Summary: The infamous father of patent trolling is dead, so we need to remember his real legacy rather than rewrite his history to appease his rich relatives (enriched by destroying real companies)
SEVERAL years ago we wrote a lot of articles about the thug and troll Ray Niro, whose ugly legacy we summarised in this Wiki page. We have hardly heard his name for years, but today IP Kat pays respect to this father of patent trolling as if there is a duty to say something nice because he is dead. Our own list of articles about him can say a lot about how horrible a person he was, but obituaries in news sites are unbelievable pieces of hogwash. Won’t they just stop eulogising this thug?
Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean he was benign or even benevolent. He was a malicious person. As someone has just put it in relation to Acacia: “Argh. F****** patent troll. Fired people & sued people who actually made stuff, hence profitable quarter. Patent trolls…”
Niro was the initiator of all this. He has had so many victims. He has done enormous damage to the US, which is now infested by trolls. Speaking of which, IAM and their troll friends, who are hoping to expand in China (and are succeeding at that to some degree), have come to China with their agenda. Once of Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll which is connected to Niro, Blumberg played a role in IAM’s extravaganza in the East. To quote the relevant part:
Talking trolls – While the debate around ‘patent trolls’ using poor quality patents to extract low value litigation settlements has dominated IP policy discussions in the US, there has been relatively little focus on it in China. To what extent that might change was brought up in the second plenary session today by Lenovo’s head of IP Ira Blumberg. Asked by session moderator Brian Hinman, the chief IP officer of Philips, to identify the things that keep him up at night, Blumberg said that his long-term concern was that if patent damages awards continued to increase, the number of patents available to buy continued to grow as a result of widespread filing and with preliminary and permanent injunctions available, then ‘patent trolls’ could become a major problem in the Chinese market. “If handled in the wrong way China could be beset by trolls,” he commented. As well as the prospect of higher damages and the growing threat of patent owners obtaining injunctive relief, the real threat to the Chinese market stems from the fact that it is such a large manufacturing hub. That gives patent owners great scope to disrupt a company’s production facility or its supply chain and might mean foreign and local businesses start to look to other jurisdictions to make their products. “If courts give out big awards then the natural reaction will be for companies to relocate their manufacturing,” Blumberg warned. “China needs to be very careful about how its patent system develops.” Once of Intellectual Ventures, Blumberg has become a vocal critic of trolling over recent years. As we have seen in the US, though, the problem with focusing on finding solutions to combat the perceived threat this business model poses often ends up causing a lot of unintended harm. The Chinese authorities would do well to consider that when they hear the kinds of dire warnings issued by Blumberg this morning. He does have a point, but careful, nuanced policy-making is perhaps the best way to solve any problems that arise. Looking to Europe, rather than the US, and finding out why there is no real troll problem there may also be a good idea. What is clear, though, is that as the Chinese patent litigation market does become more high-profile and more high-stakes, the troll debate is going to have to take place in the country.
This disease which is patent trolls needs to be purged. We can only remember Niro as the horrible person who started this disease. After his death many can breathe a sigh of relief, but his death alone isn’t enough to make his legacy of trolls go away. █
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Summary: The race to the bottom (of patent quality) in China, the growth of patent trolls in the region, and the ruinous litigation strategy which now spills over even to the US — through the Eastern District of Texas — and may inevitably come to Europe (especially if the UPC ever becomes a reality)
NOT ONLY the USPTO but also SIPO, the patent office in China, permits patenting of software. We have been writing a growing number of articles about SIPO earlier this year as its policy generally got worse and the number of patents filed/granted has gone through the roof, only by lowering the standards of patents and thus their actual worth. Plainly put, China became just an assembly line of low-quality patents — something which is a recipe for trouble because patent trolls, for instance, can leverage such patents in bulk against those unable to defend themselves and demand ‘protection’ money, irrespective of the actual merit of the patents in question.
