Progress being made… (and the infamous patent on the progress bar would be a thing of the past)
Summary: The steps taken by US Justices, who view patents from a compassionate point of view rather than a maximalist perspective, undo decades of a patent gold rush
THE USPTO became “Great Again” under the latter Obama years (maybe the past three years). “Key Patent Law Decisions Of 2016″, a new article from the patent lawyers’ platform, recalls that “[t]he U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wrestled with a number of important issues of patent law in 2016, including in three Supreme Court opinions (with more on the way) and three en banc Federal Circuit opinions. The issues in these cases were diverse and wide-ranging, including administrative review of patents in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) and the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), recognition of a new patent agent privilege, and the Supreme Court’s first design patent decision in more than a century.”
“The patent microcosm is still moaning about decisions that are years behind; it wants a resurgence of patent maximalism, i.e. the misguided belief that the more patents we have, the better off the economy will be (not just their own bottom line).”We have covered most of these and pointed out that SCOTUS limited patent scope in 2016, just as it had done in 2015 and 2014 (Alice, Mayo and so on). This is fantastic news to patent reformers and we hope that reformist policies will persist under Trump. Posted behind paywall yesterday was the article “The Supreme Court’s Impact on Patentable Subject Matter”. The patent microcosm is still moaning about decisions that are years behind; it wants a resurgence of patent maximalism, i.e. the misguided belief that the more patents we have, the better off the economy will be (not just their own bottom line).
The EFF, which has been habitually attacked by the patent microcosm (Watchtroll called it “a leftist anti-patent activist coalition” [1, 2]), has just released a statement titled “EFF To Patent Office: Supreme Court Limits On Abstract Patents Are a Good Thing”; it’s a powerful statement which cites Alice — a decision which is now killing software patents. To quote:
“EFF has submitted comments to the Patent Office urging it not to support efforts to undermine the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. The Patent Office had called for public submissions regarding whether “legislative changes are desirable” in response to recent court decisions, including Alice. We explain that, far from harming the software industry, Alice has helped it thrive.
“Every software engineer, system administrator etc. that I speak to absolutely loves Alice. It was belated (by decades) justice to the software profession and it gives many software companies peace of mind.”“When the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Alice, it was a shock to a patent system that had been churning out software patents by the tens of thousands every year. Back in the 1990s, the Federal Circuit had opened the software patent floodgate with its ruling in State Street and In re Alappat. That decision held that any general purpose computer could be eligible for a patent so long as it is programmed to perform a particular function. In Alice, the Supreme Court substantially moderated that holding by ruling that a generic computer is not eligible for a patent simply because it is programed to implement an abstract idea.
“Courts have applied Alice to throw out many of the worst software patents. Alice is particularly valuable because, in some cases, courts have applied it early in litigation thereby preventing patent trolls from using the high expense of litigation to pressure defendants into settlements. While we think that the Federal Circuit could do more to diligently apply Alice, it has at least been a step forward.”
Every software engineer, system administrator etc. that I speak to absolutely loves Alice. It was belated (by decades) justice to the software profession and it gives many software companies peace of mind. I personally know some people whose employer/customers got attacked by patent trolls and suffered severely as a result. These patent trolls, as usual, relied on software patents.
Speaking of patent trolls, are they about to lose it all? SCOTUS intends to look into their breeding ground, as Above the Law noted this week, under the title “Leaving The Heartland?”
By accepting the case, the Supreme Court has already indicated it is willing to consider the question of whether the Federal Circuit has taken too expansive a view of venue in patent cases. If the Supreme Court decides that restrictive language in the patent venue statute controls, then patent cases will be permitted only in districts where either the defendant is incorporated or has a physical place of business. Since relatively few regular patent defendants meet either criteria in the EDTX, the thought is that the EDTX’s patent litigation well will quickly dry up. Which may be a boon to technology companies located on either coast, many of which would not miss the EDTX one iota. At the same time, the robust infrastructure that has arisen to support patent litigation in the EDTX would be adversely affected, likely to the economic detriment of the region.
