State of litigation
Summary: New evidence, based on two stories where large victims of patent trolls fought back (rather than cough out settlement money), show that software patents increasingly get tossed out by judges, even in trolls-friendly courts
WHEN a software patent that’s owned by a troll (the classic scenario) is reported on by the corporate media it’s rather easy to spot based on “LLC” in the title, or sometimes just the word “Texas”. The targets of litigation by these trolls needn’t be just US companies, especially if (or when) the UPC becomes a reality.
A German company (maybe the most famous German company, Mercedes-Benz) has become a victim of some US patent troll called “Vehicle Intelligence”. There is nothing about it in Wikipedia and their (his?) Web site is just a handful of pages with all the hallmarks of a patent troll, where “products” are just “licensing” (i.e. patent tax). Reading this article about the troll, we find that “the inventor, Kevin Roe, is also the patent attorney” (again, classic troll). To quote the opening paragraph from Patently-O: “Vehicle Intelligence and Safety LLC is the owner of United States Patent Number 7,394,392 vehicle safety improvements. In particular, the patent claims systems and methods for testing vehicle operators and then taking control of the vehicle if the operator is deemed impaired. Senior Judge Hart of the Northern District of Illinois ruled on the pleadings (12(c)) that the asserted claims were invalid as being drawn to patent-ineligible subject matter under Section 101 of the Patent Act. On appeal, the Federal Circuit here affirms – holding that “the disputed claims cover only abstract ideas coupled with routine data-gathering steps and conventional computer activity.” An early potential strike against the patent that the inventor, Kevin Roe, is also the patent attorney who prosecuted the case and the litigator who filed the appellate briefs.”
“Are we seeing software patents on the retreat in the home of software patents? And if so, why on Earth is the EPO‘s management ushering in more of them?”Got that? “Section 101 of the Patent Act.” This is a relief as it contributes to the belief or the correct perception that software patents are on the run in the Unites States.
There is another bit of good news, akin to the above. Remember that Patent TrollTracker had worked for Cisco before he got himself and/or his employer sued by a troll for defamation or whatever? Well, Cisco, based on this new report, has just beaten a patent troll that had struck in Texas, which attracted a lot of attention this month [1, 2, 3, 4], 5]. “In 2013,” wrote the trolls expert, “a two-judge majority on the panel found that Cisco should have been allowed to tell the jury they had a “good faith belief” that the patent was invalid. The jury instructions were thus improper, and the appeals judges kicked the case back down to the trial court in the Eastern District of Texas.”
Well, the $64,000,000 verdict has just been overturned.
Are we seeing software patents on the retreat in the home of software patents? And if so, why on Earth is the EPO‘s management ushering in more of them? Beggars belief! █
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The ‘new’ Microsoft…
Satya Ballmer: different face, same strategy/policy
Summary: Microsoft continues its vicious patent war on anything resembling competition (however small), even the competition against which Microsoft previously committed competition abuses/crimes (subject of court cases) in order to attain total monopoly
MICROSOFT, which is connected to many patent trolls (including Intellectual Ventures, the world’s biggest), is still busy suing companies. Microsoft has a long history of patent aggression, including patent litigation against Linux (not just threats thereof). As longtime readers of this site may know, this and only this was the raison d’être of this Web site.
“…since winning a case for infringement of design patents can lead to a damage analysis based on “lost profits,” which can theoretically lead to a patent owner getting all of a defendant’s profits.”
–Joe MullinAs we noted the other day, referring to the original from the EFF, Microsoft is now attacking a company that once dominated word processing. Microsoft allegedly engaged in competition crimes against this company, leading to decades of expensive litigation. This company also pioneered some important GNU/Linux efforts until Microsoft shut these down with a mysterious deal (which we wrote about on several occasions around 2007). Well, Microsoft is now trying to drive this company into bankruptcy, using patents.
What’s the name of this company? Corel. We have a whole category about Corel (with 51 articles, as well as leaked court documents). History is important here and it’s imperative that people properly study Corel to truly grasp how severe this situation really is.
