Section 101 is like patent reform 101
Summary: A look at two contrasting stories, one in Asia where patent litigation and hype are on the rise (same in Europe due to the EPO) and another in the US where a lot of patents face growing uncertainty and a high invalidation rate
AS SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS often insist, copyrights are enough for them. These protect against misuse, plagiarism and so on. Software patents, given the inability to inspect binary files and properly study them, don’t add any more protection.
A patent law firm from South Korea (i.e. parasites that make no actual software) started the week by trying to make a case for software patents (see the above screenshot). Here is the opening part which speaks of rejection of such patents:
In recent years, there has been substantial interest in changing existing law and practice in order to expand the protection for computer program inventions. The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) sought to enact such a change by officially releasing its revised Examination Guidelines for Computer-Related Inventions on July 1 2014. Three months later, an amendment bill to the Patent Act was submitted to the National Assembly, which attempted to broaden the scope of protection for computer-related inventions (eg, by opening up the possibility of patentees bringing infringement claims against online sellers of an allegedly infringing computer program, something which would not be subject to infringement liability under the guidelines). The National Assembly seemed to recognise that the proposed amendments could have profound effects on the software industry and thus rejected them, noting that more opinions from the industry were needed to gain a consensus on this issue.
As we have already seen in the case of LG and Samsung, Microsoft utilises software patents so as to extort OEMs in South Korea and this month it is pursuing even more money, in essence trying to tax Linux (we wrote about that twice last week). In addition to that, Microsoft creates and arms patent trolls that go after Linux and/or Android. We gave many examples of that in the past and earlier this month we warned that patent trolling was becoming commonplace in China and other countries in east Asia. IAM ‘magazine’ does not quite see what the problem is and today it has this new article about a silent passage of patents to Oppo, after concerns about the US ITC targeting companies in Taiwan (where many products are actually made) without even a proper trial, imposing massive sanctions that are absolute and ruinous. When companies such as Microsoft use the US ITC in an attempt to simply embargo the competition, using patents that are often dubious (USPTO does a shoddy job), everybody loses. Regarding the problem of trolls in Asia, we see more and more articles from IAM. In the US, says IAM, trolling activity has gone down and Joff Wild finally uses the T word (troll):
The week before last I hosted a webinar for IAM Market entitled Readying a Patent Portfolio for Sale: What You Need to Know to Be Successful. Over 350 people signed up to get the materials and the recording, while close to 200 listened live as presenter Kent Richardson, a partner at Silicon Valley-based Richardson Oliver Law Group, talked through his slides and then answered questions from me and from attendees. It was a fascinating hour, which my colleague Jack Ellis has written up in a blog for the IAM Market knowledge centre (where there are also details about how you can get hold of the presentation, talk and interview).
This week I am in Gothenburg for the CIP Forum and yesterday at a session about defensive patent aggregation something that Kent (who is also here and took part in the session) said during the webinar came back to me. As a firm that does a lot of transaction-based work, ROL closely monitors activity in the patents sales market, in particular packages being offered by brokers. IAM subscribers will know that each year ROL produces an update for us about the activity it is seeing in areas such as pricing, sales rates, package sizes and so on – the next one will be published in issue 81 of IAM, which comes out at the end of November. One of the things it is set to show, Kent stated in our conversation, is that prices finally seem to have stabilised, essentially because they probably could not go any lower, and that for the first time it looks like operating companies are buying more than NPEs are.
Coming from a trolls denialist, the above is interesting. If it’s true that trolls have shrunk somewhat (in terms of activity like litigation and acquisitions), then we suspect it has a lot to do with the demise of software patents, as we foresaw all along. Later today we’ll show how the US patent microcosm tries to change things for the worse again. █
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Summary: Microsoft-connected patent trolls like Larry Horn’s MobileMedia are still attacking Microsoft rivals and Microsoft wants more money from Korea, after it attacked Linux with software patents over there (notably Samsung and LG)
“US Pat RE39231,” wrote a patent attorney, eventually meant that “Apple Must Pat MobileMedia $3M for Infringing this Patent” (MobileMedia is not as real company and we wrote about it before, in relation to MPEG-LA and Larry Horn; we wrote about him in [1, 2]).
