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03.18.19

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

Posted in Asia, Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 2:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s “truce” as long as Microsoft receives billions of dollars from its rivals for its “Linux patents”

A happy piranha

Summary: Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network

THE parasites and predators are still at it. They’re exploiting software patents wrongly granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and they go after Microsoft’s rivals.

“Microsoft and Bill Gates are culpable as Intellectual Ventures effectively came from them and was bankrolled by them.”Days ago we saw the Intellectual Ventures-armed Dominion Harbor losing yet again. As it turned out, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) helped squash fake patents of this Microsoft-connected patent troll, owing to an inter partes review (IPR) which came from Unified Patents. In their own words (from Friday):

On March 13, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. First Class Monitoring, LLC IPR2017-01932 invalidating claims 1-5, 7, 9, 10 and 16-22 of U.S. Patent 6,014,089 owned and asserted by First Class Monitoring, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and a well-known NPE. The ’089 patent, directed to transmitting data via conventional SMS messages over a control channel of a personal communications system transmission protocol, has been asserted against various financial services companies such as Citigroup, Bank of America, USAA, JP Morgan, and PNC.

Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures, as it turns out yet again, is still engaging in blackmail in Eastern Texas. Even directly (not the likes of Dominion Harbor). As per the media (also Friday):

A jury in a federal district court in Texas has awarded a patent firm $1.5 million in a dispute with an Old Republic International Corp. unit in a patent infringement case.

The Tyler, Texas, jury on Wednesday decided in favor of Bellevue, Washington-based Intellectual Ventures II LLC, which buys, licenses and develops patents, in its dispute with Old Republic unit Sioux City, Nebraska-based Great West Casualty Co. in Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. Great West Casualty Co.

According to the January 2015 complaint in the case, Great West infringed one of Intellectual Ventures’ patents in connection with its online services and other systems.

Microsoft and Bill Gates are culpable as Intellectual Ventures effectively came from them and was bankrolled by them. To whose benefit?

“It seems clear that Microsoft has not changed. It was all PR, just smoke and mirrors for the cameras.”The Eastern District of Texas is also leveraged yet again against Taiwanese companies. Also from Texas: “Taiwanese Manufacturer of Smartphones Subject to Personal Jurisdiction in Texas in Patent Infringement Case Because of its Allegedly Purposeful Efforts to Serve the US Market Even Though all US Distribution was Orchestrated Independently…”

We already noted the other day that Microsoft goes after another Taiwanese company and it’s about a deal they signed 6 years ago, involving patents Microsoft claims Android and Chrome OS (GNU/Linux) to have infringed. It is starting to seem rather clear that Microsoft joined OIN only after extorting the lion’s share of OEMs that ship Linux-powered products. If they stop paying, Microsoft will sue them. Some “truce”, eh? Here is what Bloomberg wrote about this Microsoft patent extortion as recently as yesterday:

A lot has changed at Microsoft Corp. in the five years since Satya Nadella took over as chief executive officer. But sometimes the past comes roaring back, this time in the form of a patent suit that has gotten nasty.

Microsoft last week sued Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. for failing to pay royalties on intellectual property owned by Microsoft as part of a 2013 deal. Microsoft says Hon Hai, which is also known as Foxconn Technology Group, owes it missed payments and interest. In its filing with a California court, Microsoft alleges that for the past three years, Hon Hai hasn’t submitted the royalty reports required by the 2013 agreement and has refused to submit to an independent audit, which the agreement stipulated in the event of a dispute.

Foxconn’s billionaire chairman Terry Gou earlier this week accused Microsoft of a personal attack on him and his company, terming it a “wrongful” attempt to extract royalties on Android mobile operating software. While Hon Hai is the party named in the lawsuit, Hon Hai only makes iOS devices, and it is Foxconn’s Hong Kong-listed unit FIH Mobile Ltd. that makes Android phones for Huawei Technologies Co., Xiaomi Corp. and other vendors, according to Gou and FIH CEO Calvin Chih.

