Writing their nonsense only when it helps them attract ‘sales’ (where desired ‘products’ are typically lawsuits)
Summary: Increasingly desperate to convince people to pursue software patents and/or use their software patents to initiate growingly risky lawsuits (high risk of losing), the patent microcosm hugs McRO v Namco while distorting the complete record of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on this subject
WITH patent quality still a huge problem at the USPTO, as we last noted in our previous post, it’s only expected that many invalid software patents remain inside the system, probably hundreds of thousands of them (some have expired by now and will thus never be invalidated).
After Alice (2014 decision by the Supremes) a lot of software patents essentially became invalid, but only upon reassessment/assertion/challenge/appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), quite notably, finds them invalid about 80%-90% of the time. CAFC is where software patents typically come to die (the question has not returned to the Supreme Court since 2014). There’s rarely a chance for appeal after that, maybe just a referral or some other extraordinary circumstances.
“They’re most upset at (and growingly vicious against) PTAB because it reverses decisions to grant (post-grant) at a very high rate and at a low cost (to the petitioner/appellant).”Patent lawyers are rightly upset (from their point of view that is hinged on profits from legal fees) at the Supremes for ‘interfering’ with the patenting of software. They are also upset at CAFC for invaliding so many software patents. They’re most upset at (and growingly vicious against) PTAB because it reverses decisions to grant (post-grant) at a very high rate and at a low cost (to the petitioner/appellant).
How do patent law firms respond to the current situation? Simple! They lie. They cherry-pick, they spread half-truths, they insult judges, they shame or block other people (yours truly included), and they generally show their true selfish selves. I have spent years writing about this and I saw how bad this can get. These people are not friends of investors and inventors. They’re leeches. They just try to come across as professional, objective, and law-abiding.
Last week we wrote several articles about McRO v Namco noting (quite correctly as it turned out) that patent law firms would start another Enfish-like extravaganza in the press. They latch onto this decision in an effort to market themselves and mislead the public (potential clients). Here, in one of their blogs, the predators are trying to take down the Supreme Court’s decision on Alice. Section 101 is named as though it’s a nuisance that needs to be removed. Here is one of the predators saying that he is “not sure CAFC using “preemption” in same way envisioned by SCOTUS in Alice-MCRO seems more like “passes step 2″ case” (refers to steps in the law).
“They just try to come across as professional, objective, and law-abiding.”An ‘article’ or ‘analysis’ (really marketing/self promotion) by Joel Bock, David Metzger, andEric Sophir of Dentons says “McRo decision gives software/computer-based patents a big boost,” but that’s pure sensationalism. This headline is wishful thinking nonsense as it ignores ~90% of CAFC’s decisions on the subject. How convenient…
Where were sites like these each time CAFC ruled AGAINST software patents? Don’t believe patent lawyers who say software patents in the US are suddenly fine. For those who think it’s just an isolated article or few articles, see also [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. We don’t have time to rebut each of these individually, but what we have here is rigged “media” of lawyers. Over 20 articles have been produced about a CAFC decision in favour of software patents and usually there are zero or very few about decisions against software patents. “Liars” might not be the right word to describe the authors by; they’re just opportunistic and they are selectively covering things so as to promote software patents under the guise of ‘analysis’. We saw this many times before and provided evidence of it.
“Don’t believe patent lawyers who say software patents in the US are suddenly fine.”Noteworthy is the fact that the legal firm which fought for software patents here is the same firm that works for Microsoft (on patents) and the EPO hired to bully me (Mishcon de Reya). Here is their press release about it. They are clearly hostile towards people like me, for at least 3 reasons (EPO pays them to send me threatening legal letters, Microsoft pays them to fight on the patent front, and they are working to defend software patents). Speaking of Microsoft, the company still says it “loves Linux” but it also loves software patents which are inherently not compatible with Linux. Here is yet another ‘article’ (from a Microsoft advocacy site) showing that Microsoft celebrates the above decision. We gave another example of this several days ago. The intersection of interests here is uncanny.
What did Watchtroll say about all this? We mentioned some of his responses before (widely-cited by others in the patent microcosm on the face of it), but now there’s more on other subjects [1, 2], still advancing a patent maximalism agenda (as if limiting patent scope is a sin).
Proponents of software patents, including those who track the impact of Alice closely, latch onto this one single decision in favour of a software patent while mostly ignoring the rest.