Microsoft is now attacking Corel with what the EFF calls “Stupid Patent of the Month”. As noted by one good journalist (Joe Mullin), “it’s serious ammo, since winning a case for infringement of design patents can lead to a damage analysis based on “lost profits,” which can theoretically lead to a patent owner getting all of a defendant’s profits.”
“Remember the company called Novell? Yes, that company that pretty much vanished half a decade ago and whose patent/special deal with Microsoft (SUSE) will expire tomorrow (there are no signs of renewal or continuation).”In other words, expect layoffs, liquidation, bankruptcy, etc. Legal fees aren’t low, either. Remember the company called Novell? Yes, that company that pretty much vanished half a decade ago and whose patent/special deal with Microsoft (SUSE) will expire tomorrow (there are no signs of renewal or continuation). Other than the name being similar, Novell and Corel have a lot in common because both competed against Microsoft until signing some infamous deals with Microsoft, leading to their demise, as well as the demise of their ongoing court cases against Microsoft (for competition abuses/crimes). When Novell imploded Microsoft grabbed its patents. Sweet deal for Microsoft. Novell is virtually gone (devoured by another company) and its patents are in CPTN, which is a ‘conglomerate’ pool of Linux and Android foes such as Oracle and Apple.
“Microsoft is now using patents primarily against Android, which the company is at war against (don’t believe the pretenses and the “loves Linux” baloney).”We quite liked how Glyn Moody framed the situation in his article “If Microsoft Wins Its ‘Stupid Patent Of The Month’ Lawsuit, Expect A Plague Of Trolls To Move Into Design Patents”.
As if Microsoft itself is not somewhat of a massive troll itself (we wrote a lot about this before). Just look what the company has been doing with patents this past decade. “The recent Techdirt article about Microsoft’s design patent on a slider,” Moody wrote, “understandably focused on the absurdity of companies being forced to hand over all of the profits that derive from a product if it is found to have infringed on someone else’s design patent even in just a tiny portion of that product. But there’s another angle worth mentioning here that picks up on something Techdirt has written about several times before: the rise and threat of patent thickets. Back in 2012, it was estimated that 250,000 active patents impacted smartphones. That makes it impossible to build devices without licensing large numbers of patents, and even then, it’s likely that claims of infringement will still be brought.”
Microsoft is now using patents primarily against Android, which the company is at war against (don’t believe the pretenses and the "loves Linux" baloney).
“The EPO’s lawyers who currently deal with my case were also recently seen working from the same side as Microsoft on the patent front, based on Reuters.”Here is another new article about Microsoft’s “Stupid Patent of the Month”. “The design patent,” says Softpedia, “numbered D554,140, basically states that Microsoft is the owner of the slider you can see in the photo attached to the article. This is the very same slider that the company uses in its Office productivity suite to allow users to zoom in or out of documents, but it has also been implemented in a wide variety of Microsoft and non-Microsoft products.”
But when patent examiners are pressured to issue patents in bulk and/or do a rushed job (as in the EPO for example, with Microsoft being on the high-priority list), no wonder such nonsense gets granted, leaving European courts to sort out the mess at a huge expense to the defendants. It is worth noting again that only articles of mine which mentioned Microsoft were even the target of threatening legal letters from the EPO’s lawyers, which gives room for speculation. The EPO’s lawyers who currently deal with my case were also recently seen working from the same side as Microsoft on the patent front, based on Reuters. █
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Where patent trolls with software patents are the stars of the show…
Summary: A look at some recent court actions in the US, motivated by software patent grants
The power outage at the USPTO aside (“It will be interesting indeed to find out how this quite extraordinary state of affairs plays out after the holiday weekend,” IP Kat wrote), there were some other problems at the USPTO earlier this holiday (or just before it began). It’s something for the EPO to learn from (EPO staff as a whole, not management).