The other day we saw someone writing that “[a] Chinese company bought patents from Intellectual Ventures – another sign of the growing importance of IP in China,” but actually that’s just a sign of growth of patent trolling in China. Getting patents from the world’s biggest patent troll (groomed by Microsoft and Bill Gates) is not a sign of progress and the article cited came from the patent trolling proponents at IAM, whose latest issue continues to groom patent trolls and whose blog shows that those notorious/defunct patent courts in Texas are attracting the SLAPP equivalent of patents. Right now even east Asia exploits these courts and targets of theirs include Samsung, which develops many products with Linux in them.
IAM never viewed patent trolls as a bad thing (they have been promoting this in Asia recently, with growing focus on Korea, China, and even Japan) and based on this tweet, today they’re “very excited about IPBC Asia 2016, which starts in Shanghai on Sunday.”
What will they be saying to people at the event and what will they be telling readers? See this new article from the ‘magazine’: “Defending a patent case in the brave new world of Chinese patent litigation” (as if what they need more of is litigation that enriches lawyers rather than engineers).
Based on the past week’s reports, China’s patent maximalism (and patent trolling that ensues) is a growing epidemic [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and this article by Glyn Moody, titled “China Files A Million Patents In A Year, As Government Plans To Increase Patentability Of Software,” says it’s a very misguided plan. “Good luck with that,” he wrote sarcastically. “As the book “Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk” by James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer chronicles, software patents and their associated lawsuits have imposed a huge net cost on the US technology ecosystem. It’s mostly patent trolls and lawyers who have benefited from the thicket of intellectual monopolies that has threatened to strangle innovation. The same is likely to happen in China as it foolishly follows the US down the path of allowing patents on everything under the sun.
“That may be good news for the West in the long term, as the Chinese tech industry descends into an orgy of patent infringement suits that saps its resources and energy. But in the short term, many of the Western companies that are operating in China are likely to get caught up in this expensive, pointless mess too.”
China’s patent trolls are coming to other countries too, so the problem impacts not only China itself. See IAM’s article/blog post that says “Chinese company scores injunction on four Samsung devices over “pattern unlock” patent” (software patents).
“Last Sunday,” it says, “a Chinese-language news site based in coastal Fujian province reported that a local company had earned a surprising and difficult victory over Korean company in a four-year-old patent infringement battle. In a first-instance decision, the Intermediate People’s Court of Fuzhou is said to have ordered Tianjin Samsung Communication Technology Co to stop the production and sale of four infringing handset models, and pay damages of 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) to the plaintiff, Fujian ETIM Information & Technology Co.”
Suffice to say, IAM supports all this chaotic policy, being a site that’s for and by patent maximalists. It even shames those who try to reform the system to discourage trolling. Not too much of a surprise given that IAM’s funding sources include trolls… █
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How many patents are enough? A billion? To Battistelli it’s all about money (and self-glorifying photo ops), not innovation!
Reference/related: Affaire Bygmalion (Battistelli's political party when he was Mayor)
Summary: The warning signs coming both from the East and from the West, demonstrating the pitfalls of a policy too permissive on patents and thus on litigation
THERE IS A lot to be said today about the EPO and the UPC. The cautionary tale here is what happened in the US and what is still happening/developing in China. Both places fostered patent maximalism, resulting in patent trolling.
The patent microcosm, as expected and as we last noted yesterday, obsesses over whatever can weaken PTAB and strengthen bad patents like software patents (abstract concepts, not devices or chemicals etc.) so it latches onto Unwired Planet v Google right now.
“Who benefits from this? The patent meta-industry, obviously. At whose expense? Everybody else’s expense!”Over at the EPO-friendly MIP, Mr. Loney publishes article that says “The Federal Circuit’s Unwired Planet v Google decision will lead to more rigorous review of covered business method review petitions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and discourage filing” (which is a not good thing). Another new article, this one by Professor Dennis Crouch, demonstrates that the patent troll of Ericsson is doing a lot of damage to patent reform in the US. We already mentioned this the other day, with about two dozen articles from patent law firms that want to eliminate PTAB and return to patent maximalism (and restraint minimalism). These trolls of Ericsson already begin to leave their mark or make an impact in Europe as well, emboldened by the EPO and filing lawsuits in London.
