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09.27.19

Somehow Microsoft is Always Everywhere Linux Gets Attacked by Lawsuits and Antitrust Actions

Posted in Antitrust, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is in the shadows. This page has been removed since.

Patent troll with IV

Look more closely:

Patent troll with IV quote

Summary: Patent trolls with Intellectual Ventures (IV) ties won’t do Microsoft with its “Microsoft loves Linux” PR campaign any favours, especially now that these trolls are preying on GNU/Linux in the courtroom

AS we noted in the previous post, EU Parliament needs to make it very clear that software patents granted in Europe are not legal. The European Patent Office (EPO) pretends not to understand that and it terrorises its boards into acceptance, in effect nodding to this abuse. Similar things happen at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in order to ignore 35 U.S.C. § 101.

“Microsoft continues to attack GNU/Linux, albeit usually by proxy. Somehow we’re supposed to ignore this?”The profound damage caused by these patents isn’t just prospective; there’s already evidence of it at present. Days ago GNU/Linux came under attack from Microsoft-connected trolls (CCIA responded to this last night, citing it as a good case against Coons’ ‘reform’ and for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs)). We’ve already covered several similar cases in the past — cases where European Free software developers came under fire from trolls; the outcome was, typically, removal from the Net (code taken offline).

Hardly to our surprise, increasingly corrupt (it takes bribes) corporate media will not bother pointing out the Microsoft link to this troll; it won’t quit parroting lies such as “Microsoft loves Linux”; just remember where the troll got patents from. Also remember the slimy tactics from Microsoft, which the Microsoft-funded SCO lawsuit helped highlight. These tactics extend to and include hiring (bribing) scholars for them to attack Google/Android without any disclosure of these payments. They tell us they “love Linux” (like BP loves solar power) and here’s a new report of interest:

The Texas attorney general’s office has hired three consultants for a multi-state probe it is leading into Alphabet Inc’s Google, including an economist who worked with some of the firm’s major rivals and a lawyer who is a Microsoft veteran.

How very typical. We’ve lost count of the times we saw similar stories. This is a form of regulatory entryism. We saw lots of this about a decade ago when Microsoft pressed for antitrust action against Android/Linux.

Microsoft continues to attack GNU/Linux, albeit usually by proxy. Somehow we’re supposed to ignore this?

07.14.19

With WSL Microsoft is Doing to GNU/Linux What It Did to Netscape

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remember what Microsoft did to Netscape?

Netscape

Summary: Embrace, extend, extinguish. Some things never really change even if they become an old and repetitive accusation.

“Innovation has never been Microsoft’s strong suite,” said a Microsoft employee (antitrust trial evidence), “we’re much better at ripping off our competitors. For example we did not invent either ASP or IE – we bought them.”

Microsoft DOJ insider testimonies are quite powerful and they serve to remind us of things that never really changed.

Months ago we wrote about WSL, which we’re seeing more and more of in news feeds when searching for “Linux” (but WSL is actually Windows Vista 10).

“So Microsoft loves Linux. It says so anyway… it will love “Linux” even more when Linux just means Azure and WSL/Vista 10.”“We are going to cut off Netscape’s air supply,” Microsoft’s Paul Maritz wrote. “Everything they’re selling we’re going to give away for free.” His colleague Jim Allchin said that “Windows 98 must be a killer on shipments so that Netscape never gets a chance.”

“Microsoft’s business strategy is copy the products others innovate, put them into Windows so they can’t be unplugged, and then give it away for free,” Larry Ellison (Oracle) famously said.

Nowadays with UEFI ‘secure boot’ it’s already more challenging booting and installing GNU/Linux as a standalone (or dual-boot) operating system.

So Microsoft loves Linux. It says so anyway… it will love “Linux” even more when Linux just means Azure and WSL/Vista 10. The brand “Linux” is already being diluted (not that the Linux Foundation minds) and these tactics from Microsoft go a long way back.

“The fact that there’s some e-mail here at MS that says, ‘let’s go up and beat this guy’…there’s nothing wrong with that. That is capitalism at work for consumers.”

