Today’s IBM is not Samuel Palmisano’s IBM but a shameless patent aggressor and legal bully
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Summary: IBM’s patent gold rush and worldwide lobbying for software patents yield lawsuits but also draw complaints — to the point where IBM resorts to face-saving moves and the Patent Office looks foolish for accepting bogus patent applications
FOR A rather large number of years (nearly a decade) we were mostly supportive and friendly towards IBM. Readers and especially longtime readers can agree. We were never inherently biased against IBM, maybe only the contrary (primarily because IBM supported ODF, GNU/Linux and so on). A lot of this changed, however, when IBM became an active patent bully again (2016), not to mention a vocal lobbyist for software patents (it had done this more covertly in the past). In a sense, IBM has become even an anti-FOSS bully. We cannot tolerate this because it directly and unequivocally betrays our values and principles. What on Earth happened to the 'old' IBM that Samuel Palmisano ran for quite some time with great success? IBM can barely sell its crown jewels anymore (stuff like mainframes), it lays off a lot of staff, and so it tries converting software patents — its last potent ‘asset’ (many of which due to expire soon) — into some kind of Mafia culture led by Ginni Rometty. For shame! What did IBM foresee — if it brothered with any projections/forecasts at all — as the impact to its brand and reputation which it so uniquely relies on? People don’t spent half a million dollars on a single machine unless they have great confidence in the brand (like the old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM”).
“What on Earth happened to the ‘old’ IBM that Samuel Palmisano ran for quite some time with great success?”A couple of days ago, prolific sites noticed yet another one of these notorious IBM patents. Slashdot in this case has many comments about it and this is far from the first time that Slashdot nitpicks or criticises IBM patents, resulting in public concessions and/or apologies from IBM. But the whole debate started like this not at the beginning of this month but at the end of February, courtesy of the EFF. It called it “Stupid Patent of the Month” and explained it as follows:
On January 17, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted IBM a patent on an out-of-office email system. Yes, really.
United States Patent No. 9,547,842 (the ’842 Patent),“Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system,” traces its history to an application filed back in 2010. That means it supposedly represents a new, non-obvious advance over technology from that time. But, as many office workers know, automated out-of-office messages were a “workplace staple” decades before IBM filed its application. The Patent Office is so out of touch that it conducted years of review of this application without ever discussing any real-world software.
“”Watson” is another such marketing stunt — selling that old illusion of IBM being sharp and ahead of the curve.”“IBM Shamed Into Giving Away Awful Patent On Email Out-Of-Office Messages,” TechDirt wrote soon afterwards. TechDirt typically reprints the “Stupid Patent of the Month” series, but it didn’t do it this time around. TechDirt‘s coverage was better than the rest because it emphasised the real reasons for IBM’s ‘generous’ giveaway. To quote: “IBM basically tries to patent everything, no matter how stupid. The company has (no, really) been at the top of the patent recipient list in the United States for an astounding 24 straight years. Really. And, yes, sure, the company has done some innovative things and yes, Watson’s pretty cool, but does anyone actually think IBM is the most innovative company around for the past two and a half decades? It gets tons of patents because IBM has an army of lawyers who just try to patent anything. Earlier this week, the EFF put out its regular Stupid Patent of the Month post, and it was about an incredibly stupid patent from IBM. The patent (US Patent 9,547,842) is for an out-of-office email messaging system.”
IBM is somewhat of a fake innovator, which (as we last explained in January) exploits the illusion of patents as surrogates of innovation to sell the idea that it’s the most clever company out there and thus worth the high cost of hardware and/or services. “Watson” is another such marketing stunt — selling that old illusion of IBM being sharp and ahead of the curve. IBM was a leader in many areas several decades ago, but this has not been the case for a good number of years. All that IBM has to show now is a big pile of patents, many of which are worthless and should never have been granted. It likely helped them when they had one of their own running the Patent Office.
“All that IBM has to show now is a big pile of patents, many of which are worthless and should never have been granted.”The latest patent controversy was covered in many places and sites, and not just in English. There were about a dozen press articles about this ‘Out-Of-Office’ patent in English alone (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]). It’s only this kind of negative publicity which drove IBM to putting aside one simple patent, simply out of shame.
This is still making headlines/news in some circles, but the story has lost momentum by now, hence we decided to do a media survey of sorts. We believe it’s exhaustive or at least comprehensive. This might help next time IBM does it, as it did the above many times before. Instead of IBM doing the right thing, like Infosys, it keeps pursuing just more and more of these patents, simply adding buzzwords like “cloud” or “AI” to old ideas (to make them appear novel/innovative and thus worthy of a patent grant).
“Victory!” wrote the EFF, “After EFF’s Stupid Patent of the Month post, IBM dedicates patent on out-of-office email to the public.”