The motivation here is clear to see: less barriers to and more patents in a lot more disciplines. Who benefits from this? The patent meta-industry, obviously. At whose expense? Everybody else’s expense!
Over at the EPO-friendly IAM, some time this morning it was claimed that the hotbed of patent trolls, China, is setting the ground for patent chaos in all of Asia. It was separately noted that a Microsoft patent extortion proxy, Intellectual Ventures, will be embracing yet another proxy (it reportedly has thousands of them!) to operate in China. Here is the key part:
All the available evidence points to Intellectual High-Tech KFT being a vehicle controlled by Intellectual Ventures (IV). It has made numerous acquisitions of patents over the last few years – the vast majority from Japanese corporates – and more than a fair few of these have ended up with III Holdings 3 LLC, an entity associated with the third iteration of IV’s Invention Investment Fund.
It is possible that there is an IV connection to the CPT transaction too. The Taiwanese company’s assignment to HZW is its first transfer of patents to a third party since July 2011 – when it assigned a substantial number of assets to none other than IV. At the time, IV’s man in Taipei was Don Merino, who later joined Transpacific IP and is now running his own IP strategy consultancy on the island. It wouldn’t be a surprise if some of the same people were involved in getting this deal done.
Great! More patent trolls.
Remember that the number of patents is not a measure of innovation, nor is it a reliable measure of wealth of countries (unless patents are expensive to pursue and cheap to come up with). In China and in the US the quality of patents is truly appalling at times. Software patents, for instance, are not innovative at all; they are a dime a dozen and some are so trivial that it’s jaw-dropping.
“Remember that the number of patents is not a measure of innovation, nor is it a reliable measure of wealth of countries (unless patents are expensive to pursue and cheap to come up with).”Earlier this week Benjamin Henrion said that “counting the number of patents is not measuring innovation. And when you start mixing a variable with another one, more meaningless.”
He alluded to something from WEF (Switzerland with its patent hype) that said: “This map tells you everything you need to know about #innovation in Europe” (Switzerland likes such maps because they’re convenient propaganda for Switzerland).
Henrion and I both know it’s nonsense. A lot of patent examiners know that too. As for patent law firms, they probably lie to themselves. As the saying goes, they’re paid not to understand (or it’s hard to understand something which you’re paid to not even wish to understand).
“When you sell patents for a living,” I told him, “then patents are the only thing that counts.
He rightly asked “again measuring innovation with patents?”
“Don’t take Europe down the path of patent maximalism or we shall all suffer for decades to come (until erroneously-granted patents expire).”Maybe the number of patent lawsuits too will become a false measure of innovation. If so, then the US has a serious innovation deficit because, as even Professor Dennis Crouch’s site put it this week, patent lawsuit are shown sharply. To quote the relation to AIA (patent reform in the US half a decade ago): “Prior to the America Invents Act of 2011, the courts allowed plaintiffs to join multiple parties as defendants in a single lawsuit – even when the only relationship between the parties was that they all were alleged to infringe the asserted patent. The AIA blocked those multi-party actions in its non-joinder provision. The result was that the number of lawsuits filed per year rose post-AIA even though the number of accused infringers actually dropped. This also means that anyone looking at trends in infringement actions needs to carefully analyze the data if their time span extends across the AIA enactment date.”
The US is cleaning up its act by axing a lot of software patents and it shows. What we learn from this is that the worse the quality of patents becomes, the more litigation takes places (and thus more money goes into the pockets of patent law firms).