A ‘superstar’ patent troll, Spangenberg (shown above with troll cross-pollination), which we wrote about before [1, 2, 3], is said to have just attacked a company which produces Free software. It happened just shortly prior to an IPO and watch how many other companies were sued. To quote this report: “In the realm of patent assertion, there is one man who stands head and shoulders above the rest: Erich Spangenberg. Of the more than 1,600 companies he has sued for patent infringement in the past decade, the most recent is Atlassian.
“The likes of Spangenberg, wielding software patents, attack thousands of practicing companies.”“Not that you’d know it was Spangenberg doing the suing; the action comes from Spangenberg-controlled Pherah LLC, a company that doesn’t even have a website.”
Also published just days ago was this article titled “Patent Trolls Attacked My Business”. The likes of Spangenberg, wielding software patents, attack thousands of practicing companies.
“My small business was the victim of abusive patent litigation,” said the author of of the latter article, “and I want to share my story to promote awareness of this growing problem. Capstone Photography provides photography services at events across the country, like marathons, triathlons and 5K road races. We have been in business since 2005. Naturally, we have a website where athletes can find and view their photos. It’s not rocket science. The basic premise of our site relies on a simple lookup function that any high school programmer could describe and execute.”
“Some of these patents were granted by the EPO and later invalidated (after Apple had sued Samsung and others).”Not only software companies are affected. Watch how Apple, a branding giant, attacked Samsung (mostly a hardware company) just before Christmas. As Florian Müller put it: “While Apple is usually the net payer when it comes to patents (most recently vis-à-vis Ericsson), it has received $548 million from Samsung this month, though a reimbursement may be demanded later. Samsung might base a future reimbursement claim on its design patent-related appeal to the Supreme Court (if that one suceeds, which would not be a huge surprise) and/or on the fact that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has held the ’915 pinch-to-zoom API-related patent invalid (a decision Apple is appealing to the Federal Circuit) and/or the increasingly likely invalidation of the D’677 iPhone design patent.”
Some of these patents were granted by the EPO and later invalidated (after Apple had sued Samsung and others). What does that tell us about the direction the EPO is heading in? Europe already attracts some patent trolls with software patents. █
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The Koreans believe that a US court might actually rule against an influential US company
Summary: Remarks about Apple’s relentless attacks on Free/Open Source software (FOSS), using dubious software patents and patents on vague/generic ‘designs’ that probably never ought to have been granted in the first place
THE USPTO-granted patents, especially after the SCOTUS ruling on Alice, are a lot more limited, primarily but not only when it comes to software. Does it mean that SCOTUS can offer redemption to Samsung, and by extension to Android? Well, only if the Apple-connected government actually allows the case to proceed to SCOTUS, which we very highly doubt (see Oracle v. Android [sic] with the government’s now-infamous denial [1, 2, 3]). SCOTUS should really be dealing with important human rights issues and landmark decisions pertaining to civil liberties, not Apple fanatics who almost religiously believe that Apple invented everything (even when the necro-worshiped leader publicly admits "stealing" ideas but still acts like a spoiled brat [1, 2]).
“Samsung may need to waste a lot of money on lawyers and also pursue rather silly patents because Apple is aggressive and is constantly attacking whoever sells the best of Android.”Nevertheless, as we have demonstrated here for a number of years, Apple was stockpiling a lot of software patents after it had struggled with the rise of Android, which is of course based on Linux and is Free/Open Source software (FOSS). Apple attacked Samsung after it had viciously attacked HTC (with a far smaller patent portfolio, hence an easier target). Samsung must now tread more carefully or at least wisely. It needs to be smart, not just pursuing justice at all costs (which can be enormous costs, as has been proven to be the case thus far), so “Samsung is on track to unseat IBM as the number one company when it comes to winning U.S. utility patents,” according to this new article. Another new article, titled “Apple Stealing the Show with New Patents”, says: “As we know Apple frequently steals the show with marvelous patents that it files with the passage of time prior to its new offerings. The number of patents under Apple’s belt is so exceptional and that is why Apple has been appreciated by millions across the globe. The new feather in Apple’s cap is the awe-inspiring patent that the company has filed with the Patent and Trademark Office.”