Trump will likely nominate if not appoint a Scalia replacement. If all the rest of the Justices keep their seats, then we expect (as do others, including scholars) the Supreme Court to deal a mortal blow to patent trolls
Promising times ahead. █
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Summary: The Federal Circuit (CAFC) and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continue to squash a lot of patents on software, in contrast to that fake news from patent maximalists
WHENEVER PTAB (or a petitioner) puts forth an inter partes review the likelihood that the patent in question will be invalidated is high. In a sense, even without any lawyers and lawsuits, old rubbish patents find their way into the wastebasket. It’s like a cleanup operation inside the USPTO and the patent microcosm absolutely loathes it.
Some firms celebrate managing to escape the jaws of PTAB, whereas others see their patents turn to dust. They sought patents on non-inventions in the first place, so what did they expect?
Writing about a case which was mentioned here before, here is another report about an inter partes review:
Phigenix was a “for-profit discovery stage biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and biomedical research company”. Although Phigenix did not make products, it purported to have an extensive IP portfolio, including US Patent 8,080,534 (the ”534 patent’), which Phigenix alleged covered Genentech’s activities relating to Kadcyla. Phigenix asserted that it “was forced” to challenge ImmunoGen’s ’856 patent in IPR2014-00676 after Genentech refused to license Phigenix’s ’534 patent. In that inter partes review proceeding the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ultimately found ImmunoGen’s ’856 patent valid. Phigenix appealed the PTAB’s decision to the Federal Circuit.
“A great deal of angst [angst only for the patent microcosm] has been generated by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision,” wrote another site, “in Ex parte Itagaki and Nishihara, regarding the panel’s application of Section 101 (sua sponte as a new ground of rejection under 37 C.F.R. § 41.50(b)) that claims to a magnetic resonance imaging machine do not recite patent-eligible subject matter.”
Section 101 pertains to software patents, among other things. Here are some interesting new statistics about the Federal Circuit‘s agreement with PTAB:
As of the end of the year, the Federal Circuit had affirmed on every issue in 77.4% of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board appeals it had seen. Finnegan has analysed what parties can expect from cases that are remanded to the Board
Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner has published the latest statistics on the success of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) appeals at the Federal Circuit.
This helps refute a lot of the nonsense we have been seeing at Watchtroll — a site so focused on attacking PTAB, even cherry-picking cases (“graphical user interface patent”) to make it seem as though CAFC changed its tune. To quote Watchtroll’s accompanying tweet: “Will the PTAB find claims ineligible in a CBM that the CAFC just found to be eligible in litigation?”
Dennis Crouch also wrote about graphical user interface patents this week. These are essentially design and/or software patents, like that infamous progress bar patent. They should not have been granted in the first place.
“The Federal Circuit will also issue two en banc decisions from PTAB appeals,” MIP wrote the other day. It’s mentioned among US “Cases to look out for in 2017,” which include Lee v Tam:
The Supreme Court in the past two months has added two more patent cases – and they are both big ones – as well as hearing arguments in two others.
Following arguments in Lee v Tam on January 18, so far this term the Supreme Court will have heard arguments in five intellectual property cases (and already decided one of them) and is awaiting arguments in three more.
It’s a trademark case (still USPTO, as the “T” does not stand for patents) and it’s a subject that Patently-O repeatedly covered recently [1, 2]. Today it wrote: “First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” My question that I still do not understand for the Tam case: How is Tam’s speech being abridged by denial of his registration?”
The USPTO will never be perfect, but the very existence of PTAB is a step in the right direction and software patents, as per CAFC, are a barrier if not a violation of free speech (First Amendment). It is also useful to see statistics reaffirming CAFC’s support for PTAB, contrary to what the patent microcosm is trying to tell us (sparking perception of feuds that do not actually exist). █
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Summary: An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility
SEVERAL days ago we became aware of “Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction against Samsung for infringing upon three software patents.”
This has been covered by quite a few Apple-leaning sites and mainstream news sites, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. This article by Dennis Crouch of Patently-O said:
In a one-paragraph order, the Federal Circuit has vacated its prior design patent damages determination in Samsung v. Apple following the Supreme Court’s 2016 reversal. The appeal is reinstated, and new briefs will now be filed. (Federal Circuit Docket No. 14-1335).
