in the UK,” one person commenter, “he would have committed a criminal offence” (laws don’t apply at Eponia, Battistelli makes them up and changes them whenever he pleases).
Here again is the comment in full:
Truly astonishing. If it can be proven that there was a “threatening” letter, then it is hard to see how that could amount to anything other than an attempt to pervert the course of justice. If an ordinary CEO had done this in the UK, he would have committed a criminal offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
So does that mean we are now in the situation where it is unarguable that the EPO is being run by a person who, under national law, could fairly be described as a criminal?
Regardless of the semantics, the AC needs to act now, even if they have arguably been complicit in bringing this situation about. On this occasion, the president has unarguably overstepped the mark (and in a serious way). Given that the president has also taken other actions that are directly contrary to instructions given to him by the AC, then what choice does the Council have but to give him his marching orders? There would appear to be no options for “finessing” this situation so that business can carry on as normal.
I shall finish with a thought experiment. Imagine you are BB. Also imagine that there is some reason why it is essential to your survival that you keep from the public certain details pertaining to the investigations into the Board of Appeal member that you are trying to get rid of. Then what, in this imaginary situation, would you do if the Enlarged Board decided to make the dismissal hearing open to the public? Apart from making it as difficult as possible for the public to attend, you would perhaps try to engineer a situation where the Enlarged Board would be forced to close the hearing without having discussed the substance of the case (and hence without revealing to the public the material that could really damage you).
This kind of tactic would be akin to ensuring that your claims go down for added matter upon appeal, just in order that you do not receive a public (and final) pronouncement of unpatentability on a substantive ground such as novelty or inventive step.
The observable facts appear to fit the theory pretty well. However, could BB and his team be that devious? If so, just how explosive / damaging is the information that such tactics are aimed at suppressing?
The EPO still threatens people using their pensions, which is why some people suspect Ciaran McGinley decided to retire now (exceptionally early). Here is one new comment about it:
Here is an example of a restrictive covenant which was upheld by the Danish Courts:
(see §43 onwards)
Here, compensation of 50% of final salary was paid for a 12 month covenant, with the prohibited acts restricted fairly narrowly. While there may be good reasons for the EPO to restrict certain acts after employment at the EPO ends, it is reasonable for the restrictions to be narrowly defined such they demonstrably protect the interests of the office rather than being open ended subject to the whims of the management of the day.
“They’re not acquired rights,” another person added, “they are contractual terms. And that was the intention when new examiners signed the contract. But bona fide is not in the legal lexicon of the EPO, it seems.”
Finally, here is the latest comment on this thread:
Staff Regulations of the European Union Article 16: An official shall, after leaving the service, continue to be bound by the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance of certain appointments or benefits. Officials intending to engage in an occupational activity, whether gainful or not, within two years of leaving the service shall inform their institution thereof. If that activity is related to the work carried out by the official during the last three years of service and could lead to a conflict with the legitimate interests of the institution, the Appointing Authority may, having regard to the interests of the service, either forbid him from undertaking it or give its approval subject to any conditions it thinks fit. The institution shall, after consulting the Joint Committee, notify its decision within 30 working days of being so informed. If no such notification has been made by the end of that period, this shall be deemed to constitute implicit acceptance.
Looks very much like the new service regulations article 19. Nevertheless there are some differences which can be problematic.
Based on the type of comments we have been seeing today, Battistelli’s EPO has an appalling reputation, not just among EPO staff but also externally. Patent stakeholders (such as attorneys) increasingly view the EPO in a negative light. Does Battistelli care? And if so, what would he do? Dump several more millions of Euros (of applicants’ money) on media and PR companies? The EPO seems to have gotten itself a Sarkozy in charge, with or without a Bygmalion affair. █
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The problem is the tactic or the weapon, not the size of the plaintiff…
Summary: A roundup of news about software patents-wielding patent trolls, including some of the latest publicity about (and against) them
THE LENIENCE at the USPTO has given rise to patent trolls, which barely exist in Europe because software patents are not legal here (loopholes aside). Here is a new article about Europe and patent trolls:
Does Europe Have Patent Trolls?
They study all patent suits filed from 2000-2008 in Germany’s three busiest courts and most cases filed from 2000-2013 in the UK. They find that PAEs (including failed product companies) account for about 9% of these suits and that NPEs (PAEs plus universities, pre-product startups, individuals, industry consortiums, and IP subsidiaries of product companies) account for about 19%. These are small numbers by U.S. standards, but still significant. Most European PAE suits involve computer and telecom technologies. Compared with the United States, more PAE suits are initiated by the alleged infringer, fewer suits involve validity challenges, fewer suits settle, and more suits involve patentee wins.
In the previous post we reminded readers that software patents are a dying business (or dying breed) in the US, no matter what patent lawyers say. However, when patent trolls target small entities, will the patents go to court at all and get invalidated there? The process can be hugely expensive, time-consuming, and there is no absolute assurance of invalidation.
When patent lawyers say the truth about patents and what they have become we learn quite a lot right from the horse’s mouth. “Former patent lawyer speaks out against trolls,” explains this one person about Ira Blumberg (writing at AOL), who “explains why Congress must fix patents” (they mean stop trolls).
Read the following article from start to end. Here are some highlights:
Why patent trolls won’t give up
Luckily for me, this didn’t apply to the patent world. I spent seven years on the “dark side” working for patent trolls before coming back to the light. Patent trolls are companies that derive all or almost all of their revenue by asserting patents against other companies.
