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12.09.18

The Quality of European Patents Continues to Deteriorate Under António Campinos and Software Patents Are Advocated Every Day

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 9:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even several times per day, as shameful as it may seem

EUIPO outsourcing

Summary: The EPC in the European Patent Office and 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the USPTO annul most if not all software patents; under António Campinos, however, software patents are being granted in Europe and the USPTO exploits similar tricks

DISREGARD for the rule of law is pretty normal at the EPO. There are endless examples of it and a broad range of aspects to it. We spent years covering that. Today, however, we would like to focus on how the EPO (as well as the USPTO) gets to grant software patents, never mind if courts dismiss these.

Mostly illegal software patents that pertain to my research field (computer vision) are being openly promoted and bragged about by today's EPO. This did not happen under Battistelli; this is a Campinos thing. We cannot stress often enough that as far as software patenting is concerned Campinos seems a lot worse than Battistelli; judging by how often the EPO promotes such patents under the leadership of Campinos (as opposed to Battistelli’s). It is a race to the bottom. Just before the weekend the EPO wrote: “The number of European patent applications relating to self-driving vehicles increased by 330% between 2011 and 2017.”

A few days ago a news report was published under the headline “GM Patents the Blockchain Solution for Driverless Cars”.

“We cannot stress often enough that as far as software patenting is concerned Campinos seems a lot worse than Battistelli; judging by how often the EPO promotes such patents under the leadership of Campinos (as opposed to Battistelli’s).”Combining two buzz/hype waves, blockchains and SDV (the EPO’s buzzword/term of choice), these people nowadays facilitate and permit patents on software. Software patents are bogus however. They’re likely worthless too as most judges would laugh them out of court (if it ever gets this far).

And speaking of blockchains, which the EPO promotes patents on (misleadingly-named event, which is actually about patents but doesn’t explicitly say so), mind this new article from Swiss media (in French). The headline speaks of blockchains and “open source”; a French-speaking Free software (“open source”) developer just said: “Software patents, the end of free software…”

By granting patents on blockchains the EPO blatantly tramples/stomps on Free/Open Source software, which is fundamental to the adoption of blockchains.

We understand that the Campinos-led EPO saw a hype wave and decided to ride/surf it, but at what cost? The concept of blockchains is being brought up even by those who don’t understand it; several days ago Forbes published “Blockchain For Business: This Startup Thinks It Solves All Of Blockchain’s Worst Problems” (marketing disguised as an article).

This is eerily similar to the “AI” hype, which resurfaced about a year ago. Everyone started rebranding things “AI”, years after they had rebranded everything “smart” and “cloud” or whatever (more buzzwords to be mentioned below).

“By granting patents on blockchains the EPO blatantly tramples/stomps on Free/Open Source software, which is fundamental to the adoption of blockchains.”Even the lawyers admit it’s just hype/buzz. This new article from a law firm starts with this sentence : “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a loaded technology buzzword that comes in different forms in various commercial products.”

Yes, it’s a buzzword. So far this month we’ve seen an “Artificial Intelligence Trading Expert” [1, 2] (just using algorithms; nothing new) and this article titled “‘Buzz about AI’ lends to Linguamatics win”. Calling mere algorithms “AI” is now as commonplace as can be. Here is an example from a few days ago: “Artificial intelligence technology has helped build software that can analyze videos for better capturing of events, understanding patterns and surveillance.”

“Everyone started rebranding things “AI”, years after they had rebranded everything “smart” and “cloud” or whatever…”All of these examples (above) mention patents and “AI”. Everything is being called “AI” these days… for marketing purposes. “iCAD Announces FDA Clearance of ProFound AI™ for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis,” says this new press release. Here comes the Allied Security Trust (AST) and the “AI” hype; lots of bogus patents as usual. But… “AI”! So it’s innovative!

Software potentially puts the patent ‘industry’ in the ashtray; so they call software “AI” now, as usual (because they’re technically inapt). “Wave Computing®,” states another new example, “the Silicon Valley company that is accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) from the cloud to the edge…”

All the above are from the past fortnight alone; “AI” and “patents” everywhere. It is intentional. As we recently noted on numerous occasions, even the USPTO has swallowed the “AI” hype and offers it as a route towards software patentability. An article by Sameer Gokhale (Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, LLP) makes it very obvious. They’re pretty shameless about it.

“As we recently noted on numerous occasions, even the USPTO has swallowed the “AI” hype and offers it as a route towards software patentability.”How about “Smart” and “IoT”? These are two more buzzwords recently embraced everywhere (globally even).

“Smart devices in IoT need a smarter patenting strategy,” IAM’s new headline says. Just keep stuffing buzzwords like “smart” and “IoT” in hope of enabling software patents, right?

“This article provides a comprehensive report on the challenges faced in patenting technology in the Internet of Things domain,” it says. It’s a domain that just means devices with an Internet connection. It’s far too vague, intentionally so.

We are meanwhile seeing European law firms trying hard to find all sorts of ways to patent software. Philip M. Nelson and Ronald J. Schoenbaum (Knobbe Martens), for example, have published [1, 2] “Will New PTO Guidance Be The Antidote to Alice In The Medical Device Patenting Process?”