How many people out there know that MPEG-LA is a patent troll whose head himself is/was a patent troll? Not many people know this. Horn relies on dishonest lawyers from Proskauer Rose and sues Apple, which itself is part of MPEG-LA (we already took note of how bizarre this is).
Well, “Apple loses ringtone infringement case to Nokia and Sony’s patent troll firm,” according to the headline of this report. To quote: “Apple has been ordered to pony up $3 million in damages by a Delaware judge for infringing the patent of a firm partially owned by Sony and Nokia. The case, which has been running since way back in 2010, saw MobileMedia Ideas originally accuse Apple on 16 counts of patent infringement. Six years and plenty of court activity later, the original claim has been whittled down to just one patent pertaining to iPhone ringer alerts, for which MobileMedia has been awarded a tidy sum of money.”
A patent troll connected to Nokia — a legacy of Microsoft entryism and subsequent passage of patents to trolls like MOSAID — is somewhat of a pattern we’ve seen a lot of recently. Android too is being targeted by these trolls.
“MobileMedia Ideas just won a Delaware trial against Apple over a former Sony patent,” Florian Müller wrote about it. “May file further lawsuit now over iPhone 4S and later.”
Tom O’Reilly from Mobile Media Ideas is advertising for this patent troll. He passed around the press release “MobileMedia Ideas Wins Trial against Apple” and it said:
(CHEVY CHASE, MD, US – 21 September 2016) – MobileMedia Ideas LLC is pleased to announce that the US District Court for the District of Delaware today found MobileMedia Ideas’ “polite-ignore” patent (Re 39,231) for mobile phone call silencing valid and infringed by the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4 and awarded $3M in damages. The case did not include the iPhone 4S, 5/5C/5S and 6/6 Plus on which there may be further proceedings. The patent was filed in 1994 by Sony Corporation, a pioneer in the development of mobile and other consumer electronics technology, and is now part of the patent portfolio licensed by MobileMedia Ideas.
MobileMedia Ideas President and CEO Larry Horn said, “We thank the jury for its service and hard work. This case could have been avoided by the taking of a license, however. MobileMedia Ideas’ business model is based on offering reasonable licenses to a valuable portfolio of important inventions widely practiced across a broad array of mobile phone and other portable products. We still welcome Apple to respect intellectual property developed by others with the taking of a license.”
MobileMedia Ideas was represented by a team of litigators at Proskauer Rose led by Steve Bauer and Kim Mottley of the Boston office.
In relation to an article/report mentioned here earlier this week, there is now an important update. Coming from the Korea Times, it says that the tax authority is likely to reject Microsoft’s appeal for refund of tax. To quote the opening parts:
The South Korean tax authority is expected to reject an appeal by U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. to refund 634 billion won ($575.7 million) in a withholding tax, according to the tax authority and industry sources Thursday.
Microsoft filed complaints last month against the National Tax Service (NTS), seeking a refund of the withholding taxes paid by Samsung Electronics Co. to the NTS for using the software giant’s patents.
When will Microsoft pay the tax it has evaded? Above the law, still? A lot of the above sum comes from Linux-powered devices (we wrote about this many times before).