My experiences while on the “dark side” profoundly shaped my view on the role that Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), or patent trolls, play in the tech industry. The struggle between PAEs and companies that produce and sell products is not as stark or binary as “light and dark,” or “good and evil,” but the fact remains that PAE litigation does more harm than good.
The tech industry is fertile ground for PAE litigation, with its many patents, plentiful companies and an increasing global reliance on technology. PAEs have no incentive to stop unless we in tech work together to stand up against them.
Lenovo believes strongly in protecting innovation, and having seen the real threats that trolls can pose, I pushed to join LOT Network, a non-profit community of companies that work together to minimize their exposure to patents owned by trolls. With fellow members like Red Hat, Canon, Logitech and Subaru, we’re making a real dent in the pool of patents that would be useful to PAEs. At last count, nearly half a million patent assets were protected from being used as weapons in PAE litigation against members of LOT Network.
As someone who has spent time on both sides, I feel a call to speak out against frivolous and overpriced patent litigation. The work I did for both PAEs and corporations was certainly legal, but not the same: While I was always on the right side of the law, I prefer being on the right side of innovation.
Companies want to create technologies that matter five years from now and beyond, so patents continue to matter. Frivolous lawsuits and those demanding damages far in excess of the value of the allegedly infringed patent detract from our ability to push innovation and better products forward. I hope that many more voices in tech will join mine in decrying the harmful effects of needless patent litigation — our future depends on it.
“Former Patent Troll Admits That Patent Trolls Are Bad For Business And Innovation” is how TechDirt summarised the above article, noting: “I’ve spoken to a few patent attorneys who have fought against patent trolls who have admitted to me that, at times, it’s quite tempting to give up and join the other side, since patent trolling is fairly easy and incredibly lucrative. You just have to sell your soul and give up the idea that you’re doing anything productive or good in the world, and instead become a pure bottom feeder. Someone who did exactly that is apparently Ira Blumberg, who is now speaking out about his experiences working on “the dark side” of patent trolling. Blumberg didn’t end up going to one of those tiny patent trolls, but rather left a job at Intel to go work for Rambus, a company not everyone considers to be a patent troll, but which certainly has a history of being an aggressive patent litigant. From Rambus, Blumberg then joined the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures. He eventually left IV and is now at Lenovo. So he’s been actively on both sides of the patent troll situation — as an active participant in suing operating companies while working for companies that did nothing but license, and at companies that are relentlessly pursued by patent trolls.”
There are other new data points regarding patent trolls. As United for Patent Reform put it, “HarvardHBS study finds patent trolls prey on businesses with new cash flows” and here is the accompanying page which says: “The study, “Patent Trolls: Evidence from Targeted Firms,” examines the rise of patent lawsuits driven by nonpracticing entities (NPEs), or firms that hold on to patents for the sake of enforcing their IP rights rather than using them to innovate and produce products that benefit consumers. The authors — Lauren Cohen at Harvard Business School and the National Bureau of Economic Research, Umit G. Gurun at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Scott Duke Kominers at Harvard University — find that NPEs behave like “opportunistic patent trolls,” targeting vulnerable companies with frivolous lawsuits. They also conclude that these activities have a “real negative impact on innovation,” causing companies to reduce their innovative activity after coming in contact with NPEs — whether through settlements or after losing to one in court — and crowd out some companies that would otherwise create products that benefit society.”
“There are other new data points regarding patent trolls.”“Patent trolls are targeting developers & could potentially sue anyone who uses the Play Store or App Store,” United for Patent Reform added, linking to this article about a story that became very hot last week. Uniloc, a patent troll which we have written about for years, attacks Android developers right now. Here is some background: “Austin Meyer is the developer behind X-Plane. A few years ago, he uploaded the app to the Google Play Store and was very unexpectedly hit with a lawsuit from Uniloc in 2012. The firm claims it patented the idea behind the app market. That’s right, Uniloc isn’t going after the Meyer for making a flight simulator; it’s going after any company that uses Google Play. It’s already targeted a bunch of other popular apps, including Minecraft.”
Another article explained that “Austin Meyer is the developer behind X-Plane. A few years ago, he uploaded the app to the Google Play Store and was it with a lawsuit from Uniloc. Uniloc claims it patented the idea behind the app market and it wants a share of the profits. It has already targeted a bunch of other popular apps, including Minecraft.”
“The story told by Austin Meyer is similar to the story of many other developers.”Promoting VENUE Act as the solution, United for Patent Reform wrote: “This patent troll claims it invented mobile app market & is suing developers in EDTX courts” (Eastern District of Texas).
Here is the corresponding video. “The empty patent troll offices in Eastern District Texas,” Benjamin Henrion called it.
United for Patent Reform linked to this original video and said: “”I am being sued in East TX for using Google.” Austin Meyer speaks out against the patent trolls threatening his app” (Android app). To quote the video’s summary, it only says: “I am being sued for using the Google Play Store. Others have been sued for using WIFI and scanners. It takes years, and about THREE MILLION DOLLARS, to defend yourself…”
Here is the video embedded:
The story told by Austin Meyer is similar to the story of many other developers.
To make matters worse, as this one person put it, there is a “spoiler: plaintiff’s attorney is judge’s son” (not so unusual when it comes to the patent system in the US. There are more stories like this in the corrupt patent system in Texas and EPO with Bergot).