“We are meanwhile seeing European law firms trying hard to find all sorts of ways to patent software.”Here they go again with “Medical Device”, two cheeky terms combined to associate software with “life-saving” and “physical” (even when it boils down only to code).
Marks & Clerk’s Thomas Prock has just published “A feather in one’s app: why the UK could lead the way for medical app patents” (similar talking point). It adds the buzzword “app”…

Suyoung Jang, Cheryl T. Burgess and Mauricio Uribe (also of Knobbe Martens) are still pushing anti-Section 101 lies. It’s that classic software patents propaganda, spread at all costs (even to multiple publishers that charge for it; it’s cross-posted [1, 2] again). They’re using the fata morgana that is "Berkheimer and Aatrix"; the latter became known for little more than that patent lawsuit (Aatrix is mostly/only mentioned in relation to patents, even when it’s not about patents) and the former became a placeholder for “I don’t like Alice and Alice sucks because fact-finding.”

“Today’s EPO is rotting with corruption and fake patents (that bear no presumption of validity).”António Campinos may not say much on the subject, but his actions in a leadership position are revealing. The EPO’s Twitter account has just quoted Campinos as saying: “In my time at the EPO I’ve been able to rely on the expertise, dedication and commitment of an experienced staff to help in the transition process…”

What transition? Some staff calls him “mini Battistelli” and some claim that he’s even worse than Battistelli; it’s clear that nothing is changing, except for the worse. Today’s EPO is rotting with corruption and fake patents (that bear no presumption of validity). Staff cuts are implemented (he did the same in another agency) by means of limited (with time limits) contracts, longterm hiring freeze and encouragement of early departure/retirement.

11.05.18

Blockchain Hype Exploited by the EPO and by Patent Law Firms to Wrongly Assert Free/Libre Software Can Coexist With Software Patents

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 12:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Managing IP and ‘Software IP’ (IAM) among other think tanks of patent trolls and litigators continue to advance a toxic agenda while the EPO openly and endlessly promotes software patents under the guise of blockchain “innovation”

THE management of the USPTO has been receiving backlash recently. Blockchain, AI and other media buzz get used to grant software patents. A lot of people aren’t happy about it. Soon, to make matters potentially worse, IBM will take over Red Hat. IBM is a strong proponent of software patents.

Last week Red Hat’s McBride was quoted as saying: “we have been very single minded about patents – we don’t see any value in them other than the deterrent impact they have…”

But that does not deter patent trolls. In fact, it doesn’t really accomplish anything.

Will things improve/change for the better any time soon? That depends. In a sense, things improved a little when Microsoft left only its patent trolls to do the battles. Microsoft will not refrain from lobbying for software patents and it still pursues some of its own (there’s a new article right now about “virtual keyboard methods for Xbox and touch” — another patent from Microsoft).

The way we see it, there’s a battle between the litigation ‘industry’ (or ‘in-house’ legal teams at large corporations) and geeks who actually write code and make things. The former group is trying to justify its existence and for that there’s a constant need for litigation (like weapons makers rely on perpetual war/conflict).

“In-house counsel from confectionery, biopharmaceutical, telecommunications, technology, plastics and medical research companies explain how they’re measuring patent worth to find cost-saving wins,” this article from a site of the litigation ‘industry’ (Managing IP) wrote some days ago. Extortion “on a budget”? This is a truly sick ‘industry’ of litigation and threats and what “cost-saving wins” means is neither cost-saving nor a win.

“AMERICAS Thirteen practitioners from McKool Smith have established a litigation boutique called Reichman Jorgensen with offices in Silicon Valley, Atlanta and New York,” Managing IP wrote around the same time. These vultures and parasites call their extortion rackets “boutiques”; McKool Smith represents a lot of patent trolls.

It has meanwhile emerged that there’s another AIPLA echo chamber lobbying event. It calls for software patents because greedy lawyers want lots of frivolous lawsuits to profit from at geeks’ expense. Ellie Mertens (Managing IP) wrote:

The software patent eligibility situation in the US is “a really high fence” that requires some sparkle to pass while the European test is drier

The software patent eligibility situation in the US is “a really high fence,” said Sarah Knight of Talem IP in a panel at the AIPLA Annual Meeting last week, “when it should be just a threshold.”

Managing IP is on the same bandwagon; just look at who sponsors Managing IP. The same goes for IAM, which ran a pro-software patents event last week. In their own words: “First session of day at our #softwareIP event focusing on patentability of software globally with great panel comprising USPTO, Amadeus, Facebook, Alibaba, Lung Tin IP and Haseltine Lake [] Jean-Francois Cases of Amadeus – 10/15 years ago it was impossible to get a software patent granted in Japan, now it’s one of easiest jurisdictions. For us right now India is hardest place to get a software patent…”

More so than Europe.

The corrupt EPO has made software patents far too easy to get. Blockchain patents (software patents) are outside the scope of European patent law, but today’s EPO routinely ignores and violates the law anyway. Here is what the EPO wrote before the weekend: “#Blockchain technology is not without controversy. You can discuss patenting it with patent specialists and blockchain professionals at this #conference: http://bit.ly/EPOblockchain18 ”

The EPO is nowadays plagued with nepotism and rapidly-declining patent quality; its founding document (EPC), European authorities and the rule of law are routinely spat at. Even insiders notice. They write about it. They sign petitions.

