SIPO, China (Sina), Singapore and the failure to learn the West’s tough lessons
Summary: Disintegration of Intellectual Ventures (further shrinkage after losing software patents at CAFC), China’s massive patent bubble, and Singapore’s implicit invitation/facilitation of patent trolls (bubble economy)
IAM ‘magazine’, the unofficial voice of patent trolls, seems happy with the migration (or outsourcing) of troll activity to east Asia. That’s why IAM writes so much about Asia these days (as does MIP), except when it grooms the world's biggest troll and Microsoft’s vast patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, which now continues its slow death based on IAM’s latest blog (filled with promotional language). After patents were ‘imported’ from Kodak they apparently move back to east Asia:
Intellectual Ventures has sold a portfolio of around 4,000 former Kodak patents to Dominion Harbor in another sign that the IP giant is actively slimming down its vast portfolio.
This is the fourth deal that IV has done with Dominion, including one in November last year which saw around 50 assets change hands. The firm also sold patents to Equitable IP, the monetisation business led by former ICAP Patent Brokerage CEO Dean Becker, as it has upped its rate of disposals. This blog also reported last year on the disposal of assets to a company called China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) by what appeared to be an IV vehicle. But none of those deals approach the size of the Kodak transaction with Dominion.
This kind of shift or passage of patents to China was frequently seen in previous years when large Chinese companies bought patents by the thousands. These were bought from the West, where post-AIA patent values diminished. We gave numerous examples of that and last year, naming — amongst others — Singapore, which reportedly doubles down on patent trolling (after Creative had made it (in)famous in 2016, by trolling very major companies in Singapore [1, 2]). This is what IAM wrote with highly sanitised language (e.g. trolling described as “IP value creation” by “patent monetisation entities”):
A new Singapore government report recommends “bringing in” or creating patent monetisation entities, as well as other kinds of other intermediary, to boost the country’s IP commercialisation capabilities.
Published earlier this week, the report comes from the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), which was established in January 2016 to review Singapore’s longer term economic strategy. Among seven broad strategy recommendations made one to “strengthen enterprise capabilities to innovate and scale up”, with IP value creation a central pillar.
East Asian patent systems not only lowered their patent bar (China’s in particular) but also fostered a lot of litigation — a grave mistake which brings rise to trolls. The trend is noteworthy because some of these Chinese lawsuits are nowadays being filed by Chinese companies in the US and the EU. These chickens will come home and abroad to roost. █
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Summary: SoftBank grabbed headlines (in the West at least) when it bought ARM, but will it soon grab headlines for going after practicing companies using a bunch of patents that it got from Inventergy, ARM, and beyond?
The SoftBank Group is a very large group (nearly 70,000 employees) and has a big stake in China, which is a growing market for patent trolls — a subject which we wrote about several times last year.
“We certainly hope that what IAM is showing does not suggest that ARM’s patents too — some time down the line perhaps — can become a weapon of coercion just like Qualcomm’s.”Is Softbank, the new owner of ARM, becoming a patent troll (at least in part)? Based on IAM, “Fortress moved into IP finance four years back when Eran Zur, Joseph Kessler and other former senior RPX employees joined the firm.” RPX's latest woes (more background in our Wiki) seem to suggest that it’s in the process of collapse (a privatisation was attempted, leading to an ouster). IAM notes “that Fortress is no longer publicly traded [and it] could be helpful in any monetisation effort it undertakes with the Inventergy patents or others. But that is assuming Softbank wants to be an NPE owner.”
NPE is just a polite term for “patent troll” — a term which IAM does not like to use because several of IAM’s sources of income are patent trolls and it organises events to launder the reputation of trolls. Yesterday it wrote about “arguments over “patent trolls” and “efficient infringers” and often broad disagreements over patent values,” which basically frames “patent trolls” as a made up concept and says “efficient infringers” — a propaganda term of patent maximalists (which IAM nowadays uses even without scare quotes).
We certainly hope that what IAM is showing does not suggest that ARM’s patents too — some time down the line perhaps — can become a weapon of coercion just like Qualcomm's. █
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The epidemic broke out outside of Texas, where Rodney Gilstrap (below) had bred them with favourable rulings
Summary: A roundup of the latest news about patent trolls and what they are up to in the United States, Europe, and Asia
Rodney Gilstrap, whom we wrote about before [1, 2], may have had a good run facilitating/norturing patent trolls, but his court may later this year be dealt a very major blow from the Supreme Court, which found merit in a complaint about District Courts like the trolls’ docket (Eastern District of Texas).