Bill Gates on Good Morning America, 11-11-98 (covered by The Daily Telegraph, November 13, 1998)

04.18.19

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Once Again Pours Cold Water on Patent Maximalists

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, Patents at 3:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Small waterfall

Summary: Any hopes of a rebound or turnaround have just been shattered because a bizarre attack on the appeal process (misusing tribal immunity) fell on deaf ears and software patents definitely don’t interest the highest court, which already deemed them invalid half a decade ago

THERE is a lot of entertainment value — more so than actual importance or urgency — in watching American patent news these days. First of all, bad people get punished. The patent scam that a scammy patent lawyer/attorney threatened me over is finally lost. It’s finished. All options exhausted. SCOTUS finally rejects the case; there will be no appeal. SCOTUS isn’t buying this ludicrous idea that tribal immunity can be ‘borrowed’ for patents of some major pharmaceutical company that has nothing to do with tribes. It looked at the alleged grounds and briefs, but it wasn’t convinced. So the Supreme Court generally agrees (on the surface) with the findings of the Federal Circuit without necessarily looking into it in depth. Last year it also defended the inter partes review (IPR) process at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) although one new Justice, Gorsuch, brought forth talking points from Koch-funded 'scholars'.

“It often feels like our activism against American software patents was a success; patent courts aren’t tolerating these anymore.”We are relieved but not surprised. The CCIA wrote about it (SCOTUS Won’t Review Tribal Immunity To Inter Partes Review) and so did patent maximalists who had seemingly supported the scam (these stories are already in daily links where we shelve a lot of USPTO/US courts’ news).

Michael Shore will be remembered for nothing but a failure with a failed attempt to cheat the law, then SLAPP his critics (yours truly). Sadly, his clients will pay for this idiocy; he gets to keep the money from legal bills.

In other news, 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) is also safe. Janal Kalis wrote: “Yesterday, the Supreme Court Denied Cert. in TS v Yahoo. The Issue Was Whether a Dist. Court Could Invalidate a Patent under 101/Alice While Granting a Motion to Dismiss…”

If the Supreme Court won’t touch Section 101, as it has refused for quite some time, nothing will change. With a couple of new Justices there’s risk of a different position, no doubt, even though another decision to the same effect can actually strengthen Alice. But why take the chance?

We are still observing (from afar) blogs of patent maximalists. It’s the same old nonsense and it is getting ever more ridiculous over time.

The new Watchtroll editor, Eileen McDermott, continues in the spirit of her blowhard predecessor. She now uses Cheekd to promote the lie and delusion that patents (or ‘IP’) are needed for small firms/people rather than giants and their monopolies. Pure reversal of what’s happening. Their ‘religion’ requires this lie to be spread far and wide. The other day a famous GNU developer told me, “wait, doesn’t IP stand for Invalid Patent? ;-)”

That’s a funny one. We may borrow that. We’ve meanwhile also noticed that appointments at the USPTO come under fire from insiders. Months ago we wrote about Laura Peter joining Iancu, having already acquired some experience in patent trolling. Nowadays that skill is a “plus” because Trump flunkies like Iancu deny that patent trolls even exist or are a problem. They just want to make lots of ‘IP’ (invalid patents). The USPTO insider wrote: “I guess the new deputy director of USPTO, Lara [sic] Peter, is on a kick to promote females regardless of skills. I am not sure how she got appointed having actually never led anything….I hope the new CIO will not turn out to be an failure like the rest.”

A short time apart there was also this Office gossip revolving around abuse and nepotism: “So many of you are telling me that Debbie Stephens is now the new DCIO, and we did not believe it could get worst after Owens and Chiles. Rumors are that Patents no longer wants her and now the CIO will have a DCIO that can only micromanage and appoint other idiots that kiss her…”

This is starting to resemble some of the worst elements of the EPO — a subject we shall return to in our next post. We are trying to gradually reduce our coverage of US patent cases and instead focus on EPO and GNU/Linux. It often feels like our activism against American software patents was a success; patent courts aren’t tolerating these anymore.

07.25.18

Trump-Appointed Lobbyist (Delrahim) Comes Under Scrutiny and Criticism for His Stance on Patents and Antitrust

Posted in America, Antitrust, Patents at 10:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jorge L. Contreras‘s newest paper:

Jorge L. Contreras

Summary: Antitrust person (AAG) Makan Delrahim, who now forms the basis of key US policies, is becoming the target of much scrutiny, especially from academics rather than from patent maximalists

THE USPTO has long granted low-quality patents — a bad legacy which needs tackling. The SCOTUS, the Federal Circuit and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) gradually tackle this legacy. But that’s not enough.