Even outsides complain: “Dear @EPOorg – blockchains are not device, they’re not software. “𝘉𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘯” 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳 𝘴𝘶𝘣𝘴𝘦𝘵 (merkle trees) 𝘰𝘧 𝒑𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒉! There’s no software involved, it doesn’t require computers. Pen & paper works too…”

Yes, blockchains aren’t exactly new; few people understand the underlying concepts and the EPO exploits that. Here again the EPO is promoting software patents ever so shamelessly. That’s just merkle trees: “What are the main challenges in patenting #blockchain & its applications? Experts will discuss that and their solutions at this event we’re co-hosting with @GoI_MeitY: http://bit.ly/indoeur pic.twitter.com/hZjqGCr4Sn”

The mentions of blockchains are endless at the EPO. Here again the EPO does it: “Are you involved in #patents and #blockchain developments? Then this is the event to attend!”

The management of the EPO does not understand blockchains (the people at the top are not scientists and they were selected for nepotism); it got a lot worse under António Campinos, who is merely a quieter version of Battistelli.

IAM wrote: “Amadeus’s Cases – in Europe our experience is that once an examiner has made up their mind on an application it’s very hard to change it…”

Examiners at the EPO simply lack the time to properly assess applications. We know it because they say so, usually anonymously.

Notice what the EPO wrote some days ago: “Elke von Brevern, PCT Expert at the EPO, and Richard Garvey, Key Account Manager at the EPO, will tell you how you yourself can make the PCT system more efficient. Join them in Washington…”

And Houston, Texas. Yes, also in Texas, where many law firms work with patent trolls. Notice what the EPO has turned into and who it’s attempting to appeal to. Where next? Dallas? This latest roundup from “Dallas Invents” contains a lot of software patents (also creepy ones like “Apparatus and method for deploying an implantable device within the body”).

Today’s EPO is very much on board with patent trolls’ agenda and IAM’s too. Citing Alibaba’s Roger Shang, IAM wrote about software patents again; “we don’t see a contradiction between open source and patents,” Shang is quoted as saying. That’s a lie.

Alibaba was also mentioned a few days ago in relation to patents on blockchains, not in China (where software patents are permitted) but in the US. “Alibaba Files Patent For Blockchain System,” says the headline. So these ridiculous software patents from China have spread to the West with Campinos and Iancu eager to allow software patents. From the article: “Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a blockchain based system that allows a third party administrator to intervene in a smart contract in case of illegal activities. The USPTO published the patent application on October. 4, 2018.”

Alibaba Group is a big “client” to the USPTO, so we won’t be surprised to see such patent applications accepted. Doubling down on the lie above, days ago we saw a new article titled “10 Things to Know About The Intersection of Blockchain Technology, Open Source Software, and Patents”. Complete nonsense right from the get-go or the headline, courtesy of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. Blockchain patents are fake patents that would be rejected by courts and these patents are clearly not compatible with the distribution model of Free/Open Source software. The article says: “This set of issues is important now because blockchain technology is on the verge of mainstream commercialization and much of it relies on open source software. As with any technology where there is rapid innovation, the number of patents being filed and obtained is increasing. The interplay between patents and open source is often confused. The recent changes to the scope of patentable subject matter under U. S. patent laws have created uncertainty over what is patentable. This is particularly true with respect to blockchain-based inventions and how innovations in this space are disrupting business processes.”

This is misleading because those things (what they call “blockchain-based inventions”) have always been around to some degree. Terminology may have changed, but like “cloud” there’s a hype explosion and it’s mostly associated with a word, not substance. These patent law firms are trying to destroy software development and they’re misleading people by saying software patents are OK if you say “blockchain”. Mind this days-old spammy press release, published under the headline “Can You Patent the Blockchain if it is Open Source?”

The actual text starts under “Why Businesses using Blockchain Technology are Filing for patents and Other Useful Info about Software Patents” (after that they merely promote their services). We’re assuming that they hope people may search the Web, perhaps searching for “Blockchain” and “Open Source”, then give them a call.

Here’s another new one: “10 Lessons On Blockchain And Open-Source Licenses”

So says Law 360‘s James Gatto and the patent ‘industry’ when they try to impose software patents on Free/Open source developers, mainly by using hype waves. “On their own,” Gatto says, “blockchain technology, open-source software and patents each present legal issues that are often complex and frequently misunderstood. When combined, the complexity and misunderstandings of these three topics are…”

The only real connection between these three is that a lot of code associated with blockchains is Free/libre software and companies try to take control by claiming monopolies on the algorithms — something which they should not do.

09.07.18

IAM Media Engages in Trademark Violations While Trying to Misrepresent Free/Open Source Software in Relation to Software Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, IBM, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 4:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “I” in IAM stands for “Infringement” (apparently)

Summary: The site/group which is trying to lecture us all about “intellectual” “property” is itself failing to respect the relevant laws; to make matters worse, it’s liaising with groups of proprietary software vendors to mislead the public about the relationship between Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and patents, notably software patents

THIS post is about Battistelli’s friends at IAM, which habitually whitewashed EPO scandals and is generally promoting patent trolls’ interests. We’ll have a lot more to say about it this coming weekend.

This quick post is about something which happened earlier today.

The IAM account in Twitter said: “Can open source and patents coexist? That’s what experts from #OpenInventionNetwork, @Workday, @Uber and @RedHat will be discussing at Software IP on October 30 in San Francisco. Get your ticket here http://bit.ly/2QatL0l #SoftwareIP pic.twitter.com/OBUmBrBQqW”

Well, Red Hat is pursuing software patents but calls them "blockchains" amongst other thing; the rest of those in attendance are obviously misfits. Answering the question “Can open source and patents coexist,” of course they cannot, but OIN and the others want them to because they’re proprietary software companies and their front groups. They don’t care about Free software or freedom. They also perturb the meaning of Open Source to suit a primarily proprietary agenda.