“It’s like that old (a decade-old) EFF campaign where they went after one patent at a time, striving to squash some high-profile ‘nuisance’ patents rather than the entire class of such patents.”But it would be an even bigger victory if Big Thug IBM (or International Bullying Machine, as Florian Müller once called it) altogether stopped pursuing software patents, gave away all its software patents, surrendered all lawsuits it had initiated over software patents, and ceased lobbying for software patents. Better yet, it would be nice if the EFF compelled the USPTO to stop granting software patents, and not just to IBM. There are many thousands of IBM patents like the above patent; that’s a lot more where that came from and some of these are actively being used to shake down IBM’s smaller competitors. So the key problem isn’t solved. It’s like that old (a decade-old) EFF campaign where they went after one patent at a time, striving to squash some high-profile ‘nuisance’ patents rather than the entire class of such patents. █
“Fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria.”
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Elsevier gives us yet another reason for a boycott (there are already many)
Summary: The EFF’s long fight against patent aggression goes further than just trolls; it now speaks of the role of universities in the problem and the latest nonsense from parasitic academic/scholarly publisher Elsevier
THE EFF recently became vocal about universities that feed patent trolls (in effect turning publicly-funded research into a racket against the public). The goons from Watchtroll shortly thereafter attacked the EFF for saying what it said (we have just mentioned how Watchtroll also defends patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas using spin and deception).
We agree with what the EFF said, but better yet, tell the universities to stop pursuing patents altogether. People (academics) I know from the universities in Manchester often say they’re against patents in their field (at times altogether) but are required or even pressured by administrators to pursue these, so it really boils down to universities’ patent policy. It can be altered centrally to appease or soften public opinion. These institutions go by their reputation, not their patent portfolio.
Now that the EFF asks universities not to sell patent to patent trolls (the first step in tackling a much broader problem) Red Hat’s opensource.com publishes this article titled “EFF asks universities not to sell to patent trolls”. To quote:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital rights group, is reaching out to universities and their communities to combat patent trolls.
According to a report published by the Harvard Business Review, patent trolls are deterrents to innovation and drain billions of R&D dollars due to legal costs. The EFF warns that patents may become landmines and may inhibit innovation when a university sells patents to trolls. Universities are drivers of innovation and this purpose is lost when trolls use the patents against organizations that invest in R&D.
The EFF’s new initiative, Reclaim Invention, urges universities to rethink how they use patents by asking students, professors, and other members of the university community to take action by signing a pledge and urging their respective universities to not sell patents to patent trolls.
The Public Interest Patent Pledge (PIPP) is a promise which universities may make by signing the pledge that they will perform a due-diligence exercise before selling or licensing its patents to a third party. The pledge asks universities to assess the business practices of the buying party and ensure that those patents are used responsibly. The hope is that this pledge will discourage any license or sell of the rights of inventions, research, or innovation inadvertently to patent trolls.
This article is a lot better than the attack from Watchtroll (it’s like an attack site) — one which called the EFF “a leftist anti-patent activist coalition” (exact quote).
Another new EFF article, this one composed by Elliot Harmon and Daniel Nazer, reminds us that Elsevier needs to be stopped (and boycotted) for yet another reason. For those who are not aware of the many other reasons to boycott Elsevier, search the Web. There’s no lack of reasons. Here is what Harmon and Nazer published in at least two sites [1, 2]. It’s about a software patent:
On August 30, 2016, the Patent Office issued U.S. Patent No. 9,430,468, titled; “Online peer review and method.” The owner of this patent is none other than Elsevier, the giant academic publisher. When it first applied for the patent, Elsevier sought very broad claims that could have covered a wide range of online peer review. Fortunately, by the time the patent actually issued, its claims had been narrowed significantly. So, as a practical matter, the patent will be difficult to enforce. But we still think the patent is stupid, invalid, and an indictment of the system.
Before discussing the patent, it is worth considering why Elsevier might want a government granted monopoly on methods of peer review. Elsevier owns more than 2000 academic journals. It charges huge fees and sometimes imposes bundling requirements whereby universities that want certain high profile journals must buy a package including other publications. Universities, libraries, and researchers are increasingly questioning whether this model makes sense. After all, universities usually pay the salaries of both the researchers that write the papers and of the referees who conduct peer review. Elsevier’s business model has been compared to a restaurant where the customers bring the ingredients, do all the cooking, and then get hit with a $10,000 bill.
The rise in wariness of Elsevier’s business model correlates with the rise in popularity and acceptance of open access publishing. Dozens of universities have adopted open access policies mandating or recommending that researchers make their papers available to the public, either by publishing them in open access journals or by archiving them after publication in institutional repositories. In 2013, President Obama mandated that federally funded research be made available to the public no later than a year after publication, and it’s likely that Congress will lock that policy into law.