Don’t take Europe down the path of patent maximalism or we shall all suffer for decades to come (until erroneously-granted patents expire). █
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Worth of patents is declining as quality goes down and quantity goes up
Summary: China’s obsession with patent quantity rather than quality (a disease that has infected the current boss of the EPO) is a cause for concern, except perhaps to patent lawyers who in the short term enjoy the temporary inflation (before hyper-inflation and implosion)
IN GERMANY at the end of the week we found this new article from Stefan Krempl (who often covers EPO scandals) — an article which deals with the subject we wrote about 2 days ago. IAM wrote about it as well and it was rather refreshing because, for a change, IAM actually explained that patents are a terrible measure of “innovation” — however one defines it. To quote IAM:
This blog has said it before.; but it is worth saying again: patent filing statistics are not a measure of innovation. They may be indicative of a country’s capacity for invention and innovation, they may tell us something about efforts to transition to a more ‘knowledge-based’ economy; but, then again, they may not. In fact, all they can really tell us with certainty is how many patent applications are being filed. Innovation is something of a qualitative, subjective concept. Patent filings, on the other hand, are a simple and objective matter of whole numbers. The latter is at best an inadequate metric for understanding the former.
Meanwhile, in another German site/blog called FOSS Patents, this time (for the first time as far as we’re aware) not composed by Florian Müller, “more rationality and a shift to China” was covered. Actually, as we noted here the other day, China shoots itself in the foot with patents and it will pay for that in the long run. China has adopted patent maximalism to the point where almost every crappy application becomes a granted patent and lends to a global inflation (if not hyper inflation) that will devalue all patents. Wait and watch what happens in the coming years/decade. China is already fast becoming a hotbed of patent trolls. █
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With a combined population greater than a third of the world’s population
Summary: India and China are moving in somewhat opposite directions when it comes to patents, as one realises their impact on people whereas the other chooses to repeat the mistake made by the United States (patent maximalism for corporate gains)
TECHRIGHTS spent over a decade writing about the USPTO and about as long writing about the EPO, especially when President Brimelow made mistakes “as such”. Patent scope is a crucial decision which impacts many sectors in a country; it’s simply misguided to believe or to think that more patents would translate into more innovation and commonwealth. It doesn’t work that way.
The latest IAM Weekly newspaper says in the “Editor’s round-up” that “we wondered whether one of India’s leading IT companies has all but abandoned software patents, looked at a patent-driven rapprochement between InterDigital and Huawei, and explained why Asian investors are sinking their money into IP management businesses.”
“Patent scope is a crucial decision which impacts many sectors in a country; it’s simply misguided to believe or to think that more patents would translate into more innovation and commonwealth.”We covered all of these (in recent days) and IAM has just published this “international report” about India, where software patents continue to be disallowed (excellent policy, which is routinely under fire from foreign multinationals, not domestic giants).
India got its balance right on patents (also when it comes to medicine, not just software), so why is China going the other way? This is already harming some of its own industry and attracts a great deal of trolls (making nothing and trying to extort everyone for money).
According to this new article from IAM, “IP analytics start-up PatSnap has closed its Series C funding with investments from Sequoia Capital’s China arm and Beijing’s Shunwei Capital Partners. The deal further underlines Asia-Pacific investors’ growing interest in IP management and strategy services.”
“Lack of quality control at SIPO leads to a false sense of growth, as is the case at the EPO under Battistelli where old files are pulled out and rubber-stamped for fake growth or illusion of growing demand, clout, etc.”This shows yet more of that obsession with patents, even in domains that require none of them. Companies that produce nothing want to make money and they are essentially a kind of trolling industry — like that which threatens to expand in Europe if the UPC ever becomes a reality.
Based on IP Kat‘s Tian Lu, there was some UPC propaganda in the EU-China IP Forum earlier this month [1, 2]. To quote a portion from the second part: “This panel on specialist IP courts also saw some optimism from Pierre Veron (member of the Drafting Committee of the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court and now a member of the group of experts advising the Preparatory Committee of the UPC), who expressed the view that even without UK participation post-Brexit, the other participating Member States of the EU would press ahead with the UPC project in the long term and would seek to ensure that the UPC will be a success.”
We are going to deal with UPC in a separate post, but let’s just say that it’s troubling to see these overlaps between China and Europe and it’s not because of fear of China (Chinophobia) but because of SIPO.