According to this MIP report, the trolls’ favourite judge, Rodney Gilstrap in the Eastern District of Texas, allows software patents to tax a Web browser which is based largely on Free software. The toll? $20 million. To quote: “An inventor and his late partner’s family has been awarded $20 million in damages against Google by an Eastern District of Texas jury. In a case presided over by Judge Rodney Gilstrap…”
“Patents in standards (SEP, RAND, FRAND etc.) should not be allowed.”This will hopefully be appealed and eventually reach CAFC or SCOTUS; otherwise a lot of Free software out there, not just Web browsers, may be subjected to patent shakedowns that are too expensive to fight back against.
Once again, based on this separate new report from MIP, CAFC turns out to be a lot more strict on patent scope than District Courts. “The Federal Circuit,” it says about CAFC, “has found Watson did not infringe Shire’s patent for Lialda, noting the “rare” exception established by Norian to the presumptively closed nature of the “consisting of” language…”
The “consisting of” cases have been covered here repeatedly in recent months. It’s not about software patents, but there is still something one can learn from that.
In other news, patent troll MPEG-LA (see background in our Wiki) goes after Huawei, which we wrote about this week in relation to Microsoft proxies attacking it after it had declined to sign patent settlement with Microsoft (paying Microsoft for software that Microsoft never developed). Remember that Microsoft is a prominent member of MPEG-LA and see this tweet where Florian Müller reports “H.264 patent holders and MPEG LA pool contributors suing Huawei and ZTE over alleged infringement. As always with MPEG LA, in Düsseldorf.”
“If a so-called ‘standard’ has patents associated with it, then it ought to be rejected, shunned, or simply deny its adopters the ‘privilege’ to attack other adopters of it.”Müller also took note of this news about BlackBerry suing Nokia. What they have in common is that they are both failed companies that used to make phones (still do, to a lesser degree) but have since since turned into trolls that fight companies, sometimes even in the Eastern District of Texas.
Last night we saw many dozens of articles in English about this (not particularly relevant to software patents which we tend to focus on), including for example “BlackBerry Files Patent-Infringement Suit Against Nokia”, “BlackBerry Launches Patent Lawsuit Against Nokia”, “BlackBerry Slaps Nokia With A Patent Infringement Lawsuit”, “Blackberry Hits Nokia With Suit Over 11 Telecom Patents”, and “BlackBerry sues Nokia over patent infringement”. As the below makes clear, BlackBerry is just interested in a source of income (cash flow) which does not necessitate production or anything. It wants welfare:
BlackBerry has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nokia, demanding royalties on the Finnish company’s mobile network products that use an industry-wide technology standard.
Patents in standards (SEP, RAND, FRAND etc.) should not be allowed. If a so-called ‘standard’ has patents associated with it, then it ought to be rejected, shunned, or simply deny its adopters the ‘privilege’ to attack other adopters of it. █
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Summary: India turns away a foreign corporation that attempts to use patents to shut down (or destroy the business model of) an Indian company
TECHRIGHTS typically focuses on software patents in India when it speaks about India, but it also commends India for adjusting/tuning patent scope based on the interests of the Indian population, not some foreign monopolists. This is why patents on medicine in India (or scarcity thereof) are often cited here.
Recently, based on this report from Spicy IP (a rather popular blog):
On 20 December 2016, Justice RK Gauba of the Delhi High Court heard an interlocutory application under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 of the CPC filed by Bayer Intellectual Property GmbH in a suit concerning IN225529 (3275/DEL/1998) against Ajanta Pharma Ltd. Bayer asserted that the patent covered vardenafil, a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction, and that Ajanta was manufacturing and selling the drug under its brand Valif.