Apple’s design patents cover various ornamental designs applied to the iPhone and infringing Samsung Galaxy devices. Samsung was found to infringe because it “sells … [an] article of manufacture to which such design … has been applied.” 35 U.S.C. 289. The statute calls for for the infringer to be “liable to the owner [of the patent] to the extent of his total profits.” In its original decision, the Federal Circuit held that “total profits” referred to Samsung’s total profits on its infringing phones – i.e., total profits associated with the article of manufacture to which the design has been applied.
The US Supreme Court was recently mentioned in relation to other cases. It will take on patents of reasonably large companies. “Today,” Patently-O wrote last week, “the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two dueling petitions involving the Federal Circuit’s 2015 interpretation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009.”
This was also covered by Natalie Rahhal in New York. She said that the “dispute between Amgen and Sandoz over aspects of the so-called patent dance outlined in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act was granted cert by the US Supreme Court” (SCOTUS).
“If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?”Writing from New York, again in relation to a SCOTUS, “Natalie Rahhal analyses the arguments of the amicus briefs filed in Lee v Tam, ahead of oral arguments in the case involving disparaging trade marks at the US Supreme Court on January 18,” according to this from MIP. This is not about patents, but the oral argument is imminent (2 days from now).
Looking outside the US for high-profile cases, there is also this case of Fujifilm v AbbVie (UK), which several sites have covered this month [1, 2] because “[g]eneric companies can seek court declarations that their own products are old or obvious in patent law terms under certain circumstances, the England & Wales Court of Appeal has ruled,” to quote MIP.
In Canada, the Supreme Court might soon hear this case where AstraZeneca is attempting to block generics. To quote MIP again: “The court on November heard arguments in AstraZeneca Canada v Apotex. The case involves AstraZeneca Canada’s patent for Nexium (Esomeprazole), a pharmaceutical product used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. AstraZeneca attempted to block Apotex from bringing a generic drug to the market. The Federal Court found that the promised utility of Nexium had not been adequately proven at the time of filing. AstaZeneca appealed to the Supreme Court.”
“2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform.”Suffice to say, we support generic medicine. If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?
2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform. His policies and appointments tend to serve the richest people, not ill and poor people. █
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The legal paper ‘industry’ is walking away, gradually
Summary: Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform
IN ORDER to understand what goes on in the mysterious (or cryptic) world of patent trolls we often turn to IAM ‘magazine’, which is paid by some trolls to embellish or soften their image. We read IAM ‘magazine’ very critically and try to extract from it some morsels of information. The other day we saw IAM ‘magazine’ conflating patents with “markets” again, as if patents are products up on the shelf or something (to trolls they are). It was also writing about this patent troll which got fed by Stanford University, whose patents were derived from publicly-funded research. To quote some background to this:
WiLAN has stepped up its campaign against the growing personal digital assistant market filing six lawsuits before and after Christmas against a series of big tech companies including Amazon and HTC over patents that underpin Siri, the popular electronic assistant on Apple devices. The most recent case was filed on Tuesday against ZTE in district court in Delaware, bringing the total number of suits that the NPE’s subsidiary IPA Technologies has filed in this campaign to 11.
WiLAN acquired the patents in question in two tranches, including a package of nine grants in May 2016, from SRI International, a non-profit research institute which spun out of Stanford University more than 40 years ago. SRI began developing the technology for a voice-controlled electronic assistant following a grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), eventually setting up Siri Inc which was spun out as an independent entity in 2007 and was then bought by Apple in 2010.
We wrote about WiLAN many times before (6 years ago we named the person behind it, Jim Skippen). It’s regarded or understood to have become a pain in the bottom to a lot of Linux/Android OEMs, not just to companies like Apple. It’s a destructive entity which Canada should take shame — not pride — in.
