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08.26.16

Erosion of Patent Quality Enables Patent Extortion With Large Portfolios of Low Validity Rate

Posted in America, Apple, Courtroom, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 7:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Quality of patents causes markets to prosper or contrariwise perish

Many sacks
Giving aggressors like Microsoft sacks of patents to breed Mafia-like behaviour, not healthy competition

Summary: Revisiting the EPO’s vision of poor patent examination and the effect of discriminatory granting practices, favouring patent bullies such as Microsoft (which actively attacks Linux using low-quality and usually pure software patents)

“A skilled patent attorney working with a qualified searcher could cobble together a colorable obviousness argument against the vast majority of issued patent claims,” says a new article from Patently-O. Not to mention “abstract” criteria, prior art and so on. “Part of the difficulty for patentees,” continues the article, “stem from the the billions of prior art references available via increasingly effective search tools. Even when an invention results from a ‘flash of genius,’ patent law typically back-fills extensive knowledge for the obviousness analysis – even when that knowledge was not actually available at the time of the invention. The larger difficulty though is likely the large number of hard-to-pin-down facts such as the motivations, common sense, and level of creativity of a person having ordinary skill in the art.”

“In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO]) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial.”If the EPO replaces examiners with algorithms, things will exacerbate further and patents get granted incorrectly, leading to an ocean of frivolous lawsuits. In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial. Recall the Microsoft v TomTom case. Picking on small companies is Microsoft’s thing; it doesn’t sue Google.

The above reminds us of the danger of poor patent quality as well as streamlining grants, which is what Battistelli’s EPO has in effect done for Microsoft (and evidence we showed for that led to legal threats from the EPO). They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.

“They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.”Watch this new article titled “Primetime: Microsoft’s Android Cross Patent Dealings”. That’s misleading because it's not cross-licensing, it's a patent settlement (in bundling form) and it’s essentially a patent shakedown without even a trial and without an opportunity to properly assess the quality (and thus in/validity) of patents. The article says that “to press on this advantage, Microsoft does need to sign into more cross licensing or similar patent deals with manufacturers. Given Microsoft’s patent portfolio and how useful this will be to those manufacturers wishing to break into the North American market, such as Xiaomi, we may be seeing more of these arrangements in the coming months. The alternative might be Microsoft suing any manufacturer that tries to sell devices into a patent-friendly market.”

But again, these are not cross-licensing deals, these are patent shakedowns. One might even call this extortion or racketeering, even though Microsoft is too well-connected to face court charges brought forth by the government.

It is worth noting that many of Microsoft’s patents — those which it uses to shake down Android players (OEMs) — are not even valid anymore (if properly scrutinised), but there are so many of them that it would cost a fortune to demonstrate it to the court. It’s a numbers game, quantity rather than quality. It’s cheaper to just settle and let Microsoft continue to wield software patents like a weapon, even post-Alice. PTAB cannot take a request to review hundreds of patents from just one single company because it’s already overburdened by a growing number of reviews (IPRs).

Speaking of patent aggressors, there is this new software patent from Facebook (the usual, see our Facebook wiki page). These are oftentimes surveillance patents, but this time is’s about languages, at a time of increased competition with Google. Facebook's growing stockpile of patents is a real problem (Facebook has a history of going aggressive with them) and The Next Web says that “the US patent office issued 6,789 patents. Each patent adds a little something new to the human knowledge base. As we cannot list all six thousand, the PatentYogi team has selected the five most interesting patents.” How many of these are software patents that oughtn’t have been granted? How many of these will be toothless some time in the near future?

Patently-O says “The number of pending Ex Parte appeals continue to drop. Great work PTO.” There are other statistics of interest, based on PDFs from the USPTO (like this one). Patently-O claims they suggest that: “Design patent applications expected to reach 40,000 for FY2016 – up from under 30,000 in FY2010. The PTO is working to improve design patent prosecution speed – current wait of more than a year for a first office action.”

Well, the Office may have granted 40,000 patents on designs, but once reassessed the Office may need to throw them all away, on a per-request basis (post-Apple v Samsung at SCOTUS). Granting again for the sake of granting? Until the next Alice happens?

Patent quality control is the principal pillar of true and potent patent offices, otherwise they would be just archives of untested claims (a registration/filing system).

08.22.16

Apple’s Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Samsung at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rounded corners? Apple’s invention!