IAM, the patent maximalists, are expectedly unhappy about this. Today they wrote this blog post:
The German pharmaceutical maker had sought – and in December last year received – an injunction stopping Ajanta Pharma from manufacturing or selling its product Valif, which Bayer says infringes its patents on a compound called vardenafil. According to Balaji Subramanian over at SpicyIP, the case looks pretty cut and dry: “As far as the Indian market is concerned, it seems fairly clear that Bayer has exclusive rights to manufacture and market the drug.” But on 29th January, the Delhi High Court amended that injunction so that Ajanta is only prevented from selling and distributing the drug in India itself. The court ordered the Indian company to keep accounts of its overseas sales for potential royalty payments, but it can carry on its business otherwise. Ajanta’s successful argument was based on the fact that Bayer was not “working” the patents in India.
This lack of injunction ‘potency’ in India may be relevant to software patents (although they do not in principle exist in India, except when examiners are tricked into granting). But the main point here is, India recognises that it’s not in its public interest to leave generics vulnerable (rendering a lot of poor people dead). We wrote about one such case in the US just one day ago. What about other patent offices or countries? Well, we shall write about the EPO very soon, showing just how it appears to have climbed up the bed of the pharmaceutical giants.
Also in the news today is this report from IP Watch  (listed in our latest daily links). It shows that India leads the way and fiercely supports this cause, which is putting lives before patents (when patents themselves threaten lives). The above case is about erectile dysfunction (impotence), which isn’t a ‘life or death’ condition, but one can extrapolate from this one case to various more severe situations, including future/prospective cases. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Resistance to high prices for hepatitis C drugs is ongoing as five new challenges against patents have been filed in India and Argentina, according to sources. Those challenges aim at allowing the production and distribution of affordable generic versions of new hepatitis C medicines (direct-acting antivirals).
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Also a megaphone for patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures…
Summary: The lobbying against the interests of India (among other countries that reject patent maximalism) as seen in the trolls-funded IAM ‘magazine’
IT IS widely known and globally recognised that software patents are not valid in India. India is actually quite strict about it, unlike the EPO and USPTO.
One item of news that we covered the other night was the Chamber of Corporates' (CoC) 'ratings' for propaganda purposes. They are trying to shame countries that don’t do what US-based mega-corporations want them to do and IAM, not too shockingly, props up this propaganda in the piece “US corporates see mixed IP progress across Southeast Asian markets; TPP may make things worse”. Here is how it starts before it moves on to the Chamber’s so-called ‘ratings’:
IP Bridge CEO Shigeharu Yoshii told this blog in a recent interview that the improving IP infrastructure in the ASEAN countries has given his firm the confidence to pursue numerous IP-centric business opportunities in the region. In fact, the Japanese patent fund published an ‘Asia Strategy’ earlier this week whose first sentence was: “IP Bridge is casting its eyes towards ASEAN”. But the release of the US Chamber of Commerce’s latest IP index suggests that the views of large US corporates about IP developments in south-east Asia over the last year are decidedly mixed, while the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s (TPP) possible abandonment, in the wake of President Trump’s confirmation of the US’s withdrawal, will not could endanger some of the bright spots.
If you look only at the Chamber’s ratings for the patent environment, Singapore has remarkably edged ahead of the US due to continued questions about patentability in the latter.
Creative, which is based in Singapore, has become a creative patent troll; the legal chief (Anan Sivananthan) has just quit though. The company was trying to leverage a bunch of old patents because it’s unable to sell anything and in the process it attacked Android OEMs. It won’t be long before Creative’s patents are all expired and the company can just file for bankruptcy; “Dolby Digital AC3 US patent has expired,” Benjamin Henrion wrote the other day about another audio Luddite, saying that “Dolby threatened VLC devs http://is.gd/578wUP http://is.gd/B9jb0t http://is.gd/6mdgeK”
Is this the kind of future India would want to bring upon itself? Certainly not. India thrives in the area of software (many millions of IT workers) because it is safe to develop there, not despite lack of software patenting.
It has meanwhile emerged, based on another IAM “report”, that the patent office in India makes available a fast lane for the rich (similar to what the EPO does). We were not aware of this and here are the details:
Over the years the Indian Patent Office (IPO) has accumulated a huge backlog of pending patent applications. At present, the IPO is examining patent applications filed between May 2012 and July 2012 – that is, it is at least four years behind. The impact of this delay is clearly reflected in the stagnation in patent filings over the past four to five years and the large number of pending patent applications which have been abandoned by applicants. Until 2016 there was no straightforward way of expediting the examination of patent applications in India, but the patent rules have now been amended to allow this.
