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06.28.18

Apple Loses Its Patent War Against Android and by Extension Against Linux

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Google, Patents, Samsung at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Steve Jobs

Judge Lucy Koh

Summary: The long battle that Steve Jobs embarked on nearly a decade ago (with his infamous term, going “thermonuclear”) reaches its end and Apple is nowhere near to what the now-deceased Jobs actually wanted because Android dominates the market and these lawsuits are profitable to nobody except law firms

BACK in 2010 we wrote a lot about Apple, particularly about its war on Android, which had begun with a ‘soft’ (vulnerable) target, HTC. Our interest in this case and subsequent cases (e.g. against Samsung) has since then dwindled, but we kept abreast of the more major developments.

“From a legal perspective this case isn’t as interesting as other cases, but the sums (so-called ‘damages’) are higher, so patent extremists were quick to boost it.”Apple and Samsung finally settle, but we weren’t sure if we should bother writing about this because it’s covered very widely already. Like everything “Apple”, when it comes to patents literally all the major papers cover it (while ignoring much more important patent news). That’s not exactly fine, but this is the world we live in and if some headline says “Apple”, then people are more likely to click on it (than a headline that says “§ 101″ or something equally vague to most people).

But really, how can we just ignore such news? The patent maximalists’ sites, e.g. Michael Loney’s, have begun covering it. “Apple and Samsung apparently just settled their patent dispute,” Mark Lemley wrote yesterday and soon thereafter came a lot of media coverage. Sites about patents wrote about it, albeit we can expect a lot more from them in days to come. From a legal perspective this case isn’t as interesting as other cases, but the sums (so-called ‘damages’) are higher, so patent extremists were quick to boost it. They wrote about it last night.

“Just remember that Apple started this dispute and was the bully all along.”So did technology news sites, Android sites, Apple sites, Android-centric news sites like this, corporate media and its “tech” branches (like CBS/CNET). They don’t say anything particularly special or insightful. In fact, the said truce is pretty secretive, so there’s not much that can be said with certainty. A blog post from someone who followed these battles closely for 8 years (Florian Müller) says/concludes with this: “Normally, those companies strike license deals, and when they wind up in court, they typically settle reasonably early. Somehow, it took them a lot longer in this case. And now either one of them has a dispute going that looks like it could become the next long-running one: Apple with Qualcomm, and Samsung with Huawei.”

“Only the lawyers gained from these cases (there was a string of them).”Just remember that Apple started this dispute and was the bully all along. Judge Koh made herself a name out of it. The media loves any case that says “Apple” on it. Müller added that “Judge Koh was quick and presumably overjoyous to grant the DISMISSAL sought by Apple and Samsung post-mediation: ORDER OF DISMISSAL. Signed by Judge Lucy H. Koh on 6/27/18.”

Koh has since then done other commendable things in her court.

For those wishing to read more details, try this article from Bloomberg:

The biggest patent battle of the modern technology world has finally come to an end after seven years.

Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. told a judge Wednesday they’d resolved the first filed but last remaining of the legal disputes that once spanned four continents. The string of lawsuits started in 2011 after Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder who died that year, threatened to go “thermonuclear” on rivals that used the Android operating system. The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the accord.

Only the lawyers gained from these cases (there was a string of them). Why did Samsung and Apple bother? Apple started this! It was an awful and now-notorious strategy of Steve Jobs, who even used words like “thermonuclear”. The supposed brilliance of this ‘genius’ was bad judgment and arrogance. The courts proved it.