There is already an article about the above, titled “Elsevier’s New Patent for Online Peer Review Throws a Scare Into Open-Source Advocates” (not just those advocates). To quote:
Patents on software can be controversial. And often, so is the company Elsevier, the giant journal publisher. So when word hit the internet starting on Tuesday night that Elsevier had just been awarded a patent for an “online peer-review system and method,” reaction from people aligned with the publishing and open-source worlds came swiftly on Twitter and in other online venues, much of it reflecting suspicion about the company’s motives.
“Elsevier reveals its final form: Patent trolling to destroy scientific peer review,” said one tweet.
Elsevier itself then turned to Twitter in an effort to allay the fears. But its assurances have not quelled the anxieties, particularly those of advocates for more open-source options in scholarly publishing.
The concern revolves around the patent Elsevier received for its five-year-old “article-transfer service,” a propriety online system the company uses to manage journal-article submissions and the ensuing peer reviews.
It is nice to find the EFF raising awareness about these problems and occasionally naming the culprit explicitly, insisting that these “Stupid Patents of the Month” are in fact software patents. There is clearly a patent scope problem and the USPTO needs to correct it in lieu with Alice. █
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Black or white: either you’re a patent maximalist or you are “anti-patents” (or “anti-patent” as Watchtroll puts it, see below)
Summary: Like IAM, which tries to portray sceptics and critics of software patents as “anti-patents”, IP Watchdog (or Watchtroll as we call it) is ‘trolling’ the Electronic Frontier Foundation, simply because it expressed an opinion that patent maximalists cannot tolerate
Watchtroll’s site, being the usual loud-mouthed proponent of software patents (sometimes even very rude), responded to a topic on which we commented this morning. Daniel Nazer (EFF) noticed that this “New IP Watchdog post [is] slamming “DC Based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leftist anti-patent activist coalition”” (it’s not anti-patent, it is pro-patent quality, as are we).
Here is the relevant passage from the post: “Another incursion into research university governance and operations is now underway. And this time all research universities are affected. Led by the DC Based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leftist anti-patent activist coalition that has initiated a 50-state legislative campaign to shrink research university patent licensing rights at the state level. (See) The measure’s purported objective is to prevent publicly funded university research patents from being licensed to so-called “Patent Assertion Entities” (PAEs, also known by the pejorative term “patent trolls”).”
Like IAM's editor in chief, they are also in denial about the trolls problem, just like people who are in denial about climate change (because this reality, once realised by the public, is a threat to one’s business).
The OSI took note and wrote about my article via Former OSI Dir. Jim Jagielski who wrote: “Shows the danger of s/w patents… is it time to finally squash them once and for all?”
Carlo Piana, a famous lawyer for Samba and generally a very nice intellectual (against software patents) wrote on Friday: Has anybody, ever, read a #patent on software without thinking “WTF”? Honestly. And now I have read like 100 of them. And I’m no developer.”
Benjamin Henrion (FFII) responded: “the state urgently needs to intervene between me and my keyboard to save innovation!”
The matter of fact here is clear; anyone with a keyboard and some rudimentary coding skills is affected by software patents and the population in general suffers from slowed innovation and artificially increased prices (often due to lawyers’ fees and patent trolls if not billionaire patent bullies such as Microsoft and Apple). We wrote about it this morning. █
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The long and destructive tail of faulty or shoddy patent examination
Summary: A look at a highly destructive software patent (on podcasting) reaching a dead end only after the well-funded EFF stepped in and another new court decision which ruled a video streaming patent invalid
TECHRIGHTS spent many years writing about the infamous “podcasting patent” — a patent which was used to shake down many small businesses and even hobbyists. Not only was such a patent not justified to begin with; it deliberately targeted those without incentive to fight back in court (as it’s expensive).
The EFF stepped in some years back and two days ago it reported the latest in a press release by Daniel Nazer. It says:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal appeals court at a hearing Thursday to find that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) correctly invalidated key claims of a patent owned by Personal Audio, which had used the patent to threaten podcasters big and small.
EFF is defending a USPTO ruling it won last year in its petition challenging the validity of key claims of Personal Audio’s patent. EFF argued, and the USPTO agreed, that the claimed invention existed before Personal Audio filed its patent application.
So even the USPTO, which granted this patent in the first place, agreed/admitted/acknowledged that it had made an error. How many people and businesses have so far been harmed (financial impact, health impact etc.) by this terrible judgment? Who will be held accountable for it? There will never be proper compensation, let along a refund. Even without Alice — as the above clearly notes that it boils down to prior art — this patent should never have existed.