Those who believe that Microsoft has changed surely aren’t paying attention to what it does through patent trolls, through Nokia (which Microsoft demanded should pass patents to trolls), and in various distant countries like Korea. Microsoft just became a little more covert in its war against Linux. █
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“Called “patent sharks”, they bought dormant agricultural patents and then sued farmers who were unknowingly using protected technology. This brass knuckles tactic outraged rural activists and led to the same calls for sweeping patent reform that we hear now.” —Gerard N. Magliocca, Blackberries and Barnyards: Patent Trolls and the Perils of Innovation
Summary: The unwanted elements of the patent system (as it stands at present) illuminated by very recent news and patent court cases
WE sometimes worry that our growing focus on the EPO has distracted somewhat from the patent quality problems at the USPTO. We spend an enormous amount of time looking into patent news from all around the world and occasionally something catches our eye that needs a quick comment but not a comprehensive rebuttal. Herein we lay out some recent patent news, with or without further comment.
“Patents cannot be used defensively, only as means of retaliation (M.A.D.) so that both sides suffer and only lawyers win (they profit from patent wars irrespective of the outcome).”When it comes to patents, rules vary wildly depending on the country. Here we have Switzerland-based site praising its own country on patents, but it’s only part of the story because for a rich country to have a lot of patents makes a lot of fiscal sense, for reasons we explained last month. The Swiss patent system and the role of Switzerland in the EPO requires taking into account Switzerland’s rather unique economy.
According to the patents-centric media, Judge Koh, probably best known in recent years for her involvement in Apple and Samsung trials, is still going strong. “The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 13-7 to approve the nomination of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to the Ninth Circuit,” says this report.
One article, this one coming from a niche Web site, wrongly assumes that ‘app’ (buzzword, usually meaning software for mobile devices) development requires patents. If you develop a mobile ‘app’ and waste time/effort worrying about patents on software, then you’re probably doing it wrong and wasting resources. Patents cannot be used defensively, only as means of retaliation (M.A.D.) so that both sides suffer and only lawyers win (they profit from patent wars irrespective of the outcome). Deterrence using patents does not exist when trolls are involved.
“Microsoft had extorted HTC using patents as well; HTC chose to settle to avoid legal action and potential embargoes.”“Apple Was Hit with a $22M Verdict for Infringing an Acacia Patent,” wrote a patent attorney the other day. Acacia is a Microsoft-connected patent troll. As for Apple, when it sued HTC 6 years ago it showed that it too was quite a patent bully. “According to the complaint,” says another new report, HTC is being sued again and “the plaintiff [Infogation] alleges that Infogation Corp. suffered damages to its business from having its patent infringed. The plaintiff holds HTC Corp. and HTC America Inc. responsible because the defendants allegedly manufacture and distribute mobile phones containing software that infringes the plaintiff’s patents.”
They just can’t leave HTC alone, can they? Microsoft had extorted HTC using patents as well; HTC chose to settle to avoid legal action and potential embargoes. Speaking of embargoes (or injunctions), another example of the ITC being exploited for embargoes (using patent allegations before even a proper trial) can be seen in this new press release. So much for promoting innovation, eh? Promoting racketeering maybe… Microsoft has used the ITC for embargoes using patents for nearly a decade now.
“What’s a Patent Worth?”
“Patents are a lot like financial bubbles and are also an instrument of tax evasion some of the time.”That’s the headline of this article which says: “When a technology business fails, and the flesh of the going concern is stripped away, often the only thing that remains is a paper skeleton of potentially valuable patents. In 2011, Nortel Networks’ patent portfolio of wireless technology patents sold for $4.5 billion. A few years later in 2013, Kodak’s portfolio of digital imaging patents brought in $525 million. Now, Yahoo’s patent portfolio of nearly 3,000 patents is on the block, and experts estimate that it could sell for $1 billion. While “expert” valuations are not always accurate, (Nortel’s portfolio was initially valued at $1 billion, and Kodak’s portfolio was initially valued at $2.2-2.6 million; see http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/the-lowballing-of-kodaks-patent-portfolio) the estimates for Yahoo’s portfolio work out to more than $300,000 per patent, well in excess of the cost of acquisition.”
As we explained before, Yahoo’s patents are mostly software patents, thus they’re pretty worthless right now (after Alice).
Patents are a lot like financial bubbles and are also an instrument of tax evasion some of the time.