Sadly, patent trolls now overwhelm the US system. They are sometimes fed by large corporations. “Of 22 patent suits filed today,” United for Patent Reform wrote some days ago, “19 were filed by patent trolls — 86%. It’s time Congress took action to #fixpatents!”
“This patent troll targets companies that track packages,” United for Patent Reform writes about another high-profile patent troll. “If Your Company Ever Tracks Packages, Beware of Lawsuit from Alleged “Patent Troll”,” says the accompanying article, which also mentioned the EFF as follows: “No way would Cugle pay the $25,000. He refused and sought out help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which sued Shipping and Transit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on May 31 for filing a frivolous patent claim against Cugle.”
“Sadly, patent trolls now overwhelm the US system.”The EFF is doing some good work here and it also takes note of “the story of how one company has filed 91 lawsuits over a patent developed with government” (subsidies to help tax the public).
The story was covered by NPR, which had already done some good reports about the patent system. As NPR put it: “What makes this beef between bodybuilders stand out is where the patent comes from: a prestigious research university. A scientist was looking into whether arginine could help fight heart disease. He got a patent on what he found. But his research hit a dead end, and, through a complicated series of events, his noble patent got caught up in a fracas between two bodybuilders and their lawyers. Naturally, we dove in.”
What we have here is corporate welfare (money from government) being used to tax the public, which is of course outrageous. And speaking of welfare, mind this new article (behind paywall) titled “Patents Can Be Dangerous to Inventors’ Welfare”
“Many inventors have gone astray defending patent rights,” the summary says. “Elon Musk and Tesla blaze a different path.”
Actually, Musk is a famous example of someone who made a fortune from government subsidies. For Musk to give away patents should be seen as an obligation, not goodwill. “Innovation” is increasingly just a buzzword/byword for patents; it’s all about business (income) for patent lawyers and protectionism for large corporations that they work for. Small businesses need not apply; they’re left to suffer. Here is the latest example of mutual patent protection among giants in Asia. IAM says that “[i]t looks as though Nissan has become the latest member of the License On Transfer (LOT) Network.” This isn’t exactly useful for anyone other than giant companies like Toyota.
“”Innovation” is increasingly just a buzzword/byword for patents; it’s all about business (income) for patent lawyers and protectionism for large corporations that they work for.”Here is another new example of patents being used for protectionism rather than innovation. As a trolls expert put it the other week: “Global Archery, an Indiana company that licenses its own foam arrows for archery games, sued Gwyther back in October. Global Archery founder John Jackson said that the foam-tipped arrows sold by Gwyther violated a patent he owns, and that Gwyther’s marketing on search engines infringes his trademark rights.
“Earlier this year, Gwyther took his fight public with a fundraising campaign, and published a video in which he implored his customers and fans to “Save LARP Archery!” That led to Global Archery asking for a gag order to stop Gwyther from speaking about the case.”
TechDirt later added that: “Global Archery claims that those arrows infringed on a patent it owns and that LARPing.org’s use of Google Ad-Words infringed on its trademarks. While both of those charges seemed destined for loserdom, as the German company would be the patent infringers and the Google Ad-Words thing almost never works, the fact that Global Archery was relatively big and LARPing.org is tiny meant that perhaps that would be enough to tip the scales. With that in mind, Newegg’s Lee Cheng jumped into the fray, helping to back LARPing.org’s legal efforts in defending itself.”
“Newegg can afford to spend millions on dollars in the courts (and sometimes manage to convince the judges to provide legal costs reparations).”Newegg actually uses its fights against patent trolls for marketing, not that it necessarily makes these battles tasteless (just self-serving). Newegg can afford to spend millions on dollars in the courts (and sometimes manage to convince the judges to provide legal costs reparations). But where does that leave the rest of us, who haven’t the deep pockets or the coffers Newegg enjoys? Where does it leave people like Austin Meyer?
Sadly, in spite of media’s growing realisation that patent trolls are a problem, the real solution would come from invalidation of all software patents, rendering software developers about as free as they tend to be in Europe (as long as they don’t distribute software in the United States or fold too quickly [1, 2, 3]). █
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Much ado about [En]fish…
Summary: A roundup of news about software patents in the United States and why the media’s narrative (dominated by patent lawyers) clouds a rather grim reality for software patents, even after the Enfish v Microsoft case
THE USPTO continues to grant software patents, but relying on Alice at the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), reassessments by courts or panels typically invalidate these.
SCOTUS and Halo v Pulse
“The USPTO continues to grant software patents, but relying on Alice at the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), reassessments by courts or panels typically invalidate these.”Based on this new tweet, SCOTUS now recognises the patent trolls issue and even names it as such. This commentary on trolls ought to take into account the strong correlation between patent trolling and software patents (which trolls typically use). Here is what Patently-O wrote about SCOTUS just now: “The Supreme Court today issued an important unanimous decision in Halo v. Pulse – vacating the Federal Circuit’s rigid limits to enhanced damages in patent cases. The decision rejects the dual objective/subjective test of Seagate as “inconsistent” with the statutory language of 35 U.S.C. §284.”
The problem is, irrespective of damage limitations, patent trolls (which may be the spilling of a company’s patent portfolio acting as satellites) can just attack many thousands of firms or people, taxing each in turn. So loopholes remain in tact and overall it’s pretty ugly.