“China is fast becoming a hotbed of litigation and it already ‘exports’ such litigation to other countries (many reports on that these days).”Lack of quality control at SIPO leads to a false sense of growth, as is the case at the EPO under Battistelli where old files are pulled out and rubber-stamped for fake growth or illusion of growing demand, clout, etc. The SIPO examiners, as many professionals out there will agree/can attest to, just grant a lot of patents composed in Mandarin right and left. There are two new reports, one from MIP and another from IP Watch, which amplify SIPO’s propaganda, citing a WIPO report. Some Chinese patents that are counted at the EPO are not even translated into a European language, let alone examined/validated for their quality, yet here we have another repetition of the misleading claim that China ‘leads’ by having a crappy patent office that accepts crap applications. If one was to judge the USPTO similarly (over 10 million patents and counting), the EPO would look rather bad.
If only China adopted a saner approach to patenting (like in India), the world’s high-tech industries would be better off. China is fast becoming a hotbed of litigation and it already ‘exports’ such litigation to other countries (many reports on that these days). This problem is likely to become more apparent in the coming years. █
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Summary: Chinese policy on software patents and the acceptance of patent trolling is bad news not just for China but for companies everywhere, as they too become vulnerable to trolls and to Chinese companies that file cases in the West
NOT ONLY the EPO and USPTO wrestle with the question of software patenting, as we last noted in our previous post. According to this new article (behind paywall), “US-based IP owners [read trolls] to look to Europe as a place they can get better, more effective rights,” Benjamin Henrion wrote today.
“It’s a real problem and it can destroy what’s left of Europe’s software industry (discouraging development and/or investment).”We have been warning about this for a while and we already see patent trolls coming to the UK, emboldened by the EPO’s bad policies. It’s a real problem and it can destroy what’s left of Europe’s software industry (discouraging development and/or investment). Do we want London to become another EDTX?
Texas, based on this new tweet, attracts ‘business’ like patent lawsuits. By not serving justice but instead serving trolls and aggressors it now welcomes ‘business’ from Asia. “Hitachi filed patent suits in EDTX v Huawei and ZTE,” IP Hawk wrote and IAM commented on it as follows: “Japanese company takes on Chinese companies in EDTX. Can’t happen very often.”
IAM is both a proponent of patent trolls and a tracker of them in east Asia as of late (many articles about it, some of which we wrote about before). China/Far East trolls are a growing problem also for Western companies because some large Chinese firms already take their lawsuits to EDTX (Texas) and demand a lot of money. China’s state-connected telecom ‘arm’, Huawei, reportedly liaises with a large patent troll, InterDigital, which we covered here before (even a decade ago). To quote IAM’s article: “When Huawei and InterDigital revealed that they had entered into a broad worldwide licensing agreement recently, it brought to an end a years-long dispute over standard-essential patents that at times had been rather ugly. Now, relations between the two companies couldn’t be more different as they look to partner on future research and development efforts – and, potentially, on monetising patents, too.”
“Why is China doing this after working to expose Microsoft’s patents that had been used to extort Android device makers across China?”The trolls epidemic sure spreads fast in China this year. “Enemies no more,” one person wrote, “patents bring InterDigital &Huawei together. Consequences could be significant.”
It’s especially important if one considers what kind of patent these are. Henrion says “no glory for the trolls.” However, for them it’s quite a win and definitely more glory (when the giant of China gives legitimacy to a such a giant troll). This gigantic deal will probably help InterDigital go after a lot more companies, even in China.
Why is China doing this after working to expose Microsoft’s patents that had been used to extort Android device makers across China? Well, China seems eager to destroy the progress it made by letting SIPO off the hook, pursuing just quantity (not quality) of patents, very much like Battistelli at the EPO.
This new article by Peter Leung was publishes yesterday and said “China Looks to Boost Protection for Software Patents”. Have they made it official now? To quote Bloomberg:
A draft revision to China’s patent examination guidelines released late last month will likely make it easier to get software and business method patents.