Hartig Drug Co. v Senju Pharmaceutical Co.
“Microsoft does this a lot to vendors that sell GNU/Linux, Chrome OS, and Android devices. It’s a form of extortion, depending on how it’s done and how severe the threats are, quality of patents (if disclosed) aside.”A patent maximalism site said about a fortnight ago: “Perhaps one of the most influential first year law school classes for the task of learning how to “think like a lawyer” is civil procedure. Particularly when the professor is bold enough to engage students on the intricacies of the topic, its intricacies can make for a challenging final exam. These experiences should come to mind for many antitrust lawyers when considering the Third Circuit’s decision in Hartig Drug Co. v. Senju Pharmaceutical Co., where the Court applied subject matter jurisdiction principles to reverse a District Court’s dismissal of Hartig’s antitrust allegations on the pleadings.”
Notice the antitrust element of it. It’s quite common when it comes to patent monopolies.
Asetek v AVC
“Patent lawyers say we need to respect patents, but they sure don’t respect copyrights some of the time.”This recent coverage of a case involving patents on cooling systems is also noteworthy. To quote: “The Asetek patents cover liquid cooling systems used to cool integrated circuits (such as those on a computer). Over the past several years, Asetek has sued several competitors for infringing the patents including CoolIT and Cooler Master. In 2014, Asetek sent AVC a letter accusing the company of infringing — however the letter mistakenly accuesd AVC of manufacturing the Liqmax 120s (it does not). After some letters back-and-forth, Asetek eventually sent a letter that it “believes that AVC is likely selling other infringing products in the United States.” After an unsuccessful meeting, AVC filed its declaratory judgment action. The question is whether these facts are sufficient to show an actual controversy between the parties.”
So this can formally become a lawsuit pretty soon, unless money is coughed out in pre-trial settlement. This too often turns out to be of an antitrust nature. Microsoft does this a lot to vendors that sell GNU/Linux, Chrome OS, and Android devices. It’s a form of extortion, depending on how it’s done and how severe the threats are, quality of patents (if disclosed) aside.
Stryker v Zimmer
Earlier this month we found some coverage of the case at MIP which explained: “The Federal Circuit has affirmed the jury’s finding of wilful infringement but vacated and remanded the district court’s award of treble damages, in its Stryker v Zimmer decision”
“Patent lawyers are so dishonest about so-called innovation, so why not plagiarise too?”We wrote about Stryker/Halo in the past. “The jury awarded Striker [sic] $70 million in lost profits,” explains another site. “On appeal,” it added, “the Federal Circuit affirmed as to infringement, validity and damages. [...] Most of the new Stryker opinion involves a recitation of the Federal Circuit’s previous opinion affirming the district court as to infringement and validity. The last three pages, however, deal with the § 284 enhancement issue on remand. What’s interesting is that the Federal Circuit is maintaining its bifurcated approach to enhancement of damages, first requiring a predicate willfulness determination followed by the judge’s discretionary determination of whether and how much to enhance damages. This is essentially the same process as before. See i4i Ltd. Partnership v. Microsoft Corp., 598 F.3d 831 (2010). Pre-Halo, the second step of the process (the district judge’s determination of whether and how much to enhance damages) was a totality-of-the circumstances analysis that was reviewed for abuse of discretion (i.e.: basically the same as the court required in Halo). Id. The Federal Circuit’s post-Halo approach to enhancement involves the same two steps, with the exception that the willfulness determination itself is guided by the holding in Halo rather than requiring the two-element objective/subjective determination of Halo. (The enhancement determination is too, but it’s hard to see much difference there.) Under Halo, the subjective component alone can be enough to establish willfulness.”
This was very good news for patent trolls. It still is.