06.14.18

Google Gets Told Off — Even by the Typically Supportive EFF and TechDirt — Over Patenting of Software

Posted in America, EFF, Europe, Google, Patents at 2:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jarek Duda
Source: Jarek Duda’s homepage

Summary: The EFF’s Daniel Nazer, as well as TechDirt’s founder Mike Masnick, won’t tolerate Google’s misuse of Jarek Duda’s work; the USPTO should generally reject all applications for software patents — something which a former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO seems to be accepting now (that such patents have no potency after Alice)

THE EPO is not allowed to grant ‘pure’ software patents; the USPTO, if it was to fully embrace Alice, would not permit this either. In practice, however, they nowadays rely on buzzwords, as we shall explain in the next post. To bring up again an example that we mentioned the other day, Uber is trying to call software patents something “AI”, basically patenting bogus, abstract ideas (courts would definitely reject these).

“The Supreme Court no doubt ‘upsets’ the status quo and pisses off the patent maximalists, but that’s just the law.”The term “AI” comes from CNN, which has just published “Uber wants to patent a way to use AI to identify drunk passengers” (AOL went with another kind of headline). Still just a patent application, CNN says that “[t]he patent application describes a system that learns how you typically use the Uber app, so that it can identify unusual behavior. The system relies on an algorithm to weigh a variety of factors, including typos, how precisely a user clicks on links and buttons, walking speed, and how long it takes to request a ride. The time of day, and where a ride is requested may also be considered.”

Of course this should be rejected. The Supreme Court no doubt ‘upsets’ the status quo and pisses off the patent maximalists, but that’s just the law. Robert Stoll, a former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO, now admits (implicitly) that software patents are pretty much ‘dead’ in the US and trade secrets should be pursued instead. Have such patents outlived their usefulness? His summary at Watchtroll says: “Innovative algorithms and even diagnostic methods may be easier and more effectively protected by trade secret. Trade secret protection avoids the uncertainty of compliance with the vague patentability standard set forth by the Supreme Court.”

Coming from a patent maximalist like Stoll, this is pretty significant. These people have seemingly given up. Almost.

It is good to see that EFF staff is nowadays speaking explicitly about “software patents” rather than just “bad patents” (or equally vague terms). Mr. Nazer has just noted: “In an important sense, this is the story of just about every software patent. Almost all of them take the form: Use [existing hardware] and [known software methods and techniques] to get a [fairly unexceptional result]. [] When IBM is getting 9,000 freaking patents every year, and Google and Microsoft are getting 2,500 each, they are filing applications for every trivial little thing they do.”

Well, IBM acts like a patent troll and Microsoft keeps feeding patent trolls whilst also using software patents to blackmail GNU/Linux companies (an extortion racket). Google being mentioned there is noteworthy and we’ll explain why in just a moment.

Historically we have been relatively sympathetic towards Linux-powered products such as Android. We openly supported these products knowing that these had been subjected to Microsoft’s blackmail. This had an impact on both GNU and Linux (and beyond).

Some hours ago, in writing about Space Data Corporation v Alphabet, Inc. and Google LLC, the Docket Navigator revealed that Google seemingly suspects that it is being sued by proxy (maybe by Microsoft). We say Microsoft because we already have extensive evidence that Microsoft does such things, e.g. the SCO lawsuit. Might a company like Microsoft be funding these lawsuits against Google and Android? We know for sure that Microsoft has been feeding patents into the mouths of patent trolls which go after Android OEMs. “The court denied defendants’ motion to compel additional discovery regarding plaintiff’s litigation funding because defendants failed to establish relevance or proportionality,” says the Docket Report. Who does Google suspect to be the financier of Space Data Corporation’s litigation campaign? We don’t know. But does Google deserve full sympathy? Well, not anymore.

The EFF’s Daniel Nazer mentioned the situation we covered earlier this week. He wrote that “Google’s ANS patent only stands out because the real inventor of ANS took every step he could to ensure that the new compression algorithm would truly belong to the public.”

“And he also approached the media,” I told Nazer, “myself included…”

Nazer highlighted “Google’s response: “but we are applying the technique to video” might not impress a talented computer scientist like Jarek Duda. But arguments like that prevail at the USPTO all the time.”