Under the amended rules, a request for expedited examination can be filed along with payment of the official fee, which is:
Rs60,000 for large entities;
Rs25,000 for small entities; and
Rs8,000 for individuals and start-ups.
This lack of neutrality in processing of applications means more profit opportunities for the Office and it is utterly ridiculous. Is India copying the very worst aspect of neo-liberal policies in the West? When did this horrible option creep in and why? █
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The US Chamber of Commerce still believes that insulting countries will help
Summary: Another reminder to Indians that the front group of the largest and often most abusive corporations is very, very angry at India for denying these corporations the ‘privilege’ to sue Indian companies (at least in Indian courts)
The “US Chamber International IP Index,” as IP Watch called it today, is still up to no good. We have been writing about this for many years. The government of the United States keeps bullying and shaming poor countries including India into legislating copyright and patent maximalism, i.e. industrial surrender. Cablegate has plenty of examples of that.
“It’s all just spin, as it’s designed to mislead and to shame.”Today, India’s biggest press, including the Times of India in this case, helped the US lobby by relaying what is very obviously self-serving propaganda from the patent industry. It attempts to shame India into granting software patents that it does not currently permit (among other things). To quote from the corporate English-speaking media: “The 5th Annual International IP Index reveals that India continues to lag behind the rest of the world in IP protections, coming in 43rd place out of 45 countries.”
Is this supposed to be a measure of shame? Why say “lags”? Maybe it’s ahead when it comes to liberalisation of ideas, free thought, independent development etc.
It’s all just spin, as it’s designed to mislead and to shame. “If Indian policymakers wish to deliver the kinds of results,” said the above, “the Modi administration once hoped for, they can act to address issues that impact Indian innovation, such as software patentability, life sciences patents, copyright protection…”
See? Software patents. India’s government and Indian citizens should stick the middle finger in the face of the US Chamber, which just hopes to entice them into colonisation and enslavement (by lawyers). What makes India so fantastic for software development/developers (I have been reading a lot about India’s software industry this week) is competitive costs and distance from patent trolls. If software patents were brought into India, prices would skyrocket and trolls destroys entire companies, or compel them to remove features from software products. █
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A tyrant’s yardstick that emboldens the tyrant
Summary: Battistelli’s EPO has become so full of lies and “alternative facts” that a rebuttal is needed on a regular basis
THE year 2016 was an important year for the EPO. It was the year that just about anything the EPO publicly said was a lie. Battistelli himself did a fine job as the Liar in Chief. Workers of the EPO know what we mean by that. They are smart people, obviously too smart to believe their management’s lies.
“What liars like Battistelli conveniently don’t mention is that any such EPO ‘growth’ is just queue elimination (which won’t last long anyway).”Yesterday we saw this article titled “The EPO Raises The Bar”. The article discusses one particular aspect and one particular decision, but to say that “The EPO Raises The Bar” is almost laughable. It is certainly misleading because in every aspect the standards have been lowered at the EPO, in order to create false ‘growth’. We wrote quite a lot about this back in 2015 and in earlier months the following year.
Another new article, this one from Barker Brettell LLP, says that “European patents granted soar by 40 per cent in 2016″. That’s actually a lie. Not even the EPO itself has claimed that steep an incline. To quote: “2016 proved to be a busy year for the EPO, with more European patents granted than ever before. Information from the EPO database suggests that more than 97,000 patents were granted in 2016, up from around 69,500 in 2015 – a 40 per cent increase.”
“To use an analogy, for the EPO to claim big growth is very much like for fishermen to deploy massive drift nets, empty the ocean, then claim “success” (never mind if fish can no longer reproduce and the stock has been depleted to the point of extinction).”What liars like Battistelli conveniently don’t mention is that any such EPO ‘growth’ is just queue elimination (which won’t last long anyway). Layoffs will ensue if this carries on like that, never mind the bad service and low patent quality this trajectory entails. To use an analogy, for the EPO to claim big growth is very much like for fishermen to deploy massive drift nets, empty the ocean, then claim “success” (never mind if fish can no longer reproduce and the stock has been depleted to the point of extinction).
Yesterday we also found this nonsense from Shelston IP, a firm whose dishonesty we wrote about many times before, e.g. [1, 2, 3].