“The USPTO has long granted low-quality patents — a bad legacy which needs tackling.”Donald Trump has put a lobbyist, Delrahim, in charge of antitrust. A lot of people don’t agree with his policies or at least with the speeches he has given. Mark Patterson (Fordham, a pusher of patent maximlism, typically funded by Microsoft) said earlier this week that:

To put my cards on the table, I am largely in agreement with AAG Delrahim’s critics, though I did not sign either of their letters. I agree with Delrahim that it is reasonable to devote scrutiny to the patent “hold-out” problem that is his focus, but doing so does not require dismissing a well-established consensus on the validity and harm of patent “hold-up.” The most compelling evidence for hold-up, it seems to me, is the 100-to-1 ratio of royalty demands to royalty awards that have been seen in some cases. Perhaps that differential is the product of confused courts, but despite the calls of AAG Delrahim and his supporters for evidence or more evidence for hold-up, they themselves provide nothing to show that the courts are confused. Nor do they provide empirical evidence to demonstrate the claimed greater importance of hold-out.

[...]

I make no claim to the objective correctness of my annotations, which are only my immediate responses to various points made in the documents. But I have pointed out what I think are weak points in the responses by critics of Delrahim (despite my general agreement with those critics) as well as in his speeches. Also, some of my points in some documents are raised also in others, but I have tried to avoid duplication. Finally, the annotation approach might seem more argumentative than necessary, but I think it is warranted by the importance of the issues, the dramatic differences in the views expressed, and the unfamiliarity of some with these issues. This controversy deserves even more attention than it has already received.

There is also this new paper from Jorge L. Contreras (published on July 23rd and just promoted by him in Twitter) whose abstract states: “In November 2017, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, chief of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division, gave a speech at University of Southern California provocatively entitled “Take it to the Limit: Respecting Innovation Incentives in the Application of Antitrust Law”. In this speech, Mr. Delrahim announced a new DOJ policy approach to the antitrust analysis of collaborative standard setting and standards-development organizations (SDOs) — the trade associations and other groups in which industry participants cooperate to develop interoperability standards such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G and 5G, USB and the like. He explained that the DOJ had “strayed too far” in its focus on single firm conduct concerning standards, particularly the assertion of patents essential to the implementation of standards in technology products (“standards-essential patents” or “SEPs”), and that antitrust authorities should be more concerned with potential collusion by competitors within SDOs (i.e., an apparent shift in doctrinal focus from unilateral conduct under Section 2 of the Sherman Act to concerted action under Section 1 of the Sherman Act). One commentator described the DOJ policy shift announced by Mr. Delrahim as “a 180 degree turn” on SEP issues. The new policy also seems to put the enforcement priorities of the Antitrust Division at odds with those of the other principal U.S. antitrust enforcement agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This article analyzes the contours of the emerging divide among U.S. antitrust agencies, as well as reactions to the “Take it to the Limit Speech” by industry, academics and Mr. Delrahim’s subsequent public statements.”

“We’re repeatedly cited people who called that a “scam” and have received legal threats for it.”What we’ve seen so far, especially from the scholarly community (not people who make money from lawsuits), isn’t positive. They see Makan Delrahim, a former lobbyist, for what he truly is. Contrast that with lawyers-dominated coverage which promotes patent maximalism (example from yesterday) and lawyers’ sites which still insist that Mohawk folks should be "above the law", including patent law, in order to protect a massive corporation like Allergan. They repeatedly lose every case. We’ve already explained why it’s unlikely that this will ever go any further or the decision overturned (by SCOTUS). They’ve named “St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., Appeal No. 2018-1638, -1639, -1640, -1641, -1642, -1643 (Fed. Cir. July 20, 2018),” a clear case of monopoly abuse using patents and misuse of immunity from the Mohawk Tribe. We’re repeatedly cited people who called that a “scam” and have received legal threats for it.

The US AAG now actively defends this kind of behaviour.