The other day IAM also mentioned RPX, which is a massive troll that Microsoft joined 7 years ago. IAM wrote about it in the context of litigation decline — a subject which we covered here many times in the latter half of 2016. America Invents Act and PTAB had a lot to do with this decline, as IAM admits:
The headline numbers for the 2016 litigation year in the US were out last week and showed a big drop in the total number of new patent infringement cases. According to Unified Patents there were 4,382 new cases, a drop of almost 25% on the 2015 figure. That is the lowest level since 2011 when the America Invents Act (AIA) came into force and new joinder rules had a significant inflationary effect on litigation volume.
RPX also released some stats and included a numbers of interesting data points. Among them was a big fall in the number of NPE campaigns against companies with revenues of $50 billion or more. Those companies are, of course, typically among the most popular targets for licensing efforts but they’re also the ones most likely to fight back in long, drawn-out lawsuits.
RPX basically speaks of itself, as it tends to engulf and attack large entities. After Alice and some of the aforementioned reforms we don’t expect RPX to find quite the same level of ‘success’ (shakedown). In fact, like many other trolls we hope it will cease operations. We know for a fact that Intellectual Ventures is suffering and even laying off a lot of staff.
The patent microcosm, growingly irritated by the sharp drop in litigation, is already sucking up to Donald Trump, hoping that he will put someone corrupt like Randall R. Rader in charge, assuring regressions in law. On the other hand, Matt Levy, who opposes patent maximalism and calls for further patent reforms, has just published these suggestions to the Trump Administration, focusing in particular on patent trolls (a side effect or symptom of low patent quality):
What the new administration should be doing with patents
Continue to Fight Patent Trolls
It is true that patent troll litigation dropped in 2016, but according to a recent RPX report, nearly all of that drop is due to fewer lawsuits against very large, well-funded companies. Patent trolls seem to be shifting their focus to smaller businesses that can’t afford to defend themselves effectively. Trolls’ venue of choice continues to be the Eastern District of Texas, as I’ve written about a number of times.
A new paper by Brian Love and James Yoon confirms why this is true: patent trolls use the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) because its procedures increase costs for defendants quickly. In fact, 90 percent of cases there are filed by patent assertion entities. The paper also shows that only 18 percent of EDTX cases have any local link to the original inventor, original patent owner, or the first named defendant. By comparison, nearly 88 percent of the cases filed in the Northern District of California (which includes Silicon Valley) have such a link to the district.
The reality is that we need venue reform. Congress needs to fix the patent venue statute so that patent owners can’t sue a company virtually anywhere. The evidence is simply undeniable that patent trolls are taking advantage of a court with overly friendly rules in order to extort money, and there’s no reason to allow this to continue any longer.
Do No Harm on Patentable Subject Matter
With recent Supreme Court decisions, there has been a lot of handwringing about the patentability of software, diagnostic methods, and certain biotech inventions. There have even been proposals to do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether.
Congress needs to let the law develop slowly. The courts are gradually coming to some reasonable interpretations based on previous case law, and that’s as it should be. There are a lot of stakeholders with competing interests, and the best way to develop this law is a bit at a time. Yes, it’s painfully slow, but it’s the way our legal system works.
These calls to “do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether,” (or at least weaken them) as Levy puts it, were often funded by companies like IBM and Microsoft, which paid a former USPTO Director (David Kappos) to become their lobbyist and undermine Alice, bringing back software patents in a crooked fashion that’s akin to bribery of officials. █
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Ebbing away from the market…
Summary: The demise of patent trolls in the United States, a trend partly attributable to Alice and other Supreme Court decisions, will likely accelerate soon (later this year) as the future of the Eastern District of Texas courts is at stake
THE US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is doing some fine job in the area of patents. We hope that Justice nominations by Trump won’t ruin it all.
On December 6th the EFF’s Daniel Nazer said that “Supreme Court Curb[ed] Excessive Design Patent Damages” and a week later, on December 14th, his colleague Vera Ranieri said that the “Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case that Could End Texas’ Grip on Patent Cases”. We wrote several articles about that before. This is very big news and the decision can be historic. In an IDG article by Evan Schuman it said:
For years, patent trolls have been the best evidence that pure evil exists. And like most evil entities, they are almost impossible to stop. Even a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that was highly critical of patent trolls has done little to slow their slimy, reptilian-like existence. But a federal judge on Dec. 19 crafted a novel tactic to curb patent trolls when she slapped a half-million-dollar bill on the lawyers and said that they were personally responsible for paying it, not their client. This could truly be a game-changer.