IAM’s writers, longtime propagandists of software patents and PTAB bashers, carry on passing off agenda as 'news', this time with the headline “After the CAFC’s Planet Blue decision early Alice motions may now fade away” (citing only the patent microcosm, e.g. a partner in New York-based firm Kroub Silbersher & Kolmykov).
“Proponents of software patents, including those who track the impact of Alice closely, latch onto this one single decision in favour of a software patent while mostly ignoring the rest.”We are still waiting for IAM to give a platform not just to patent lawyers who profit from software patents but actual programmers. Not that it ever happens…
“In the following piece,” IAM wrote, “Silbersher argues that the true significance of the case is not what it says about software patentability, but in the way it may affect how and when courts handle motions to dismiss based on the Supreme Court’s Alice decision. Read with the earlier CAFC judgments in Enfish and Bascom, Silbersher states, Alice motions at the front end of a litigation are set to become significantly less attractive. For patent owners, that is very good news.”
That’s just another example of lawyers name-dropping Enfish and Bascom, hoping that readers will pay attention to none of the other decisions (all against software patents as of late). This isn’t reporting, it’s lobbying.
Speaking of lobbying, David Kappos rears his ugly head again. He was hired by large corporations including IBM (his former employer) to help demolish Section 101 and “IBM’s Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter welcomed the McRO decision,” according to the above. Indeed, based on his tweet, IBM is still against the Supreme Court and for software patents. Benjamin Henrion told him that “freedom of programming is a one liner.”
“How far will the patent lawyers go in their attempt to save software patents?”The software patents proponents of IBM, a huge patent bully, are at it again. They just don’t seem to care what the Supremes say. Here comes IAM trying to shoot down Section 101 at a legislative level. To quote: “Of course, the likes of former Chief Judge Michel would argue that the fundamental test that the court is trying to apply to determine whether something is patent eligible remains inherently flawed. But as the case law on 101 as it applies to software begins to mount from the Federal Circuit, members of the tech community can at least rest a little easier that question marks no longer hang over large parts of their patent portfolios. If nothing else, that is to be welcomed.”
IAM says that “members of the tech community can at least rest a little easier” with software patents, but that’s a lie because technical people dislike these. Reading IAM about patents is like watching Fox ‘news’ coverage of all things Obama. It’s just agenda disguised/dressed up as news. It’s agenda presented in the form of ‘news’, and truly a great service to Battistelli when he needs to support some lies of his.
Watch the patent microcosm trying to resurrect software patents by trashing the Supreme Court [1, 2] in light of the above. It’s like that pack of hyenas we wrote about a week ago. How far will the patent lawyers go in their attempt to save software patents?
“Is the Technology for Self-Driving Cars Patent-Eligible?”
“Had the USPTO never granted these software patents, all these efforts, time and money (going into the pockets of patent law firms) would be spared.”That’s the headline of this new ‘analysis’ from the patent microcosm, writing about software patents that are disguised as 'device' (cars), prior art being the driver. The answer is probably no; no for the courts but yes for the USPTO, which continues to grant almost everything that comes in, irrespective of quality, scope, prior art, etc. The examiners cheat on their timesheets (defrauding taxpayers), so shoddy work seems to be the norm. Here we have an article about Goldman Sachs filing for software patents on electronic payments — the one area where the invalidation rate of software patents is extremely high (around 90% of patents invalidated). Blockstream says it is pursuing patents in this area/domain, but it has not got any. Patent examiners oughtn’t grant any, either (citing the CLS Bank case).
Elsewhere in the news we find this short docker report about a case in the court of choice of patent trolls, one of several in the Eastern District of Texas. It upholds software patents, as usual, probably because it’s a farce of a court and it likes to brag about being friendly to the plaintiffs, especially trolls. Upon appeal, and if it reaches CAFC (expensive), the patent would probably be invalidated. This can be a rather traumatic experience to people who thought they had earned valid patents from the USPTO. Take the case of Keith Raniere; he used several software patents for frivolous litigation and got penalised very badly for it, as we noted earlier this month. Another new report about it says: “The plaintiff, Keith Raniere, filed the suit in February 2015 against AT&T and Microsoft, alleging the companies were using a number of his patents for intelligent switching systems for voice and data. In his lawsuit, Raniere claimed that AT&T used the software patents in its AT&T Connect service and Microsoft used the patents in its Lync 2010 products. [...] Following dismissal, both AT&T and Microsoft filed a motion to have their attorney fees covered by Raniere. AT&T requested that $935,300 be paid by the plaintiff and Microsoft presented $202,000 in costs and fees to be covered. Lynn requested both parties present proof of the costs and fees incurred from the case and denied Raniere any chance to correct or modify his lawsuit.”