UK power socket

Summary: Apple’s insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns

TROLLS, or patent sharks, typically use software patents, but what if they also had design patents at their disposal?

Apple‘s war on Android, which manifested itself in a now-settled case against HTC and later in a long patent war against Samsung, may prove to be counterproductive now that Apple attracts patent trolls like VirnetX, to which it might be forced to pay billions of dollars. A pro-software patents site now says that “Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls” if it wins its case against Samsung/Android (over design patents). To quote this new article:

On October 11, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear Samsung’s appeal of the Federal Circuit’s affirmation of the jury’s damage award to Apple of Samsung’s “total profits” on sales of the infringing smartphones even though it had only infringed Apple’s design of the iPhone’s outer shell. In upholding the “total profits” award, the Federal Circuit determined that it was bound to uphold the jury’s award by the “explicit” and “clear” statutory language relating to design patent infringement damages.

[...]

The importance of the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling here is underscored by the numerous amicus curiae briefs filed (27 at last count). With over 205 billion in cash reserves at last count, Apple certainly doesn’t “need” the full nine-figure damage award. And, given the far reaching implications of this case, Apple may live to regret its aggressive pursuit of “total profits” for design patent infringement by finding itself battling design patent holders seeking to recover Apple’s total device profits for infringement of even a minor design feature. Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls already surfacing based, at least in part, on Apple’s success in this case. Clearly it is time for Congress to step in and amend Section 289 to add apportionment language.

No wonder technology companies are overwhelmingly supportive of Samsung in this case — a high-profile case over design patents.

In other news, Vera Ranieri from the EFF has this new update about one of their high-profile cases against patent trolls. Ranieri writes:

There has been significant activity relating to cases and patent infringement claims made by Shipping & Transit, LLC, formerly known as ArrivalStar. Shipping & Transit, who we’ve written about on numerous occasions, is currently one of the most prolific patent trolls in the country. Lex Machina data indicates that, since January 1, 2016, Shipping & Transit has been named in almost 100 cases. This post provides an update on some of the most important developments in these cases.

In many Shipping & Transit cases, Shipping & Transit has alleged that retailers allowing their customers to track packages sent by USPS infringe various claims of patents owned by Shipping & Transit, despite previously suing (and settling with) USPS. EFF represents a company that Shipping & Transit accused of infringing four patents.

The above is a timely and good example. It demonstrates not just of the harms of patent trolls but also the harms of software patents, which in the large majority of cases rely on them. If Apple made design patents stronger, with affirmation from the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the damage would be enormous.

Apple is on the wrong side of history.

08.12.16

In Its War Against Android/Linux, Apple Supported by Non-Producing/Non-Practicing Parasites, Whereas Technology Companies Support the Android OEM

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Samsung at 5:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple’s frivolous lawsuits against Android OEMs win the support not of technology companies (these actually oppose Apple’s actions) but of some “non-tech companies, high-profile designers and intellectual property associations”

A few days ago we mentioned Florian Müller‘s latest article on Samsung v Apple (or vice versa) — an article which he later corrected for errors (amici overlooked or simply not yet listed at the time). It turns out that Müller wasn’t far from the truth, however, as technology companies pretty much reject Apple’s position. Müller has since then continued to highlight Samsung matters such as this likely new IPO or Google’s antitrust worries in Korea [1, 2], the home of Samsung. “The South Korean government has delayed a decision on whether it will accept Google’s request to export South Korea’s detailed map data,” one of those articles says. “Less than 2 months to go until the Samsung v. Apple Supreme Court hearing on design patent damages,” he wrote about the case which involves patents granted by the USPTO in spite of their low quality (the EPO made similar mistakes under Battistelli).

“It turns out that Müller wasn’t far from the truth, however, as technology companies pretty much reject Apple’s position.”Not too long afterwards MIP published this article that says: “Ahead of a showdown over design patents at the Supreme Court in October, Samsung has received more support from US technology companies whereas Apple has received the backing of non-tech companies, high-profile designers and intellectual property associations” (i.e. not quite producing companies). Patently-O wrote about this as well, noting that Apple’s “visual design is critically important in the sales of complex products.” That’s just branding and hype (or compelling marketing), i.e. the bread and butter of Apple. Patent-granting should be a scientific process, entirely disconnected from hype or brand recognition.