The USTPO profits from issuing lots of bogus patents that courts would invalidate later (if the defendant/IPR filer can afford it). This really ought to stop. Google itself ought to stop as well. TechDirt has just published a complaint about this as well, including this preceding background:

For the most part, Google has actually been one of the good guys on patent issues. Unlike some other Silicon Valley companies, Google has long resisted using its patents to go after others, instead only using the patents defensively. It has also fought for patent reform and experimented with new models to keep its own patents out of the hands of patent trolls. But it’s been involved in an ongoing fight to patent something that an earlier inventor deliberately released into the public domain, and it reflects incredibly poorly on Google to keep fighting for this.

A Polish professor, Jarek Duda, came up with a new compression technique known as asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) years back, and decided to release it to the public domain, rather than lock it up. ANS has turned out to be rather important, and lots of companies have made use of it. Last summer, Duda noticed that Google appeared to be trying to patent the idea both in the US and around the globe.

Tragically, this happened just weeks after Duda had called out other attempts to patent parts of ANS, and specifically said he hoped that companies “like Google” would stand up and fight against such attempts. Three weeks later he became aware of Google’s initial patent attempt and noted “now I understand why there was no feedback” on his request to have companies like Google fight back against attempts to patent ANS. In that same thread, he details how there is nothing new in that patent, and calls it “completely ridiculous.” Despite noting that he can’t afford to hire a patent lawyer, he’s been trying to get patent offices to reject this patent, wasting a bunch of time and effort.

The bottom line is, irrespective of Google’s disgusting behaviour, the USPTO should stop tolerating software patents. These have caused misery and brought about nothing but agony. The Supreme Court made it rather clear that no such patents should be granted anymore (assuming that the patent office does not wish to grant patents courts would later reject). So one might say that the real problem here boils down to the patent office, which Google simply seeks to game/exploit. Like many other companies do…

06.10.18

Do Know Evil? Then Stop Patenting Software, Google

Posted in Deception, Google at 9:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google is patenting algorithms (sometimes not even its own)

Google patent

Summary: Complaints that Google is claiming credit for other people’s work and then patenting that, in effect ‘pulling an Edison’ to stockpile questionable patents while occasionally resorting to patent aggression

LAST year someone told us the story of how Google had used Alex Converse to patent someone else's work. This was particularly disturbing not just because of prior art but also because of patent scope.

“It would be bad if Google ever got granted any patent on anything related to asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) because it’s an algorithm.”Well, the originator of the method speaks out again. Jarek Duda was making some headlines last year and now he’s back. Rather than walk away and apologise Google seems to be doubling down on its bad practice, which involves patenting software:

When Jarek Duda invented an important new compression technique called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) a few years ago, he wanted to make sure it would be available for anyone to use. So instead of seeking patents on the technique, he dedicated it to the public domain. Since 2014, Facebook, Apple, and Google have all created software based on Duda’s breakthrough.

But now Google is seeking a patent that would give it broad rights over the use of ANS for video compression. And Duda, a computer scientist at Jagiellonian University in Poland, isn’t happy about it.

Google denies that it’s trying to patent Duda’s work. A Google spokesperson told Ars that Duda came up with a theoretical concept that isn’t directly patentable, while Google’s lawyers are seeking to patent a specific application of that theory that reflects additional work by Google’s engineers.

How is that even patentable? The Google-hostile Mr. Gross said a few days ago, “guess which big co had NO trouble getting clearly Alice-ineligible applications rubberstamped at PTO while Director Lee was in charge? GOOGLE of course! this filing on 2 “modes” of AV operation would have been sh*tcanned by anyone else under 101 as “abstract idea”…” (image copied at the top)

“Generally speaking, especially in light of Alice, there’s no room for patents on algorithms in the patents repository.”Maintaining that conspiracy theory that Google is behind everything, these people would have us believe that Google enjoys special treatment. It would be bad if Google ever got granted any patent on anything related to asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) because it’s an algorithm. Generally speaking, especially in light of Alice, there’s no room for patents on algorithms in the patents repository. Do Know Evil, Google?