07.21.18

Cisco v Arista Networks is a Stain on the Reputation of the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and It’s Beginning to Recognise This

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, Patents at 10:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Administrative Law Judge Photos
Reference: Administrative Law Judge Photos

Summary: Cisco is leveraging software patents which PTAB deemed to be invalid against a much smaller firm (revenue ~30 times smaller [1, 2]), demanding an embargo and bypassing the ordinary routes of justice by turning to the ITC

Sometimes companies want to bypass the ordinary courts (District Courts, Federal Circuit, SCOTUS) to just quickly issue an injunction, i.e. embargo, raids, prevention of import/sales and so on. It’s the kind of thing that the EPO is pursuing with its shameless UPC lobbying. The assumption that any patent granted by the USPTO is OK or should be presumed valid is a dangerous one and proper justice (due process, plus appeal/s, innocence until proof of guilt) isn’t assured anymore. It’s a leap towards extreme action. It’s not really patent justice but patent prejudice and maximalism. It’s like copyright takedowns (as per DMCA) where the accused gets censored without even a right/access to defense. Ripe for abuse? By design?

“It’s not really patent justice but patent prejudice and maximalism. It’s like copyright takedowns (as per DMCA) where the accused gets censored without even a right/access to defense.”Arista Networks uses inter partes reviews (IPRs) for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to scrutinise the patents at hand; Arista Networks won the case/appeal, but the ITC then shockingly enough snubbed the ruling, having never previously ignored such rulings! There was a lot of commotion about this at the time (especially last year) and now we learn, courtesy of World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR), that the ITC will review the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision. To quote:

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said yesterday it will review an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) determination regarding a patent infringement claim Cisco Systems brought against computer networking company Arista Networks.

The ITC said it will review the final remand enforcement initial determination (REID) that the ALJ issued in June, when it found that Arista did not violate a cease and desist order regarding one of the patents.

In January 2015, the ITC launched an investigation into Arista based on a complaint from Cisco.

Cisco alleged that Arista had violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing certain network devices, related software and components that infringed six patents relating to software.

[...]

The ALJ’s investigation determined again that Arista did not violate the cease and desist order. Both parties filed petitions for review of the REID and filed responses to the other side’s petitions.

ITC staff must understand that the reputation of its judgments is on the line. It’s not only us who bring up these issues; sadly, however, the media is dominated by law firms (at least for this particular topic), so the voice of technologists is rarely heard. Many are unaware of the dispute or cannot follow the news, owing partly to legalese.

“Whose interest would be served by embargoes? Not the public’s, that’s for sure… Arista’s engineers have already been compelled to make their products intentionally worse.”Judges must take into account not the interests of law firms that profit from litigation/feuds but technologists who profit from actual innovation. Whose interest would be served by embargoes? Not the public’s, that’s for sure… Arista’s engineers have already been compelled to make their products intentionally worse. This is never a positive thing; in fact, Cisco’s legal actions have already put many companies like Arista at existential risk.

06.27.18

US Supreme Court Will Hear Helsinn v Teva, But What’s Needed Right Now is a Challenge to Patents Inside Standards (a.k.a. ‘FRAND’ or ‘SEP’)

Posted in America, Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Standard at 11:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Standards you can’t use (unless you’re rich)

Trapped

Summary: Antitrust/monopoly aspects of patents one cannot work around (to merely conform/comply with industry standards) are worth debating at the highest of levels rather than in forums full of lobbyists (sometimes hosted inside Microsoft’s very own premises!)

EARLIER this week we noted that SCOTUS would not reassess patent scope (e.g. Section 101). It was mentioned by Patently-O earlier this week and is now being mentioned by many other patent-centric blogs. Managing IP wrote:

The court in Helsinn v Teva appears likely to craft a bright-ruling on the issue of whether the confidential sale or license of a not-yet-patented technology or process qualifies as prior art under the America Invents Act

Gregory Sephton and Anna Schoenfelder said: “As a follow-up to our previous post “The Federal Circuit Has Its Final Say On the “On-Sale” Bar Under the AIA,” the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the Helsinn v. Teva case, which concerns whether the America Invents Act (“AIA”) changed the longstanding “on-sale bar” rule. This means that at least four of the nine Supreme Court justices agreed to address this case.”

Watchtroll (Gene Quinn) also had to say something only hours after promoting an “ethical” troll, claiming that “iPEL has also defined a set of business practices that a Non-Practicing Entity can follow in order to call itself an Ethical NPETM.”

Ethical? That’s funny!

