Summary: A parade of misinformation as seen in Indian (but English-speaking) press this week as questions about patentability of software resurface
FOREIGN giants which operate in India (companies like IBM and Microsoft) just can’t help trying to repeatedly introduce software patents in India, aided by front groups and lawyers of theirs. Why on Earth is NASSCOM, which is connected to Bill Gates [1, 2, 3], participating in a debate in India regarding software patents or even just software? “NEW rules designed to boost India’s software industry will open for public consultation in a matter of days, say sources close to the matter,” said one new article among several this week (e.g. [1, 2). These mentioned software patents as well and some correctly noted that “this opens them [software companies] to patent trolls. Dealing with patent trolls here as India doesn’t have software patents.” The English here is problematic and then it says this: “So the conundrum for startups is whether to stay in India or not.”
“India is constantly being lobbied by big businesses that are not even Indian.”No, startups would be wasting their time pursuing patents on software. In practice, heavy-pocketed corporations from abroad want software patents. Indian startups do not. But don’t count on corporate media like the above to accurately represent the desires and needs of ordinary Indians. Neither should anyone trust NASSCOM, one among several Indian agencies that act like outposts and brought India nothing but EDGI.
India is constantly being lobbied by big businesses that are not even Indian. Watch what Microsoft has done to the Modi government earlier this year and last year. It shot down a Free/Open Source software policy. █
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Speaking for their wallets (profit motive), misleading the public
Like the military-industrial complex and surveillance/enforcement in the age of drug wars, patent lawyers profit from endless feuds
Summary: How patent law firms are distorting the debate about software patents in hope of attracting business from gullible people who misunderstand the harsh (and worsening) reality of software patenting
Software patents should not exist in the EPO and the USPTO too is gradually cracking down on these, especially because of the US Supreme Court. It does not mean that patent law firms will take this defeat without a fightback.
Elaine Bergenthuin, “owner and managing partner of De Beer Attorneys” by her own description, has just got published this self-promotional puff piece in the South African media. It appeared there this morning and it’s not a good article, it’s more like marketing. “You cannot generally obtain patents for software in South Africa,” the article correctly states (see our Wiki page “Software Patents in South Africa”), but Bergenthuin is then finding some loopholes and promoting these, as if to say, “come to me, I’ll help you get software patents by working around the law.”
“Software developers don’t bother trying to get software patents in India, but patent law firms mislead them.”This is very typical. The press is full of this marketing spam. The local press all over the world has been reduced to advertisements in ‘article’ form.
Here is an example from India which is only days old. Software developers don’t bother trying to get software patents in India, but patent law firms mislead them. They have nothing to lose; the lawyers always get paid (irrespective of success rate), and it’s clear at whose expense.
Watch another new example that we found in the Indian press a couple of days ago. It speaks of some who “hold only a handful of patents and that too on software related to audio and keyboards.” So these are software patents. Why bother?
A site that’s preoccupied with promotion of software patents published one week ago an article titled “Hop on the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) via Australia”. One can guess who wrote it and it says: “While Australia isn’t usually considered a very important market since its population is so small and its manufacturing base is limited, it is our experience that there are a few US companies realising that prosecuting in Australia to use the PPH back into the US makes sense. There is always the option of filing in Australia first and using an Australian patent application as the priority application. However, one would need a foreign filing license from the US before doing so. A strategy could be to file a provisional in the US, receive the foreign filing license, and then file a standard (utility) application in Australia to take advantage of the expedited examination process at IP Australia to hop onto the Patent Prosecution Highway via Australia.”
“The press is full of this marketing spam. The local press all over the world has been reduced to advertisements in ‘article’ form.”Well, “prosecuting in Australia to use the PPH back into the US makes sense” only if software patents were actually potent there. They’re not. So once again we can see bad advice being given by the patent microcosm. What happened to journalism? Well, this isn’t journalism, it’s marketing. We recently wrote about the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in relation to Australia, noting that the EPO — not just the USPTO — embraces these under Battistelli (even in rather dubious places with hardly any patents). The EPO is totally out of control when it comes to patent scope and it probably breaks the rules of the EPC when it comes to that. There is still a discussion about how this has been made possible in the first place. One person asks: “Has anything in the PPI, which must be done by the EPOff or the EPOrg, ever been done? I am thinking of the relations with the work-rules regulating organs of the host countries (Arbeitsinspectie, Gewerbeaufsicht,…)”
Well, Battistelli is “instructing the staff to sidestep part of the EPC,” one person responded. Here is the comment in full: “Yes, but what would the dispute be? According to 23(1) above, doesn’t it only arise if immunity has been claimed? Not sure that BB instructing the staff to sidestep part of the EPC would fall within that. He wouldn’t claim immunity (from what?) – he’s just doing his job.”