The amount in question is not significant, according to a person familiar with the dispute who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. But neither side wants to back down. Gou doesn’t want to pay and Microsoft wants to make a point that a deal is a deal.

So Satya Nadella is just another Steve Ballmer. His mask keeps falling off. There have been a lot more articles about this (we mentioned only a few of the earlier ones), including “Foxconn CEO: Microsoft’s real target is Huawei” (from the patent trolls’ lobby), “Foxconn lashes out at Microsoft over royalties” (Asian media), “Foxconn rejects Microsoft patent lawsuit” (British media) and “Foxconn rejected patent infringement lawsuit by Microsoft”. Here’s the side of the story which Western media does not like to tell, preceded by Microsoft’s usual nonsense:

Microsoft, in its statement, said that it had signed a contract with the Foxconn’s parent company Hon Hai in 2013 and the lawsuit is relevant to the audit and royalty reporting terms of that contract.

As Microsoft take serious approach towards fulfillment of its contractual obligations, so it also expects other companies to be following their contractual commitments seriously too; and Microsoft is working to resolve the disagreement with Hon Hai because of the importance of relationship with the company, Microsoft said in a statement.

Foxconn was previously operating as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, and got the global attention after starting assembling iPhones for Apple.

[...]

At the news conference Gou said that Software companies not to bully the manufacturers, and questioned in a Facebook post earlier on Tuesday, why they would not claim from software using vendors to pay for patent royalties.

This is about software patents and about Linux-based operating systems. It seems clear that Microsoft has not changed. It was all PR, just smoke and mirrors for the cameras.

01.20.19

The Indian Ministry of Commerce Tries to Bend Patent Law in Favour of Foreign Monopolies

Posted in Asia, Patents at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monopolies and monopolists have long attempted to accomplish this

India hand

Summary: There’s an attempt to tilt patent law against the interests of India; but vigilant few are observing and reporting it, even in English

THE ISSUE or the subject of software patents in India — like software patents in the EPO, the USPTO and China — is central to this site. We’ve long written on the matter, seeing that the EPO increasingly grants such bogus patents, the USPTO drifts further away from courts (35 U.S.C. § 101 caselaw) [1, 2] and patent trolls’ front groups try to compel India to allow such patents. The patent microcosm and the patent ‘industry’ (patent offices included) is eager to grant yet more fake patents which would be invalidated if challenged in courts such as the Federal Circuit or the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The way they see it, that’s not their problem and the price will be paid by scientists and technologists, who are basically being ‘taxed’ by law firms.

“The monopoly of patents is often justified as an incentive to promote R&D. But in practice, patents are used to control competition and give fewer options to consumers.”
      –The Wire
“The government’s new proposals on patents may increase frivolous patents,” warned this new article (from last week), noting a recent proposal:

The Ministry of Commerce has floated proposed changes to the rules of the Indian patent Act.

Two of the proposed changes are very concerning. It proposes a new mechanism which will expedite decisions on patent applications. This proposed fast-track process seems to come with various other compromises on the functioning of India’s patent architecture and for protecting access to medicines, for example.

The monopoly of patents is often justified as an incentive to promote R&D. But in practice, patents are used to control competition and give fewer options to consumers. Towards this purpose, big corporations are known for obtaining multiple patents claiming minor changes on the same technology or molecule. This practice of creating patent-fences adversely impacts the industrial and technological development of countries like India, by preventing their firms from catching up with the latest technology.