Samsung may need to waste a lot of money on lawyers and also pursue rather silly patents because Apple is aggressive and is constantly attacking whoever sells the best of Android. All these fees are passed down the customers; phones become more expensive and sometimes, despite market demand and free code already being available (FOSS), key features are removed for fear of litigation. Cui bono? That’s why we even called for a boycott of Apple nearly half a decade ago. It was all to do with patents and these shameless attacks on FOSS. Does Apple even have the humility to claim to be some kind of “Open Source” leader? What ever happened to dignity and adherence to truth? Brand worship won’t last forever if Apple is launching an assault on truth itself.
“Does Apple even have the humility to claim to be some kind of “Open Source” leader?”Anyway, the massive news last night was the latest important move from Samsung. it was covered bty the Wall Street (actually News Corp.) Journal and many other sites, in articles such as:
There are many more articles about this. Is this what ‘innovation’ is supposed to look like? It looks more like protectionism, for those who are affluent and infinitely greedy. What ever happened to the myths of patents as protectors of the ‘little guy’? Well, these were just myths intended to help ‘sell’ an unjust system to the wider public, ensuring consent that is based on misapprehension, misconceptions, and misinterpretations.
Rajesh Vallabh of Foley Hoag (patent lawyers, i.e. those who profit from patents at the expense of everyone else) now gives advice to startups regarding patents. We’re rather appalled that he can write this with a straight face; it was published only in a journal of patent lawyers (for the most part) and it says things like “Patents can be vitally important for protecting the innovations of a start-up company” (and he sounds like he’s actually serious).
Start-ups are massively overwhelmed by trolls (see what happens in the US these days) and also crushed by companies with far more patents, even broader ones. Empirical evidence serves to suggest that the real benefactors in today’s largest patent systems are companies such as Apple. These systems are used for monopolisation, occupation, etc.
“Empirical evidence serves to suggest that the real benefactors in today’s largest patent systems are companies such as Apple.”Nowadays, considering how the patent systems have devolved, patents primarily exist to benefit large multinationals. Just see how the EPO already works primarily for large multinationals and even discriminates in their favour. Those who point this out (hi!) are threatened with lawsuits. Saying this and providing evidence of this thus becomes the unsayable. █
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Software patents are getting old and patently rusty
Summary: With Alice and with Bilski as prominently cited cases, a software patent of Allvoice gets thrown aside by the most software patents-friendly court in the United States
THIS afternoon we take a little break from Benoît Battistelli’s EPO. One longtime foe of ours has certainly been CAFC, which not only brought software patents into existence several decades ago (in spite of public opinion and public interest) but also continued to rule overzealously in favour of them, time and time again.
Patent Buddy wrote about Allvoice v. Microsoft, calling it “a 101/Alice case” in CAFC. We have made a copy of this decision
[PDF] and found that both Bilski and Alice are mentioned in page 14, quoted as follows: “Section 101 thus specifies four independent categories of inventions or discoveries that are eligible for protection: processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. ‘In choosing such expansive terms . . . modified by the comprehensive ‘any,’ Congress plainly contemplated that the patent laws would be given wide scope.”’ Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U.S. 593, 601 (2010) (quoting Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 308 (1980)). If a claim is drawn to subject matter that falls outside the four statutory categories of § 101, it is not patent eligible. In re Nuitjen, 500 F.3d 1346, 1354 (Fed. Cir. 2007). This is true without regard to whether it might otherwise be ineligible because it encompasses a law of nature, natural phenomenon, or abstract idea. See Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 124 S. Ct. 2347, 2354 (2014).”