It’s like Patent Factory Europe (PFE). WIPR has since then done a puff piece for this troll’s PR campaign and it’s comical that those taxing everything with patents, harming small businesses the most, are trying to hide that fact by associating themselves with “Startups and Small Businesses” and “SMEs”. It is, at best, a googlebombing strategy. They wish to drown out the truth with press releases and lies.

The subject of FRAND has meanwhile resurfaced. The same people who push this PFE nonsense are best known for lobbying on FRAND in Europe. They front for large corporations, notably Microsoft. “I am reminded that FRAND worked its way into the ITU’s false definition,” a reader told us, linking to ITU’s definition of “Open Standards” after Microsoft lobbying/entryism (we covered this before).

Florian Müller, a FRAND proponent, has meanwhile ranted about Delrahim (lobbyist-turned-official), whose take on FRAND — related to standard-essential patents (SEPs) — he does not agree with. To quote:

This is a follow-up to last month’s post on an open letter that 77 former government officials and professors (of law, economics, and business) sent Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim in order to remind him of long-standing and consistent U.S. policies on standard-essential patents (SEP) under both Republican and Democratic administrations. I’ve meanwhile become aware of the AAG’s reply, which does not provide any indication that he’s on the side of innovation and fair competition.

To his response, Mr. Delrahim attached a letter dated February 13, 2018 from about a dozen academics and former government officials that support the statements he makes, which he describes as “the United States’ policies” (we’ll talk about that further below). With the greatest respect for those individuals, they do not collectively counterbalance the 77 signatories of the letter that criticized Mr. Delrahim’s statements. That’s not just a matter of numbers: for an example, there is no former FTC chairman among them.

Also, before the academics’ February letter, there was a very impressive industry letter to AAG Delrahim in January, signed by industry bodies such as CCIA, the Fair Standards Alliance, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIAA), and ACT | The App Association, but also by major tech companies such as Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, HP, Dell, and Cisco. It’s very hard to understand why neither of those letters appears to have given AAG Delrahim pause. Does he seriously think he can make his contribution to #MAGA by acting against the likes of Apple, Intel, HP, and Microsoft–and trade organizations that have such companies as Google among their membership?

This whole “MAGA” delusion aside (Müller is an avid Trump proponent), it’s not hard to see that several of the above groups are Microsoft front groups (at least 3 of them). But what ought to matter a lot more is the benefit to society at large, including small businesses. Maybe the Justices at SCOTUS will some time soon find an opportunity to look into the matter (instead of relying on corporations and front groups that set policies by lobbying Trump-appointed ‘officials’, or former lobbyists). We certainly hope so because we have written a great deal about this subject since our inception in 2006.

06.11.18

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Blind to Its Participation in a Scam Around Patents on Nature

Posted in America, Antitrust, Europe, Patents at 3:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Allergan/Mohawk ‘Sovereign Immunity’ Patent Scam (Dodging PTAB) Backfires Spectacularly

Tired man
Without even shedding a tear over what they’ve done (a betrayal to Native American values)

Summary: For over $20,000,000 (so far) the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has agreed to pretend that it has something to do with controversial patents of Allergan, in effect grossly abusing the concept of tribal immunity while at the same time enabling privatisation of nature

THIS SITE typically focuses on software patents and Alice. But a few other high-level decisions, notably Mayo, impact patent scope as well. There are many bogus USPTO patents which are well overdue for a review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and maybe the Federal Circuit as well. That includes patents of Allergan, which is visibly afraid of PTAB, knowing perhaps that its patents are questionable and would likely be voided upon closer scrutiny.

Allergan hired some dodgy law firm that bullies bloggers like myself; they are maximalists of patent law who are resorting to outright "scams" now (many people call it a “scam”).

“Allergan hired some dodgy law firm that bullies bloggers like myself…”Patently-O‘s Dennis Crouch has in fact just given the platform to these patent “scammers” who misuse tribal immunity to cushion/shield monopoly of Allergan (based on bogus patents). Michael Gulliford, an advisor to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Founder of Soryn IP Group, uses terms like “controversial” and “death squad” to refer to PTAB. He compares judges and courts to assassins basically. What a lunatic.