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC)
It is worth noting that there’s an ever-growing gap between the judgment of USPTO examination — as per the management’s guidelines — and what US courts actually say, even corrupt courts like the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Remember that it was CAFC which started software patenting in the first place and recently ruled in favour of Enfish, getting software patents proponents/maximalists (such as patent lawyers) all giddy and jubilant as though software patents are back with vengeance (they’re not).
“It is worth noting that there’s an ever-growing gap between the judgment of USPTO examination — as per the management’s guidelines — and what US courts actually say, even corrupt courts like the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).”Software patents are problematic to software developers, no matter if they develop Free software or proprietary software. It’s probably a bit more of a problem for Free software developers because in order to freely distribute copies of their software they must not be coerced into making patent payments to anyone. “Patents and the open-source community” is a new article from LWN which deals with the topic. It is a very long article about a panel in which Professor “Moglen advised separating the past from the future when discussing tactics. For the future, he said, “we should prevent people from getting patents.” But, in the past, the problem is old patents “rising up and smiting” projects, harming innovation. The work that Choudhary does trying to abolish patents, he said, covered how to protect people in the future—and he fully expects SFLC to continue that work, arguing in front of the Supreme Court about the “design patent” case between Apple and Samsung. Furthermore, he said, “open-source software is an immense repository of prior art. Free software can help by educating people on all that we’ve invented and that you therefore cannot reinvent and patent.””
Samsung and Apple
Speaking of this (above-mentioned) “design patent” case between Apple and Samsung — a case which we last wrote about in the weekend — Florian Müller who dislikes Moglen (he once again told off the SFLC a few days ago) has “all the documents and the key points”. To quote his blog: “There never was any doubt that the question of whether the infringement of a single design patent by a complex, multifunctional product warrants an unapportioned disgorgement of profits would be an extraordinarily important one. Previous rounds of amicus curiae briefs already demonstrated broadbased support. But the level of support the petition has just received at this decisive stage exceeds my expectations.”
Days ago we explained why this is relevant and important to Free software. Previously we also explained why design patents are often similar if not indistinguishable from software patents (UI+callback function/s).
Patent Lawyers Upset
“There never was any doubt that the question of whether the infringement of a single design patent by a complex, multifunctional product warrants an unapportioned disgorgement of profits would be an extraordinarily important one.”
–Florian MüllerSuffice to say, patent lawyers almost always support claimants (never mind justice or innovation). They want a lot of money to swap hands because it’s their source of revenue, other than/aside from obscenely high hourly charges. “How the United States Patent Office Became the Place Where Patents Go To Die” is an example of a new article which bemoans quality control and it is promoted by the usual suspects. It's not exactly surprising that the bubble is now imploding. Patent quality became a joke and over-evaluation of patents ensued. Opponents of the Alice decision continue to cheer for software patents (“Uber files patent on hyperlocal internet search” in this case), but sadly for them, the boat is leaving and software patents are now weaker (in the US) than they have ever been since their introduction by CAFC. “Recall that Enfish comes from a single CAFC panel,” IBM’s Manny Schecter wrote the other day, “when the CAFC ruled en banc in Alice it was splintered” (as a reminder, Schecter is a proponent of software patents not only in the US).
Reality Check From Software Patents Proponents
“I am thus concerned that Enfish will not be as useful as hoped in overcoming §101 Alice rejections.”
–IP WatchdogWe were rather amused to find the most pro-software patents site out there publishing “Is Enfish Much Ado About Nothing?” The gist of it is that the Enfish decision hardly changed anything at all. To quote the key part: “I am thus concerned that Enfish will not be as useful as hoped in overcoming §101 Alice rejections. The patents at stake in Enfish appear to have been written with a confident view of the prior art and of the invention. So, if a specification does not confidently emphasize the “invention,” its “benefits over” conventional prior art, and “disparage” the prior art, will examiners and judges continue Step 1 characterizations at “such a high level of abstraction”? Is Enfish merely much ado about nothing?”
Yes, it is. Patent lawyers tried to over-emphasise it in order to change public opinion and influence policy-making people. The patent salespeople, on the other hand (in the same site), hope that this one single case will save software patents, not just at the USPTO but also at the courts. They are not paying attention to any case other than the Enfish v Microsoft case. How convenient…
Software Patents Proponents in Denial
Almost a month later (after the decision) Baker Botts LLP is still cherry-picking cases in an effort — however shallow — to shore up software patents. Banana IP (Banana Republic?) does the same kind of lobbying. We have already covered dozens of examples like these. These helped show how the media, especially lawyers’ media, continues to simply ignore every single case that’s ruled against software patents and lean on the rare exceptions instead. Edward Bray (of Marks & Clerk) is now cross-posting his ‘analysis’ in favour of software patents — an ‘article’ (lobbying/marketing) which we mentioned the other day. It just never stops, does it? Even a month later.
“Is Enfish merely much ado about nothing?”
–IP WatchdogThe USPTO is doing the same thing, as we noted last month on a couple of occasions. Here is an explanation of how it goes: “Abstract idea – #USPTO memo on how the #CAFC Enfish patentability decision obstructed Alice http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ieg-may-2016_enfish_memo.pdf … #swpat”
The patent office too is latching onto a single case when it serves to ‘sell’ more patents for more revenue. No separation between examination and policy?