Looking elsewhere in the news, patent lawyers (as usual, Tyrus Cartwright from Seyfarth Shaw LLP in this case) only cover (or cherry-pick, or scrape the bottom of the barrel for) cases that end up in favour of software patents*, but if one looks a little further at the latest in the docket (patent lawsuits, not PTAB), “Video Streaming Patents [Are Found] Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101″. To quote: “The court granted defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings because the asserted claims of plaintiff’s video streaming patents encompassed unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims were directed toward an abstract idea. “[T]he claims are directed to an abstract idea because the claims are not directed to an improvement in computer functionality, and the physical components of the claim merely provide a generic environment for carrying out the abstract idea. . . . The court is not persuaded that the claimed invention results in an improvement to computer functionality. [Plaintiff] did not invent the technology that converts video files into streaming format. . . . Moreover, [plaintiff] was not confronted with the problem of how to combine conversion technology and the Internet, or how to associate identification tags with video files. At most, the claims merely automate a sequence of known steps using conventional technology so that a human is not burdened with various manual steps. . . . The ordered arrangement of such conventional features provides no discernable benefits to computer functionality. This stands in stark contrast to claims which achieved such improvements to computing technology.””
Software patents die every week if not every day in the US (PTAB decisions are more frequent than court decisions). Things have gotten so out of hand for software patents proponents that they doubt Yahoo’s patent portfolio is worth much at all; today Forbes asks, “could Pokemon Go’s profit engine be derailed by challenges to the software patents underlying the game?”
Well, not really. Nintendo can afford going to court and since software patents typically die there, Nintendo will endure. In fact, post-Alice it’s unlikely that any firm (even patent troll) will bother suing. █
* In this case
[PDF], “patents-in-suit are directed to inventions that verify the delivery and integrity of electronic messages” as judged by PTAB, not actual courts. Not all avenues/means have been exhausted and the analysis is not as thorough as can be.
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Article as ODF
Publicado en America, EFF, Patentes at 8:40 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Al atacar el caso Lexmark la EFF trabaja para derechos de impresión/tinta/tóner en general
Sumario: Una mirada a las últimas actividades de la EFF en el área de patentes, donde probablemente habrá mayor énfasis en los daños de las patentes de software y la necesidad de eliminarlas completamente
LAFundación de Frontera Electrónica es un aliado potencial en la lucha contra las patentes de software. Hemos escrito sobre su papel en la batalla por casi una década (Novell pagó a la EFF hace casi una década) y seguimos de cerca su progreso. Fundada por Mark Cuban para hacer este tipo de activismo (Cuban, quién lee Techrights, esta sobre todo en contra las patentes de software), creemos que algo grande puede salir de lo que hace el EFF.
Julie Samuels de la EFFescribió hace cuatro dias que todavía está luchando “contra las patentes estupidas” (no demasiado útil elegir la palabra “estúpidas” por ella lucha contra las patentes de software). “A pesar de modesta, pero importante, el éxito del programa al eliminar a algunos de las peores patentes”, escribió, “que es atacada por aquellos que se oponen a la reforma de patentes y al parecer creer que un monopolio del gobierno de 20 años no debería tener que soportar ningún tipo de control. En concreto, los representantes de ciertas industrias (por ejemplo, las industrias farmacéuticas y biotecnológicas) afirman que los IPRs son “escuadrones de la muerte de patentes” y han estado trabajando duro en el Capitolio tratando de hacer retroceder la eficacia del programa por el embotellamiénto de sus procedimientos “.
“La EFF básicamente se involucra en el caso de las patentes de Lexmark (tratando de arrastrar al Tribunal Supremo) y está atrayendo /recibiendo cobertura de prensa apoyándola.”
Escribimos acerca del término “escuadrones de la muerte de patentes” en el pasado, e.g. en [1, 2, 3, 4]. Ellos usan otros maliciósos términospara describir la invalidación de patentes falsas y usan eufémismos para sus propios abusos.
La última batalla de la EFF parece ser atacar una materia sobre la que escribimos hace unas semanas [EN | ES]. La EFF básicamente se envolvió en el caso de patentes de Lexmark (tratándo de envolver en ella a laCorte Suprema) y está atrayendo /recibiendo cobertura de prensa apoyándola.Public Knowledgeescribió temprano esta semana: “Ayer, Public Knowledge llenó un amicus curiae brief con la Corte Supremaen el caso Impression Products v. Lexmark International. Al brief se unió la the Electronic Frontier Foundation y la R Street Institute.