Other proposed changes to ease the standard for amending granted patent claims should also help patent holders and, especially, patent assertion entities, practitioners say.
The draft guidelines follow developments that some have interpreted as evidence of China’s maturing and improving environment for IP owners. The guidelines are not law but rules for instructing examiners at China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) on how to properly examine patent applications.
It’s hard to see what China has to gain from this; SIPO definitely gets more power and money, but at whose expense? Moreover, why has SIPO not learned no lessons from the USPTO’s mea culpa? █
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Winning by knocking others over?
Summary: Assessment of patent systems based on litigation (or “enforcement”) still a misguided yardstick but a glorified theme in the news sites controlled by (and for) the patent ‘industry’
“BEWARE,” AntiSoftwarePat[ents] wrote the other day, “Patent Trolls pretending to be ‘Inventors’ https://www.cta.tech/Policy/Issues/Patent-Reform/Urge-Congress-to-Support-Patent-Reform.aspx … #FixPatents because #PatentsMatter pic.twitter.com/qcdWnTA8v0″
The death of software patents may be already upon us, but now we need to ensure that these patents don’t cross the Atlantic and spawn new patent trolls in Europe. They have already crossed the Pacific and are growingly an issue (even an epidemic) in east Asia. We wrote more about this over the weekend and last weekend; in fact, this has been a recurring theme* here since about 2 months ago. It seems like a runaway issue as while it’s gradually dying out in the US the same symptoms can not been seen elsewhere and the EPO under Battistelli implements or emulates some of the worst aspects of the USPTO, including software patents in Europe.
Managing IP (MIP), in the face of strides against software patents in the US, sets up an event that seems to be promoting a case that helps patent trolls (Halo). To quote this new post about a so-called ‘webinar’ (usually dialogue/monologue with some programme): “Federal Circuit and district court rulings interpreting the Supreme Court’s Halo opinion on enhanced damages were analysed in a webinar presented by Managing IP and Fitzpatrick” (we can envision the content based on the presenters**).
These “enhanced damages” would be mostly applicable to patent trolls (or serial patent tax collectors) and this decision will, without a doubt, embolden some of them to make them more demanding/aggressive in courts. They can broaden the number of victims and the ‘protection money’ extracted from each.
On to a similar topic, Florian Müller revisits FRAND — a subject he used to habitually cover back in his Android-hostile days. This time it’s about automotive companies, namely Daimler and Hyundai. To quote:
About four to five years ago, there was a time when “FRAND Patents” would have been a more suitable name for this blog than “FOSS Patents”: the pursuit of sales and important bans over standard-essential patents (in violation of pledges to license them to all comers on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms), royalty demands far out of the FRAND ballpark and exorbitant damages claims were the three most important symptoms of a huge underlying problem, and I did what I could to shed some light on what was going on and going wrong.
While I’m glad that some of the worst potential consequences were avoided at the time, I have realized that there is some unfinished business in that area. Antitrust settlements and court decisions were helpful. Some of them, such as Judge Posner’s 2012 Apple v. Motorola ruling, were really great. But attempts to abuse FRAND-pledged SEPs are still rampant. Various SEP owners are still seeking injunctions (not in all jurisdictions but definitely in some). Royalty demands and damages claims still appear to be out of line in too many cases.
These patents are problematic for many reasons, especially for Free/Open Source software. To see automotive companies joining this wave is troubling to say the least and now that automotive companies are also patenting the act of driving cars we find this new article which speaks of “Patents Driving Autonomous Car Technology”. To quote a portion: “Autonomous cars is a new Technological leap in the field of transportation. Imagine millions of cars, heavy duty vehicles, ships etc. being driven without drivers which will save a lot of human labor. Also, if such technology makes commuting safe and makes you reach your destination in time with 100% safety, it will save many innocent lives which are lost every year due to human carelessness or negligence while driving.”
There are already some patent trolls in this area, if not the dashboard level (e.g. navigation) then AI.