This is well overdue, as it will help real companies in the US. Patent trolls contribute nothing to the economy or to competitiveness.
In past years we wrote about all sorts of patent trolls and abusers, including Garfum last year (more than once). The EFF posted an update about this serial abuser, which is politely called just a “Patent Bully”:
District Court Undoes Fee Award Against Patent Bully
A district court judge has issued a disappointing ruling reversing an earlier decision to require an abusive patent litigant to pay an EFF client’s attorney’s fees. Judge Jerome Simandle of the District Court of New Jersey held that, even thought the patent was invalid, the relevant law was too uncertain to find the case exceptional and award fees.
This case began in late 2014 when Garfum.com Corporation sued a small photography website called Bytephoto.com for patent infringement. Garfum claimed to own the idea of having a ‘vote for the best’ competition, but on the Internet. The case had a lot of problems. For one thing, Garfum had filed for its patent in 2007 but Bytephoto had been running online photo competitions since 2003. Also, its absurd patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,209,618, was plainly invalid under the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, which holds that abstract ideas do not become patent eligible simply by being implemented on a generic computer or on the Internet.
As the above update serves to reveal, Alice among other factors already contribute to the demise of some abusive activity. Suffice to say, to trolls-funded sites such as IAM ‘magazine’ this is terrible news to be protested rather than celebrated. Only last night, for instance, IAM was again grooming the world’s latest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, as it did several times before.
To quote this new propagandistic masterpiece:
Two of the biggest names in the IP market have joined forces. Intellectual Ventures co-founder and former VP of patent licensing, strategy and litigation at Intel, Peter Detkin, has today become a senior adviser at Sherpa Technology Group, the strategic IP consultancy among whose managing partners is Rembrandts in the Attic author Kevin Rivette. Sherpa was previously known as 3LP Advisors.
Calling them “biggest names in the IP market” is like calling ISIS and Al-Shabaab “biggest names in the political market.” Then again, when you speak for the patent microcosm — much like the media industry that speaks for the military-industrial complex — war-makers are framed as heroes and champions. █
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More information to come out soon…
Summary: New trouble for Željko Topić in Strasbourg, making it yet another EPO Vice-President who is on shaky grounds and paving the way to managerial collapse/avalanche at the EPO
PRESIDENTIAL loyalists like Willy Minnoye (Vice-President of the European Patent Office), Ciaran McGinley and Lucy Neville-Rolfe are leaving and the Croatian gravy train (the 'Balkan Express') is close to crashing. We have received the following information from Croatia today. It looks plausible that one EPO Vice-President won’t just retire early but might actually end up behind bars like Ivo Josipović (former President of the Republic of Croatia). In the words of our source:
STRASBOURG – TWO CORRUPTION INDICTMENTS BROUGHT AGAINST ŽELJKO TOPIĆ
On 19 December 2016 the EU Court in Strasbourg received two indictments against Željko Topić, former Director General of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the Republic of Croatia in Zagreb and currently the right hand of Benoit Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich. The indictments include a number of offences in support of corruption committed by Željko Topić as an accountable person during his DG office at the SIPO in Croatia. Namely, due to inefficiency of the Croatian justice and the political protection provided to Željko Topić in the Republic of Croatia, especially by the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia (DORH in Croatian) and the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK in Croatian), after more than 8 years of investigation, a party to the proceedings made a decision to seek legal protection within the international frameworks at the EU Court in Strasbourg. At any rate, Croatia has not been declared one of the most corrupt countries in the world for no reason according to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International. The most tragic fact in the entire lengthy investigative proceedings in Croatia is that Željko Topić has never been called in for questioning by the police or the State Attorney’s Office. All this time Željko Topić has been receiving his pay from the EPO nonstop in the amount of EUR 18,000.