IAM is a think tank of patent trolls, Microsoft’s patent trolls included. It also fronts for the patent microcosm, patent litigation ‘industry’ etc. They won’t allow people to use the “F word” (freedom). It didn’t take long for Simon Phipps (OSI President) to say: Interesting there’s no-one from OSI or FSF speaking.” He copies in the OSI and the FSF, the Free Software Foundation’s chief to be more specific or exact.

“By the way,” added an observer, “it got me thinking, isn’t this a case of trademark infringement of OSI’s Logo ? Doesn’t seem to fit those clear guidelines…”

That links to the OSI’s Web site.

Benjamin Henrion then joked that “the (R) has been removed at least.”

So now we know how IAM really feels about “intellectual” “property” (what it calls copyrights, trademarks and patents as though they’re all the same thing). Well, they have since then deleted this tweet, perhaps realising just how serious;y embarrassing this was; thankfully we made a copy and here is a copy of the image from their deleted tweet (the tweet’s text is quoted above):

IAM trademark

They make it seem as though “Open Source” is all giddy about patents. They did this before too. Why does the OSI even participate in anything with such a nefarious lobby group? That says a lot about OIN (nothing positive). We mentioned this before.

06.10.18

Deception on § 101/Alice Continues, Courtesy of Firms That Are Making Money From Worthless (Bunk) Software Patents

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just projecting their personal agenda

35 U.S.C. 101 mirror

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 does not seem to matter to people whose living is made from litigation and patent pursuits on (or pertaining to) algorithms; we rebut a few examples from the past week, reminding readers that lawyers aren’t credible advisors on issues they stand to gain from (at clients’ and innocent companies’ expense)

THE collapse of software patents is very much a reality in the US. Don’t ask law firms; they just want to sell more ‘services’ (e.g. lawsuits and patent applications) around that.

The other day in Law.com there was an article with the term “Open Source” in the headline, which got our attention. Don’t be misled though; Law.com is traditionally a Free/Open Source software-hostile site, typically helping lawyers sell services around licence compliance and other things which are marketed by FUD. “Patents and open source are not mutually exclusive,” someone (a self-appointed expert) is quoted as saying in this new piece.

“They’re alluding to the corporate ‘flavour’ of “Open Source”, not Free/Open Source software.”Actually, they are. They’re not compatible. Software patents and Free/Open Source software cannot co-exist. “You can do both and do both correctly,” continues the self-appointed expert, “but it takes education, especially for people who are newer in the industry.”

They’re alluding to the corporate ‘flavour’ of “Open Source”, not Free/Open Source software. “Moore said engineers often join Pure Storage from companies that were not engaged in open source projects,” the author writes, “and expect a similar policy. Others are pro-open source, but may not know the benefits of patents.”

So they’re trying to market software patents to companies which claim to be “Open Source”, such as Red Hat (it’s applying for software patents and really ought to stop doing that). “That’s one reason why Gideon Myles,” continues the author, “lead IP counsel at San Francisco-based Dropbox Inc., said his company educates new employees on both processes.”

“When it comes to patents in general (i.e. not software), patents may make sense, but as far as Free/Open Source software is concerned, there should be no patents in that (their) domain. No good would come out of this.”In other words, they’re wasting employees’ capacity and reducing their productivity because of silly patents.

Are these actually worth pursuing anymore? No.

But that’s not what lawyers (with fanciers job titles like “IP counsel”) want companies to believe, or else they’ll lose their job if not the entire legal department.

When it comes to patents in general (i.e. not software), patents may make sense, but as far as Free/Open Source software is concerned, there should be no patents in that (their) domain. No good would come out of this.

Sadly, as media in this domain remains dominated by law firms (or authors who extensively quote them), one may easily get the impression that software patents are still potent, even in the face of § 101/Alice.

In a new guest post by “Benjamin C. Stasa, Shareholder, Brooks Kushman PC, Southfield, Michigan and David C. Berry, Director, Patent Procurement Clinic, Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan” (i.e. mostly the patent ‘industry’) they suggest workarounds to bypass § 101. They’re also trying to water down § 101 or obliterate it by any means possible/available.

From the outline:

We offer an alternative approach for amending § 101 to allow some range of patentability for inventions directed to judicially-recognized eligibility exceptions. Rather than attempting to redefine the line between eligible and ineligible subject matter (a revision that preserves the current all-or-nothing approach), we propose amending §101 to implement disclosure-based limits on the scope of claims directed to judicially-recognized exceptions (abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena).

It’s the same old tricks; IBM and IPO lobby along those lines, as we shall show later today. They say they want to “amend” § 101, but what they mean to say is “weaken”. § 101 is based on several judgments from the Supreme Court, yet these people think that some blog post of theirs, based on their financial agenda, has relevance to § 101?

“There’s no quantitative/numerical data to support an assertion like “comeback” for software patents.”§ 101 is already very clear, but Iancu (who is acting like a ‘mole’ of the patent microcosm, at least thus far in his term, serving or speaking for the litigation ‘industry’ he came from) does’t like it and wants it thwarted in defiance of the Supreme Court. Here’s a new tweet about it: “#BIO2018 IP track kicked off with opening remarks from Andrei Iancu of the @uspto. Clarifying #section101 and changing the dialogue to focus on brilliance of #inventors high on agenda.”