“It’s good to see growing awareness of the fact that software patents are generally “stupid”.”And from the conclusion: “Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in enforcing the local patent rules, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement as to claims 28, 37–38, 49–51, 56–57, 71–74, and 77 with respect to the “link data” limitation. In light of this ruling, we need not reach Allvoice’s other arguments regarding infringement of these claims. Additionally, with respect to the validity of claims 60–68 of the ’273 Patent, Allvoice conceded that these claims were limited to software instructions without any hardware limitations. In the absence of such limitations, the claims as written fail to recite a manufacture, or any other statutorily recognized invention. Accordingly, we also affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment of invalidity of claims 60–68 of the ’273 Patent.”
We find such cases curious because they serve to reinforce the trend which Bilski Blog dubbed "Alicestorm", showing that ever since Alice very rarely can software patents endure or survive in a courtroom. It thus greatly devalues them and reduces the incentive to pursue them in the first place. No wonder the USPTO has formally altered its examination guidelines.
“Today’s US patent system is clearly becoming quite hostile towards software patents.”Mr. Nazer from the EFF, an activist against “bad” patents (who sometimes specifically names software patents) has just made it into the trend-setting media in the US, under the headline “The 4 worst patents of 2015″. Guess what? It’s about software patents, not just bad (or worse) patents. “In April,” to give one example, “the patent office approved US Patent No. 9,013,334, which covers “notification” systems that handle changes in the quantity of items being delivered or picked up by a customer. The “inventor” of this brainchild is not an entrepreneur but rather a patent lawyer clearly gaming the system. The holder filed a provisional claim in 2003, which he has used to shoehorn some 20 patents, all of them vague, broad and abstract.”
Also see Forbes with “Monday’s Must-Reads For Entrepreneurs: The Stupidest Patents Of The Year”. It’s good to see growing awareness of the fact that software patents are generally “stupid”. Contrast this with blogs of patent lawyers, where the priority seems to be amplifying the selective (biased by omission) claims of software patents viability and authors explain how to trick judges or examiners into allowing software patents. Today’s US patent system is clearly becoming quite hostile towards software patents. That’s great news. For patent systems to be worth something they need to be strict and demanding; they must carefully evaluate the wider (collective) impact of each patent granted and each domain that’s affected. Overpatenting became an epidemic in the US and more recently in China; Europe can hopefully still be rescued from the maximalists and monopolists. █
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Summary: As the dawn of a new, post-software patents era is upon us, those who were making money from conflict are bemoaning the state of affairs
In order to salvage whatever reputation it has left, the USPTO must follow the example of SCOTUS (US Supreme Court) and limit the granting of patents on software. This doesn’t mean that software patents are already dead, but little by little we may be getting there. It’s only bad news for society’s richest people.
“This doesn’t mean that software patents are already dead, but little by little we may be getting there.”According to the bankers’ media, Goldman Sachs now uses patents versus competition from the likes of Bitcoin. “Goldman Sachs,” explains this article, “has made a patent application for a cryptocurrency settlement system in a move that underlines bank hopes that the architecture behind bitcoin can revolutionise global payments.
“The application for a new virtual currency, dubbed “SETLcoin” by the bank, said it would offer “nearly instantaneous execution and settlement” of trades involving assets including stocks and bonds.”
“They are abstract and are therefore not suitable or worthy of patent grants.”We previously wrote many articles here about patents which relate to electronic payments. The challenges are being tackled not with innovation but with patent monopolies. Remember that the famous Alice case too involved a bank (CLS Bank). Patent lawyers are incidentally whining again, alleging that the sky is falling because the Supreme Court did its job and told the public the truth about software patents. They are abstract and are therefore not suitable or worthy of patent grants.
“”Innovators” is what the lawyers basically call monopolists, for the most part.”Here we have another legal firm, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, calling the possible end of software patents (or the beginning of the end) “wreaking havoc” as if it’s the most terrible thing to even happen (to them at least). To quote their new article: “The Alice Corp. decision and its progeny have been wreaking havoc at the USPTO. In addition to increasing costs, it has cast a shadow on our patent system. Innovators are seemingly unable to get patents without jumping through the ill‑defined “abstract idea/significantly more” hoop. Worse still, if your application ends up classified as a Business Method application, you could face a never‑ending string of § 101 rejections for the time being. Clearly, new approaches are needed to get past perfunctory rejections that dismiss claims as mere abstractions.”