Had the USPTO never granted these software patents, all these efforts, time and money (going into the pockets of patent law firms) would be spared. But therein lies the key point. The greater the mess, the more profit the patent microcosm makes. This isn’t only a US problem but a European one too (see all the UPC lobbying).
“The greater the mess, the more profit the patent microcosm makes.”We previously wrote about software patents in Australia (they sort of exist). This new post from the patent microcosm says: “The expansive approach of NRDC was subsequently relied upon by the Federal Court in 1991 to establish that computer programs were not excluded from patent eligibility under Australian law, a decision that effectively opened the gates for software patents in Australia.”
As we wrote about this before, we can safely say that Australian software developers are upset by that. They never wanted such patents; it’s the patent microcosm that did (while trying to convince developers that they too need software patents). █
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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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This kind of rebranding strategy is nothing new
Summary: How the term CII, or computer-implemented invention, is used to bypass/avoid a meaningful debate about patents on abstract ideas and algorithms (software patents) even in 2016
TECHRIGHTS was created with software patents in mind. The activism was all along focused on the subject. But some pundits are still dodging the term “software patents” and instead saying “computer-implemented” (like CII). The EPO used to do this a lot. It misleads, sometimes intentionally. This happens a lot in the United States, where the USPTO now receives instructions which are increasingly hostile towards software patents because they are abstract..
“Just ascribing a “machine” (sometimes “device”) to some piece of code or combining code with a general-purpose computer oughtn’t make the algorithms suddenly patentable.”In Australia, in the mean time, efforts continue to achieve the unthinkable and make all software patentable. Mark Summerfield says that the “Australian Patent Office has recently issued two decisions resulting from applicants requesting to be heard following examination objections that their respective inventions did not constitute patent-eligible subject matter, i.e. a ‘manner of manufacture’ under the Australian patent law. Both decisions relate to electronic gaming machines (commonly known as ‘poker machines’ or ‘slot machines’), and both involve the question of whether particular computer-implemented features of such machines are patentable. They differ, however, in the outcome.”
The above says the word “software” not even once (and it’s a long article). It says “implemented” or “implementation” 15 times however.
Just ascribing a “machine” (sometimes “device”) to some piece of code or combining code with a general-purpose computer oughtn’t make the algorithms suddenly patentable. This is the kind of loophole embraced by the EPO and IPONZ, arguably in India as well.
Watch out for these dirty tricks. █
“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” —Marshall Phelps, Microsoft
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Laws can ‘hop’ from one continent to another
Summary: News from Australia regarding software patents that should not be granted and how patent lawyers from Australia rely on European patent law (EPO and UK-IPO) for guidance on patent scope
THE following remarkable article by Mike Masnick (of TechDirt) is titled “Fake Satoshi Nakamoto Trying To Patent All Sorts Of Bitcoin Related Ideas” and it speaks of one of many charlatans who claim to have invented Bitcoin. Masnick has already written a great deal about other fake inventors, notably regarding E-mail. “Earlier this week,” Masnick wrote, “I got knocked out by some pretty serious food poisoning. The few times I would try to do some work or pop in on Twitter, all I was seeing was people mocking the London Review of Books’ somewhat insane 35,000-word-long profile of Craig Wright, the guy who earlier this year claimed to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto. While he even convinced Gavin Andresen (the guy who really turned Nakamoto’s original work into actual Bitcoin), many others quickly pointed out that Wright’s “proof” appeared to be a giant scam. Why write a 35,000-word profile on a guy who isn’t Satoshi Nakamoto? I don’t know, but thankfully the food poisoning and the few snarky tweets I saw saved me from digging into the entire thing and wasting an afternoon. Fusion posted a much shorter summary of the piece, in case you’re wondering.”
Watch how corporate media repeats these lies about this Australian poser who claims to have invented Bitcoin and now wants a monopoly on it. To quote Reuters: “Craig Wright, the Australian who claimed to be the inventor of bitcoin, is attempting to build a large patent portfolio around the digital currency and technology underpinning it, according to associates of his and documents reviewed by Reuters.