- a month, and the parking space in the EPO car park in Munich has been adorned by his black Mercedes-Benz illegally appropriated from the SIPO in Zagreb, i.e. from the Republic of Croatia. The former President of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipović, is listed as one of the potential political protectors of Mr. Topić. Using a possible criminal offence of influence peddling the former Croatian President has protected Željko Topić from criminal prosecution in investigative structures of the Republic of Croatia for a number of years for one reason only, which reason concerns the operation of the Croatian parafiscal musical association under the name of the Music Authors Rights Protection Office (ZAMP in Croatian). That is to say, by obstructing investigation and protecting Željko Topić the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović in fact has been protecting himself since there is a clear trail of corruption offences leading directly to him over the ZAMP and the SIPO. Moreover, the staffing of the SIPO of the Republic of Croatia is largely comprised of the ZAMP employees having disputable qualifications. The fear that Željko Topić might “squeal on him” during the investigation and the legal proceedings in fashion of the member of the Calabrian mafia has resulted in dropping of criminal charges against him, which in this particular case ended up in Strasbourg. The final act in this judicial play protecting the person and the action of corrupt Željko Topić was performed at the County Court in Zagreb and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia where the investigations against Topić were declared inadmissible. Therefore, and especially due to the unbearable stench of the judicial marshland, nobody in Croatia was surprised by the most recent statement given to the media by the new Minister of Interior saying that all judges of the Constitutional Court should hand in their resignations on account of corruption since they pose a direct threat to national security of the Republic of Croatia. In addition to the legal proceedings in Strasbourg, the party to the proceedings has also announced criminal prosecution against the leading persons in Croatian justice, and the DORH and the USKOK implicated in protection of Željko Topić. Those charges will also be brought in France, most probably at the Ministry of Justice in Albertville or Grenoble. Specifically, after Croatia joined the EU as a full Member State, the Croatian citizens also have a possibility to take criminal offences to courts beyond the Croatian borders. In conclusion, as learned off the record, there are at least 6 more criminal investigations carried out against Željko Topić in Croatia.
Yes, we already heard about those additional 6 criminal investigations against Željko Topić in Croatia. The man seems to be corrupt enough to match the job requirements of Battistelli and Bergot. And since he is so legally vulnerable they can probably better control him (e.g. by blackmail), too.
We shall post more information about the Strasbourg case in the coming days if not weeks.
The situation at the EPO is getting worse by the day. Published a few days ago by media in Luxembourg (looks like a French and German mix) was an article about the climate at the EPO. The purely automated translation (not edited) says:
The dispute between the President and the Suepo trade union, which represents the bulk of the 7,000-strong workforce, has been raging for more than five years. Minister Etienne Schneider is now responding to a parliamentary question by the LSAP deputies, Claudia Dall’Agnol.
The leadership style of President Benoît Battistelli, who took over this office in 2010, leads from escalation to escalation. Only recently did employees move through the streets of Munich and consulates. According to the statements of the trade unionists, Battistelli has for a long time sprawled the bow so far that the working climate is at its zero point. In the course of this year, three trade unionists from the Suepo were already set before the door. According to our information, the President has indicated very spurious causes of these cancellations, which are not to be attributed to the hair.
Full and accurate translation of the entire article will be appreciated. █
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What a total waste of money!
Summary: The scope of patents in the United States is rapidly tightening (meaning, fewer patents are deemed acceptable by the courts) and Fitbit’s patent case is the latest case to bite the dust
EARLIER this year we learned that the USPTO might have to reassess design patents, having already reassessed software patents. SCOTUS was poised to look into an Apple v Samsung case (one of several high-profile cases), which later turned out alright for Samsung.
Days ago we found a new article titled “US Supreme Court Sets The Bar Higher For Obtaining Damages For Design Patent Infringement” in the media of patent lawyers. At the same time patent law firms said that we all need more patents that fall inside/within a broader scope (i.e. more money paid for their ‘services’) , this time too in relation to design patents. Another patent law firm spoke in favour of design patents because it makes money out of patent maximalism. Shouldn’t we just ignore them all, knowing that they object to SCOTUS not because SCOTUS is wrong but because of greed? They want design patents, like those which are often applicable to gadgets, but such patents are being phased out, or defanged in the damages sense. The incentive too pursue such patents has just decreased and confidence in existing ones eroded.