We worry that the EPO, especially under Battistelli, is now cooperating with the patent microcosm and just abandoning patent quality control (improving the “success” rate of patent law firms). See this new ‘article’ titled “Patents in Denmark”. “In general,” it says, “software as such is not patentable (Section 1(2) of the Patents Act). However, it is possible to patent software as part of a patent whose subject matter is a process. Further, software is patentable if it has the potential to bring about, when run on a computer, a further technical effect which goes beyond the normal physical interactions between the program and the computer.”
“There are only (formally) software patents in the US (maybe in Japan as well), but they’re being used by foreign entities outside the United States.”Actually, these are dubious claims that rely on Brimelow sidestepping the EPC. Things have become even worse in German courts and the German patent office. Here is a new example of software patents for German company in the United States. These patents have been weaponised and “[a]ccording to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to industrial control systems that employ advanced software to program, run, and visualize industrial control processes. In particular, the ‘226 patent relates to interfaces for connecting a computer to devices on multiple industrial control networks so that data may be communicated across the different industrial control networks to and from an application program running on the computer.”
These are software patents from the US. There are only (formally) software patents in the US (maybe in Japan as well), but they’re being used by foreign entities outside the United States. We sure hope that people will come to grips with the corrupting influence of patent law firms in this debate and also acknowledge that software patents bring nothing but negatives to society; they’re good only to patent lawyers and patent offices where the goal is to increase so-called ‘production’ as measured in terms of the number of granted patents. █
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Asia’s growing economy has turned the patent system against its creators
Summary: The giveaway of patents to the East, combined with the opportunistic (for patent lawyers) opening to patent litigation from the East, contradicts the very notion of patents as guardians of science and technology in the Western world
LIKE the EPO, here in the UK we have UK-IPO (or just IPO for short), whose record on software patenting we wrote a lot about 8 years ago, particularly in relation to a case of Nokia (or Symbian at the time). It often feels like the policy at the IPO is steered not by British interests but by a bunch of greedy patent lawyers, who are conveniently besieging the British industry for money derived from legal fees, not innovation, development and so on.
“It often feels like the policy at the IPO is steered not by British interests but by a bunch of greedy patent lawyers, who are conveniently besieging the British industry for money derived from legal fees, not innovation, development and so on.”Based on a sponsored ‘report’ from IAM the IPO gave a Patent Prosecution Highway to China, where patent quality is notoriously poor (probably worse than even at the USPTO). But don’t worry; when Chinese companies start going after British companies (as they increasingly do in the US and especially in Texas) the patent lawyers will be the ones pocketing lots of money.
Much of what we saw Battistelli doing with SIPO (China’s, not Croatia’s) is going to cost Europe a lot in the long run. As is apparent from Battistelli’s policies in a variety of areas, short-term thinking and temporary gains are a priority right now (must be ENA ‘logic’) as he won’t be around to pick up the pieces as everything start to rattle and break.
Looking at IAM this past week, patent armament is becoming somewhat of a thing and Asian countries (other than China) are now buying the West’s patents as a matter of strategy/policy. As IAM put it: “It is hard to think of a better example of the ‘transition state’ described by Komiya than Softbank’s recently announced $23 billion takeover bid for UK-based chip designer ARM. Here is a massive investment by a company which started as a traditional telecom into a foreign business that is built entirely on developing and licensing intellectual property. It has also been framed by Softbank chief Masayoshi Son as a major push into the Internet of Things, an area highlighted by Komiya in his address as an “urgent challenge” for Japanese companies to adapt to if they want to remain competitive in the high-tech space. [...] Whether in the form of IP-focused acquisitions like the ARM deal or licensing campaigns like that pursued by IP Bridge, the gradual shift in the Japanese IP environment looks set to continue.”