“Innovators” is what the lawyers basically call monopolists, for the most part. In their minds, more patents absolutely imply more innovation. It’s nonsense. By lowering the bar (and the accompanying fees) every patent office can increase the number of patents. This does nothing for innovation. In many cases, innovation can only be retarded by this.
So, after this dramatic opening they say: “Rejections under § 101 generally contain a statement about what “abstract idea” the claims represent, along with a statement that any “additional elements” do not constitute “significantly more” than that idea. It’s quite difficult to get over this first hurdle. The Interim Eligibility Guidance from July asserts that abstract ideas “need not be old or long‑prevalent.” Combined with the Supreme Court’s statement in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, 134 S.Ct. 2347, 2354 (2014), that “all inventions . . . embody, use, reflect, rest upon, or apply laws of nature, natural phenomena, or abstract ideas,” it is clear that the USPTO considers very few claims to not include some abstract idea.”
And rightly so. USPTO is doing what’s long overdue because it must become more harmonious with courts’ decisions, otherwise confidence in patents will decline and almost every patent granted by the USPTO will be viewed as bogus, invalid, incapable of withstanding scrutiny in court.
“Some articles in the media are overwhelmingly dominated by views of profiteers to whom terms like ‘innovation’ mean nothing; they never innovated anything in their lives, they just engineered disputes, threats, and lawsuits, often on behalf of some large and powerful institutions.”At the end, watch how the lawyers are selling themselves to help confuse examiners and get around the rules: “request an interview with the examiner to get clarification as to which elements are abstract. In your next response, argue that the technological elements of the claims are outside of that abstract idea. This will force the examiner to more clearly explain the rejection, which will prepare your application for appeal or – better yet – result in the withdrawal of the rejection.”
Meaning, pay a patent lawyer (i.e. a parasite) to see how you can patent software despite increasingly hostile rules (examination guidelines).
Yesterday at a Christmas party I had a chat with a retired MSP from London (he used to work as a programmer with Fortran before becoming a manager). When I explained to him some of these issues he ended up saying that if patent lawyers end up dried of income, he would very much applaud it. Some articles in the media are overwhelmingly dominated by views of profiteers to whom terms like ‘innovation’ mean nothing; they never innovated anything in their lives, they just engineered disputes, threats, and lawsuits, often on behalf of some large and powerful institutions. Litigation is not production.█
“Never confuse motion with action.”
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When competition is becoming lawyers’ business, generally unhinged from science and technology
Summary: A roundup of news of interest with a special focus on software patents, which severely affect one’s ability to liberally develop software and are potentially being expanded to countries outside the United States, where the Supreme Court may have already, in effect, put an end to them anyway
RETUNING to our main focus again, this post brings together all the news we were able to find about software patents towards the end of the week. It’s sub-divided into four parts.
Software Patents in India
As readers probably know by now, as we wrote half a dozen articles about this subject alone, India’s political system, which has a lot of power in the world, is surrendering to the lobbies of multinationals and offers them patents on software, effectively stomping on India’s massive population, software developers in particular. Here is a new “[t]ime-line of Software Patent Law in India” which explains the latest development as follows:
August 21, 2015: Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions released by IPO. Provide that:
– Mere use of mathematical formula in a claim to clearly specify the scope of protection being sought would not render the claim a mathematical method. Eg. Method of encoding, decoding, encryption
– While business methods are non-patentable, if the claimed matter specifies an apparatus or technical process for carrying out invention even in part, the claims to be examined as whole
– So long as a computer programme is not claimed in itself, but in a manner so as to establish industrial applicability and fulfils all other criteria of patentability, the patent should not be denied.