Certainty surrounding software and design patents is declining and in fact just two days ago, regarding the Fitbit case that we covered here before, there was a major new development. The seminal lawsuit got dropped:
Fitbit drops patent infringement case against rival wearable tech company Jawbone
Fitbit Inc. has dropped one of its patent infringement cases against rival wearable tech maker AliphCom Inc.’s Jawbone, pointing to its belief that the company is already failing financially, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The two San Francisco-based companies both manufacture and market wearable fitness trackers and have been tied up in litigation with each other, alleging patent infringement and the stealing of trade secrets. Patents in the litigation dropped by Fitbit were related to heart-rate and physical activity monitor technology.
Fitbit’s case would have blocked Jawbone’s ability to bring their competing product into the U.S., however it seems as if financial issues have already hampered the company’s ability to do business. Jawbone no longer lists its products for sale on its website.
Fitbit’s implicit message here is that it was going to win but was merciful enough because of the defendant’s position, but that’s quite likely just spin. The legal battle soon became a two-edged sword because Jawbone fought back and now it looks increasingly expensive for Fitbit to fight on, especially relying on patents that high courts tend to invalidate at the end.
What we are seeing here is part of the trend of litigation declines (as noted by several sources so far this year). Bad news for patent lawyers, but excellent news to everybody else. █
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Summary: Selective emphasis on very few cases and neglect of various other dimensions help create a parallel reality (or so-called ‘fake news’) where software patents are on the rebound
“In 2014,” Joe Mullin recalls in a new article (published earlier today), “the US Supreme Court dealt a major blow to software patents. In their 9-0 ruling in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank, the justices made it clear that just adding fancy-sounding computer language to otherwise ordinary aspects of business and technology isn’t enough to deserve a patent.”
“Since then,” he continues, “district court judges have invalidated hundreds of patents under Section 101 of the US patent laws, finding they’re nothing more than abstract ideas that didn’t deserve a patent in the first place. The great majority of software patents were unable to pass the basic test outlined by the Supreme Court. At the beginning of 2016, the nation’s top patent court had heard dozens of appeals on computer-related patents that were challenged under the Alice precedent. DDR Holdings v. Hotels.com was the only case in which a Federal Circuit panel ruled in favor of a software patent-holder. The Alice ruling certainly didn’t mean all software patents were dead on arrival—but it was unclear what a software patent would need to survive. Even DDR Holdings left a teeny-tiny target for patent owners to shoot at.”
“The patent law firms want us to believe that software patents are rebounding or something, even though CAFC invalidates them as quickly as ever, SCOTUS repeatedly rejects attempts to override Alice, and the number of lawsuits involving software patents sank considerably this past year, based on numerous comprehensive/exhaustive surveys.”Ignoring some of the biggest cases of 2016, Mullin then argues that “[j]udges on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found three more cases in which they believe that software patents were wrongly invalidated. What once looked like a small exception to the rule now looks like three big ones.” What about that one single CAFC case involving not one but three invalidations, courtesy of the judge some hold responsible for software patents in the US? Here is a new article about it (bumped earlier today):
Intellectual Ventures recently filed for a rehearing en banc in Intellectual Ventures LLC v. Symantec Corp. and Trend Micro Inc. for a decision made in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that invalidated three of its software patents. The variety of patents at issue, colloquially dubbed the “Do-It-On-A-Computer” patent, have been increasingly invalidated after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.
The Intellectual Ventures loss (covered here many times at the time) isn’t the only such loss this year (for software patents at CAFC). We actually covered quite a few other such cases, but the patent microcosm prefers to obsess over just 3 or 4 cases, i.e. less than it takes one hand’s fingers to count. In our humble assessment, Mullin, who is an excellent journalist, fell prey/victim to the endless propaganda from the patent microcosm. The patent law firms want us to believe that software patents are rebounding or something, even though CAFC invalidates them as quickly as ever, SCOTUS repeatedly rejects attempts to override Alice, and the number of lawsuits involving software patents sank considerably this past year, based on numerous comprehensive/exhaustive surveys. █
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