“Huawei (China) is already using its patents to go after companies in the US, not just in Korea.”ARM makes a lot of its money from licensing, not production. So we can expect money to flow to Asia, not only for production but also for patents. Where does this leave the bubble or the illusion that using patents we can still maintain economic might (while outsourcing all production to the East)? According to Neil Wilkof, patent litigation is becoming somewhat a branding tool. Citing the Huawei v Samsung case (Wilkof’s colleague, Darren Smyth, wrote about Hospira v Genentech, which is less relevant to us), he writes: “Provided that the U.S. law suit does not go the way of the Apple-Samsung dispute, and Huawei is viewed as overplaying its IP hand, or otherwise is seen in a negative light, there is the potential for substantial upside in brand recognition of its smartphones in the vast U.S. market. Indeed, such a benefit may ultimately be much more significant for the company than matters of injunctions and monetary damages. Indeed, patent litigators might consider taking a program or two at their local school of management to learn more about the dynamics of brand-building, and how patent litigation can contribute to this process.”
Huawei (China) is already using its patents to go after companies in the US, not just in Korea. Apple’s patent feuds with Samsung have just made headlines in Western media, saying that “Apple Inc (AAPL.O) on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to clear the way for the iPhone maker to secure hundreds of millions in damages from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) in a case over smartphone design patents.
“The world’s top smartphone rivals have been feuding over patents since 2011, when Apple sued Samsung in a northern California court alleging infringement of the iPhone’s patents, designs and trademarked appearance.”
“We need to reassess the motivation/s of patent maximalism and rethink the laws; the same goes for copyright in the Internet era, but for different reasons.”Apple’s market share in phones has just fallen more than 20% (see our daily links). Apple distracts from that by stating it sold a billion ‘i’ phones, but numbers suggest that Android OEMs like Huawei and Samsung is where most of the action (even growth) is. Whether Western companies can at all remain competitive — even with lots patents at hand — remains questionable. Asia is now turning the West-leaning patent system against the West, so patent maximalism in its own right won’t be sufficient for maintaining Western dominance. Only patent law firms would gain. I am not personally prejudiced against east Asia (my wife in fact is east Asian), but repeating the old talking points about the essence of patents for “countering Asia” is doing a disservice to truth itself. We need to reassess the motivation/s of patent maximalism and rethink the laws; the same goes for copyright in the Internet era, but for different reasons.
As is noted in more and more sites, China is now exploiting the same loopholes previously enjoyed mostly by patent trolls. This will only get worse in years to come. █
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Those who haven’t chips in the game against those whose entire game is contingent upon them
Summary: In light of the Alice case, large monopolies and their messengers moan about patent quality control, whereas here in Manchester people have an open debate about the potential harms of over-patenting
THE world is becoming a safer place for software developers because business method/software patents are dying in their country of origin. According to one of the most pro-software patents sites out there (IAM), patent “application numbers [for Visa] are down post-Alice” and “[t]his may well reflect the much tougher environment that patent owners now face in the US thanks to the popularity of post-issuance reviews and the general uncertainty around patent eligible subject matter since the Supreme Court’s Alice decision was handed down.”
Later in the weekend we intend to report on other trends which suggest the same thing, in spite of endless FUD from patent lawyers who profit from software patents. “Patentism is a religion and should be treated as such,” Benjamin Henrion wrote the other day. “Only believers.” Henrion — like myself — is a software developer fed up with patent maximalism which expanded patent scope to just about anything in software, irrespective of any evidence that suggests it would speed up development. He responded to this new article about an event right here in Manchester and told them: “It is a religion and should be treated as such.”
The article or event was titled “The Great IP Debate: Do patents do more harm than good?” To quote:
Patents have been with us since the 17th century. In exchange for disclosing one’s invention, the state grants a limited, legal monopoly over exploitation. In theory, the system encourages more innovation, for the good of society. But recently, voices of dissent have been rising. Legal costs are high. Specialists game the system to their advantage. Life-saving innovations get priced beyond the means of the poor.
On July 26 in Manchester, UK, at Euroscience Open Forum, Europe’s biggest biennial science conference, Science|Business Editor-in-Chief Richard L. Hudson organised a formal pro- and anti-patent debate among four experts, moderated by Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester. Herewith, his paraphrase of the arguments, so you can judge for yourself.
I know some of the people in there and I very much doubt they can make compelling arguments about the problems with patent maximalist. The University (which is where I did my studies and also worked) is quite keen not only on patent maximalism but copyright maximalism as well.