These loopholes are even worse than what we have in Europe (similar to New Zealand’s loopholes). If Narendra Modi and his colleagues fail to stop this, India will suffer from inflated pricing and many software houses (local) will shut down. Nothing has actually changed in India which justifies this latest change to guidelines. It probably boils down to lobbying and corruption. We know which companies want software patents in India; they’re not Indian companies but companies that exploit Indian labour for cost-savings, ensuring that India stays dependent on foreign-made systems with imperialistic back doors.
Software Patents in the US
SCOTUS, the US Supreme Court, has emerged as somewhat of a hero in the fight against software patents. We are grateful for Alice as it’s a huge game-changer. Patent lawyers are plotting to patent software nonetheless, even after the Supreme Court banned many of them. How typical. Expect a major war of words between people who actually produce software and patent lawyers whose role is parasitic at best (as well as their very rich clients and patent aggressors, i.e. companies like Microsoft).
Microsoft’s Dubious Software Patents
PatentVue, a patents glorification site which even celebrates Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures, has just published the article “Microsoft Has a Diverse Software Focused Patent Portfolio”.
“If Ballmer was the extortion racket CEO (like the Mafia), then Nadella is the blackmail CEO. Nothing has changed.”Microsoft needs such patents so that it can attack, extort, and blackmail Android/Linux. Microsoft has been pressuring in favour software patents in Europe (often via lobbyists and proxies, e.g. Association for Competitive Technology, which keeps changing its name in order to dodge negative publicity). This year alone Microsoft attacked Samsung, Kyocera, Dell, and ASUS using software patents, forcing them — by means of patent blackmail — to put Microsoft spyware inside Android. If Ballmer was the extortion racket CEO (like the Mafia), then Nadella is the blackmail CEO. Nothing has changed.
Quoting the patent maximalists from PatentVue: “Earlier this month, Microsoft and Google announced a settlement to end nearly 20 patent-related lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany. The deal brought to close years of patent litigation surrounding various technologies, including gaming systems, mobile devices, and multimedia streaming.
“Envision IP analyzed Microsoft’s US patent portfolio to understand where the company has focused its patenting efforts, as well as to determine emerging technologies which Microsoft may be developing. At a high level, we identified 31,209 in-force, unexpired US patents owned by Microsoft and its subsidiaries. According to the company’s annual 10-K filed in July, Microsoft owns “over 57,000 US and international patents”. Also, according to Microsoft’s Patent Tracker Tool, the company owned 29,235 patents as of December 11, 2014.”
“It’s Microsoft’s utterly shameful patent assault on a Dutch company (and by extension on Linux) using discredited patents which probably never ought to have been granted in the first place.”Rather than produce software Microsoft has been busy bullying the EPO into granting it patents as soon as possible (many of these are on software), even without proper prior art search, checks for inventive step/s, suitability based on European patent scope and so on (there is a fast track now, so an even sloppier examination process is clearly inevitable). Speaking to patent maximalists with a Microsoft Windows Web site several years ago, Microsoft’s Marshall Phelps said that Microsoft would have 50,000 patents within two years. The EPO, as he explained it, “can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” (more so if Microsoft pressures the examiners to do their job at a rush).
For those inside the EPO who don’t understand Microsoft’s insidious (uniquely so!) role in the EPO, including the pressure for a V.I.P. lane, we can humbly suggest a quick read though the TomTom case. It’s Microsoft’s utterly shameful patent assault on a Dutch company (and by extension on Linux) using discredited patents which probably never ought to have been granted in the first place.
Shooting the Mark Cuban (Messenger)
Mark Cuban, an influential person in the US, has expressed his opposition to software patents on many occasions and even put money where his mouth was (investment in Vringo notwithstanding).