“Watch how corporate media repeats these lies about this Australian poser who claims to have invented Bitcoin and now wants a monopoly on it.”“Since February, Wright has filed more than 50 patent applications in Britain through Antigua-registered EITC Holdings Ltd, which a source close to the company confirmed was connected to Wright, government records show.”
Well, these are basically software patents (like those which USPTO is still happy to accept, unlike courts) and they are assigned not to an original inventor but somewhat of a scammer, who ‘stole’ attribution. What has the world sunk to?
Sadly, Australia’s fascination with software patents is becoming a real problem and in the face of a Commission's report against software patents in Australia parasitic firms like Shelston IP and AJ Park started somewhat of a lobbying campaign. Yet another lawyers’ firm, Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick, has just published “Full Court looks into Best Method requirements” where it says “attacks against patents for lack of best method have been relatively rare.”
“Sadly, Australia’s fascination with software patents is becoming a real problem and in the face of a Commission’s report against software patents in Australia parasitic firms like Shelston IP and AJ Park started somewhat of a lobbying campaign.”Well, it’s patents that attack. They are still using misleading language where those who pursue sane patent policy (or patent quality) are “attacking”. Lawyers’ reversal of the narrative is rather typical. The article from Malcolm Bell says: “The trial Judge had held that Servier had failed to describe the best method known to it in performing the invention where it described only the general method of salification rather than any specific method. Such specific methods include the 1986 or 1991 methods which would have provided the reader with information as to a method that met the characteristics of the claimed invention. The Full Court held that Servier had not shown that the trial Judge was wrong.”
That last part frames the situation as one where the judge is right or wrong, almost as though the Full Court is an ultimate arbiter that can just discredit ‘unwanted’ decisions. Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick published this marketing piece and also — on the very same day in fact — published “Software patents in Australia: where to from here?”
“They are still using misleading language where those who pursue sane patent policy (or patent quality) are “attacking”.”So the mask comes off. They’re among the lobbyists for software patents, probably alongside Shelston IP and AJ Park. In principle, software patents are out of scope; moreover “[i]n May 2016,” to quote the above, “The High Court of Australia dismissed an application for special leave to appeal the RPL Central decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia. The Full Federal Court found that RPL Central’s invention was not patentable as it was simply a scheme or idea implemented on a generic computer, using standard software and hardware.”
So both the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia decided that software patents are invalid. Who would the lawyers thus lean on? The USPTO, where Alice crushes software patents on a daily or weekly basis? No, the EPO. Under the section “Moving closer to Europe” it says: “The Full Court looked to the UK Aerotel decision in determining that a claimed invention must make a ‘technical contribution’. Recently received Examination Reports appear to indicate that the Australian Patent Office is applying a European style ‘technical contribution’ approach to patentability, albeit in a less structured manner than is the case before the UK Patent Office or the EPO.”
“So both the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia decided that software patents are invalid.”Surely this helps remind us of the dangers posed by Battistelli's race to the bottom when it comes to patent quality. Software patents are being granted in Europe under pressure (if not collusion) from companies like Microsoft and this can have a knock-on effect far away from Europe, maybe even in New Zealand and in India where loopholes for software patenting are eerily similar to those which exist in Europe (Brimelow’s bad legacy). █
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Agents of corporate empire
Summary: Australia and New Zealand are under attack by patent lawyers who serve large multinational companies rather than Australians and Kiwis
NAMING and shaming misleading firms is not rude but necessarily. For a number of years we have mentioned the role AJ Park played in the propaganda of Microsoft and IBM (pushing software patents into New Zealand and recently we showed how Shelston IP was doing the same thing in Australia.
“They obviously want what’s bad for their country but good for themselves (law firms).”Shelston IP is at it again (reposted last night) and AJ Park, the lobbyists for software patents in New Zealand for quite some time (at least half a decade,say that the patent office (IPONZ) is granting software patents, in spite of the rules. This is a bit of wishful thinking and an effort at self-fulfilling prophecies again (inducing defeatism within the opposition). We see lots of it in the US, post-Alice. To quote AJ Park: “One of the hotly-debated topics during New Zealand’s patent law reform was the extent to which patent protection should be available for computer-implemented inventions. There is a widely held belief that we now have a ban on software patents. So how did the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) issue a software patent under the new law that bans them?”
They even use the term computer-implemented inventions (CII), which is an attempt to dodge the term software patents. The EPO used to be doing that and right now it prefers using the term “ICT” to dodge the term software patents.