Sadly, there’s a strong lobby for software patents out there and it comes through all sorts of media, including the above (IAM). Speaking of IAM, watch this pro-software patents site promoting not innovation but patent trades, composed by one who was “recognized as one of the world’s most foremost IP strategists by Intellectual Property Magazine (IAM),” i.e. sponsored nonsense.
The latest shameless self-promotion by patent lawyers comes even from India (“Patenting For Success” is the title and it is not objective at all; recall the situation in India) and MSF, in the mean time, expresses “patent opposition in March in India to prevent Pfizer from patenting a pneumonia drug” (to deny poor people access to essential generic drugs).
Techrights is NOT against patents but against patent maximalism or — put another way — in favour of patent quality. The patent industry (or microcosm) doesn’t care about quality; to them it’s just an obstruction to business (theirs) and, accordingly, we need to counter their selfish desires. █
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Not just in terms of human rights, potentially patent quality as well
Original photo: Erdoğan, 2012
Summary: Battistelli and his notorious Vice-President from SIPO (Croatia) turn the European Patent Office, once the pride of Europe, into a human rights cesspool with SIPO (China) connections
Battistelli is dangerous. He destroys the Office (EPO) having already repelled and driven away a lot of the top talent. There’s no way to attract these workers back and the EPO, based on the hard facts (not Bergot's lies), is unable to attract skilled workers. Maybe that’s what Battistelli wants. A bunch of young workers would be more obedient (also cheaper as per the salaries scale) and they would fail to identify or understand prior art, thus approve a lot more applications erroneously. Battistelli sure doesn’t stand any judges (maybe “penis envy” as per the psychological theory, metaphorically alluding to intelligence), not even the ones who rule against him in high courts at The Hague. Remember who has just suspended literally thousands of judges (among people in other ranks). It was Erdoğan.
“Remember who has just suspended literally thousands of judges (among people in other ranks).”In many ways, Battistelli is not just a French republican (he is a politician) but somewhat of a Maoist Chinese ruler or Sultan like Erdoğan. AMBA, which represents the broads of appeal that Battistelli has been busy attacking lately, issues a statement in the front page of its Web site. The statement (noted in this comment) says: “Much depends on the how the BoAC and the President of the BoA choose to act. This could lead either to an increase in independence, or the opposite. For 40 years, the President of the Office and the Vice President of DG3 have enjoyed broad discretionary powers. The BoAC and the President of the BoA have similar powers, and their decisions could lead to problems similar to those underlying R19/12. The reform, rather than transferring the problem, should rather have set new guarantees in the written text of the law (albeit secondary law).”
Well, since the President of the BoA is elected in part by Battistelli himself, we can safely assume that he or she will either be a Battistelli crony or somewhat afraid enough of Battistelli (no independence) to simply appease Battistelli at every turn. How is that improved independence?
EPLAW, which represents patent law firms, commented on this ‘extrajudicial killing’ of the appeals processes at the EPO (that’s pretty much what the systematic attacks on the boards boil down to), citing AMBA and saying: “Eventually, the perception of independence has turned out to be the guidance for the structural reform, not independence in substance. The EBA’s decision R 19/12 continues to show its consequences.”
“Whatever remains of the EPO after DG3 is priced out of reach and understaffed even further in tiny overcrowded out-of-Munich offices, it will never be the same.”Battistelli is killing one of the cornerstones of the EPO as per the EPC, namely the appeals process. “Killing it softly” as the song goes… and “the trickle approach of undermining DG3 until it becomes untenable,” this one new comment noted. The full comment says: “My sympathies from DG1. Decisions made openly and for a logical reason, however personally painful, can be borne and normally solutions would be sought. In this case , it’s plotting and playing with people’s lives for no clearly stated reason. As you say, it’s the trickle approach of undermining DG3 until it becomes untenable – no replacement of members leads to an inevitable running down of DG3′s effectiveness. A normal consideration, if this were to be inevitable,would be to manage this and to involve staff in preparing both the office and their careers for the future. The current situation could not be further from this. You don’t deserve this. Nobody does. Again, my sympathies.”
Whatever remains of the EPO after DG3 is priced out of reach and understaffed even further in tiny overcrowded out-of-Munich offices, it will never be the same. Talented judges are likely to seek employment elsewhere and this is probably what Battistelli wants. He wants to dim down the lights and make life rather hard so as to induce a ‘natural death’. This is something he has already done to SUEPO (only with limited success because blowback comes from the entire staff).