Patent Lawyers and Plagiarism
“It sure looks as though patent trolling is a ‘thing’ in east Asia right now…”Patent lawyers say we need to respect patents, but they sure don’t respect copyrights some of the time. There is even plagiarism reported and potentially a lawsuit to provide evidence of it. “This creates some very interesting problems for lawyers,” said a patents pundit, “and calls to my mind the case a few years ago where a patent prosecutor was sued for using language from a patent in a specification for another client. I’m not a copyright lawyer, and so just raise this case for you to think.”
Patent lawyers are so dishonest about so-called innovation, so why not plagiarise too? Another article by Dennis Crouch speaks of patent malpractice today. It’s part of an outline of upcoming SCOTUS cases. To quote the introduction:
The Supreme Court will begin granting and denying petitions in early October. Meanwhile, several new petitions are now on file. Last week I wrote about the TC Heartland case as a mechanism for limiting venue. Without any good reason, the Federal Circuit overruled a 1957 Supreme Court case that had strictly limited patent venue as spelled out in the patent venue statute 1400(b). See VE Holdings (explaining its overruling of Fourco Glass). A result of VE Holdings is the expansive venue availability that facilitated the rise of E.D. Texas as the most popular patent venue. TC Heartland simply asks the Supreme Court reassert its Fourco holding – something that could almost be done with a one-line opinion: “REVERSED. See Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222 (1957).” The best arguments for the Federal Circuit’s approach are (1) the reasoning of Fourco itself is a bit dodgy; and (2) VE Holdings is well settled doctrine (decided 26 years ago) and Congress has revised the statutory provisions several times without amending. As a side note, several members of Congress have suggested they will act legislatively if SCOTUS fails to act.
Two new petitions (Grunenthal v. Teva and Purdue v. Epic) stem from the same Federal Circuit OxyContin case and focus on anticipation and obviousness respectively. Grunenthal v. Teva questions how ‘inherently’ operates for anticipation purposes. Purdue suggests that – despite the final sentence of Section 103, that the actual circumstances of the invention should be available to help prove non-obviousness (but still not be available to prove obviousness). Another new petition includes the BPCIA case Apotex v. Amgen that serves as a complement to the pending Sandoz case questioning the requirements and benefits of providing notice of commercial marketing.
USPTO is Getting Sued Again
“What they mean by “monetisation” is shakedown or a gentle form of blackmail.”Last week we wrote about fraud at the USPTO, or examiners defrauding taxpayers as Florian Müller and others chose to frame it. According to this article, the USPTO has another embarrassment to cope with. To quote: “In Hyatt v. USPTO, Civ. No. 16-1490 (D.Nevada, Filed June 22, 2016), Hyatt asks for injunctive relief to stop the PTO from repeatedly ‘reopening prosecution’ in his cases and consequently shielding the cases from judicial review by either the PTAB or Article III courts. Hyatt is experiencing the common reality of examiners reopening prosecution once an appeal brief is filed.”
The Ts: Patent Tax and Trolls
“Well, patents on corn oil extraction are deemed invalid by a court, probably because the USPTO just issues a patent for every piece of paper that comes in, leaving courts to clean up their mess.”In recent weeks we wrote about what had happened in east Asia, where patent trolling is becoming an epidemic. It sure looks as though patent trolling is a ‘thing’ in east Asia right now and here is IAM writing about a new non-practicing entity (IAM would never use the T word). To quote: “Just over a month since display maker Sharp came under the formal control of Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), big changes to its IP operations are already in the offing. Nikkei Asian Review reported on Tuesday that the Japanese company’s IP function would be hived off into a separate IP management company on October 3rd, with one goal being to create more value from Sharp’s massive global patent portfolio. Speaking exclusively to IAM, Foxconn IP chief YP Jou confirmed how the responsibilities for the Sharp portfolio will be divided within the sprawling Foxconn IP apparatus, and revealed the team’s priority when it comes to monetisation.”