08.09.16

The Problem With Overpatenting: The Google Example

Posted in Apple, Google, Oracle, Patents at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patents, especially software patents, continue to pose a threat to progress where innovation is a lot faster than in most scientific domains

SEVERAL years ago I developed software designed to help cars navigate. It was a research project funded by the EU. I did not pursue patents, nor did I look up any. In the USPTO — unlike in the EPO — ‘pure’ software patents exist (for now at least) and there are software patents on driving, not just on miniature computing systems that distract from the task of actually driving (the buzzword these days is “infotainment”).

“In our daily links we’ve recently included many news items about the dangers associated with autonomous cars (bugs, back doors, lack of human judgment and no communication — verbal or body gestures — with other drivers).”According to this news, “Google Self-Driving Car Director Chris Urmson Hits Exit Ramp To Pursue Other Projects,” which says a lot about market prospects. In our daily links we’ve recently included many news items about the dangers associated with autonomous cars (bugs, back doors, lack of human judgment and no communication — verbal or body gestures — with other drivers). If Google is having issues with this endeavor (as does Tesla reportedly), who would pursue moving from theory (or even from patents) to reality/practice? My project’s supervisor at the time worked part time for Google (primarily a university professor) and he too wasn’t optimistic about the work. It’s just a very hard task, not just because of lack of patents or anything like this. For similar reasons, voting should not be done by machines (there is extensive literature about the drawbacks) and patent examination cannot be done by machines (no matter what Battistelli and his clueless circle believe or hear from the opportunistic private sector looking for outsourcing).

According to a pro-software patents author, patents on “infotainment” are being pursued not so much by Google and Apple but by automakers. To quote one bit:

According to market research reports, the market for in-car infotainment systems is expected to rise from $14.4 billion in 2016 up to $35.2 billion in 2020.

Putting aside the fact that drivers should focus on driving rather than phonecalls and Internet browsing, it’s not entirely accurate to say that Google stays out of it because Google is pursing a lot of patents on things inside the car, including the driver (which Google hopes to replace with a machine). Cars that are entirely autonomous may be a distant dream, but partial mechanisation — like vocal/visual assistance while parking — is already here and there is nothing innovative about it (it’s actually extremely simple to implement).

“Cars that are entirely autonomous may be a distant dream, but partial mechanisation — like vocal/visual assistance while parking — is already here and there is nothing innovative about it (it’s actually extremely simple to implement).”Speaking of Google, in this new article Florian Müller says that “Google’s integration of Android into Chrome makes a third Android-Java copyright trial 100% inevitable,” even though APIs are not copyrightable (there was a ruling on that a few months back, but there were also patents thrown into the mix). He told me “[i]t’s not about ARC but about the full integration of the Android Marshmallow APIs into Chrome.” Well, as long as there is no copyright on APIs (as the latest judgment acknowledged), Oracle would just be wasting its money and become even less popular.

Regarding Apple-Android/Google (or Samsung being one OEM of several) disputes, Müller didn’t imagine that “Apple would entirely fail to garner support from companies” in its patent wars using design patents, but he later corrected his article and said: “An earlier version of this post was based on the (false) assumption that last week’s widely-reported amicus brief by 111 designers and design educators was the only amicus brief supporting Apple. This misperception was due to the delay with which both the court’s own website and the SCOTUSblog get updated. Actually, a total of 10 briefs were filed in support of Apple. Furthermore, the first version of this post noted an “artsy font” used on the title page of the designers’ brief. However, that font was only used in the version published on Apple’s website.” (links in the article)

These petty patent wars between Apple and Android OEMs are clearly far from over. Apple is losing market share to Android pretty rapidly, so it hopes to simply tax Android rather than beat it (artificially raising the price of Android, henceforth becoming a little more competitive). Well, such is the legacy of dumb patents on every stupid thing. Battistelli has proven to be totally clueless about Apple's patents at the EPO (these were found invalid in the courts after they had been granted by the Office).