Well, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) is an anti-PTAB lobbying body and for Andrei Iancu to even attend this event says a lot about his interests. Also on the subject of § 101, Mondaq republished a piece from Charlene Lipchen (Field LLP). She is misleading people if she seriously thinks that there’s a software patents rebound in the US (there’s none), calling it a “Glimmer Of Hope” and stating the following upfront: “It remains a general rule, in patent law, that one cannot obtain a patent for an abstract idea. Over the years, patent claims for methods implemented by computers and software have been struck down by the courts, on the basis that merely using a general-purpose computer to implement an abstract idea does not make the abstract idea patentable. More recently, since the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, a software patent case providing a revised test for determining what is patentable subject matter, most patents containing claims to software challenged in US courts have been struck down. The patent claims at issue in Alice were directed to a method for implementing an intermediated settlement between parties.”

“A fortnight ago we began seeing pure spin by patent extremists, claiming that § 101 would see the US Congress/Senate involved, but that was something that people nowadays call “fake news”.”That’s that same optimism we’ve just responded to. There’s no quantitative/numerical data to support an assertion like “comeback” for software patents. And Iancu cannot change that either; he’s not a judge. Law is outside his scope of authority.

A fortnight ago we began seeing pure spin by patent extremists, claiming that § 101 would see the US Congress/Senate involved, but that was something that people nowadays call “fake news”.

A new article by Matthew Bultman (with his usual patent maximalist slant, which we took note of before [1, 2, 3, 4]) speaks of a “High Court” being “begged”, but no such thing happened. A high court wasn’t mentioned at all. This is more of that pure spin, a 180 degrees spin in Law 360. To quote:

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation on Friday seized on a Federal Circuit judge’s recent call for a “higher authority” to clarify what is eligible for a patent, telling the U.S. Supreme Court a current state of confusion begs for intervention.

The clinic, which is fighting a decision that invalidated three patents on cardiovascular disease tests, highlighted comments Circuit Judge Alan Lourie made last week when the appeals court denied separate rehearing requests from HP Inc. and Green Shades Software Inc.

The term “higher authority” does not imply “High Court” like Bultman’s headline insinuates. In fact, there’s no evidence at all that anyone at all is going to revisit these cases. § 101 remains in tact.

As is widely known, § 101/Alice isn’t taken as seriously by the lower courts. Yes, at the lower courts (District Courts) as opposed to the Federal Circuit (CAFC), § 101 is more likely to be swept aside, as was the case in Hybrid Audio, LLC v Visual Land, Inc.

Joseph Herndon, writing about a trial in a California District Court, managed to find one of those 35 U.S.C. § 101 cases in which judges dismissed the defendant’s argument:

In the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Hybrid Audio, LLC sued Visual Land, Inc. for patent infringement with respect to audio signal processing technology used in conjunction with MP3 technologies. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Despite seemingly very broad claims, the Court found that it was clear from the asserted patent that the claims were directed to an improvement in the functioning of a computer, and thus, were patent eligible.

The patent at issue is entitled “Signal Processing Utilizing a Tree-Structured Array,” which originally issued as U.S. Patent No. 6,252,909 on June 26, 2001. After a reissue application was filed for the ’909 Patent, the ’909 Patent reissued with certificate number RE40,281, and subsequently, a request for reexamination of the ’281 Patent was filed, and the PTO issued a reexamination certificate for the ’281 Patent confirming patentability of the reexamined claims.

[...]

Thus, despite broad claims that recite only functional aspects, and no physical components or elements that perform the functions, the claims were found to be patent eligible because the patent disclosure clearly set forth how the claimed processes improved computer functionality as compared to prior art. This enable the plaintiff to show that the claims were necessarily rooted in computer technology, solved a technical problem with a technical solution, and improved upon prior computer technology—all factors weighing in favor of patent eligibility.

If this gets appealed (to CAFC), this patent will likely be invalidated as per/in lieu with § 101 (as usual).

Have we come to the point where it’s so hard for patent lawyers to find CAFC rulings in favour of software patents? Are they now looking for supportive cases at lower courts?

Gervase Markham Outlines the Case Against Software Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Patents at 1:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gervase Markham
By Didyktile, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Summary: “Innovation in software proceeds at a rapid pace, and does not need the “encouragement” of patents,” explains Markham

The former Governator at the Mozilla Corporation, Gervase Markham (the programmer, not the poet), has something to say about software patents. “In 2006,” according to Wikipedia, “he won a Google-O’Reilly Open Source Award as “Best Community Activist” [...] and has been undergoing treatment for metastatic adenoid cystic carcinoma.”

“As we have stressed so many times before, almost every software developer is against software patents.”We were very saddened to learn some months ago that his time alive might be very limited. His words about software patents are therefore more critical/important to preserve.

Spotted via the blog (in Planet Mozilla) of the developer, Gervase Markham, was this piece titled “A Case for the Total Abolition of Software Patents” (later mentioned in Soylent News as well). “A little while back,” it says, “I wrote a piece outlining the case for the total abolition (or non-introduction) of software patents, as seen through the lens of “promoting innovation”. Few of the arguments are new, but the “Narrow Road to Patent Goodness” presentation of the information is quite novel as far as I know, and may form a good basis for anyone trying to explain all the possible problems with software (or other) patents.”