Watch out and be careful of propagandistic patent lawyers. They obviously want what’s bad for their country but good for themselves (law firms). They’ll cherry-pick anything which serves their selfish agenda. █
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The parasitic business of Davies Collison Cave not unsurprising (see below)
Summary: As the push against software patents grows in Australia, much to the chagrin of Australian software developers, Davies Collison Cave (patent law firm) publicly calls for opposition, calling its side “the truth” and pretending it represents “Australian innovators.”
EARLIER this month we saw the Australian Productivity Commission recommending the elimination of software patents [1, 2]. This was an important wake-up call not only to Australians but to governments all over the world, especially governments that write laws for the public interest, not for giant corporations (recall the Indian kerkuffle on this matter).
“This was an important wake-up call not only to Australians but to governments all over the world…”According to the financial (interests) media in Australia, the “WTO chief economist challenges Productivity Commission view on IP” because, as one must remember, WTO is a patents (or ‘IP’) maximalist. Remember who WTO truly represents. It’s like those same interest groups that are pushing for TPP, TTIP and their south-Pacific equivalents/complements.
The European Commission, facing the likes of the Productivity Commission, is now pressured “to ban patents on seeds”, which are still being granted at the EPO. “Tomorrow,” said an announcement, “a symposium on patents and plant breeders’ rights will be hosted by the Dutch Minister for Agriculture.”
Well, it makes sense to do so. Who benefits from patents on seeds? We covered this subject before.
“It’s like those same interest groups that are pushing for TPP, TTIP and their south-Pacific equivalents/complements.”Either way, patent scope boundaries are imperative. Without them, all we have is another USPTO and SIPO (China’s). They are both notorious for low patent quality.
The other day, writing in patent lawyers’ media, Spruson & Ferguson wrote about the Australian Productivity Commission report as follows:
Reforming the patentability of business methods and software inventions
Business methods have been defined as a method of operating any aspect of an economic enterprise, including ‘trading, transacting, finance, resource management, marketing and customer service’16. The Commission found that Business Methods and Software patents reward low– (or even no–) value innovations, and therefore, on balance, it is unlikely that granting patents in the area of Business Methods and Software increases the welfare of the community. While recommendations with regards to changes to the inventive step threshold for standard patents, and dispensing with innovation patents, may ‘knock out’ a large share of Business Methods and Software inventions, the Commission still considers that there is value in making clear that Business Methods and Software should not be considered patentable subject matters.17
Draft Recommendation 8.1 suggests that the Australian patent system should exclude Business Methods and Software from patent protection, as was done in a number of other countries.18 More particularly, it is recommended that section 18 of the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) be amended to explicitly exclude Business Methods and Software from being patentable subject matter. According to the Commission, amending the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) as recommended would minimise the ongoing legal uncertainty, and bring Australia into alignment with the approaches taken in other jurisdictions without impinging on international obligations.
A contrasting view is that, even if there is no case for patenting Business Methods and Software, it is not necessary to explicitly exclude Business Methods and Software from being patentable subject matter. The patentability of Business Methods and Software in Australia has already drastically been restricted by the courts, for example by the Commissioner of Patents v RPL Central Pty Ltd  FCAFC 177 decision, by qualifying what constitutes a manner of manufacture within the meaning of section 6 of the Statute of Monopolies (i.e. section 18(1)(a)). Presently, business system inventions that are not within a ‘field of technology’ are not patentable. Accordingly, since that decision Business Methods and Software inventions generally do not meet the “manner of manufacture” criteria of patentability.
Not too long afterwards, the same lawyers’ site published this selfish, self-promotional call for opposition to the Commission’s findings, specifically calling for written support for software patents in Australia. Shame on Davies Collison Cave for lobbying for software patents in spite of Australian developers unequivocally rejecting and detesting them (we covered this some years back). To quote:
If patents for software are important to your business, then this message is also important for you.
The Productivity Commission has released a draft report which it intends to make final. It includes a recommendation that the Australian Patents Act be amended to explicitly exclude software from being patentable.
The Commission believes that software patents do not encourage new, valuable innovation. We suggest you tell them the truth.
Written submissions in reply to the draft can be made here by 3 June 2016.
It is time our Government heard from Australian innovators.
Yes, that’s right. They are “the truth.” And they are also “Australian innovators.” Like Microsoft front groups represent SMEs… █
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Let them whine…
Summary: In an important case which can serve as precedent in the future, IP Australia tosses away a software patent
THE subject of software patents in Australia was revisited recently because of the Commission’s findings that Australia should ban software patents [1, 2], much to the distress of the likes of Shelston IP.