08.06.16

How Low-Quality USPTO Patents Made the US Fertile Ground for Patent Trolling

Posted in America, Apple, Patents, Samsung at 2:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And why EPO policies under Battistelli will emulate the worst aspects of the USPTO

HTC deviceSummary: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) explains that decline in patent quality in the US is responsible for a hostile environment which fosters litigation rather than innovation; BlackBerry the latest example of patent assertion firms (trolls) which would make phones ‘dumber’ (features like a mechanical keyboard removed or never added in the first place)

LAST month we wrote about GAO in relation to the EPO [1, 2], demonstrating that the US patent system has gone out of touch and increasingly disconnected from the raison d’être of patents.

A good but somewhat belated article from TechDirt covers this topic, citing the Government Accountability Office for support:

This shouldn’t be a surprise. All the way back in 2004, in Adam Jaffe’s and Josh Lerner’s excellent book about our dysfunctional patent system, Innovation and Its Discontents, one of the key problems they outlined with the system was the fact that there was strong incentives for patent examiners at the US Patent Office to approve shit patents. That’s because they were rewarded for how “productive” they were in terms of how many patent applications they completed processing. Now, you might think that shouldn’t encourage approvals — except that there’s no such thing as a true “final rejection” from the patent office (they have something called a final rejection, but it’s not — applicants can just make some changes and try again… forever). So rejecting a patent, inevitably, harms your productivity rates as an examiner. Approving a patent gets it off your plate and is considered “done.” Rejecting it means having to spend many more hours on that same patent when the inventor comes back to get another chance.

After Jaffe and Lerner made that criticism clear, it seemed like the Patent Office started to take the issue to heart and they actually started changing some of how examiners were rated. And, for a few years, it seemed like things were heading in the right direction. But then, once David Kappos took over, he noticed that a lot of patent holders were complaining that it took too long to get patents approved. Apparently ignoring all of the evidence that pushing examiners to review patents quickly ends up in disaster, Kappos put back in place an incentive structure to encourage examiners to approve more patents. He kept focusing on the need to get through the backlog and speed up the application process, rather than recognizing what a disaster it would be. Of course, some of us predicted it and were mocked in the comments by patent lawyers who insisted we were crazy to suggest that the USPTO would lower its standards.

Of course, an academic study a few years ago found that was absolutely happening and now, to make the point even clearer, the Government Accountability Office, which tends to do really fantastic work, has written a report that agrees. It blames the Patent Office’s focus on rapidly approving patents for the flood of low quality patents and the resulting patent trolling epidemic…

Noting that last part about a “trolling epidemic” (to the point where 90% of all technology lawsuits are filed by trolls), we wish to highlight the correlation between abstract software patents and software patent trolls. Since half a decade ago we have highlighted the strong correlation between patent trolls and software patents, so had the USPTO stopped granting patents on software, a lot of this “trolling epidemic” would go away almost entirely. It would not be a viable business model for reasons we explained here repeatedly over the years. Given an extraordinary number of patents granted to BlackBerry (far too many to be deemed high quality), this is relevant to the past week’s news. BlackBerry, which is rapidly becoming a troll (or PAE) down in Texas [1, 2], has generated more and more headlines in recent days, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. “Blackberry is now a troll,” wrote Benjamin Henrion (FFII). “Too bad NTP did not kill them 10 years ago.”

BlackBerry is one among many such companies. Apple, for example, having totally lost the plot to Android in India (where Android is now estimated to have 97% of the market; see daily links for details), is suing endlessly. Is there another Apple-Samsung patent war in the making? As one site notes right now: “Samsung filed a patent for a smartwatch with a detachable strap. Detachable band straps are already there. So, what’s the big deal? Their new smartwatch looks like the Apple’s iWatch. Now, that’s a big deal.

“Samsung is not eyeing another patent war with Apple, hopefully, they aren’t. Because, the last time when they did it, they had to suffer for it. A California court had ordered Samsung to pay 548 million dollars.”

“It would mean that phones must have features and parts removed from them.”Apple has been suing Android OEMs for more than 6 years, starting with HTC. We expect BlackBerry to do the same thing pretty soon. Does that mean more innovation? Quite the contrary. It would mean that phones must have features and parts removed from them.

08.02.16

Software Patents a Dead End in the United States, But Some Large Companies and Trolls Can’t Help Trying (and Failing) to Float Them

Posted in America, Apple, IBM, Patents, SCO at 9:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even East Texas, which advertises itself as plaintiff- and troll-friendly, might not tolerate software patents for much longer

Rodney Gilstrap

Summary: Examining some of the latest software patents that make this week’s headlines and what we can learn from these

SOFTWARE patents are dying in the US, owing largely to § 101 (post-Alice). Patent lawyers, as expected, are in denial about it (misleading customers in order to maintain demand) and there is a new article today/this week about § 101 analysis. Mentioned therein is a “conclusion that the claims at issue fail to meet the standard for patent eligibility under § 101.”