What they mean by “monetisation” is shakedown or a gentle form of blackmail. Speaking of so-called ‘monetisation’, this new report says that “[f]ive big holders of cellular patents, including Qualcomm Inc., are joining an effort proposed by Ericsson AB to jointly license patents in an emerging field called the Internet of Things.”
“Some person with an MBA spreads some myths about patents right now, as if companies just can’t do without them.”Here comes the patent tax to surveillance of all Things (IoT). “Qualcomm has long derived a chunk of their revenue from licensing,” said this one person, “so this isn’t a big change for them.”
Qualcomm also came under heavy regulatory scrutiny for it. Watch what IAM wrote about this. These guys are looking at the surveillance of all Things (IoT) only from the point of view of patents; yes, patents alone.
Patents on Corny Stuff
“Unless we get engineers to enter the political systems, we’ll continue to have lawyers with their lawyer buddies from college writing laws, including patent laws.”Well, patents on corn oil extraction are deemed invalid by a court, probably because the USPTO just issues a patent for every piece of paper that comes in, leaving courts to clean up their mess. This new press release says that “GreenShift Corporation (OTCQB: GERS) provided an update regarding the ongoing patent infringement action involving GreenShift’s subsidiary, GS CleanTech Corporation (“CleanTech”), and its corn oil extraction patents.”
Corporate Domination of IP [sic] Law
Some person with an MBA spreads some myths about patents right now, as if companies just can’t do without them. Watch the corporate sob story: “It’s clear the current system is working for no one except those who want money for nothing. America’s inventive spirit has been the lifeblood of our economic growth for generations, moving us from horse-drawn carriages to electric cars in just over a century. Missteps by the courts, Congress, and the Patent Office have threatened to drive that underground, unwittingly rewarding a few large corporations happy to profit off the work of others at no cost to themselves. That’s not the American way.”
“…TPP threatens to spread software patents almost everywhere. It is a truly villainous back room deal and it should be crushed.”What he is trying to say is that people accused of infringement “want money for nothing” and that it’s the “American way” to give large companies monopolies, so as to prevent others from competing. He advocates protectionism, not an American way. Unless we get engineers to enter the political systems, we’ll continue to have lawyers with their lawyer buddies from college writing laws, including patent laws. It’s the sad truth. Here is another new lawyers’ congregation (EPIP) where they speak ‘on behalf’ of inventors, developers etc. Notice the “IP” in the event’s name. The notion of so-called ‘IP’ (an umbrella for several totally separate things) helps mislead people into equating patents with copyrights and secrets; this event wasn’t about patents as it covered other aspects of so-called ‘IP’ (an umbrella for several totally separate things) and when people say “IP” we should always ask them to be specific. IP means nothing; copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets do. Here is how EPIP started: “The plenary session kicked off with Professor Rochelle Dreyfuss highlighting the expansion of trade secrets protection globally, and the worrying potential unintended consequences. There are increasing concerns that trade secrets and economic espionage law in the US is being used to racially profile researchers. (Interesting coverage on the targeting of Chinese-American researchers here.) Dreyfuss discussed the potential negative impact of non-compete clauses on innovation, employees and economic growth. She argued that criminalisation related to trade secrets generates an especially strong chilling effect as high-tech workers are unwilling to risk incarceration. Dreyfuss also observed that TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) does not create a minimum trade secrets standard, and is trying to express a new norm that information shouldn’t be free.”