“This isn’t what the patent system was supposed to be about.”Patent lawyers and nasty (at times exceptionally rude) proponents of software patents resort to an ad hominem attacks on Mark Cuban, still (ongoing smear campaign). Here is the latest such attack. Patent examiners (technical people) and software developers alike ought to know that their enemies are often patent lawyers and lobbyists, not just their main clients (cash cows), i.e. companies like Microsoft. These people have made a mockery of the patent systems with all sorts of loopholes and corporate/V.I.P. queues. This isn’t what the patent system was supposed to be about. At the beginning it was advocated to the public as the mechanism by which a lone inventor can protect himself or herself from a corporate raid on ideas. Now it’s all reversed. It’s protectionism for the world’s billionaires. Fix it or abolish it. █
“People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
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Suddenly software patents don’t suit even Apple’s agenda all that much…
Summary: Another blow for software patents in the United States (US) as even a company that notoriously exploited them to impose embargoes on Linux (Android) devices is finally finding these patents unsuitable
THE USPTO has been thoroughly impacted by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), for a ruling from last summer meant that a lot of patent applications, especially ones that pertain to software, are no longer eligible and should thus be rejected/discarded. Techrights believes that Alice v. CLS Bank can gradually pave the way to a world free from software patents and that without this case, software patents would only gradually expand and become universally acceptable.
“Techrights believes that Alice v. CLS Bank can gradually pave the way to a world free from software patents and that without this case, software patents would only gradually expand and become universally acceptable.”The Alice case, which continues to squash a lot of software patents (those that are being tested in a court of law), changed the game and even Apple, a leading foe of Linux and Free/libre Open Source software, is now using Alice in order to squash software patents (those which are asserted against Apple). According to this article from Florian Müller: “The Apple v. Ericsson docket in the Northern District of California was worth taking another look (after quite a while): two weeks ago, Apple brought a motion for summary judgment of invalidity of two patents asserted by Ericsson in its counterclaims to Apple’s declaratory judgment complaint, and the motion is entirely based on 35. U.S.C. § 101 in light of last year’s famous (or infamous in the eyes of patent attorneys) Alice ruling by the Supreme Court on patent-ineligible subject matter…”
Patent Buddy took note of these patents [1, 2] and we wish to remind readers of our recent post about patent trolls in Europe and Ericsson's troll, Unwired Planet.
“Maybe the folks at the ITC think they’re above the law, even above the Supreme Court.”The fascinating thing here is that even Apple, which is attacking users with software patents (embargoes, feature removal, price hikes) and maliciously spying on users, is making use of the Alice case. But perhaps the most interesting article today concerns the United States ‘International’ Trade Commission (it’s not really international, it’s nationalistic and biased; it’s often used by Microsoft and Apple to ban Android devices), which according to patent lawyers remains reluctant to take account of the Alice case. Maybe the folks at the ITC think they’re above the law, even above the Supreme Court.
“Outside of the ITC,” wrote the author, “defendants have been increasingly successful in challenging the patentability of asserted claims under Section 101. Recent decisions by the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit have clarified, and arguably narrowed, the scope of patentable subject matter, and have repeatedly urged district courts to resolve any Section 101 defenses as soon as possible. At the ITC, however, this defense has rarely been asserted, and has only once been successful since Bilski. Nevertheless, ITC practitioners should expect to see more of these defenses in the near future, and there are interesting, open questions surrounding how the ITC will interpret and implement the Supreme Court’s decisions on this issue.”
“The injunctions are so biased that it’s just too hard to ignore.”We have been vocal critics of the ITC and its dubious practices since the Bilski days, so this one is yet another example for our list. It often seems like all that the can ITC offer is protectionism for US (mega)corporations, not justice. The injunctions are so biased that it’s just too hard to ignore. █
“Software patents have been nothing but trouble for innovation. We the software engineers know this, yet we actually have full-blown posters in our break-room showcasing the individual engineers who came up with something we were able to push through the USPTO. Individually, we pretty much all consider the software-patent showcase poster to be a colossal joke.” —Kelledin, PLI: State Street Overruled… PERIOD
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