06.09.18

Shawn Ambwani (Unified Patents) Refutes the US Chamber of Commerce on Patents, But the Patent Trolls’ Lobby (IAM) Uses Him to Trot Out Yet More Misleading Propaganda

Posted in Deception, Google, Patents at 2:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Having run out of factual/legitimate arguments, they nowadays resort to nutty conspiracy theories about Google

IAM logo and friends

Summary: Coming to grips with the strengthening of patents (quality) in the United States, those who rely on low-quality patents for blackmail purposes fire back at opponents of patent trolls and some persist with the crazy conspiracy theory that claims “Google” is behind everything

THE SCOTUS-complying USPTO will have to narrow down patent scope or risk being repeatedly embarrassed by the Federal Circuit (for having granted patents in error, reducing confidence in US patents).

Unified Patents, which we support, keeps demonstrating that some notorious US patents (used extensively for litigation or shakedown) are in fact bogus patents. It has just happened again to Roaring Brook Advisors, which certainly looks like a patent troll to Unified Patents. There was a bounty (they now offer those) and here’s the outcome:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Rohit Sood, who received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 6,909,359, allegedly owned by Roaring Brook Advisors, LLC, a suspected NPE. The ’359 patent generally relates to a medical notification device that may be worn as a wristwatch. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) came to the rescue yet again, combating bad patents of Silver State Intellectual Technologies. To quote Jain:

On June 8, 2018 the Board granted Silver State Intellectual Technologies’ request for adverse judgment and cancellation of all challenged claims in IPR2017-01198 filed by Unified Patents. This request comes after the PTAB’s decision to institute trial (and mere weeks before the Board’s anticipated final decision) on all claims of US 8,538,498 directed to an information and control system for use in a vehicle capable of communicating with remote servers through a communications network.

As one might expect, Unified Patents has come under attack from patent extremists who are connected to trolls. We gave some examples of these attacks before. It certainly seems like patent quality is a scary concept to some people and Unified Patents is a convenient ‘whipping boy’.

Recently, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) worked hard to deny and discredit a study from IP2Innovate, refusing to accept the simple fact that patent trolls are a growing problem in Europe. IAM is IP2Litigate. This is basically IAM’s job; they’re the voice of patent trolls. Recently came a ‘study’ they could actually embrace, not because it was rooted in facts but because the message suited the bogus narrative trotted out by the litigation ‘industry’. These patent maximalists were just trying to improve their profits by lying to officials with a bogus 'ladder' that IAM would soon boost along with Watchtroll and even Iancu himself.

Something a little surprising happened yesterday because on the face of it IAM permitted a refutation by Unified Patents’ Shawn Ambwani. “The authors of a much-quoted ranking that records a big drop in the standing of the US patent system have serious questions to answer about their methodology,” said the tweet. Sounds promising, right?

Patent maximalist Richard Lloyd precedes Unified Patents’ views with the usual nonsense. He dismisses this by promoting the controversial ‘study’ and attacking others’ studies, like one about patent trolls in Europe (IP2Innovate). This is how Lloyd writes, in essence attacking the very text he’s about to copy-paste:

In recent years much has been written and spoken about the relative decline of the US patent system recorded by the Global Innovation Policy Center’s “IP Index”. While in IP generally, the Index states that the US remains in number one place overall, its patent score has slipped. Last year the US lost its number one ranking, falling to 10th, level with Hungary. This year, while the US patent score went up, it still slipped two places.

The centre is an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce and its analysis of the American patent system has been seized on by various members of the patent community who are highly critical of recent changes introduced by both the courts and Congress. But should the index be relied on as an accurate measure of relative global standing?