India is a relatively poor country (if measured per capita), so patent maximalism never made sense for it. Some patents may be fine, but those which price medicine out of reach (for those in most desperate need) would be fatal. Since one of India’s biggest exports is software (code), software patents make no economic sense, either. Let alone purely practical sense…

01.02.19

The Real Harm of Really Bad European Patent Grants

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Europe, Law, Patents at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO is measuring speed rather than quality of work

Measuring

Summary: Patents that are of questionable validity/legitimacy do incredible harm/damage to the market; the EPO, however, is willing to look the other way while its rogue policies break the economy and remove products from the market

LAST MONTH Qualcomm dominated the news about patents. As Taro Yaguchi (Keisen Associates) put it, “Qualcomm And Apple Fighting In China Over Software Patents” and they fought elsewhere too, including in Europe (there was a widely-publiced ban on older models of iPhone). This was so widely reported/covered that we saw no urgent need to mention it (I was actually in Germany at the time, hence offline). Currently, only China is (still) a large economy that allows (explicitly) software patents. As we showed before, Qualcomm actively advocates software patents, which it then uses to embargo rivals’ products (or products of those unwilling to pay for questionable patents).

This brings us to the António Campinos-led European Patent Office (EPO), where software patents are being granted, not to mention all sorts of questionable patents on life and nature. As an insider noted earlier today, Team UPC publicly admits that European Patents granted by the EPO are of poor quality — a subject that Campinos won’t tackle. He just met the people in question and sought to remove the causes of criticism — whatever that means. He specified no actual plan. In the words of a Team UPC firm:

Furthermore, the remarkably high fees for a patent application and the EPO’s large reserves are rightly criticised. It cannot be that the EPO tends to want to make profits. Especially if you end up paying for mistakes with heavy fees.

And not only attorneys and lawyers, but also patent experts from the industry express criticism. According to the JUVE Patent Survey 2018, they want more professionalism. Only a few are behind the idea of the fastest possible registration process.

The EPO nowadays acts like a money-printing machine; it prints out monopolies, so what’s not to like? It’s just minting lots of rubbish, causing a gross hyperinflation of patents in Europe. Who will suffer? Certainly European companies on the receiving end of frivolous lawsuits.

11.17.18

Patent Maximalists in Europe Keep Mentioning China Even Though It Barely Matters to European Patents

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO white flag

Summary: EPO waves a “white flag” in the face of China even though Chinese patents do not matter much to Europe (except when the goal is to encourage low patent quality, attracting humongous patent trolls)

PRESIDENT António Campinos continues the tradition of his predecessor, posing with Chinese officials as if China is strategic to Europe’s patent system. Campinos and the man who gave him the job possibly fancy China because of its notoriously low standards/quality of patents, which in turn usher software patents into Europe (‘normalising’ this illegal practice, which is only legal in China).

“As EPO insiders are well aware, China accounts for a very small proportion of European Patents (Japan is way ahead and tiny South Korea is just about on par)…”A European Patent Office (EPO) director, Peter Albrecht, speaks to patent maximalists, for one can assume that to become a director (or Director) at the EPO one must be a patent maximalist (to get promoted to that position if not just to keep that position).

As EPO insiders are well aware, China accounts for a very small proportion of European Patents (Japan is way ahead and tiny South Korea is just about on par), yet this propaganda site of patents on life/nature (Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review is exactly that) uses Albrecht as follows, citing a lobbying event/think tank called “LSPN Europe”. Here they go:

Last year, for the first time in European Patent Office (EPO) history, a Chinese company filed the most European patent applications, making an “impressive statement” on what companies in the country are doing, according to Peter Albrecht.

Albrecht, who serves as principal director of the EPO’s healthcare, biotech and chemistry sector, was speaking at LSPN Europe 2018 today.

In 2017, electronics company Huawei claimed the top filing spot with 2,398 patent applications, in a move that Albrecht said was a “surprise”. Huawei bumped Siemens (based in Germany) into second place, ahead of competitors LG, Samsung and Qualcomm.

In China those few very large companies are typically connected to the government and they have a lot of patents; this gives the false impression that China matters a lot to the EPO. But it doesn’t. Less than one in 20 European Patents/applications are Chinese in source/origin.