“Cambodia is a joke in this context, as it has no European patents at all.”“Given the importance of Australian/Asian economic ties,” it says, “it may interest our clients to hear that the European Patent Office (EPO) has recently signed a deal with the Cambodian government that paves the way for European patent applicants and patent right holders to extend their European rights to Cambodia.”
Cambodia is a joke in this context, as it has no European patents at all. As of today, there is also this announcement from Amnesty International titled “Cambodia: Drop Farcical Investigation of Human Rights Defenders”. It sounds as though they speak about EPO and SUEPO. To quote: “In a joint statement, Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists call on the Cambodian authorities to immediately drop the politically motivated criminal investigation of human rights defenders Am Sam-at and Chan Puthisak. Sam-at, a respected human rights monitor at the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) for nearly 20 years, and Puthisak, a land rights activist from Boeung Kak Lake and former prisoner of conscience, have been accused of instigating violence at a 10 October 2016 peaceful demonstration.”
“When is it (again) the time of the year for this propaganda mill to produce the “alternative facts” for Battistelli to present in an awkward YouTube video?”Maybe it’s time for Battistelli to just relocate to Cambodia, the former French colony which became renowned for mass genocide at the hands of a self-justifying monster who had studied in France. As these people are now allies of the EPO and Battistelli’s spin department (the regime’s Ministry of Truth), perhaps they’ll have better luck lying to the people of Cambodia. Employees of the EPO generally regard the latest Cambodia announcement as somewhat of a farce. It shows what their employer has basically sunk to. As for Shelston IP, they have been very dishonest and manipulative for a number of years and right now they are also upset about the Productivity Commission of their country stating the fact that software patents are not desirable. Shelston IP tried to lead a lobbying campaign against the Productivity Commission last year, but now it’s just ranting endlessly in a blog. If facts were on their side, they would pound with facts. If law was on their side, they would pound with law. As neither is on their side, all they do is pound on the table. And they stigmatise themselves as terrible a bunch of liars as Team Battistelli.
Speaking of Southeast Asia and liars, watch what IAM is writing about this week. When is it (again) the time of the year for this propaganda mill to produce the "alternative facts" for Battistelli to present in an awkward YouTube video? █
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Dime for the lawyers, but at whose expense?
Summary: China’s newly-found obsession with patents has turned into a disease; Western lawyers love it and exploit it for promotion of patent maximalism in the West
THE OTHER DAY, over at IP Kat, Eleonora Rosati wrote about a “New National IP Strategic Action Plan in China” and said: “China wants to be seen as a responsible member of the international IP community that contributes actively to the formulation of international rules, wishes to accelerate the revision of the Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasts and Broadcasting Organizations, promote the implementation of the Doha Declaration on Public Health and the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. The Plan also wants to promote the establishment of a mechanism to help protect and enforce IP rights of Chinese businesses abroad.”
“We remind readers that proponents of software patents in the US increasingly use “China” as their fig leaf.”China seems to have taken these ambitions too far, to the point of granting patents on just about everything, including software (which is not patentable elsewhere).
An article by Joff Wild, Jacob Schindler and Richard Lloyd of IAM, published in their latest magazine issue, continued their eagerness to push patent maximalism through China (trying to eat some of the Chinese “pie” and use China to ‘dare’ other countries to expand patent scope) and in another article they wrote: “For Asian tech corporates, convergence is presenting previously unknown legal risks and opportunities for collaboration. New entrants will have to be canny to survive in this increasingly complex business environment…”
So seek a lawyer? Like those that are funding IAM to help create this mess? We remind readers that proponents of software patents in the US increasingly use "China" as their fig leaf. IAM is just one of the symptoms. In last week’s blog post it wrote:
China-based data provider IP House recently put together a fairly thorough analysis of all the rulings delivered by the Beijing IP Court during 2015. The information on damages from this first batch of patent disputes should prove a useful benchmark for monitoring whether Chinese policymakers’ goal of increasing award amounts is being realised. More recent developments surrounding evidence preservation and punitive damages suggest that higher damages is a priority as litigation numbers in the country continue to zoom.
What it means is, China copies the mistakes made by the US about a decade ago and now it’s just a litigation hub that is destroying the country’s producing element. With this patent gold rush, which is becoming the subject of growing scrutiny, China is now devouring its own economy, in order to bolster trolls, not producers. Did they not learn from the mistakes already made in the US? █
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