Evidence serves to suggest that no matter what USPTO greed does, the courts continue to crush software patents, even after the Enfish decision. “Patents Directed to Electronic Delivery of Messages Found Ineligible in AZ in GoDaddy v. RPost,” Patent Buddy wrote the other day, linking to http://assets.law360news.com/0805000/805041/2016-06-07%20(doc%20344)%20order%20granting%20godaddy_s%20motion%20summary%20judgment%20and%20vacating%20trial%20dmwest_14483743(1).pdf (Alice is mentioned dozens of times in this decision’s PDF).
Many software patents have just died not only in the courts but also at PTAB, so how can patent lawyers argue with a straight face that a lot has changed? “Fatal Flaws of Subjective Alice/Mayo 101 Test [Are] Now Becoming Evident in Contradictory Findings Across Dist. Courts,” Patent Buddy wrote, but why is that test “subjective”? Because patent attorneys and lawyers don’t like it? Because it threatens their profit/income?
The matter of fact is that some courts get it right (they can see that algorithms are abstract), whereas some are still rather clueless (or bad lawyers for the defendant) if not corruptible, as was the case at CAFC before. Microsoft had a lot to gain from losing that case, as we explained last month.
“LinkedIn will soon be owned by Microsoft, which is itself a leading proponent of software patents.”Here is a case of software patents being used against Facebook, which has been stockpiling patents on software. To quote Patently-O: “Indacon’s U.S. Patent No. 6,834,276 covers an improved database system that adds “custom links” so that instances of a “link term” would point to a particular file in the database. Thus, applying this in LinkedIn, you might find that references to “Dennis Crouch” point to my LinkedIn profile. Of course, the way that Facebook & LinkedIn operate does not create the pointer-link for all occurrences of the term.”
LinkedIn will soon be owned by Microsoft, which is itself a leading proponent of software patents. What will this mean? Remember that the Enfish decision too involved Microsoft and people from Microsoft were pleased with the outcome. Speaking of Microsoft, the company is now hoarding software patents on quantum computing, based on this new listing. “Note that the USPTO also has a search engine for patent applications that are not yet granted,” wrote the author. “I am not listing those here. You can use that search engine yourself if you also want to see “Previews of the Coming Attractions”…”
Microsoft is by far the biggest threat to Free software when it comes to patent aggression.
Patents on Genome
“Indacon’s U.S. Patent No. 6,834,276 covers an improved database system that adds “custom links” so that instances of a “link term” would point to a particular file in the database.”
–Patently-OThe Alice/Mayo test applies to more than just software. Bristows lawyers (i.e. patent profiteers who promote software patents) show no concerns about patent scope expansions. Based on this article from MIP, they aren’t going to say that patents on human genome are insane. Instead there’s promotion of that. As per the summary: “Genomic technology has rapidly created a multi-billion dollar growth industry. With life sciences companies scrambling in US and European courts for a share of the lucrative market, in-house IP counsel should start preparing for the next wave of IP litigation, explain Dominic Adair and Annsley Merelle Ward” (from Bristows).
Unless the USPTO gets a grip and stops granting patents on everything in nature, the valuation of patents and the confidence in the patent office will further erode, leaving patent lawyers reliant on illusions, lying to their potential customers, and overselling the prospects of patent litigation. How long can this madness last? It’s a bubble. █
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Summary: New examples of software patents that simply cannot withstand or survive scrutiny, either at the appeal panels or at the court (where there’s no incentive to approve nearly everything, unlike the USPTO)
THE USPTO wishes to grant more and more patents for increasing revenue and growing influence. This is why it ended up with so many patents, perhaps the majority of which are bogus (based on prior art, abstractness etc.) and the bubble has begun imploding.
Making money by invalidating bad patents sounds like a good thing, but based on this new report from MIP, this business opportunity is being exploited by thugs and con men like Kyle Bass and Erich Spangenberg (we wrote about both of them in prior years). To quote MIP:
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s institution decisions on all 35 of the inter partes review petitions filed by Kyle Bass and Erich Spangenberg are now in
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has issued institution decisions on all the inter partes review (IPR) petitions that involve hedge fund manager Kyle Bass.
As a recap, Spangenberg is one of the biggest patent trolls out there. Kyle Bass comes from a highly ruinous meta-industry and he destroys companies by going after key patents of theirs. Another new article about PTAB (also from MIP) says: “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has invalidated two livestock valuation patents in the first PGR final written decisions. Only one of the 28 PGR petitions filed so far has been denied institution, with two settled and 11 waiting an institution verdict” (progress).
“We are hoping to see more such cases where software patents are identified by determining the reducibility of the operation to pen-and-paper analysis.”If you see “livestock” in patents, then you immediately know something is amiss, either because the patent pertains to life or to software/mathematics in this case. Many of the patents which PTAB invalidates these days are software patents.
Speaking of software patents, mind this new decision [via] and blog post titled “Computer Memory Testing Patents Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101″ (Alice likely). To quote the summary, action in this case can be “performed by humans without computers [and this] confirms [...] asserted claims are directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas.”
