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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Summary: Even though much of the Australian and the international media focused on copyright-related findings of Australia’s Productivity Commission, the findings against software patents continue to be mentioned to this date
At the start of this month and end of last month we wrote about an Australian recommendation to abolish software patents for good. Some corporate media came to cover it several days later (even over a week later), under the headline “Australian Gov’t. Body Recommends Banning Software Patents”. Here are the opening paragraphs:
Australia’s Productivity Commission wants to exclude business methods and software from patentable subject matter under that country’s laws.
The APC’s draft report on Australia’s “Intellectual Property Arrangements” called for a patent law amendment to explicitly exclude those types of inventions from patent protection.
There is a “clear case” to disallow the patenting of software and business methods because there’s evidence that patents in those areas don’t encourage new or valuable innovation, the draft issued April 29 said. What’s more, such patents can impede competition.
Having contacted some Australian activists against software patents about this, I was surprised to see that they hadn’t noticed, probably because the media mostly focused on other findings of the Commission, mostly copyright-related. Here are Peter Caporn and Rebecca Hembling from Wrays, an Australia law firm, mentioning this aspect somewhere towards the end of their new analysis:
Business Methods and Software (BM&S)
The Commission suggests that their newly characterised technology subset ‘BM&S’ should be specifically excluded from patent protection. Patents on this technology is said to be ‘unnecessary’, a conclusion bound to inspire a robust response. The Commission has adopted a narrow view of how ip relating to business methods and software is used and the impact it has. It will be particularly interesting to see if the reasoning set out as support for this draft recommendation survives the submissions that it will no doubt attract in response.
It sure looks like much of the media either missed or overlooked this one particular aspect of the findings, which is somewhat of a shame. If nobody notices or takes into account such input, will it have a lasting impact? █
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Article as ODF
Publicado en America, Asia, Australia, Deception, Europe, Patentes at 7:36 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Necesitamos más soplos, e.g. soplos UPC, para sacar a la luz a quienes están moviéndo a las mariónetas
Polución de patentes y “calentamiénto global de patentes,” como Benjamin Henrion ocasiónalmenete lo llama [1, 2]
Sumario: un sumario de noticias del fin de semana y hoy, con énfasis en los elementos dentro del sistema (o los medios) que impulsan políticas reacciónarias/recesivas que los beneficia financiéramente a costa de todos los demás
Hay progresos ocurriéndo hacia la justicia de patentes, aunque hay elementos egoístas que son parásiticos y no-productivos. Ellos batallan para mantener el status quo, e incluso hacerlo peor. Abajo están los últimos ejemplos.
El otro día mencionamos el último movimiento decepcionante de la CAFC, que en esencia defendió a los trolles de patentes en los EE.UU. (donde se usan las patentes de software por extorsión, incluso cuando estas patentes no resistir el escrutinio de un tribunal). Que la CAFC apoye a los trolles de patentes de soporte no sorprende a nadie dada la historia de CAFC. Joe Mullin reacciona de la siguiente manera: “los defensores de la reforma de Patentes que esperaban”apagar al Distrito Este de Texas ” estan con cara decepción de hoy, cuando el tribunal superior de apelaciones de patentes de Estados Unidos resolvió (PDF) en contra de una transferencia de lugar en una disputa entre dos empresas de alimentos.”
No esperen que la reforma de patentes provenga de la CAFC, el iniciador de ellas mismas. De ¿SCOTUS? Talvez. ¿Hay una apelación pendiente en la agenda? ¿Alcanzará esto a SCOTUS?
Hay una nueva moción para persuadir al gobierno Australiano para prohibir las patentes de software (oficialmente). Es parte de una moción más amplia que también sugiere algo de los siguientes cambios como cubrimos hace unos días:
En su proyecto de informe publicado el viernes por la comisión recomienda que se deben tomar medidas para “reequilibrar” las leyes de propiedad intelectual existentes con un nuevo sistema que equilibre los intereses de los titulares de derechos y usuarios.
La comisión dice que mientras que un buen sistema equilibra los intereses de los titulares de derechos y usuarios, sistema de IP de Australia se ha inclinado demasiado a favor de los titulares de derechos de propiedad intelectual vocales y naciones influyentes exportación.
El abogado de patentes de Mark Summerfield, junto con otros maximalistas de patentes (con quienes coquetea online), ya atacó/burló a la Comisión por haberse atrevido a hacer estas sugerencias. Tal vez pone en peligro su fuente de ingresos, que es básicamente guerras de patentes, la confrontación, ruido de sables, etc.
“Ahora que un Comité de Australia propuso la prohibición de swpats,” Benjamin Henrion observó correctamente, “IBM (Sagrada Familia) y otros agentes de patentes llama al movimiento” defectuoso “…”
Mencionamos al jefe de la patentes de IBM y su respuesta ayer (señalado hacia el final).