“IAM isn’t against trolls but against the narrative, i.e. against trolls being called “trolls”.”Meanwhile, CCIA‘s main patent person wrote that “[t]he [Chinese] media has come up with new Chinese coinages translating to ‘patent scoundrel’ ‘patent cockroach’ and ‘patent monster’.” Patent troll suddenly seems so dated and staid.”

This is also based on an old report from IAM (from a Chinese-speaking writer); IAM isn’t against trolls but against the narrative, i.e. against trolls being called “trolls”. IAM’s ‘PR’ campaign for IPEL, a patent troll looking to prey on China (see some background in [1, 2]), is hard to forget; it was recently mentioned again by Managing IP, another proponent of patent trolls.

The article cited by the above says:

A recent article titled “Why non-practicing entities are good for China” has attracted notice in the English-language IP blogosphere. Originally featured on Chinese IP news site Zhichanli, which is affiliated with litigation data provider IP House, the article puts forth the case that greater activity by foreign NPEs in China can lift the value of Chinese patents, boosting the entire innovation ecosystem. By contrast, it warns, “failing to embrace foreign NPEs would immediately tell investors around the globe that Chinese patents are a bad investment”.

The article was posted by Zhichanli’s news editor, but contains a note explaining that it was compiled based on “relevant” material and does not necessarily reflect the site’s own point of view.

Much of the article focuses on iPEL, the NPE helmed by Brian Yates and Rasheed McWilliams that announced it had raised $100 million to buy and monetise Chinese patents earlier this year and claims to own around 1,000 former Huawei and ZTE rights. iPEL is framed as a company that is entering the market to target overseas infringers that are “stealing intellectual property from Chinese companies”. The NPE could hardly come off better if the article were written by Yates himself.

We already published about a dozen articles about how China (or “CHINA!”) was exploited by patent maximalists to manipulate politicians and steer agenda/policy, based on fear, hate, jealousy, and stigma. Similar political strategies exploit “RUSSIA!” but Russia isn’t too keen on this domain, so the patent maximalists typically settle on “CHINA!”

“The EPO needs to ask itself who or what it serves; as it stands at the moment it serves neither Europe nor science and instead it serves patent trolls/lawyers, irrespective of where they come from.”One has to be careful about these thinly-veiled xenophobic tricks or pseudo-patriotism if not overt nationalism. They make China seem like a potent threat based on patents that aren’t even prevalent in the West. But such is the agenda of sites like IAM, which does this to India as well; they wrote about Dolby in relation to India some months back and days ago they issued the latest ‘PR’ for Dolby’s patent aggression (in their site and in Twitter).

The EPO needs to ask itself who or what it serves; as it stands at the moment it serves neither Europe nor science and instead it serves patent trolls/lawyers, irrespective of where they come from. Obviously that’s a problem — one that well-educated patent examiners can recognise and routinely warn about publicly.

10.26.18

The EPO is Trying to Make Software Patents Look and Feel ‘Healthy’

Posted in Asia, Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway”, —Marshall Phelps, Microsoft (at the time)

Summary: India’s loopholes for software patents aren’t too easy to exploit, unlike the EPO’s because of the management, which goes out of its way to make software patents in Europe really easy to attain

THE EPO‘s loopholes for software patents in Europe have long been faux relation to a “device”, which makes the algorithms not ‘pure’ software “as such” (or “per se” in India). We wrote a lot about it, even more than a decade ago.

This new article by Rajeev Kumar and Pankaj Musyuni says that the Indian “Patent Office has also been developing examination guidelines in different technology areas, and, based on the stakeholder’s feedback, revised the guidelines for computer-related inventions in June 2017. The revised guidelines were significant for patent applicants since the revision involved the removal of the requirement that software patents can be claimed only in conjunction with novel hardware.”