We are hoping to see more such cases where software patents are identified by determining the reducibility of the operation to pen-and-paper analysis. This patent sounds rather similar to the Bilski one, which the US Supreme Court was not too enthusiastic about. █
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EPO killing the appeals department, whereas the USPTO strengthens it
Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board causes the patent microcosm to get all worried and vindicative, having come to the point of reviewing over 2,000 patents per year (expected to exceed 2,000 this year), i.e. almost a 10,000% growth since it all started
THE protests from patent lawyers against PTAB are rather revealing. They help demonstrate that PTAB is doing something right. IAM, which is funded by patent trolls and all sorts of patent parasites, tries to reinforce the discrediting/insulting label, “death squad”, in relation to PTAB. This isn’t the first time and now it’s right at the middle of the headline. Yes, “patent death squad” is what the patent propagandists are nowadays calling appeals, or specialised groups of scientists and/or judges who identify invalid patents, trashing these before they do enormous damage to small firms (or sole developers) which cannot afford legal defense.
“IAM, which is funded by patent trolls and all sorts of patent parasites, tries to reinforce the discrediting/insulting label, “death squad”, in relation to PTAB.”To quote IAM: “No patent owner likes to find itself subject to an inter partes review or covered business method patent procedure before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the USPTO. Not only do you end up spending good money to defend your position, but the statistics show that the chances are you will find at least some of your claims – if not the entire patent in question – being wiped out.”
How about the people who become victims of these patents, not the “patent owners” [sic]? One single patent can be used to attack, e.g. with extortion-like nastygrams dispatched in a warehouse/retail/wholesale fashion, literally thousands of small developers. It happens every year, but IAM does not care for them. They don’t fund IAM.
Looking at MIP, which is a lot more balanced than IAM, here are some information and numbers. “Managing IP rounds up interesting quotes, statistics, slides and tidbits from speakers at the US PTAB Forum 2016 in New York,” it claims, “which included panels on Patent Trial and Appeal Board rule changes, Federal Circuit appeals, district court strategies, pharma challenges and more” (quite an informative series).
“Watch how the number of petitions/appeals grew: 25 in 2012, 562 the following year, then 1489, 1897 last year and so far this year (just five months) 1053, which means it’ll go over 2000 this year, assuming the same pace persists.”Here is MIP showing the raw numbers. It’s sumamrised as “PTAB Monthly Data: Ford filed the most PTAB petitions in May, with Versata the most-targeted patent owner. Four PGR petitions were filed, a sign that this type of petition is gaining traction” (not just this type).
Watch how the number of petitions/appeals grew: 25 in 2012, 562 the following year, then 1489, 1897 last year and so far this year (just five months) 1053, which means it’ll go over 2000 this year, assuming the same pace persists.
“Whatever makes these greedy folks angry or puts them in a bit of a panic must be real impediment to software patents and various other abstract patents.”PTAB (or USPTO) needs to hire more and more people for this as there’s clearly high demand for the service. An experienced chief judge was recently added. While the EPO systematically crushes its quasi-equivalent of PTAB, sometimes by getting rid of people and not hiring replacements, the USPTO seems to gain/hire more such people. In other words, as the bubble inevitably bursts the USPTO regains some sanity (e.g. Alice test), whereas the EPO goes in the opposite direction, emulating neoliberal errors.
IP Hawk, a patents maximalist, bemoans the above. “CAFC crushed the PTAB,” he wrote, and “will likely issue a scathing Precedential opinion” (wishful thinking or lobbying). Here is another patents maximalist joining the echo chamber, quoting: “I don’t know what the Board thinks it’s doing” (or words to that effect).
Well, judging by those who are afraid of PTAB right now [1, 2, 3] we have some reassurance that it is doing the right thing. Whatever makes these greedy folks angry or puts them in a bit of a panic must be real impediment to software patents and various other abstract patents. █
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Selective media coverage as a biasing strategy
Summary: Sites of patent lawyers continue to tell only a fraction of the whole story, focusing on one single old case involving Microsoft (which supports software patents) rather than the full picture (Alice and PTAB crushing software patents in the United States)
PATENTS on software are worse than inessential. They’re extremely harmful, especially but not only to software developers (irrespective of the type of software and whether it’s proprietary or not). They are being promoted for (self) gain by billionaires and patent lawyers, as we noted in our previous post. So why are we still hearing software patents advocacy? Well, for one thing, patent lawyers have a grip on the media. They even have their own media sites and these often look like news sites (basically marketing/sales disguised as analysis or reporting). This post presents some of the latest propaganda on these matters.
According to this recent post from a patent lawyers’ site: “A court was easily able to analogize claims of two patents directed to electronic messaging to manual communications processes; the court consequently granted a motion for summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Mobile Telecommunications Technologies LLC v. Blackberry Corp., No. 3:12-cv-1652-M (N.D. Texas May 12, 2016).”
“They’re extremely harmful, especially but not only to software developers (irrespective of the type of software and whether it’s proprietary or not).”Notice the “invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101″ part. We’re seeing lots of that today, but patent lawyers would rather de-emphasise or ignore such things. “US Pat 8,545,575,” wrote Patent Buddy the other day. “This is the patent a UT Judge held invalid under 101/Alice” (the SCOTUS ruling on Alice in 2014).
There’s more of that, e.g. Patent Buddy’s “Portable Data Storage Device Patent Unpatentable Under 35 U.S.C. § 101″ (same grounds).