La India todavía está bajo fuerte ataque por los cabilderos de patentes (por casi un año, y se intensífico el último verano). Los medios Indios acaban de publicar esta opinión que se resume como sigue: “Para crédito de los hacedores de políticas que constantemente han estado rechazándo besar a este puerco llamado ‘patentes de software’, a pesar de estar maquillado con el lápiz labial de la ‘innovación’” (no sólo en software).
El artículo se titula “Cerdo con Lápiz labial” y “El cerdo en cuestión es el régimen de patentes de software que defienden algunos corporaciones multinacionales (CMN)”, señala el autor. Indios deben involucrarse en este proceso y proporcionar información con la que hacer frente a los grupos de presión, que nunca se c
La ‘Revista’ IAM, un maximálista de patentes, quiere que creamos que “trollear” es ahora “unidad de obtención de ingresos” (pidiendo ‘dinero de protección’, mientras que apenas, nada en absoluto desarrollan cualquier cosa). En relación con las patentes de software IBM en Corea (se llama a estas patentes “Fintech”) que insta al país, que es tradicionalmente no agresivo/asertivo en el sentido de las patentes, para trollear más. IAM en es financiado por los trolles de patentes (en parte). Como jodes IAM, como jodes …
En el continénte donde los oficiales de la EPO cabildean regularmente a los oficiales de la EU, a pesar de que la EPO es un cuerpo no-Europeo, hay un contínuo esfuerzo de implantar/enyucar las patentes de software a los estados miembors.
Aquí la MIP se esta conviertiéndo en la plataforma de los máximalistas de patentes quienes advocan por la UPC (para vender sus servicios). Bueno, de acuerdo a este tweet, el artículo es “promovido” (i.e. promocional) y dice:
La posibilidad de exclusión que ofrece el artículo 83 UPCA presta mucha atención a las opciones de los titulares de patentes se enfrentan con respecto a su estrategia de presentación. Nos centramos aquí en estrategias de defensa en el nuevo marco legislativo, en particular sobre las acciones ante los tribunales nacionales.
Estas incertidumbres hacen que sea difícil para las partes poner en práctica una estrategia defensiva. ¿Vale la pena invertir en una acción de nulidad ante un tribunal nacional, antes de la entrada en vigor de la UPC? Suponiendo que tales elecciones del impacto de un acción titulares de patentes en absoluto, tendrá que evitar por completo el uso de la UPC, o sólo impedir el uso de la UPC para una acción de nulidad?
Con las “incertidumbres de la UPC se hace díficil para las partes implementar una estratégia defensiva,” para que así recurran a los abogados de patentes. La UPC es muy buena para los agresores y abogados de patentes, es mal para el resto de nosotros.
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We need more leaks, e.g. UPC leaks, to shed light on who’s pulling whose strings
Patent pollution and “global patent warming,” as Benjamin Henrion occasionally calls it [1, 2]
Summary: A roundup of news from the weekend and today, with emphasis on the elements inside the system (or the media) which push for regressive policies that benefit them financially at the expense of everybody else
THERE is progress being made toward patent justice, albeit there are self-serving elements that are parasitic and non-producing. They battle to maintain the status quo, if not to make it even worse. Below are the latest examples.
The other day we mentioned the latest disappointing move from CAFC, which in essence defended patent trolls in the US (where they sparingly use software patents for extortion, even when these patents would not withstand a court’s scrutiny). CAFC supporting patent trolls shouldn’t be surprising given CAFC’s history. Joe Mullin reacts as follows: “Patent reform advocates who were hoping to “shut down the Eastern District of Texas” face disappointment today, as the top US patent appeals court ruled (PDF) against a venue transfer in a dispute between two food companies.”
Don’t expect reform to come from CAFC, initiator of software patents. From SCOTUS? Maybe. Is an appeal next on the agenda? Will this reach SCOTUS?
There is a new motion to convince the Australian government to ban software patents (officially). It’s part of a broader motion which also suggests some of the following changes, as covered some days ago:
In its draft report released on Friday the commission recommends that action must be taken to “rebalance” the existing IP laws with a new system that balances the interests of rights holders and users.
The commission says that while a good system balances the interests of rights holders and users, Australia’s IP system has swung too far in favour of vocal rights holders and influential IP exporting nations.
Patent attorney Mark Summerfield, along with other patent maximalists (whom he flirts with online), already attacks/mocks the Commission for daring to make these suggestions. Perhaps it threatens his source of income, which is basically patent wars, confrontation, saber-rattling etc.
“Now that a Committee in Australia proposed ban of swpats,” Benjamin Henrion correctly noted, “IBM and other patent agents calls the move “flawed”…”
We mentioned IBM’s patent chief and his response yesterday (noted towards the end).
India is still under heavy attack by the software patents lobby (for almost a year now, as it intensified last summer). India’s media has just published this opinion that’s summarised as follows: “It’s to the credit of policymakers that they have steadfastly refused to kiss this pig called ‘software patents’, despite it being dressed up in the lipstick of ‘innovation’” (not just in software).
The article is titled “Lipstick on a pig” and “The pig in question is the regime of software patents being advocated by some multinational corporations (MNCs),” notes the author. Indians will hopefully get involved in this process and provide input with which to counter the lobbyists, who never grow tired (they’re paid for it).