“The significance of this outcome is that once again (as before) we see software patents — once challenged enough, scrutinised properly and reassessed sufficiently — falling short.”The de facto ban on “abstract” software patents (that ought to cover all software patents) does not deter everyone, especially not deep-pocketed companies which simply hoard thousands (if not tens of thousands of patents) and then cross-license or shake down companies in bulk. According to dozens of news reports from yesterday (e.g. [1, 2, 3]), Amazon continues to patent software (this patent for audio surveillance) and today we learn that Disney tries patenting foot surveillance in parks. Talk about lack of ethics… Amazon has pushed software patents as far as Europe in spite of the clear exclusions.

As we mentioned here briefly at the start of this week, VirnetX's software patent attack on Apple is falling short, as does the stock of VirnetX [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. VirnetX is a patent troll whose existence (or worth) is little more than software patents, so the loss of the case (or at least a $625,000,000 award) was big news yesterday [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15], not just in Apple-centric sites.

The significance of this outcome is that once again (as before) we see software patents — once challenged enough, scrutinised properly and reassessed sufficiently — falling short. Time to leave East Texas for a balanced venue? It’s probably a waste of time (and money) trying to assert these patents in a court of law, especially against large companies that can afford to withstand/endure lots of motions and appeals. That’s why the main victims of software patents (and patent trolls) are small businesses; they would often settle rather than risk the high cost of never-ending legal proceedings. The SCO case has gone on for 13 years because IBM can afford this and SCO, whose only remaining existence is this one case, goes to the grave (well past bankruptcy) in a desperate effort to extract some money (much like VirnetX).

08.01.16

The USPTO’s Dark Legacy of Software Patents Still the Cause of Spurious/Frivolous Litigation, Residue Which is Software Patent Trolls and Lawyers Will Try to Change the Law

Posted in America, Apple, Courtroom, IBM, Law, Patents at 5:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mosquito crossing

Summary: Software patent lawyers and software patent trolls are still active in the United States, even if the climate is unfriendly to them after the Supreme Court’s decision on Alice and § 101

WITH § 101 and Alice (2014), it’s now abundantly apparent that things have changed. It’s rather common for software patents to simply die, either at the courts or at PTAB. As patent trolls rely so heavily on software patents, they too are suffering and now there’s a plan for an “IPO Webinars on Section 101″. To quote a patent maximalism site: “The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) will offer two one-hour webinars entitled “Section 101 – The Way Ahead”. The first webinar, concerning the impact of § 101 on the software industry, is being offered on August 10, 2016 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (ET). Stephen Durant of Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, P.A.; Michelle Macartney of Intellectual Ventures, LLC…”

Well, Steven Lundberg's firm, which we last mentioned in April, is one of the worst offenders and one of the most vocal proponents of software patents. They even have a dedicated blog and lobbying on the matter. The world’s largest patent troll (and Microsoft’s troll) Intellectual Ventures taking part in pro-software patents event is also noteworthy. It really shows what the Intellectual Property Owners Association has been reduced to; it’s like a think tank for lobbyists, parasites and trolls.

“It’s rather common for software patents to simply die, either at the courts or at PTAB.”In writing about Technicolor, the trolls-funded 'news' site IAM did not bother mentioning that MPEG-LA is a parasitic patent troll. The editor, who wrote this article, denies that trolls exist (like people who deny climate change). MPEG-LA and related patent pools (mentioned therein and covered here in the past) pass a massive tax to the public, in the name of software patents even when these patents do not exist (and are not legitimate). Companies that latch onto MPEG-LA to extract revenue from the public are nothing but leeches. They don’t innovate, they just look for a patent troll like MPEG-LA to act as a proxy and bully any company which streams video (or helps stream video) without paying millions of dollars in unjust tax. Even Mozilla became a victim of this. What a waste of money for a FOSS company and a project like Firefox.