“El caso se refiere a cartuchos de tóner de impresora que se rellenan y revenden. Lexmark sostiene que la reventa de cartuchos de impresora viola sus derechos de patentes. Impresion Products, empresa que reconstruye los cartuchos, sostiene que sus actividades están permitidas legalmente, porque los derechos de patente de Lexmark se agotaron en el momento de la venta de los cartuchos a los consumidores. El escrito de amicus presentado apoya la opinión de Impresión de que los derechos de propiedad de los consumidores deben anular los intereses de patentes de Lexmark”.
“El titular de Cory Doctorow dijo “que las guerras de tinta de impresora pueden hacer de la propiedad privada de dominio exclusivo de las corporaciones” y aquí la humilde declaración del EFF (“La EFF pide a la Corte Suprema anular este fallo peligroso permitiendo a los propietarios de patentes para socavar la propiedad”).”
Esto también fue cubierto por WIPR, que escribió: “La Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) ha urgido a la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. escuchar y rechazar una “decisión problemática” pasada a ella por una corte de apelaciónes que se centra en la exaustación de patentes.”
El titular de Cory Doctorow dijo “que las guerras de tinta de impresora pueden hacer de la propiedad privada de dominio exclusivo de las corporaciones” y aquí la humilde declaración del EFF (“La EFF pide a la Corte Suprema anular este fallo peligroso permitiendo a los propietarios de patentes para socavar la propiedad”).
Para citar a la EFF: “El caso de Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. y se refiere a la cuestión arcana, pero importante, del agotamiento de patentes. Esta es la versión de la ley de patentes de “primera venta”, la doctrina de la ley de derechos de autor que dice que una vez que un consumidor compra una copia de una obra, que es el dueño y puede hacer lo que quiera con esa copia. La ley de patentes es similar. Una vez titular de una patente vende un producto, no puede más tarde demandar que el uso o la venta de ese producto infringe su patente.“
“Hemos sido críticos (a veces) del enfoque de la EFF, pero en general, lo que la EFF está haciendo es mejor que nada en absoluto.”
Al mismo tiempo, EFF pelea por otra causa (“Tribunal confirma que la EFF pueda levantarse por el Acceso Público a Expedientes de la Corte”).
“El mes pasado, explicó,” la EFF decidió intervenir en un caso de patentes con el fin de levantar el secreto de registros que se han mantenido indebidamente para evitar accesso del público. Ayer, el tribunal accedió a la petición de la EFF para intervenir, y al hacerlo, rechazó un argumento preocupante que fue puesto por el titular de la patente.
“El caso es de Blue Spike v. Audible Magic. Como señalamos en nuestro post del mes pasado, numerosos documentos, entre ellos al menos tres opiniones judiciales, han sido completamente ocultados al público. Los documentos sellados son altamente sustantivos, y de lo que podemos recoger, ayudarían al público a entender mejor qué es, exactamente, lo que Blue Spike afirma haber inventado.”
Hemos sido críticos (a veces) del enfoque de la EFF, pero en general, lo que la EFF está haciendo es mejor que nada en absoluto. Sólo desearíamos que hiciera más para abordar directamente las patentes de software en los EE.UU., sobre todo ahora que muchos de los gigantes de patentes presionan al gobierno (más sobre esto más tarde hoy).
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By taking on the Lexmark case the EFF works towards printing/ink/toner rights in general
Summary: A look at some of the latest activity of the EFF in the area of patents, where there probably ought to be increased emphasis on the harms of software patents and need for elimination thereof
THE Electronic Frontier Foundation is a potential ally in the fight against software patents. We have written about its role in the battle for nearly a decade now (Novell paid the EFF almost one decade ago) and we continue to monitor its progress. Funded by Mark Cuban to do this kind of activism (Cuban, who reads Techrights, is notably against software patents), we believe that a lot of good can come out of what the EFF does.
The EFF’s Julie Samuels wrote 4 days ago that she’s still fighting “Against Stupid Patents” (not too useful to choose the word “stupid” for one who fights against software patents). “Despite the program’s modest but important success at weeding out some of the worst patents,” she wrote, “it’s under attack from those who oppose patent reform and apparently believe a 20-year government monopoly should not have to withstand any scrutiny. Specifically, representatives from certain industries (e.g., the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries) claim that IPRs are “patent death squads” and have been hard at work on Capitol Hill trying to roll back the program’s effectiveness by dulling its procedures.”
“The EFF basically gets involved in the Lexmark patent case (trying to drag in the Supreme Court) and is attracting/receiving supportive press coverage.”We wrote about the use of the term “patent death squads” in the past, e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4]. They use other malicious-sounding terms to describe invalidation of bogus patents and they use euphemisms for their own abuses.