The cited decision is described as follows: “In a final written decision, the Board found claims of a patent directed to a portable data storage device unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”
And from the decision: “The underlying concept of claims 13 and 14, particularly when viewed in light of the ’720 patent specification, is conditioning and controlling access to content based upon payment. This is a fundamental economic practice long in existence in commerce. We are, thus, persuaded, based on the ’720 patent specification and the claim language, that each of claims 13 and 14 is directed to an abstract idea.”
“They even have their own media sites and these often look like news sites (basically marketing/sales disguised as analysis or reporting).”Looking at the site best known for software patents advocacy, they now have an article titled “Avoiding Alice Rejections with Predictive Analytics” (trying to find loopholes around the law). “Having affirmed the claim construction,” says another such site, “the Federal Circuit likewise affirmed summary judgment of noninfringement, adding that disclaimer applied to both literal infringement and to infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.”
This is actually about CAFC, not SCOTUS. CAFC is responsible for bringing software patents to the United States in the first place.
3 days ago Ping Hu and Michael McNamara of Mintz Levin tried hard to cherry-pick cases to bring back software patents, in spite of SCOTUS. Their ‘article’ was titled “A New Hope for Software Patents?” It looks like an analysis, but it’s shameless self-promotion, as usual. Mintz Levin wasn’t alone here. Patent lawyers are so desperate to spread one single case (Enfish v Microsoft) to the appeals folks in order to save software patents. See “The PTAB Applies Enfish” (the case everyone leans on for legitimisation of software patents). It says: “However, relying on the recent Enfish decision, the PTAB found that the claimed method did not recite an abstract idea. Id. at 15. In so finding the PTAB faulted Petitioner’s argument for failing to analyze the claims as a whole. Id. at 15. The PTAB went on to analyze the claimed method under the second step of the Alice test and found that it too was not met. Id. at 16. The PTAB found that, like the claims in DDR Holdings, the challenged claims are necessarily rooted in computer technology. Id. at 17.”
“CAFC is responsible for bringing software patents to the United States in the first place.”PTAB is not stupid (or corruptible or greedy like the USPTO), so almost every software patent that comes there will end up dead. The blog post “Corelogic, Inc. v. Boundary Solutions, Inc. (PTAB 2016)” says: “On May 24, 2016, the U.S. Patent Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a decision denying institution of covered business method (CBM) patent review of U.S. Patent No. 7,092,957 owned by Boundary Solutions.”
That’s more of the same, obviously. Even Apple is now running to the PTAB, having found itself on the receiving end of abuses it's now so renowned for. To quote IAM: “Shortly after Smartflash won a $533 million infringement decision against Apple early last year this blog pointed out that the NPE [troll] was still unlikely to ultimately receive such a big payout. For one thing the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has shown its predilection for over-ruling big district court awards, particularly from the Eastern District of Texas and particularly damages awarded to NPEs.”
What’s noteworthy here is that Apple, which uses software patents against Android (and by extension Linux) suddenly does not like them (because they’re used against Apple) and resorts/retreats to PTAB for reprieve. How pathetic is this? Double standards all over this…
“What’s noteworthy here is that Apple, which uses software patents against Android (and by extension Linux) suddenly does not like them (because they’re used against Apple) and resorts/retreats to PTAB for reprieve.”Regarding PTAB, also see MCM v HP Briefs. To quote Patently-O: “MCM-Petition-and-Appendix: (1) Whether inter partes review (IPR) violates Article III of the Constitution; and (2) whether IPR violates the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution. Response Due June 30, 2016.”
The inter partes reviews are carried out by PTAB, which we need a lot more of (the EPO equivalent, E/BoA, is being crushed by Battistelli these days).
Going back to Enfish v Microsoft, 3 weeks later patent lawyers still try to prop up this one single pro-software patents ruling. CoffyLaw published this promotional piece and Bastian Best is cherry-picking cases again, citing Michael Best who latches onto CAFC. Fish & Richardson PC, which we mentioned here many times before, also joins the opportunists with a so-called ‘analysis’ or comparison between Enfish and TLI (a case which soon after Enfish crushed software patents at the same court). Meanwhile, a Microsoft-connected patent lawyers firm (Shook Hardy and Bacon LLP) is trying to expand patent scope with a so-called ‘analysis’. The common thing (or theme) here is that they only pay attention to what suits their agenda. It’s not analysis, it’s propaganda.
“The common thing (or theme) here is that they only pay attention to what suits their agenda. It’s not analysis, it’s propaganda.”Owing to patent lawyers’ hype and media saturation, Enfish v Microsoft is now widely known only for reinforcing software patents in the US. “Enfish Could Not Save Patents Asserted Against Nvidia,” Patent Buddy wrote, citing this PDF. So obviously there’s not much impact to Enfish v Microsoft after all.
Why does the media keep covering it like it’s a groundbreaking decision? Here is the corporate media mentioning it almost a month later, stating: “The court wrote in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp that any “improvement to computer functionality itself” overcomes the abstract idea exception to patent eligibility that holds that what is abstract can’t be patented.” Yes, but how many similar cases were decided/ruled against software patents? Why are these being ignored? Selective attention? Or just propaganda dressed up as ‘reporting’? These are rhetorical questions really. █
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Time to bring the patent offices under control (to serve inventors, not billionaires)
Summary: In the patent microcosm — just like the Military–industrial complex — a conflict of interests has been created wherein demand is being artificially created for undesirable things, typically for the empowerment of those who are already very powerful
The previous post dealt with the role played by Shelston IP and AJ Park in the south east. They basically serve the agenda of what’s sometimes referred to as the “Empire of Corporations” (class, not geography, multinational imperialism by profit, not people). The EPO under Battistelli is pretty much the same and the EPO now relies on globalisation to drive the agenda of the super-rich (already enjoying special EPO treatment), like those whom Battistelli like to hang out with a lot (Sarkozy, Lagarde and billionaires).