From the introduction:

Very few software patents make it down the road to patent goodness. The vast majority cost the company money to file and then lie gathering dust, acting only to provide a vague chilling effect on innovation in that area for those brave enough to do a patent search. A few become famous and tie up an enormous amount of industry and lawyer time and money. And almost none achieve that fabled goal of protecting the small inventor from the large rapacious company which wants to “steal his idea” and leave him penniless. If you add to that poor hit-rate the negative systemic effects from having a software patent system, it seems to me that the conclusion becomes obvious. Innovation in software proceeds at a rapid pace, and does not need the “encouragement” of patents. Software patents are a problem for the industry now, and will only be a bigger one in the future. We should work to end them.

We are going to keep this archived in case the domain expires in the future. As we have stressed so many times before, almost every software developer is against software patents. Patent law firms don’t like to talk about it.

06.05.18

Microsoft’s Patent Trolls Continue to Attack Microsoft’s Rivals, Including These Companies’ Use of Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

While Microsoft sells ‘protection’ (euphemistically named “Azure IP Advantage”) from itself and its patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]

Microsoft and trolls

Summary: While the media keeps obsessing over delusions like a ‘new’ Microsoft or “Microsoft loves Linux” the company carries on propping up patent trolls (which it then provides ‘protection’ from, but only if one chooses Azure) and threatening GNU/Linux OEMs, opting for the use the patents for bundling their ‘apps’ (an exchange along the lines of, “put our apps in Android or we’ll sue you”)

DO NOT for a single moment be misled by Microsoft’s latest charm offensive, which seems to have been timed so as to distract from Apple’s big announcements in an annual event. It would be spurious to tell our readers that Microsoft is not a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS). We spent about a decade writing about that; it’s a subject which we covered in literally thousands of posts. It’s worth noting that the new chief of GitHub will be the same person who infiltrated GNU/Linux through Novell with Mono, so these are entryism experts (he had moved between Microsoft and FOSS — jobs-wise — several times, along the lines of’a revolving doors’ model). Microsoft used Xamarin (which he was the chief of) to literally obliterate ‘dangerous’ (to Microsoft) FOSS projects like RoboVM before Microsoft ‘compensated’ them for the trouble (in the form of a takeover, i.e. money and cushy jobs/salaries). But this post isn’t about GitHub. Instead, let’s focus on patent news that’s connected to Microsoft. The TomTom lawsuit backfired in the media (even Jim Zemlin berated them for it) and ever since then Microsoft chose indirection. It’s hiding behind proxies such as SCO (but for patents, not copyrights).

“A lot of the money has been put into this patent troll by Microsoft and Bill Gates (at a personal capacity, too). They were willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars just to prop up this troll.”A few days ago professor James Bessen (a patent trolls expert), via Brian J. Love (another scholar who is sceptical of the current patent law), highlighted this new article from the exceptionally Bill Gates-friendly Forbes. It’s about Intellectual Ventures (IV), Microsoft’s biggest patent troll which we’ve been tracking and reporting on for over a decade. “Self-proclaimed a new way of invention, patent troll IV has been a loser for its investors (& targets too),” Bessen remarked. A lot of the money has been put into this patent troll by Microsoft and Bill Gates (at a personal capacity, too). They were willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars just to prop up this troll. It’s no ordinary troll but a massive network thereof. “After 10 Years,” notes Forbes, “Nathan Myhrvold’s $3 Billion Of Private Equity Funds Show Big Losses” (that’s the headline). Here are some excerpts:

Some 10 years ago, Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft, raised nearly $3 billion for two private equity funds from financial investors and tech companies. These were not your typical funds. They were designed to invest in patents and innovations, not companies or their securities, over a lifespan of 20 years, as opposed to the usual 10 to 13 years. Halfway through their run, the funds are deep in the red.

Invention Investment Fund II was the bigger fund that Myhrvold’s firm, Intellectual Ventures, raised in 2008. It has generated a -15.44% internal rate of return, according to data provided by the University of Texas Investment Management Co., one of Intellectual Ventures’ investors.

[...]

Nevertheless, Myhrvold has washed his hands of Invention Development Fund. It is now being managed by a new firm, Allied Inventors Management, which was set up solely to run Invention Development Fund outside of Intellectual Ventures. The fund has been renamed Allied Investors Fund. “The terms of the arrangement are subject to confidentiality agreement,” said DG Kim, Allied’s chief financial officer. “As far as internal fund matters, I am bound and can’t say anything really.”

We recently wrote about it because Microsoft had unintentionally revealed something. Filings showed that it was by far the biggest investor in this troll. It even lost a lot of money just trying to prop it up again (with another round of major investment). Richard Lloyd, who mentioned it at the time (Irish media actually broke the story), now has this new article stating that IV is “among the leading sellers of patents in first quarter” (IV sells patents to ‘satellite’ trolls that take many legal actions; the Wall Street Journal estimated about 9 years ago that IV had already created thousands of such ‘satellites’).

So what we have here is Microsoft’s patent troll (still led by Microsoft’s former CTO and heavily funded by Microsoft) distributing patents to patent trolls that are suing Microsoft’s rivals (including Linux companies, as we noted over the years). To quote:

IAM has teamed up with Allied Security Trust (AST) to provide quarterly updates on the secondary market for patents to determine who’s buying, who’s selling and what sort of assets are changing hands. As well as the data, AST has provided some additional information on the principal deals and the defensive aggregator’s CEO Russell Binns has added some commentary on the main trends. This analysis covers the first three months of 2018 and shows how Intellectual Ventures continues to dominate the market on the sell-side, while the NPEs Dominion Harbor and Uniloc are the leading buyers.