“The above ‘article’ from LexOrbis is pure marketing and Mondaq masquerades as a news site. Its business model is charging money for law firms to be syndicated in ‘news’ form.”Whatever they mean by “novel hardware” (usually just some general-purpose computer on which the algorithm is run/executed). LexOrbis is a frequent proponent of software patents in India, as we noted before [1, 2]. So whatever it says on this subject ought to be taken with a grain of salt. They just try to sell services, such as software patent applications. The same goes for Managing IP, which is like a front group of this whole ‘industry’, albeit in Europe. After several EPO tweets to that effect, combining software with something about “medical” or “health” (we wrote about it earlier this week; last week the EPO attempted to associate software patents with “green” and “environment”), Managing IP comes out with this article titled “Life sciences firms reveal how AI could disrupt patent strategies” (euphemisms galore).

Combing their "Life sciences" nonsense with the buzzword which is “AI”, sites of the patent extortion (or litigation) ‘industry’ push patents on life and on maths in tandem. They’re shameless about this sick EPO agenda, which we last saw in yesterday’s EPO tweets. To quote the summary (there’s a paywall):

In-house counsel at life sciences companies reveal how machine-learning innovations are driving uncertainty over future filing strategies

They’re alluding to algorithms; I know this, having done programming in the area of machine learning a decade and a half ago during the Ph.D. programme. They hope that by throwing some words like “medical” they will manage to dress up computer programs as “ethical” and make patents on these seem “ethical” as well. As if lives are being saved by these patent monopolies. That’s just objectionable, but then again consider the objectionable people who nowadays run the EPO. António Campinos is just a quieter Battistelli.

Apropos or vis-à-vis, mind this new press release about a “medical” European Patent. It’s worth noting that the Associated Press (AP) disseminates such press releases as much as I’ve never seen before. Has AP been reduced to a ‘spam farm’ of press releases? A new business model? Business ads disguised as news using the “AP” brand? It’ll backfired surely because it can cheapen the brand, making “AP” synonymous with ads. Yesterday we wrote about how law firms hijacked and are presently paying the media to relay their marketing in 'article' form. The above ‘article’ from LexOrbis is pure marketing and Mondaq masquerades as a news site. Its business model is charging money for law firms to be syndicated in ‘news’ form. AP is apparently going down a similar route.

09.17.18

“Blockchain” Hype and “FinTech”-Like Buzzwords Usher in Software Patents Everywhere, Even Where Such Patents Are Obviously Bunk

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 1:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“On a computer” patents (lacking physical, concrete components and usually lacking novelty)

Singapore marina

Summary: Not only the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) embraces the “blockchain” hype; business methods and algorithms are being granted patent ‘protection’ (exclusivity) which would likely be disputed by the courts (if that ever reaches the courts)

THE EPO grants software patents even though it’s not supposed to. So does the USPTO in spite of 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) would certainly invalidate these with the Federal Circuit affirming these decisions.

“All of these patents are bogus, bunk software patents”We’ve already expressed many criticisms of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), where patent maximalists and even software patents are being tolerated. The same goes for SIPO in China, but not quite the JPO and KIPO in Japan and South Korea, respectively.

Singapore is basically racing to the bottom with software patents, as confirmed only hours ago (“How Singapore Is Fast-Tracking FinTech Patent Applications”). A FinTech patent is just a software patent with a buzzword, yet apparently IPOS is happy to glorify such patents:

The box-office smash hit, “Crazy Rich Asians”, is on everyone’s lips (and social media feeds) nowadays. The Singapore-set Hollywood movie, featuring an all-Asian cast, comically peers into the lives of the one-percenters strutting their stuff in famously up-market Singapore. Love it or hate it, the movie nails one thing for sure: Singapore is a playground for the financially savvy; a haven for financial technology (commonly known as “FinTech”).