The EFF’s latest battle seems to be tackling a subject which we wrote about some weeks ago [EN | ES]. The EFF basically gets involved in the Lexmark patent case (trying to drag in the Supreme Court) and is attracting/receiving supportive press coverage. Public Knowledge wrote earlier this week: “Yesterday, Public Knowledge filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in the case Impression Products v. Lexmark International. The brief was joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the R Street Institute.
“The case relates to printer toner cartridges that are refilled and resold. Lexmark argues that the resale of printer cartridges violates its patent rights. Impression Products, who remanufactures cartridges, contends that its activities are legally permitted because Lexmark’s patent rights were exhausted at the time of sale of the cartridges to consumers. The amicus brief filed supports Impression’s view that consumer ownership rights should override Lexmark’s patent interests.”
“Cory Doctorow’s headline said “Printer ink wars may make private property the exclusive domain of corporations” and here is the EFF’s own humble statement (“EFF Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Dangerous Ruling Allowing Patent Owners to Undermine Ownership”).”This was also covered by WIPR, which wrote: “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has urged the US Supreme Court to hear and overturn a “troubling decision” handed down by an appeals court that centres on patent exhaustion.”
Cory Doctorow’s headline said “Printer ink wars may make private property the exclusive domain of corporations” and here is the EFF’s own humble statement (“EFF Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Dangerous Ruling Allowing Patent Owners to Undermine Ownership”).
To quote the EFF: “The case is called Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. and it concerns the arcane but important question of patent exhaustion. This is patent law’s version of “first sale,” the doctrine in copyright law that says that once a consumer buys a copy of a work, she owns it and can do what she wants with that copy. Patent law is similar. Once a patent owner sells a product, it cannot later claim that that product’s use or sale is infringing.”
“We have been critical (at times) of the EFF’s approach, but all in all, what the EFF is doing is better than nothing at all.”At the same time the EFF fights for another cause (“Court Confirms EFF Can Stand Up for Public Access to Court Records”).
“Last month,” it explained, “EFF moved to intervene in a patent case in order to unseal records we believe have been improperly kept from the public. Yesterday, the court granted EFF’s motion to intervene, and in doing so, rejected a troubling argument being put forth by the patent owner.
“The case is Blue Spike v. Audible Magic. As we noted in our blog post last month, numerous documents, including at least three court opinions, have been completely withheld from the public. The sealed documents are highly substantive, and from what we can gather, would help the public better understand what, exactly, Blue Spike claims to have invented.”
We have been critical (at times) of the EFF’s approach, but all in all, what the EFF is doing is better than nothing at all. We just wish it did more to directly tackle software patents in the US, especially now that a lot of patent giants lobby the government (more on that later today). █
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Publicado en America, EFF, Law, Patents at 9:25 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Sumario: Algunas noticias acerca de patentes con enfasis en la situación de la EFF presente estrategia, que no observa al meollo del asunto, patentability de Software en los Estados Unidos
HOY (o esta tarde) el focus será la USPTO. Hay un montón para decir del sistema de patentes de los EE.UU., ambas buenas y malas noticias. Como nuestros viejos lectores saben, no somos oponentes del sistema de patentes per se, somos oponentes de las patentes de software, las que no deberían ser otorgadas, por que el código es propiamente protegido por derechos de autor. Virtualmente todos los desarrolladores de software (basado en viejos reportajes y encuestas) están de acuerdo con nosotros en patentes de software. Difícimente es materia de debate dentro de la comunidad de software, sólo fuera de ella.
“Virtualmente todos los desarrolladores de software (basado en viejos reportajes y encuestas) están de acuerdo con nosotros en patentes de software.”Hace unos dias remarcamos en la Acta VENUE, el último exagerado proyecto de ley que pretende sólo abordar cuestiones incluso tratándose de una solución a medio cocer. El año pasado vimos Ley de Patentes e Innovación (¿recuerdan? Una de las muchas encarnaciones y esfuerzos [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]). Son tan sólo palabras de moda y se centran en los trolles de patentes, no se enfocan en la esfera de patentes. El esfuerzo tomado para llegar a esos acrónimos tontos (como PATRIOTA) muestra que se trata más de su comercialización alrededor de ella en vez de enfrentarse al verdadero problema. Como lo acaba de explicar Techdirt el Acta VENUE (Nathan Leamer y Zach Graves, los autores, no son personas de Techdirt), “no es el tipo de corrección integral al problema de los trolles de patentes de los Estados Unidos” que nos gustaría ver, el Venue Equity and Non-Uniformity Elimination Ac abordan una pequeña parte del problema. El proyecto de ley, S. 2733, reduciría las rampantes compra de lugares que injustamente distorsiona los resultados legales al permitir que los demandantes seleccionen jueces amigables con anticipación”.