A new report composed by Sam Varghese, a FOSS proponent, has the following quote: “Jack Redfern, a principal at Shelston IP, (above, left) said this decision had left people who had prospective software patents to deal with the resultant disarray and uncertainty.”
“It’s clearly a software patent at stake.”Well, they deserve this. Varghese continues: “Ward said while IP Australia found that RPL’s invention was both new and inventive, they blocked it on “anti-software” grounds which were not raised by the commercial opponent.”
Here is some background which shows what it was all about: “The patent in question was for a computerised method of updating one’s qualifications in order to submit them to educational institutions. Different institutions require different sets of documents for evaluating the possibility of granting a prospective student admission, and RPL’s system was designed to take the headache out of the process of collating these qualifications together and then submitting them to an institution.”
It’s clearly a software patent at stake. And that matters.
“What’s meant here by “bizarre and unfounded objections” is objections I don’t agree with because I make money from software patents.”Meanwhile, looking through some new comments from what’s mostly patent lawyers, we have this: “It’s good to hear that IP Australia is not the only IP office issuing bizarre and unfounded objections during examination of IP rights – yes, it’s not just limited to designs over here! If you ever want to feel completely stymied by unfounded objections and frustrated by bumbledom, just file a trade mark application with IP Australia and wait for the first Examiner’s report…”
What’s meant here by “bizarre and unfounded objections” is objections I don’t agree with because I make money from software patents. Let them whine. █
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Corruption and greed have become embedded in this whole system
Composition of [1, 2, 3, 4]
Summary: A critique of some patent injustices and the reasons why scientists are sacrificed for the benefit of revenue-maximising managers and their lawyers/lobbyists
Cory Doctorow, citing his EFF colleague, says what an Australian Commission has found regarding software patents. It’s strongly against them. It’s a subject which we covered here before [1, 2]. “The report,” Doctorow writes, “which was commissioned in part to investigation the codification of fair use in Australian copyright law, condemns virtually the whole edifice of Australian IP law. It calls for shorter copyright terms, more flexibility for copyright users, stricter criteria for granting patents, tightened rules and shorter terms for software and business-method patents, and more.”
“It seems as though each time there is evidence-based research into this subject the outcome says software patents are bad.”The EFF’s post says they “wrote about a discredited industry report that spread misinformation about the supposed costs of Australia adopting fair use into its copyright law. That document, commissioned by media and entertainment giants, had been written in anticipation of a recommendation for the adoption of fair use by the Australian Productivity Commission, a government agency tasked with improving Australia’s capacity for production and innovation.”
Further down it says: “Restricting the availability of patents for software and business method inventions, which are an impediment to further innovation. As regards software, the Commission notes that software development cycles of around 5 years are far shorter than the 20 year term of protection granted by patents, and that other incentives for software development (among them copyright) also exist.”
It seems as though each time there is evidence-based research into this subject the outcome says software patents are bad. Europe came to the same conclusion a very long time ago, but the EPO conveniently (for its own gain) ignores the law. There is now a new software patents loophole in the EU, as Dr. Glyn Moody showed last month. Yesterday he had more to say about that:
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a disturbing aspect of the European Commission’s proposed Digital Single Market: the fact that “ICT standardisation requires a balanced IPR [intellectual property rights] policy, based on FRAND licensing terms.” That’s a problem, because FRAND licensing is inherently incompatible with open source.
As well as generating a fair amount of interest here on Ars, the article seems to have provoked some discussions in the wider open source community, and inside the European Commission too. Given that interest, and the absolutely key nature of this issue, I thought it would be worth exploring it a little more deeply, not least because there have been some important developments in the last two weeks, including a way for Ars readers to help stop open source being locked out of EU standards.
First, it’s probably a good idea to summarise why FRAND, which stands for “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory,” is a problem for open source. Put at its simplest, licensing terms can be totally fair, quite reasonable, and absolutely non-discriminatory and yet impossible to implement in free software.
For example, a patentholder might think they are being super-kind by requiring a per-copy licence payment of just €0.001. And for traditional software, that might indeed be generous. But consider what happens with open source code, which by definition can be copied and shared freely as many times as you like. Since there is no way of knowing how many copies have been made, it’s impossible to pay even that “reasonable” €0.001 per copy. The only licensing fee that works in this context is zero—and even then, it’s not guaranteed that the licence will be compatible with free software. For example, there may be some other limitations on use, which aren’t allowed for open source.