In this spirit, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) has launched a fast-track patent scheme determined to accelerate innovation for finance sector inventions. This one-year scheme, dubbed the FinTech Fast Track (“FTFT”) initiative, began in April and will end on 26 April 2019. Essentially, FTFT provides for expedited prosecution of FinTech patent applications – a much welcomed initiative for the sector.

[...]

As for the general question, a 2013 Working Paper by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment found that while participation was low, the priority given did speed processes up. As such, the initiative did succeed in accelerating development of clean technologies during the first years after the publication of the patents. As for Singapore, this blogger spoke with several FinTech patent examiners, who noted that to prevent abuse, priority for genuine Fintech patents is protected by trained examiners, who detect patent applications unrelated to FinTech but that are (mis)applied for under FTFT.

There’s no good reason to do this. The same goes for many other digital advancements in the area of finance, including Bitcoin and blockchains. Any “blockchain” patent is just another software patent, yet we keep seeing reports about such patents being pursued and sometimes awarded. Days ago we saw “Hedera Hashgraph, A Blockchain Distributed Ledger Tech Rival, Wants Patent Law Protection” and “Blockchain Market Continues to Grow as Record Number of Patents Were Filed in 2017″ (we covered the subject before).

All of these patents are bogus, bunk software patents. They’re a waste of time and paper. NBC Right Now is responsible for the latter article which says this:

According to a research report published by Global Market Insights, the blockchain market size is expected to surpass USD 16 Billion by 2024. The blockchain technology builds a secure record of transactions between two parties, eliminating the need for a third-party intermediary. The technology was first applied in cryptocurrency and now, it is widely used in various industry. The market is expected to witness rapid growth as the technology can significantly reduce the cost of operation and enhance efficiency for businesses. As a result, the financial sector is expected to benefit the most from the development of the technology. Victory Square Technologies Inc. (OTC: VSQTF), Pareteum Corporation (NYSE: TEUM), Seven Stars Cloud Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: SSC), Appian Corporation (NASDAQ: APPN), Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (NYSE: BBVA).

Well, measuring adoption of something in terms of patent applications is lying. It’s hype.

Separately, an article was published to say that “China Accelerates Blockchain Patent Activity” — merely a reminder that China is the only large economy in the world which officially permits — at its own peril — patents on software. To quote the nonsensical sentences which precede it all:

In tech, innovation is everything. In innovation, intellectual property is, well, almost everything — it can be the hardware, the software, the processes that comes from the creative endeavor. You might consider patents a form of competitive advantage.

News came last week that, when it comes to patents tied to the blockchain landscape, Thomson Reuters has found that China, and Alibaba, have had an outsized showing, and seem to be accelerating their patent filing activity.

The said Reuters article was covered here last weekend. What it arguably shows is a bunch of large firms — including banks — looking to guard themselves from competition and therefore creating a patent thicket. How does this contribute to innovation? Moreover, how are such patents not abstract? Many of these firms just stockpile lots of these patents, knowing that if leveraged inside or outside the court ‘in bulk’ they would be hard (and expensive) to invalidate/disprove exhaustively. It’s troubling to see patent offices playing along. We’ve been talking about this for a very long time.

09.06.18

The Eastern District of Texas and Patent Courts Elsewhere Are Eating Huawei, But Huawei Also Uses These US Patent Courts to Prey on Its Competitors Outside China

Posted in America, Asia at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In China Huawei enjoys favourable treatment/courts because Huawei is connected to the government

Huawei

Summary: The flawed notion that US patent law would somehow guard the US from competition in Asia overlooks the simple fact that companies in the Far East, China included, can turn US courts against US companies

THE EPO has much to learn from the mistakes made in the US, resulting in many billions of dollars going down the drain (or into the pockets of lawyers and trolls who produce nothing). There’s no way to prevent oneself from being sued when the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants bogus patents whose validity would cost a fortune to not only dispute but also contest in court. “The resulting Intraspexion product lets enterprise legal departments prevent potential lawsuits before they even start,” says this new press release, marketing a product that almost certainly would not work. They sell a fantasy. There’s no way to track and properly understand millions of patents; moreover, once such patents are asserted in the form of a lawsuit, legal bills come flowing in. Even if one can predict such lawsuits, that cannot facilitate prevention.