Just to remind readers, TPP threatens to spread software patents almost everywhere. It is a truly villainous back room deal and it should be crushed. █
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“Anyone who says they’re good for you is a liar, or badly informed. And hiding patents behind copyright & trademarks in “intellectual property” is like sugar hiding behind fat and salt. Patents are the sugar of technology.” –Pieter Hintjens, yesterday [1, 2]
The patent maximalists view patents like the war industry views bombs
Summary: The latest fine example of the mentality or the mindset of people who are making money from peddling patents even when these are not needed, let alone desirable
EARLIER THIS month we wrote about the rise of patent trolls in east Asia. There are several new examples of that and regarding a case which we covered here before Dr. Glyn Moody has published “Chinese State Patent Troll Absorbed By Smartphone Maker Xiaomi, Adding To Its Patent Hoard”, citing the same report that we did (from IAM). “The absorption of Ruichuan IPR Funds by Xiaomi,” he explained, “which must have taken place with the Chinese government’s approval — is clearly part of the same strategy of bulking up in the patent department as it prepares to expand abroad. The big question is whether Xiaomi is planning to use its new portfolio purely defensively, so that it can sign cross-licensing deals, or whether it will start going on the offense and sue Western companies in their home markets too.”
As Moody noted a few months ago, China is now using Texas courts to sue large US companies, more or less like trolls, proving that the trigger-happy system in the US can actually work against the US and undermine its dominance in the area of technology.
“IAM views the deal as just a bunch of patents, but it’s the kind of misguided view which assumes patents are physical assets.”IAM has published quite a few articles recently about Japan alone [1, 2, 3, 4] and in them we see IAM’s loaded statements and headlines, insinuating that because patents are being used for corporate wars in Japan it means that patents are desirable. That’s the same logic as “there are many wars, thus we need nuclear weapons” (irrespective of their effect or death toll, not just mutually-assured destruction). Another newer article mentioned the acquisition by HP of Samsung’s printer business (or a bundle of Samsung patents if one thinks the IAM way) and added that “Samsung Electronics announced yesterday that it had reached an agreement to sell its printer business to HP for $1.05 billion. The deal, which will see Samsung shed a significant number of IP assets, marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Korean company as it seeks to slim down and refocus on core business areas.”
Samsung has a large number of patents (the largest by some criteria, as measured in particular patent offices), but the company rarely if even uses them to sue. It’s not quite in the Korean tradition (the same goes for LG). IAM views the deal as just a bunch of patents, but it’s the kind of misguided view which assumes patents are physical assets. The use of the term “IP”, moreover, is misleading. █
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Maybe they can do some ‘knowledge transfer’ regarding purges
Summary: Benoît Battistelli keeps scraping the bottom of the barrel by meeting with notorious tyrants and leaders from nations which have virtually nothing to do with the EPO (no patents)
YESTERDAY the EPO reinforced our observation that Battistelli has turned the EPO into something that nobody wishes to be associated with, not even in the world of politics. The exceptions are typically tyrants or politicians from notorious countries that have virtually no European Patents (e.g. in Latin America).
“One can judge an Office and a President based on the company s/he keeps…”From the country best known for Pol Pot (studied in Paris, just like Battistelli) and French colonisation we now have this new Battistelli charade [caution: EPO can probably track clicks on this]. It’s almost as if people from respected nations don’t want to be seen with Battistelli (not anymore), so he races to the bottom for photo ops. Can someone from the EPO (or from patent agents) please check for us how many European Patents exist in the database from Cambodia? According to the EPO’s media people, “EPO President Benoît Battistelli hosted the delegation, which was led by Senior Minister Cham Prasidh, Minister of Industry and Handicraft, and also included Cambodia’s Ambassador to Germany, Thai Chun.”
We look forward to Battistelli’s IP talks with Iran, North Korea, and maybe even Libya. One can judge an Office and a President based on the company s/he keeps… █
Update: it has meanwhile come to our attention that the number of European Patents from Cambodia is 0. Yes, zero! Well done, Battistelli.
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Bad policies and inability to learn lessons from the failed experiment in the US
Hazy forecast for an increasingly greedy Asian industry (photograph/source: “Smoke from Indonesian fires hits ‘unhealthy’ levels in Singapore as authorities push to hunt offenders”)
Summary: Patent maximalism and patent hoards which include software patents cause a climate of fear and confrontation, not innovation or collective prosperity
THE ONLY region other than the US where software patents exist is east Asia, although there too there are limitations (there are no software patents in India, Europe and arguably not in Australia either, definitely not in New Zealand and South Africa).