He admits upfront that the tribe takes “$13.75 million upfront, with continuing royalty payments of $3.75 million per quarter” to participate in a “scam” of Allergan. This is pure greed and mischief. The tribe’s reputation is dead. They know it. In his own words:

Native Americans and patents don’t make headlines. That changed when the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, located in upstate New York, conceived a lucrative transaction that saw Allergan transfer patents covering the dry eye drug Restasis® to the Tribe. In return, the Tribe agreed to use its sovereign status to protect the patents from a controversial administrative proceeding coined the patent “death squad”, and to license the patents to Allergan. Allergan paid the Tribe $13.75 million upfront, with continuing royalty payments of $3.75 million per quarter.

The tribe now has very serious trouble in its hands; it has become widely associated with apatent “scammers” (especially in news headlines). These tribes are usually renowned with preservation and opposition to private ownership; this tribe is now known for the very opposite. It’s a greedy opportunist that helps a bunch of billionaires have a monopoly on nature.

“The tribe now has very serious trouble in its hands; it has become widely associated with a patent “scammers” (especially in news headlines).”Whose idea was it? The lawyers’, no doubt, both Allergan’s and the tribe’s. “AstraZeneca sign[ed] [an] $1.5B antibody deal with Allergan” a couple of years ago, so it’s clear that they increasingly just rely on notorious patents on life.

As we noted here before, Patent Docs habitually promotes patents on life (stuff like CRISPR and beyond) and a few hours ago it republished a page (“Antibodies in the European Patent Office“) from a patent law firm, noting upfront that “[t]he following article was reprinted with permission from J A Kemp.” (who habitually write about the EPO, e.g. [1, 2, 3]

It starts with a discussion about Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs), which Team UPC keeps promoting, and then there’s this:

This Advanced Guide is drawn primarily from our experience prosecuting large numbers of antibody cases before the EPO and our discussions with EPO examiners. This may raise the question: Why is there so little supporting case law?

The main reason is that antibody case law at the EPO has been relatively slow to develop in recent years. In our opinion this is because the most common pending antibody applications during this period have focused narrowly on a lead molecule or molecules of the applicant.

It really comes to show just how much uncertainty surrounds these patents. They’re almost shrouded in mystery. Well, the examiners at the EPO are resisting these, but patent maximalists such as Team UPC push back hard, sometimes together with IAM. Lately we’ve been receiving pointers to sites which oppose patents on life; EPO insiders, perhaps witnessing public protests to that effect, understand the injustice/irrationality of such a concept. What will the Boards of Appeal, whose member has allegedly been bullied into severe depression by Battistelli's abuses, do on that matter?

06.02.18

US Antitrust Official Makan Delrahim Encourages Parasitic Patent Behaviour — Not Just Embargoes — in the Phones Domain and Beyond

Posted in America, Antitrust, Apple, Asia, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The lawyers might like it, but it’s bad for the customers (fewer choices, more expensive overall)

ZTE

Summary: US antitrust authorities and the European Commission have been speaking a lot lately about FRAND/SEP and SPCs; will they institute policies which benefit the monopolies or the market at large?

WE HAVE ALWAYS PREFERRED not to deal with politics but with purely technical matters, but when it comes to patent law it seems like politics are inevitable. The EPO, for example, is run by a crooked politician and the USPTO is connected directly to the government. See Makan Delrahim's history just before Trump put him in his current position; Trump put yet another rogue lobbyist (“swamp” is what he calls it) in charge and it hurts actual science and technology. Before Iancu was nominated and appointed by Trump his firm had worked for Trump too. That’s politics.

Makan Delrahim’s policies were mentioned by Richard Lloyd just before the weekend. It was about standard essential patents (SEPs). There was a discussion about it in Europe (FRAND/SEP and SPCs) because of the European Commission’s latest announcement (relegated to our daily links) and here’s what Lloyd wrote about a new letter:

A group of advocacy groups with close ties to the high-tech, automotive and retail industries have released a new paper calling into question several of the policy positions staked out by US antitrust chief Makan Delrahim regarding the application of antitrust law to the licensing of standard essential patents (SEPs). The paper follows a letter, signed by 77 former government officials and academics sent to Delrahim last week which also questioned several of the comments that the head of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division has made since he was appointed last September.

We already wrote several posts bemoaning Delrahim’s policies, which seem to be influenced not by national interests but few private interests.

Speaking of politics, ZTE has been everywhere in the news lately; it isn’t all about patents, but the patents angle/aspect does get brought up on occasions, sometimes in relation to these lawsuits in Texas, which is becoming widely known for little but patent trolls and patent lawsuits. From a new report about it:

Despite the fact that its devices were recently banned in America, Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is now facing a patent infringement lawsuit in the US.