The patent maximalists (who profit from excessive lawsuits/litigious culture) nowadays ‘name-drop’ China quite habitually. Like Donald Trump, they just use “China” as a dog-whistle by which to distract with an external bogeyman and push an agenda that has nothing to do with China. It has a lot more to do with Texas and the meta-industry of patent litigation in there. Here’s what a Dallas patent maximalism site published earlier this week. Media in eastern Texas is just celebrating what would likely get used by patent trolls around there — lots of bogus software patents that the USPTO should not have granted. We have meanwhile learned that PanOptis, which we covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4], sued Huawei successfully, owing to an Eastern District of Texas jury, i.e. a venue that markets itself as being patent trolls- or plaintiff-friendly and a jury that rarely understands technical matters. Appeal to the Federal Circuit would likely overturn this judgment.

A patent maximalists’ site wrote about it. Michael Loney said:

Eastern District of Texas jury awards $2.8m for infringement of four standard essential patents and $7.7m for infringement of one patent without a FRAND commitment

An Eastern District of Texas jury has awarded PanOptis $10.6 million in damages, finding that Huawei willfully infringed five PanOptis patents covering wireless communication technology. The case is Optis Wireless Technology v Huawei Technologies.

The term “FRAND” is nonsense; we’ll come to this again in a moment. It isn’t fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND); it’s the exact opposite.

Huawei isn’t really worthy of sympathy; Huawei fell for Microsoft's blackmail campaign and based on action in the Northern District of California — as covered as recently as yesterday — Huawei itself is a patent bully not only in Chinese courts but also American ones. Citing the example of InterDigital (it took 21,000 Technicolor patents some months ago) and Microsoft’s patent war on Android, this new post says:

As I mentioned a month ago, Samsung had a deadline last week for its response to Huawei’s Ninth Circuit appeal lodged with the Federal Circuit against the antisuit (actually, just anti-enforcement) injunction Judge William H. Orrick upheld in the Northern District of California in late June. The U.S. district court will hold a trial in December, and the purpose of the injunction is to bar Huawei from leveraging two Chinese patent injunctions (granted by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court) before Judge Orrick has the chance to adjudicate a related claim.

Like in the court below, Quinn Emanuel, as counsel for Samsung, is defending the Microsoft v. Motorola it once sought to prevent as Motorola’s counsel, while Sidley, then counsel for Microsoft, is trying hard (but not convincingly so far) to distinguish one case from the other.

[...]

I remember that a Chinese court had held that InterDigital was entitled to SEP royalties far below what InterDigital was seeking then and Huawei is seeking now. But that’s the problem when a company is licensor in some cases and licensee in others: once the shoe is on the other foot, the positions one used to take and sometimes even the victories one scored in a different context backfire. Just like Huawei’s U.S. counsel from the Sidley firm is now struggling to distinguish Huawei v. Samsung from what may have been by far the most important triumph of the firm in connection with patent enforcement.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s counsel is making a lot of effort to describe the anti-enforcement injunction as no big deal. That’s necessary because of the international comity considerations involved: it’s about a U.S. court having enjoined a Chinese company (that elected to file a case in San Francisco), not about a U.S. court putting itself above a Chinese court, or putting U.S. law above Chinese law. As Samsung’s brief puts it, the U.S. district court merely sought to “protect its own jurisdiction to decide the controversy now before it” and to “ensur[e] that the U.S. case can also proceed unimpeded.”