It’s also worth noting that IAM now works with the Allied Security Trust (AST), which is — as we last noted some weeks ago — like a patent ‘cartel’. IAM took note of another such ‘cartel’, IP Bridge, on the same day, writing:

Mobile network operator NTT Docomo has become the latest Japanese firm to partner with IP Bridge, the patent fund run by CEO Shigeharu Yoshii. A wireless-focused subsidiary of NTT, the world’s fourth largest telco by revenue, Docomo has previously made only limited patent transactions with third parties.

We wrote about IP Bridge. It’s almost like the ‘IV of Japan’, albeit much gentler. All these entities are basically participating in a large-scale ‘cartel’ whose de facto function is keeping small companies out of the market. They’re monopoly enablers.

“Microsoft did the same thing 3 years later at Nokia (Nokia’s patents will only ever bother Apple and Android OEMs, but never Microsoft).”That brings us back to Microsoft. And this time it’s about Yahoo’s trove of software patents. Well, just as many people worried at the time (10 years ago, the time of Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo), USPTO-granted patents of Yahoo show up in lawsuits/dockets. Critics like ourselves predicted that these patents would get scattered to trolls that target Microsoft’s main competitors on the Internet while Microsoft gets to shield itself by wielding leverage over Yahoo. Microsoft did the same thing 3 years later at Nokia (Nokia’s patents will only ever bother Apple and Android OEMs, but never Microsoft).

According to the EFF’s Daniel Nazer: “Old @Yahoo patents now in the hands of trolls. Prolific patent troll IP Edge has sued @Twitter claiming it infringes this software patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/US8352854 …”

We wrote about IP Edge several times earlier this year, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4; like IV, it typically operates through ‘satellites’ which file the lawsuits. This makes it incredibly hard to keep track of these things; it’s hard to know who’s behind which lawsuit/s.

Daniel Nazer has just published this new article titled “EFF Fights for Public Access To Patent Disputes” because even the EFF struggles to gain access to such crucial information. To quote:

The public can’t judge if courts are fair if the public is locked out. The parties generally don’t care if the proceedings are hidden (indeed, they may want them hidden). This means that, at times, groups like EFF and press organizations have had to stand up for public access. Unfortunately, while the First Amendment protects the right of access, courts sometimes fail to protect this right.

In patent litigation, we’ve seen routine over-sealing by busy district courts. EFF has twice moved to unseal records in patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas, and both times the court unsealed material that should have been public.

Now EFF is taking action to push for transparency in two critical venues for hearing patent disputes. We’re protesting against the Federal Circuit’s practice of delaying the public from reading filed briefs, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s use of secret docket entries.

[...]

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) overseas a variety of important procedures within the Patent Office, including inter partes review (IPR) and administrative appeals. The IPR proceedings, in particular, are now one of the most important methods for challenging bad patents.

Recently, we filed an amicus brief at the PTAB in a case considering whether a patent owner can avoid review by claiming sovereign immunity. As part of our work in that case, we discovered that when documents are filed under seal at the PTAB there is no public docket entry. So, not only does the public not get to see the sealed document, it doesn’t even know that one has been filed.

We sent a FOIA request to the Patent Office that, in effect, asked for all non-public docket entries in post-grant proceedings at the PTAB. We did not request the filings themselves but only the docket entries. After some back-and-forth, the Patent Office produced a list [PDF] of 16,773 docket entries (we thank the FOIA Officer who helped with this process). In other words, there have thousands of filings before the PTAB that the public had no record of.

Meanwhile, as Nazer noted in Twitter yesterday:

U.S. Patent No. 10,000,000 will likely issue some time this month. To make sure the publicity is good, the USPTO will hand-pick this patent (it won’t be the patent that randomly would have gotten that number).

Far too many ‘inventions’ so you just know that the vast majority simply aren’t inventions and are basically bogus patents waiting to be exploited en masse by patent trolls. Many such trolls are connected to Microsoft, either directly or through IV (which has literally thousands of them). How large a scale does this network of trolling have? It’s hard to tell unless the EFF can compel/press for better public access to information. Many patent disputes happen secretly, with conditional settlements that include “no disclosure” agreements (NDAs). Secrecy shelters serial bullies from regulators/scrutiny/challenge (such as IPRs at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board).

01.09.18

Devices: When Allegations of Software Patent Infringement/s Can Result in Theft (Confiscation) of Physical Devices or Embargo

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 5:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Theft

Summary: The embargo dilemma and how bad things have gotten in Europe and North America; products get stolen and booths raided before proper justice is concluded (complete with appeals, expert witnesses and so on)

SANCTIONS against distribution of code are hard, especially in the age of the Internet. Even binaries, not just code (proprietary and Free/libre software, respectively). Software in general is difficult to police. Attempts to ban ‘export’ of encryption to particular countries, for instance, were never successful. These were farcical at best and they vividly demonstrated politicians’ inability to grasp what software is (the notion of ‘export’ is itself inapplicable in such a context).

Over a decade ago we wrote about how codec patents (basically software patents from the likes of MPEG-LA) were used to raid booths and steal products of companies (in bulk). It was despicable and media did pay attention at the time. It happened in Europe. Later it happened in the US as well, thanks to the likes of CES and ITC.