We continue to worry about patent trolls, about FRAND (or RAND, or SEPs) and of course about software patents, but at the core of these issues we have patent maximalism, or the belief that the more patents exist and are actively enforced against most entities, the better off society will be. See this new article (behind paywall) from IP Watch to witness a symptom of this disease. Called the “Online [Patent] Enforcement Index,” what we have here is “Konstantinos Alexiou [who] created the Index Of Patent Systems Strength, which ranks the effectiveness and efficiency of the patent systems of 49 countries.”
Are people serious about this? Is this what it boils down to? Ranking countries based on patent activity, as if the more means merrier? Totally misguided and dangerously so! █
* Days ago IAM wrote about patent trolls which now operate in Korea, notably “Intellectual Discovery”. To quote somewhat of a background that’s appended to the article: “Intellectual Discovery, on the other hand, saw its CEO Kwang-Jun Kim quit last month amid what he claimed to be a budget crisis at the SPF. Quoted in a feature in the most recent issue of IAM, Kim suggested that Intellectual Discovery would become a fully privately held entity, and that hook-ups with other patent monetisation companies may well be on the cards. “Going private means we would have a little more freedom – we would be able to broaden our horizons, perhaps working with non-Korean operating companies and partnering with other NPEs, if those scenarios are consistent with our strategy and goals,” he told me. The DSS transaction seems to fit this picture pretty well; but it is likely to be one of the last deals to have been done largely on Kim’s watch. Whether the person who steps into his shoes continues along this course remains to be seen.”
** MIP is very pro-plaintiff, as one might expect the messenger of patent law firms to be. Here is its new article about how “Philips and Masimo have ended their long-running dispute over blood oxygen measurement patents” and here is an update from the Eastern District of Texas, where “Medtronic has been ordered to pay $20.4m in damages by an Eastern District of Texas jury for infringing a doctor’s patents related to idiopathic scoliosis treatment” (guess who pockets a lot of this money other than the plaintiff).
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Reference: Vishal Sikka, the man who took Infosys off the software patents drug. Image credit: Gregor Wolf (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence)
Summary: India’s retreat from software patents goes all the way to the top (huge businesses) and includes even Microsoft-connected companies like Infosys, where patent filings have reached an all-time low (single-digit figures)
THIS new article about the ITC speaks about patent shakedown in China courtesy of Qualcomm, which is in antitrust waters in more than one continent and is widely regarded as one of the worst patent bullies out there. Here is what the article says:
Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) was dealt a victory when the U.S. International Trade Commission voted Tuesday to look into Qualcomm claims that some of the mobile devices made by Chinese companies are infringing on the semiconductor’s hardware and software patents.
Notice the mention of “software patents.” This kind of shakedown in China is also accomplished using proxies in India, as noted here the other day. However, while India makes many software products it does not allow software patents (smart move!) and these patents are evidently a passing fad. Yesterday IAM said that Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, who is openly against software patents, has almost entirely abandoned them. The company now worries more about Donald Trump [1, 2] than about patent protection. “The company’s annual report for 2015-2016,” according to IAM, “says it has 292 patents issued by the USPTO, a handful of others in Australia, Singapore and Luxembourg, and an aggregate of 424 pending patent applications.”
“Maybe it will also defect from Microsoft and increasingly embrace GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software (FOSS), as Wipro attempted to do in recent years.”Patents filed (by Infosys) are just 9 in 2015/16, 19 in 2014/15 (right after Sikka became MD and CEO), 79 in 2013/14, 97 in 2012/13, 153 in 2011/12, and 91 in 2010/11. It’s not hard to see the trend here. Will it be zero next year?
Infosys has traditionally been like a Microsoft proxy in India (we wrote literally dozens of articles with examples of this), so it’s encouraging to see it diverging away from software patenting (unlike Tata, which is still yearning for them, as recently as last month). Maybe it will also defect from Microsoft and increasingly embrace GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software (FOSS), as Wipro attempted to do in recent years. █
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