“There are many legitimate reasons for staying in the EU, but UPC isn’t one of them, unless you’re IAM or a patent lawyer.”Right now there’s lots of talk here about Brexit (Britain exiting the EU), which I am personally against. IAM’s Joff Wild, who is obviously very close to the EPO, only cares about Brexit because it might jeopardise the UPC and a couple of hours ago he wrote: “For one, the opinion polls in the UK are now pointing ever-more firmly towards a win for the Leave side in the country’s upcoming referendum on its membership of the European Union. As discussed on here previously, should Brexit be the result on 23rd June that is likely to have major implications for the future of the Unified Patent Court. It will be interesting to hear what people have to say about this. My sense is that very few have registered that it could happen, but there is now a very real possibility it will. The consequences for the global patent market could be pretty negative – especially given the current uncertainties in the US, another issue that we will be focusing on over the next two days.”
Let is be clear that the UPC helps patent trolls, multinational giants, and software patents (i.e. all the things IAM loves so much). There are many legitimate reasons for staying in the EU, but UPC isn’t one of them, unless you’re IAM or a patent lawyer. The above serves to illustrate just to what degree forces associated with the EPO and with patent chaos push agenda here. It’s almost as though Europe’s patent policy totally ignores the interests of the European people and is steered directly (and usually behind closed doors) by a bunch of patent lawyers and profiteers. This is appalling, but it doesn’t just happen in Europe. It’s an international problem.
“This is appalling, but it doesn’t just happen in Europe. It’s an international problem.”Looking at the US, the patent system there is literally run by people from industry (e.g. IBM or Google, who have corrupted the very purpose of the patent system) — people who later turn into lobbyists. Is anybody surprised that US patent policy is now optimised for huge corporations (protectionism) rather than invention? Patents are now being criticised by The Scientist (US), as part of the article “Do Patents Promote or Stall Innovation?”
This does not suggest that all patents are bad, but some oughtn’t be granted and there are domains, such as the abstract or nature, which oughtn’t be covered by patents. The article, as an example, says that “a patent dispute between biotech companies Sequenom and Ariosa Diagnostics on a related theme—the analysis of naturally occurring fetal DNA” is not good. Almost everyone would agree, except perhaps the giants that are already worth billions and established a monopoly using patents on things which they did not even develop (maybe merely discovered or utilised).
“There are alternative routes of operation and even protection of one’s ‘secret sauce’ (or source code), for example copyright law for software.”Now, consider India’s policy on abstract patents like software that in no way promote the interests of India. In the case of drugs, secrecy is one option and sharing of knowledge across companies (collaboration) are suitable business models too, albeit today’s giants would resist these with passion, for obvious reasons, and they also have a massive lobbying budget that goes a long way in a country like India. A new article from MIP, titled “India’s first National IPR Policy maintains position on affordable drugs,” says that the “India government has unveiled the first National Intellectual Property Rights Policy that sets out seven objectives and relevant guidelines to promote the country’s IP regime, and has resisted pressure from the United States to amend the patent law regarding access to cheap drugs”
In the words of a pro-software patents Web site, “Bad Patents Can Harm A Startup Company” and to quote the opening paragraph: “One of the options for the inventor is to not to file a patent, but simply to keep their invention secret. The most common examples are the formula for Coca Cola or Colonel Sander’s secret herbs and spices. Both of these examples could have been patented, but were not. From a business standpoint, these were the right decisions.”
“The policies from India show a certain strength in the face of bullying from the likes of USTR.”It’s not always patenting that works best to promote innovation (if patents promote innovation in the first place). There are alternative routes of operation and even protection of one’s ‘secret sauce’ (or source code), for example copyright law for software.
The policies from India show a certain strength in the face of bullying from the likes of USTR. What about east asia? Will it surrender to Western demands? Well, the part of it that’s a former British colony, Hong Kong, seems to be heading in the wrong direction, just like Singapore (another former British colony). To quote MIP: “The Legislative Council (LegCo) has completed its Bills Committee stage scrutiny of the Patents (Amendment) Bill 2015. The Bill introduces several important changes, including an original grant patent system for standard patents in addition to the existing re-registration system as well as a substantive examination procedure in the short-term patent system.”
“It often boils down to one nation’s “rights” (as in “intellectual property rights”) to exercise control over many others.”China will hopefully not be fooled by these policies in Hong Kong which would hurt the Chinese economy, unless Beijing wishes to see more Chinese giants becoming victims of Microsoft blackmail (patent shakedown for NSA-leaning spyware).
A lot of the world’s patent policy and debates are imperialistic by nature. It often boils down to one nation’s “rights” (as in “intellectual property rights”) to exercise control over many others. Those many other nations have elements in them which can be viewed as “enemies within”, e.g. patent lawyers, whose goal aligns with the foreign occupier, and they are willing to lobby domestically to advance nationally-harmful policies for personal gain–a sort of loot shared by the occupier with the facilitator/collaborator. If only more people could see that… █
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