Speaking of trolls, IBM increasingly acts like one and it relies on software patents for this. Using the words “PTAB Attack” (another negative-sounding term like “killer” or “death squad”) a patent attorney wrote that “IBM’s Online Reservation Patent Survives PTAB Attack: https://dlbjbjzgnk95t.cloudfront.net/0822000/822630/ipr2016-00604_institution_decision_12.pdf

“Companies that latch onto MPEG-LA to extract revenue from the public are nothing but leeches.”The cited PDF is 25 pages long and in it it’s “ORDERED that, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 314(a), an inter partes review is not instituted for claims 1–8, 11, 12, 14–21, 24, 25, 27–34, 37, 38, 40–45, 47–49, 51–57, and 60–66 of U.S. Patent No. 5,961,601.” The Petitioners are Richard Zembek and Gilbert Greene. The patent owner (or firm representing him/her/them) is Andrew Heinz and/or Kevin McNish.

What we have here is a reminder that PTAB is not always the ultimate remedy. Having said that, there are also the courts to fall back on, so if IBM resorts to lawsuits rather than just saber-rattling, the patent can still die (at very high cost to the defendant though, possibly lasting several years after a number of appeals).

The latest in a high-profile case against Apple suggests that VirnetX‘s patent lawsuit which it won against Apple isn’t the end of it because “TX Ct [Texas court] Vacated VirnetX $625M Award Against Apple; Ordered Two New Trials: https://dlbjbjzgnk95t.cloudfront.net/0823000/823395/https-ecf-txed-uscourts-gov-doc1-17518671566.pdf

Texas again. It figures.

“What we have here is a reminder that PTAB is not always the ultimate remedy.”In other news, Patently-O wrote last night about Illumina’s battle against Ariosa Diagnostics. It’s one of those controversial patents on genetics (i.e. on life) and Professor Crouch wrote: “The essence of the conflict is whether Illumina’s U.S. Patent No. 7,955,794 is covered by the “Core IP Rights” licensed as part of a 2012 supply agreement. Illumina argues that ‘794 patent was not licensed and, when Ariosa refused to pay a license fee, sued Ariosa for patent infringement. Ariosa’s counterclaim of breach of contract and other covenants stem directly from the infringement allegations.”

Sadly, as seen above, there is a persistent (if not also growing) element of confrontation around software patents and other dubious patents because the USPTO lost touch with patent scope and granted nearly anything that came in — the same mistake that Battistelli now makes at the EPO.

07.24.16

In the US, Patent Trolls Engage in Patent Wars and Shakedowns, Whereas in China/Korea Large Android OEMs Sue One Another

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Europe, Patents, Samsung at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it begins to reform.”

Alexis de Tocqueville

Summary: Highlighting some of the differences between the US patent system and other patent systems

THE most notable deficiency at the USPTO right now pertains to overly broad patent scope and poor patent quality (the same direction which the EPO takes under Battistelli) and this leads to a lot of litigation by patent trolls. Startups (sometimes known here as SMEs) suffer the most and we rarely hear their stories because they must settle in secret and pay ‘protection money’ to non-practising entities. This clearly does not promote innovation. A lot of this activity, perhaps more than 90% of it (on a global scale), happens in the United States.

“It says a lot about what the USPTO fosters and why the EPO must not follow the same footsteps.”As of days ago, Ericsson’s case (via a patent troll it increasing uses inside Europe) against Apple found momentum at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), home of software patents, according to this short report and BlackBerry has just beaten Mobile Telecommunications LLC, after this apparent troll (whose whole public existence revolves around this lawsuit) started a high-profile patent case in the US (BlackBerry is Canadian, but it can be dragged down south).

Leading Android OEMs are also embroiled in a patent war in the far east (Asia) and there are lots of articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4] (many hundreds in English alone, so they should not be hard to find even several years down the line).

What’s worth noting here is that in Asia, where a lot of the world’s phones are actually being made, patent trolls are hardly even a topic, whereas in the US patent trolls have become an epidemic. They are sometimes proxies of large companies such as Ericsson. In the case of Nokia, Microsoft has already created or armed trolls using its patents.

It is important to realise the difference between two manufacturing Android giants like Samsung (Kroea’s domain leader) and Huawei (China’s domain leader) having patent disputes and some random LLC du jour trying to tax large companies as well as small ones (these latter cases rarely make any headlines). It says a lot about what the USPTO fosters and why the EPO must not follow the same footsteps.

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