Dada la inclinación algunos tribunales o jueces a aceptar patentes de software abstractas, esto potencialmente tiene un efecto positivo en la resistencia a las patentes de software. Aproximadamente al mismo tiempo que el artículo de la EFF anteriormente, Techdirt también republicó un artículo de la EFF (EFF es un defensor del Acta VENUE por cierto) acerca del mayor troll de patentes de Microsoft, Intellectual Ventures, a que calificó de “Mega-Troll” y afirmando que “Golpea florista con la patente de programación Hazlo-En-Un-Ordenador” (patente de software).
“Este Troll de Patentes conectado a Microsoft también ataca a Linux y Android, como lo mostramos aquí antes.”Para citar a la EFF: “Cuando se trata de trolles de patentes ninguno es más grande que Intellectual Ventures. El behemoth basado en el estado de Washington está al centro de ambos trolling de patentes y el debate acerca de la reforma. Aunque clame promover la innovación, Intellectual Ventures está detras de la más vergonzósas campañas de trolles en años reciéntes. Famosa por esconderse detrás demiles de compañías de cubierta, creó Lodsys, el troll que asedió a pequeños desarrolladores de apps, y la Oasis Research litigación que apareció en Esta Vida Americana.
“Este mes, Intellectual Ventures presentó algunas acciones legales contra objetivos nuevos incluyendo JCPenney, Sally Beauty, y servicios de entrega de flores Transworld Floristerías. Estudiamos las patentes valer para ver si alguno merecía nuestro Premio a la Patente Estúpida del mes. Todos eran buenos candidatas, pero una en particular se destacó”.
Este Troll de Patentes conectado a Microsoft también ataca a Linux y Android, como lo mostramos aquí antes.
Esta actuando como una suerte de proxy de Microsoft, una entre varias. Intellectual Ventures también tiene una red de miles de firmas satelite, haciéndola un fantasma que es muy difícil/torpe para seguirle el rastro.
“Intellectual Ventures también tiene una red de miles de firmas satelite, haciéndola un fantasma que es muy difícil/torpe para seguirle el rastro.”Separadamente, basado en este post de la EFF, “Blue Spike es un contínuo jugadore en litigación de patentes. Lex Machina (un servicio que colecciona filing de patentes en todo el país) indica que hay más de 100 juicios relacionados a Blue Spike y ´sus´ patentes. No sorprende entonces que, la campaña deBlue Spike’s campaign ha atraído la atención de la prensa. Hemos escrito acerca de Blue Spike y sus patentes en conección con la serie “Estupida Patente del Mes”. Otros han escrito acerca de Blue Spike también.”
En noticias más positivas del EFF, en Twitter que dice: “Corte dispone que matón de patentes pague los honorarios del abogado del cliente EFF.” Aquí está el artículo correspondiente, que dice:
En una decisión que podría ayudar a otras víctimas de los litigios sobre patentes abusivo, un tribunal ordenó hoy que la Corporación Garfum.com debe pagar los honorarios de abogados de un cliente de la EFF. La corte encontró que el juicio por patente de Garfum carecía de mérito y fue litigado injustificadamente.
Volviéndo a finales de 2014, Garfum demandó un pequeño sitio web de fotografía llamada Bytephoto.com por violación de patentes. Garfum afirmaba poseer la idea de tener un “voto por el mejor” competencia, pero en el Internet. A pesar de que su absurda patente no era válida claramente en virtud de la decisión del Tribunal Supremo en Alice v. CLS Bank, Garfum exigía que los propietarios de Bytephoto, Ruth y Steve Taylor, que pagen unos $ 50.000. Teniendo en cuenta el elevado costo de defenderse incluso en una frívola demanda de patentes, los Taylor se enfrentarón a una situación difícil.
Esto ya fué cubierto por Joe Mullin, quién a seguido el rastro a trolles de patentes por una década. “La Electronic Frontier Foundation,” escribió, “ha advocado contra ridiculas patentes de software por más de una década, pero no fue hasta el año pasado que la organización tomo un pro bono cliente acusado de infringimiento de patentes. Un pequeño sitio web de videos llamado Garfum.com enjuició a la fotografo de Pennsylvania Ruth Taylor, diciéndo que ella estaba infringiendo la US Patent No. 8,209,618. Garfum, propiedad de un hombre de New Jersey llamado Michael Garofalo, diciendo que la patente era infringida por las competiciones de fotos que Taylor tiene en su website, Bytephoto.”