Looking at a new article by the Intepat Team from India, they mostly explore how to get patents in other countries, notably Europe and the US. They’re trying to make money by doing in other countries what they cannot do in India because activists (not just Indians) guard against corporate lobbyists and patent lawyers. In Singapore, by contrast, software patents exist (there is also a large Indian population there) and MIP has this new article regarding Singapore, titled “Inventors, investors and software patents” (as if these three things are connected, as per the myth).
“InnovFest unBound,” MIP said, “showcased Asia’s most innovative media and healthcare technologies. Presentations from fintech companies, multi-national media and software companies and global product giants emphasised the need to protect the IP underpinning new technologies and new products.”
That’s nonsense. It’s basically software patents lobbying in thin disguise. Consider Creative of Singapore becoming a de facto patent troll because it can no longer sell actual products (or can hardly sell anything before patents expire). It’s truly embarrassing not just for Creative but also for Singapore; the company reaffirms its new status as “patent troll” in Texas with yet another lawsuit, this time targeting the British (soon Japanese) ARM and the Singaporean regime’s mouthpiece (notorious media company) wrote:
Creative Technology yesterday said its wholly owned subsidiary ZiiLabs Inc has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States against tech firm ARM.
ZiiLabs owns over 80 US patents in the graphics, processor and 3D spaces.
Four of these patents were asserted in the lawsuit, in which ZiiLabs is claiming damages for patent infringement, and an injunction against ARM.
The lawsuit was filed on Sept 2 in the Eastern District of Texas.
Creative was a decent company in the 1990s (I used their hardware and their software). They ran out of business plans, they might soon go out of business, and thus they are becoming patent parasites. Is this the kind of ‘entrepreneurship’ Singapore wants to be known for? Patent trolling? And with software patents, too?
Elsewhere in the patent microcosm, IAM has a series of new articles about patents in Asia and Jack admits that “patent filings and patent ownership alone cannot give anything like a full account of an organisation’s innovative capacity.”
So why are they so often peddling this myth at IAM? Here is another new IAM article, implicitly or tacitly acknowledging that South Korea has a patent bubble which is already imploding. Similar things seem to be happening in Japan and China is sweeping up the dust. To quote IAM: “In the wake of Foxconn’s historic $3.5 billion purchase of a majority stake in Sharp, streamlining and rationalisation of the Japanese company’s extensive IP portfolio are high on the agenda for its new Taiwanese owners.”
Despite having a pile of patents, Sharp is worth only about a tenth of ARM (which is British, at least until the acquisition is complete). In China, says MIP, “Computer software accounts for about 40% of cases in the Shanghai court” (so they’re becoming more like the USPTO with low quality control and software patents). An article about China from IAM says “Zhigu and Ruichuan are now controlled by a single operating company [and it] would seem to cement the idea that they’re in a separate category from IP Bridge and Intellectual Discovery. In the absence of some kind of public deal that shows the fund licensing patents or intervening in litigation on behalf of a Chinese company that isn’t Xiaomi, it may be time to stop characterising it as a sovereign fund.”
This again emulates the kind of trolls-infested patent landscape we see in the United States. Why would Asian nations wish to shoot themselves in the foot like this? Regarding China, IAM has another article about patents as instruments of tax evasion, using the kind of loopholes we already see in Europe (e.g. patent boxes, which are tax evasion scams). IAM should know this in light of its coverage about Apple in Europe (see “Europe’s multi-billion dollar tax ruling against Apple throws treatment of IP assets into spotlight”).
The bottom line is, the way things are going in Asia are not encouraging. They fail to heed the warning of US patent chaos and troll infestation. Asia is, in a sense, becoming a powerhouse for potential patent trolls (we recently covered notable new examples of Chinese companies going to the US to sue US companies using patents, typically in plaintiff-friendly courts like those down in Texas). █
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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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