The same blog also wrote about Qualcomm a day earlier. Just like Intel in the more distant past, Qualcomm faces antitrust/abuses scrutiny in Korea, Europe and the US (maybe China too one day). There are some press reports on the (US) FTC’s Qualcomm-’busting’ action, which merely compelled Qualcomm to reduce the prices a little. FRAND too is an injustice, as it’s merely a euphemism for something that isn’t Z-RAND (zero cost). It’s a patent tax. One front group said this:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pressed ahead with its challenge of Qualcomm’s licensing practices on Thursday, August 30, asking a California federal court to find that the company is required to license its standard essential patents (SEPs) to rival chipmakers.

The FTC filed its motion for partial summary judgment at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, on August 30. Qualcomm’s competition dispute with the FTC is due to be heard at trial in January 2019.

However, four months before the trial is due to commence, the FTC has asked the court for partial summary judgment that, under the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations Qualcomm committed to when it participated in setting wireless standards, Qualcomm must license its SEPs to rival chip makers.

The Commission’s lawsuit, submitted in January last year, alleges that Qualcomm had unlawfully maintained a monopoly in the market for baseband processors.

Sadly, Qualcomm will continue to tax the entire market. So will Huawei, even in the United States. This is in no way beneficial to customers or valuable for innovation purposes. It’s for rich shareholders of very affluent companies whose goal is to undercut, undermine and undertake the competition worldwide. As we pointed out last year, Chinese companies have begun turning US patent courts (and US patent law) against American companies in their own back yard, notably in the Eastern District of Texas. In order to improve matters one needs to question patent maximalists and their agenda; China now patents vastly more things than the US does because China (SIPO more specifically) barely even pretends to value quality of patents.

BlackBerry/Facebook Patent Battles Will be Won by Patent Lawyers on Both Sides at the Expense of Technical Staff

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawyers want to make themselves relevant again, even if by totally frivolous litigation

Blue waves

Summary: Needless patent battles over abstract patents are fought between two companies whose legal departments look for action which is neither needed nor fruitful

SEVERAL months ago BlackBerry started suing again. It sued with software patents, not with anything-hardware related, and it did that in the US, which seems unwise after 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice. Facebook was one among several targets of these lawsuits.

Facebook’s history with software patents has been mentioned here over the years; it typically responds with patent lawsuits if threatened with lawsuits or ultimately sued.

“Only the lawyers (whose advice was taken when starting this mess) will make a fortune in the process. “The latest (as per this week’s news, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) isn’t surprising. Facebook is suing back. As BlackBerry and Facebook wrestle in courts over patents take it as a reminder that only lawyers will profit from this. Technical people will be able to do less, as their budget (salaries) may decline and only the “legal” departments will claim that it’s desirable. We saw the same thing in Apple’s battles against Samsung, which lasted many years and resulted in a feeble settlement, obviating the need for any lawsuits (none were necessary in the first place). As someone told me a few hours ago: “This whole notion of patent infringement by Facebook (and others) is a total nonsense. Companies hold large numbers of patents that overlap with those held by other companies. Lawsuits only come out to leverage the other company – either politically or for some trade gain.”

“The underlying patents are software patents which are toothless.”Media that is focused on patenting misses the point. To be fair to Facebook, BlackBerry started it. It’s reactionary/retaliatory for Facebook to sue BlackBerry. As WIPR put it:

Social media platform Facebook continued a patent war with BlackBerry yesterday, after it accused the Canadian company of infringing several inventions, including voice-messaging technology.

The complaint was filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Facebook alleged that BlackBerry has infringed six patents: US numbers 8,429,231; 7,567,575; 6,356,841; 7,228,432; 6,744,759; and 7,302,698.

The patents protect different technology developed by Facebook including instant voice messaging, telephone service configuration, computer security, personalised multimedia services, and a GPS management system.

Watch how these lawsuits go almost nowhere and likely result in some undisclosed (to the public) settlement that is beneficial (or desirable) to neither company. Only the lawyers (whose advice was taken when starting this mess) will make a fortune in the process. The underlying patents are software patents which are toothless.

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