The EPO now shares more than just disregard for human rights with China. It also adopts the low(er) patent quality which China is notorious for. AFD China Intellectual Property Law Office has just said that “SIPO and the European Patent Office (EPO) decided to renew the MOU on beefing up patent classification cooperation for another 6 years.”
“Turkey is a member of the EPO, don’t forget that, and Battistelli already meets similar types of rulers (if not much worse)…”Oh, look, another MoU. The original page (in English) is dated two weeks ago. Is this something which Battistelli can really brag about? Becoming more like China?
The country is ranked very low (boding poorly) on human rights in many areas and Western think tank (or propaganda mill) “Freedom House rates China as a 6 (the second lowest possible rank) in political freedoms.”
Team Battistelli sent me several legal threats for my reporting, even after I had gotten a high-profile solicitor on my side. Erdoğan would be proud of Battistelli; have they met yet? Turkey is a member of the EPO, don’t forget that, and Battistelli already meets similar types of rulers (if not much worse)… █
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“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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…And IAM ‘magazine’ uses that to promote the notion/stigma of China bias (possibly to help the agenda of IAM’s funding sources)
Summary: The race to the bottom, or the flirt with gradual transition to filing/registration rather than examination (rubberstamping instead of scientific assessment), leads to systems which are rife with feuds, abuse, and unfair treatment (discriminatory towards foreign companies)
THE USPTO has famously lowered its patent quality bar (in a Battistellite EPO fashion) in order to create the illusion of improved production. SIPO, a friend of Battistelli, has done the same in order to ‘outpace’ the US (artificial elevation of the number of grants by various misleading and nefarious means).
According to Patently-O‘s new article “Patenting From China”:
The new China-Patenting article from Jay Kesan, Alan Marco, and Richard Miller offers some interesting insight on developments in how Chinese innovators are using the patent system. The “More than Bric-a-Brac” article particularly focuses on how the Chinese approach has changed over time. The article concludes that China’s approach is not exceptional but rather is following the same pattern exhibited by other nations such as South Korea and Japan in decades past.
Not only once (see our previous post about CAFC*) but twice today IAM spread or disseminated propaganda (like its infamous EPO propaganda). With propaganda masked as ‘studies’ it’s hard to tell what’s going on unless one already knows what IAM is and who its clients (or funding sources) are. Take for example this new ‘study’ which accuses China’s patent system of being too China-leaning. This totally neglects to mention identical bias in the West, notably ITC and definitely not limited to it, but then again, it serves the overall agenda of the site. What is this, a news site or a think tank? Funded by patent trolls, PR/lobbying firms and so on… █
* Patently-O‘s Dennis Crouch writes about the latest from CAFC today, noting: “In The Medicines Company v. Hospira, Inc., App. No. 14-1469 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (en banc), the Federal Circuit has ruled that an invention claimed as a “product-by-process” is only “on sale” if “the subject of a commercial sale or offer for sale…”
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Lobbyists are preying on public indifference
Summary: The policies over which Indians and Europeans have kept guard are being ‘stolen’ by vested interests
Typically, when patent lawyers say they offer an analysis on something it means they try to sell something. This applies to lawyers in many areas and patent lawyers are no exception. So-called (derogatory label) ‘grease monkey’ garage workers are a suitable analogy here, as there’s a reputation among them for leaving things poorly repaired at times, in order to have returning clients and more expensive products (or services) sold.
The patent lawyers in India still lobby on software patents in the country, as usual. Seeing their list of clients helps explain why. This new ‘analysis’ titled “Aspects of Patentability of Software Programmes in India” talks about software patents in India and it is basically more of the same.
“Software patents are not entirely dead in Europe.”“Alignment with the position in US,” notes the author, as if the two system are connected somehow (except perhaps for wishful thinkers).
People need to recognise that the interests of patent lawyers are rarely the same as people’s (at large) interests. This is especially true in India and to a lesser degree in Europe, where at least many of the applicants are in fact European. Pay attention to this EPO tweets from yesterday (one among several such tweets as of late). It is almost as though they allude to software by another name now, “ICT” (not just telecommunications), and they reach out to the USPTO (as if there are foreseeable unification plans, not mere technical collaborations). Battistelli’s EPO would love to expand patent scope and unless people work hard (tirelessly every year) to prevent this, it might actually happen at the end. Software patents are not entirely dead in Europe. There’s work to be done. █
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