IAM ‘magazine’, a patents maximalist, wants us to believe that “trolling” is now “monetisation drive” (asking for ‘protection money’ while barely, hardly or not at all developing anything). In relation to software and BM patents in Korea (it calls these “fintech patents”) it urges the country, which is traditionally not aggressive/assertive in the patents sense, to get more trollish. IAM itself is funded by patent trolls (in part). Not nice, IAM, not nice…
In the continent where EPO officials regularly lobby EU officials, despite the EPO being a non-EU body, there is still an effort to bring software patents to European member states.
Here is MIP becoming platform of patent maximalists who do UPC advocacy (to sell their services). Well, according to this tweet, the article is “sponsored” (i.e. promotional) and it says:
The opt‐out possibility offered by Article 83 UPCA pays lots of attention to the choices patentees are facing with regards to their filing strategy. We focus here on defensive strategies in the new legislative framework, in particular on actions before national courts.
These uncertainties make it difficult for parties to implement a defensive strategy. Is it worth investing in an invalidity action in a national court, before entry into force of the UPC? Assuming such an action impacts patentees’ choices at all, will it completely prevent the use of the UPC or only preclude the use of the UPC for a nullity action?
With UPC “uncertainties make it difficult for parties to implement a defensive strategy,” so they turn to patent lawyers. The UPC is very good for aggressors and for lawyers; it’s bad for everybody else. █
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Summary: Australian advice against software patents, which can hopefully influence Australian politicians and put an end, once and for all, to all software patents in Australia
Australia’s long fight over the issue of software patenting was covered here in the not-so-recent past. It was about half a decade ago. See the following articles for instance, as well as this Wiki section (Australia):
We also mentioned Australia’s stance more recently in articles such as:
In a nutshell, while Australia does not officially boast tolerating patents on software, it does in fact allow many of them, unlike New Zealand.
There was some good news in this morning’s press coverage as according to this article, titled “Dump software patents, allow geoblocking bypass: Productivity Commission,” things may be about to change:
Australia should remove the ability to patent software and allow consumers to circumvent geoblocking of services like Netflix, the Productivity Commission recommended today.
The commission today published a set of far-reaching draft recommendations to the government to redress the balance of intellectual rights away from rights holders and in favour of users.
Among its recommendations, the commission said Australians should be able to access online content in a timely and affordable manner.
Echoing the findings of both the Harper competition review and the parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing, the Productivity Commission said restrictions by rights holders were having the opposite effect and actually encouraging internet piracy.
Australia’s patent system similarly needs an overhaul, according to the commission.
It believes the system is poorly targeted, with some “inventions” bordering on trivial and being protected for too long.
This creates low quality patents, stymies competition, and frustrates efforts of follow-on innovators while raising costs for the entire nation, the commission argued.
Business methods and software should not be able to be patented, the commission said, as it discourages software innovation and provides strong incentives to block competitors and hinder software development.
Australia currently affords “excessive” patent protection to business methods and software, with terms longer than development cycles, it said.
The commission pointed to the open source movement as providing incentives to innovate and disseminate new software without the need for patent protections.
As copyright also covers software, the commission said this raises the question about whether multiple forms of intellectual property protection is needed for computer code.
It said excluding business methods and software from the patent system would bring Australia in line with other nations.
Here is what CBS (US) wrote about it:
Business methods and software (BM&S) should be completely excluded from being patentable, the commission recommended, because the patent term is “far longer than the development cycle of BM&S”. It pointed to open-source software as proof of a more beneficial alternative for the community.
“[BM&S] patents have rarely spurred software innovation, but provided strong incentives for strategic behaviour to block competitors and hinder software development,” the draft report argues.
“In some cases, the BM&S is obsolete by the time a patent for it is granted … The open-source movement demonstrates that incentives to innovate and disseminate new software can occur in the absence of patent protections.”
Australia is evidently close to officially banning such patents, but only if it follows the Commission’s findings. This would be well overdue. Here is another article which speaks about patent scope a little more broadly:
Other recommendations include not extending the period of protection for registered designs, fine-tuning the trade marks and plant breeders statutes, belatedly including an Objects clause in the Patents Act, rethinking the controversial ‘innovation’ patents arrangements and bringing intellectual property transactions under Australian competition law. Efforts to streamline the regime will involve substantial investment in the Patents Office and dysfunctional Therapeutic Goods Agency. We can expect patent practitioners to savage the Commission’s stance on what it regards as trivial patents, alongside its call to deny business patents and software patents. ‘Big Pharma’ will again damn calls to wind back practices such as evergreening, extended periods of protection for pharmaceuticals and undue protection for test data.
Many other articles alluded to this but focused on pharmaceutical patents and/or geo-blocking for more attention to be placed on these other contentious issues [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19].
Is Australia going to do the right thing, which software developers actually want, and ban software patents? Contacting one’s representatives might help bring rise to bills to that effect in the Australian authorities. █
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