A Northern Texas US District Court judge recently denied the company’s motion to dismiss a patent infringement case filed by a Texas-based mobile software developer.

Seven Networks has alleged that ZTE’s firmware uses seven of its own patents regarding battery management, data transfers and notifications. The software developer’s complaint alleges that the ZTE Blade smartphone as well as its other devices, use parts of all seven patents to manage their battery life and handle notifications and data transfers.

[...]

ZTE has decided to halt production until the ban is lifted and its lawsuit with Seven Networks will likely complicate matters further.

As The Register put it (adding some politics), “ZTE can’t buy chips from America – but can still get sued for patent infringement in the US” (this is the headline).

Chinese phone maker ZTE will have to face a patent infringement lawsuit in the US, despite its handsets being effectively barred from sale in America.

On Wednesday a Northern Texas US District Court judge tossed the Chinese company’s motion to dismiss a patent infringement case filed by a Texas-based mobile software developer.

Seven Networks has alleged that ZTE’s firmware borrows from seven patents it holds regarding data transfers, battery management, and notifications.

Why would ZTE even wish to participate in the US market? ZTE and other Chinese companies have been the subject of a political smear campaign lately*. The same has been happening in Europe, especially in the UK.

Going back to the patent maximalist/lobbyist Richard Lloyd, he caught up with something we had covered regarding Panasonic. It’s feeding patent trolls in spite of all the openwashing. It’s likely that the trolls will soon go after companies like ZTE, suing perhaps through Texas (this has become common among Canadian patent trolls). Quoting Lloyd:

WiLAN has acquired a portfolio of patents from Panasonic in the latest in a long line of patent transfers between the Japanese tech giant and the Canadian NPE. The portfolio contains 34 patent families comprising 96 grants worldwide. It relates to security camera surveillance technologies, including camera systems used in retail, other commercial buildings and smart home applications. The transfer follows another transaction between the two in January which related to semiconductor memory technologies used in Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) and NAND Flash Memory.

Nobody benefits from it; they artificially elevate the price of phones, which basically come with a ‘trolls tax’ attached.

As Samsung and Apple recently came to accept, this is mostly beneficial to patent lawyers. IAM named Samsung as the winner in Apple v Samsung, but the truth is that neither company won. Only their legal departments gained, as usual.

Well, having uploaded the relevant PDF, which can be found in Scribd [PDF], Florian Müller wrote that “Apple, Samsung trying to put patent dispute behind them through mediation” and to quote:

After last week’s Apple v. Samsung damages verdict (largely over design patents) in the Northern District of California, counsel for both parties told Judge Koh that they were both willing to put an end to their long-running dispute, which started with a complaint filed by Apple in April 2011 and quickly escalated into a global dispute with filings in ten countries.

[...]

What’s furthermore unclear (and no one may know at this stage) is whether the parties will try to resolve both California cases (the one that went to re-retrial in May, and a second one that turned into a roller coaster) or just the first one.

High-profile smartphone disputes between handset and platform makers (unlike litigation brought by non-practicing entities or increasingly-”trollified” former phone makers such as Nokia and Ericsson) haven’t recently resulted in license agreements. Instead, parties just dropped pending cases but reserved all options for bringing new complaints anytime, with some license agreements–or covenants not to sue–of extremely limited scope possibly having been part of some of those confidential deals. I would expect the same if Apple and Samsung finally called a truce. Apple obviously isn’t going to extend a design patent license to Samsung; the result might involve a license (or a convenant not to sue with the practical effect of a license) to a few software patents, though some have expired and others have been worked around. But by and large the question is just whether Apple will withdraw any pending claims. And, even if this works out now at long last, no one knows when hostilities might flare up again.

Müller speaks of “non-practicing entities or increasingly-”trollified” former phone makers such as Nokia and Ericsson,” but he might as well add Blackberry with Apple at its heels.

All these lawsuits sure fascinate patent lawyers because these make them richer. But at whose expense? We would be better off without all these legal battles. Can Delrahim, a lawyer himself, ever understand that?
____
* In addition to this, Microsoft blackmails ZTE and others. It’s suing or threatening to sue using patents just because they use Linux and Free/libre Open Source software.

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