“Over a decade ago we wrote about how codec patents (basically software patents from the likes of MPEG-LA) were used to raid booths and steal products of companies (in bulk)”We are particularly interested in how ITC sanctions export/import on the basis of software. A decade ago Microsoft used the ITC to embargo a rival whose mice it alleged to have infringed patents (hardware), but what happens in the post-Alice age in the US? Can mere allegations result in embargo or — even worse — confiscation? It’s like controversial civil forfeiture on the basis of patents alone (and likely baseless accusations/assumptions).

We aren’t saying that infringement should never result in action. We are not insinuating that all patents are bunk. Consider this new story, which involves hardware and patents. “Skybell Technologies, “it says, “has filed a lawsuit claiming its Santa Monica competitor, Ring, copied its technology and is profiting from advertising and marketing techniques rather than innovative software and hardware.”

No recalls or confiscations but an actual legal process. Like that followed in Cisco v Arista.

“This whole charade will one day backfire on the West; China might start banning lots of US brands such as Apple. “Patents” will be merely a pretext, just as “free speech” already gets used to ban particular foreign products in China (or compel the producers to censor and appease the Communist Party).”There’s this upcoming lecture (a fortnight ahead) titled “Leveraging Patent Rights” — whatever they actually mean by “Leveraging”. “With a growing portion of innovation embodied in software,” says the abstract, perhaps neglecting to take Alice into account. You cannot patent software and also enforce it in a high court anymore. Forget about it. But what if patent bullies actually manage to steal or embargo products before the matter is dealt with by a judge? That’s a legitimate question.

According to yesterday’s two articles [1, 2] from a patent bullies’ Web site (IAM), embargoes are still a ‘thing’.

The first article concerns hasty embargoes using patents (embargoes are not justice; they’re coercion by the powerful oligopoly, typically with connections in government, i.e. customs). It’s about Mobile World Congress, which is a month away:

The Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering of companies in the mobile communications industry, is taking place in Barcelona this year from 26th February to 1st March. Businesses from around the world will be there, exhibiting current products and launching new ones. Over recent years, the Barcelona commercial court has developed a fast track procedure to deal with alleged IP infringements in the lead up to and at the event, which includes the possibility of successful plaintiffs obtaining a range of potential remedies – including preliminary injunctions, as well as the seizure of infringing products. Importantly, as Spanish company Fractus proved last year, these measures work in practice.

This has already caused major embarrassment in the past. Are they planning to do it again this year?

The second article is about the US. This one too (from the same day, yesterday) is about patents as tools of embargo; bad for customers, no doubt, but when an agency like the ITC is a US entity (the “I” stands for “international”, which is laughable) it’s no surprise that it almost always bans products from Asia, not products of US brands (like Apple) which do the manufacturing in Asia and then import everything from there. To quote IAM:

As service providers prepare their annual deep-dives into US patent litigation statistics, it looks like the overall number of new district court cases filed will have fallen by about 10% between 2016 and 2017. But over at the International Trade Commission, the number of new investigations increased by around 13% last year, according to figures from Lex Machina. For major Asian tech companies, the ITC is a continuing concern; but it’s not the number of cases, but rather some recent legal developments that are garnering the most attention.

Governments in South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China have all warned about the effect of ITC probes on domestic industry in recent times. This level of attention speaks to how large tech companies in those jurisdictions gauge business threats from patent enforcement in the United States. Because it sits at the intersection of IP and trade law, an increase in ITC complaints against Asian firms was one of the most common predictions I heard last year when I asked experts around the world what impact the Trump administration might have on the patent world.

Curiously, as we noted here before, China has begun responding (to a lesser degree) by imposing embargoes also from within China. This whole charade will one day backfire on the West; China might start banning lots of US brands such as Apple. “Patents” will be merely a pretext, just as “free speech” already gets used to ban particular foreign products in China (or compel the producers to censor and appease the Communist Party).

12.03.17

Famed Journalist Dan Gillmor Calls IBM the Inventor of Patent Trolling

Posted in Free/Libre Software, IBM, Patents at 5:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Often attributed to Ray Niro though

Dan GillmorSummary: IBM’s growing focus on patent litigation — often with software patents — has not escaped the attention of people who are sympathetic towards Free/Libre Open Source software and IBM’s roots/inclinations when it comes to patent aggression (famously a subject of concern to Microsoft several decades ago) aren’t forgotten in light of recent activity, made visible owing to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) IPRs and few recent lawsuits

IBM has this highly bloated “Diversity & Inclusion” page to which it linked some days ago, stating: “Kimberly has filed 60 patents in the last four years. What’s her secret? Watch her story.”

That’s just a lot of patent propaganda. IBM likes to work behind closed doors in order to extract money out of companies (without it spilling over to courts, albeit PTAB often gets petitioned to invalidate IBM’s patents, whereupon these extortion/’patent assertion’ activities of IBM are made more visible).

“We hope that IBM is at least aware of its declining reputation among people who support Free software. They can see that IBM is a predator whose interests in several areas directly conflict with and harm Free software.”About a decade ago we were quite supportive of IBM, but nowadays the company attacks GNU/Linux-using firms and aggressively lobbies for software patents (we wrote about 20 articles about it). IBM is not what it used to be.

In response to the above, Dan Gillmor wrote: “She works for a company that basically invented patent trolling and employs platoons of patent lawyers?”

“IBM is the biggest patent troll,” the FFII’s Benjamin Henrion responded, “trying to rewrite the law in order to reinstall software patents in the US.”

We hope that IBM is at least aware of its declining reputation among people who support Free software. They can see that IBM is a predator whose interests in several areas directly conflict with and harm Free software.

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