Vale la pena notar que delo que estamos tratándo aquí son patentes de software, de nuevo. ¿Porqué la EFF simplemente no se enfrenta a las patentes de software en vez de “patentes estúpidas” o “trolles de patentes” Mejor unirse a la pelea justa, mejor tarde que nunca. █
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Summary: Some news regarding patents with emphasis on the EFF’s situation and current strategy, which overlooks the core issue, software patentability in the United States
TODAY’s (or this afternoon’s) focus will be the USPTO. There is a lot to be said about the US patent system, both good news and bad news. As longtime readers of ours know, we’re not opponents of the patent system per se, we’re against software patents, which oughtn’t be granted at all because code is properly protected by copyright law. Virtually all software developers (based on old surveys and polls) agree with us on software patents. It’s hardly even a subject of debate inside the software community, only outside of it.
“Virtually all software developers (based on old surveys and polls) agree with us on software patents.”Days ago we remarked on the VENUE Act, the latest hyped-up bill which claims to tackle issues even if it’s a half-cooked solution. Last year we saw Innovation and PATENT Act (remember it? One of many incarnations and efforts [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]). They’re all just buzzwords and they focus on patent trolls, not patent scope. The effort taken to come up with those silly acronyms (like PATRIOT) shows that it’s more about marketing than about substance. As TechDirt has just explained VENUE Act (Nathan Leamer and Zach Graves, the authors, aren’t TechDirt people), “it isn’t the kind of comprehensive corrective to America’s “patent troll” problem that we’d like to see, the newly introduced Venue Equity and Non-Uniformity Elimination Act would address one small piece of the problem. The bill, S. 2733, would curtail rampant venue shopping that unfairly distorts legal outcomes by allowing plaintiffs to select friendly judges in advance.”
Given some judges’ or courts’ inclination to accept abstract software patents, this potentially has a positive effect on resistance to software patents. At around the same time as the above, TechDirt also reposted the EFF’s article (the EFF is a proponent of VENUE Act by the way) about Microsoft’s biggest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, calling it “Mega-Troll” and stating that it “Hits Florist With Do-It-On-A-Computer Scheduling Patent” (software patent).
“This Microsoft-connected troll also attacks Linux and Android, as we showed here before.”To quote the EFF: “When it comes to patent trolls, no one is bigger than Intellectual Ventures. The Washington State-based behemoth is at the center of both patent trolling and the debate around patent reform. Though it claims to promote innovation, Intellectual Ventures is behind some of the most outrageous troll campaigns in recent years. Famous for hiding behind thousands of shell companies, it spawned Lodsys, the troll that harassed small app developers, and the Oasis Research litigation featured in This American Life.
“This month, Intellectual Ventures filed some fresh lawsuits against targets including JCPenney, Sally Beauty, and flower delivery service Florists’ Transworld Delivery. We checked out the asserted patents to see if any deserved our Stupid Patent of the Month award. All were worthy candidates, but one in particular stood out.”
This Microsoft-connected troll also attacks Linux and Android, as we showed here before. It is acting as a sort of Microsoft proxy, one among many. Intellectual Ventures also has a network of thousands of satellite firms, making it like a phantom that’s too cumbersome to properly track.
“Intellectual Ventures also has a network of thousands of satellite firms, making it like a phantom that’s too cumbersome to properly track.”Separately, based on this post from the EFF, “Blue Spike is a repeat patent litigation player. Lex Machina (a service that collects patent litigation filings from across the country) indicates there are over 100 lawsuits involving Blue Spike and its patents. Unsurprisingly then, Blue Spike’s campaign has garnered press attention. We’ve written about Blue Spike and its patents in connection with our “Stupid Patent of the Month” series. Others have written about Blue Spike too.”
In more positive news from the EFF, on Twitter it said: “Court orders that patent bully must pay EFF client’s attorneys’ fees.” Here is the corresponding article which says:
In a decision that could help other victims of abusive patent litigation, a court today ordered that Garfum.com Corporation must pay an EFF client’s attorneys’ fees. The court found that Garfum’s patent suit lacked merit and was litigated unreasonably.
Back in late 2014, Garfum 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. Even though its absurd patent was plainly invalid under the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, Garfum demanded that the owners of Bytephoto, Ruth and Steve Taylor, pay it $50,000. Given the substantial cost of defending even a frivolous patent lawsuit, the Taylors faced a difficult situation.
This has already been covered by Joe Mullin, who tracked patent trolls for about a decade. “The Electronic Frontier Foundation,” he wrote, “has advocated against ridiculous software patents for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until last year that the organization took on a pro bono client accused of patent infringement. A little-used video website called Garfum.com sued Pennsylvania photographer Ruth Taylor, saying she was infringing US Patent No. 8,209,618. Garfum, owned by a New Jersey man named Michael Garofalo, says the patent was infringed by the photo contests Taylor runs on her website, Bytephoto.”
Worth noting here is that we’re dealing with a software patent, again. Why doesn’t the EFF just tackle software patents as opposed to “stupid patents” or “patent trolls”? Better join the good fight, better late than never. █
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