What is needed is not just “royalty-free” licensing, but “restriction-free.”
The other case concerns the open source giant Red Hat, and how it settled a patent dispute with a company called Firestar. What is remarkable about this deal is that Red Hat not only acquired a licence for itself, it obtained it for everyone else in the open source community, upstream and downstream from Red Hat. In other words, it effectively took out a patent licence for the open source world.
Again, some have pointed to this as an example that proves that paying patent licences is perfectly compatible with open source; and once more, that’s not true. First, this solution was only possible because Firestar agreed to provide this blanket licence for the open source community: the fact that it had never been done before shows how exceptional that was. For companies that offer FRAND licensing, there is no reason at all why they would have to follow Firestar’s example.
“This is IAM doing its usual routine trying to urge companies — even in China — to pursue more and more patents/patenting obsession.”It is not too shocking that lobbyists for software patents get their way in spite of what scientists and programmers are saying. The lobbyists never grow tired and they are backed by wealthy corporations like IBM. There is now a push for new taxes in the embedded Linux space (increasingly characterised using the silly buzzword, “IoT”). “If demand for connected devices does prove durable,” IAM wrote, “then Chinese appliance makers could be big winners – and so could patent licensors. But the big Chinese players are likely not finished spending money to beef up their patent positions in the hopes of easing their royalty burdens.” This is IAM doing its usual routine trying to urge companies — even in China — to pursue more and more patents/patenting obsession. In Europe they encourage companies to pursue patents even in domains that are out of reach, e.g. software, as in the US patent system it is growingly a challenge (inevitably, they cannot just snub the courts eternally). This new article from Robert Sachs says: “On May 4, the USPTO issued a new memorandum for patent examiners, “Formulating a Subject Matter Eligibility Rejection and Evaluating the Applicant’s Response to a Subject Matter Eligibility Rejection” (“Examiner Instructions”) along with a new set of five example claims, this time in the life sciences and chemistry arts. The Examiner Instructions are a positive step forward in refining the examination process, but leave open many questions.”
A notoriously corrupt court, CAFC, is where software patents came from in the first place (several decades ago) and it has just been brought up by Patently-O in relation to the Patent Act. “The Federal Circuit created the rule of automatic assignment through agreement without any basis in the Patent Act,” Patently-O says and to quote some bits: “The core problem is that the court has ignored the Erie doctrine. Under the Supreme Court’s 1937 decision in Erie v. Tompkins, a federal court ruling on a matter of state law under its diversity jurisdiction must apply the law of the state from which the dispute arose. Which state law to apply is a matter of choice of law principles. What the federal court cannot do is create its own federal common law in lieu of the state statutory or common law. As the Court affirmed in Butner v. United States, 440 U.S. 48 (1979), the Erie doctrine applies to a court’s supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims attendant to a federal question. By creating its own federal common law of contracts, the Federal Circuit reveals a fundamental error in its understanding of the federal court system. [...] The case of conflicting patent assignments bears some similarity to the law on intangible future interests in creditor-debtor law. Both entail rights in property that has yet to come into being. The main lesson from creditor-debtor law, which is largely a matter of state law, is that many interests are implicated and therefore simple rules are not satisfactory. The Federal Circuit has arguably adopted too simple and misguided a rule in the Filmtec. The Supreme Court has confounded the error in the Stanford decision by ignoring the issue of automatic assignments. One way to correct course is by granting Shukh’s petition for certiori and restore the proper balance between federal patent law and state commercial law.”
“We regret to say that a lot of laws, practices, policies etc. around patents are still corrosive and this is caused by systemic corruption.”This may seem like an injustice because it is. A lot of patent law in the US is completely unhinged from sanity, evidence, facts, and justice. The other day we wrote about how NASA had hoarded a lot of patents; it should not have patents at all (taxpayers pay NASA to explore space, not to acquire patent monopolies) and it gets worse when NASA gives these to private hands and sells them to trolls. Yesterday we found 31 articles about NASA’s latest patent PR, but not a single decent article which actually put claims to scrutiny and did an actual investigation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31].
We regret to say that a lot of laws, practices, policies etc. around patents are still corrosive and this is caused by systemic corruption. Many countries are negatively affected by this. █
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