We have been highly critical of how data has been used and abused with regard to patents in both the US and elsewhere over the years. For example, decidely dodgy claims have been made about the activities of NPEs over the years to justify patent reform in the US – something that is now spreading to Europe. Patents are a subject that legislators know little about and because of that the way data is presented really matters.Given how important innovation policy is, decsions have to be based on reality not on spin. And that applies to all sides in the argument.

According to Unified Patents’ Shawn Ambwani and Jonathan Stroud there are serious question marks over the methodology used by ththose who compile the rankings. These, they say, should be addressed before the index is used by anyone to advocate for a particular position.

How many people will ever read further? Lloyd just used this as an opportunity for lobbying, which is basically what he does in the US (under the guise of “journalism”).

“Shawn Ambwani is chief operating officer and Jonathan Stroud is chief IP counsel at Unified Patents,” it says at the bottom, but many paragraphs at the top are the lobbyists’ own.

Here’s what Ambwani said (excerpt):

The index also lacks context. The GIPIC starts its analysis by asking: “Does a given economy’s intellectual property system provide a reliable basis for investment in the innovation and creativity lifecycle?” But it never addresses or defines those terms; if innovation, investment and economic benefit aren’t defined in the index, how are they measured?

The report ostensibly spends substantial effort developing methodology and scoring to compare countries based on self-selected “baselines” on the pro-enforcement policies of the GIPC, but it does not show how its scoring correlates to or reflects “investment in the innovation and creativity lifecycle”. There is no suggestion, much less proof, that the US economy has suffered at all, much less at the hands of patent policies. There is also no evidence connecting the eight indicators to historical “investment”. The correlation between IP enforcement to economic benefit for US companies or the US economy (absent equal detriment to other US companies) have yet to be shown by any quantitative measurement.

Until innovation can be demonstrably related to the scores in the index, it remains little more than a transparent lobbyist’s tool. The first step toward repairing credibility would be to demonstrate that the scores affect innovation before trying to measure them for the future; that is, unless the purpose of the index is really just to provide talking points to lobbyists and policy hawks to support the ease of patent monetisation against other US companies.

We already wrote some responses to this, but we don’t have the ‘fire power’ or ‘access’ of well-funded (by trolls and law firms) lobbyists. They keep brainwashing USPTO officials (more on that later this weekend) and spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories, insinuating that patent law is improving just because of “Evil” Google (the latest headline from Steve Brachmann, published on June 8th, is “Google Changes Its Code of Conduct After Years of Being Evil Towards Patent Owners”). What have they got to show for it? The core paragraph is this: “To accuse Google of operating with malevolent intent in recent years in order to serve its own corporate interests. First of all, consider Google’s ample financial largesse to D.C. politicians around the time that the America Invents Act (AIA) was signed into law. This includes the $800,000 contributed to former President Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign (making it the third-largest contributor to the Obama campaign), the nearly $900,000 contributed to federal candidates running in 2012 for the House and the Senate (which was split 49 percent to Democrats and 50 percent to Republicans) and the $18 million total lobbying expenditures during 2012, the eighth-largest federal lobbying total among all entities. If spending money to influence political debate towards unjust ends is evil, Google’s been guilty of that for years.”

What about law firms? And pharmaceutical companies? And countless others that are patent maximalists? What about technology companies other than Google? Google is like a drop in the ocean compared to the whole, but never let sites like Watchtroll (or IAM for that matter) digest reality, facts etc. that threaten loyalties with their own funding sources.

06.04.18

Watchtroll Continues to Attack Judges and Wants Us to Think That All Opponents of Patent Trolls Are Just ‘Google’

Posted in America, Deception, Google, Patents at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google controls everything! According to patent extremists…

Types of conspiracy theory
Reference: Types of conspiracy theory

Summary: Desperate to find an explanation for patent reforms that are still ongoing, Watchtroll decides that everything is reducible to one single company (Google) and causes every proponent of patent reason to be framed as a “shill” of Google

THE out-of-control patent maximalism of Watchtroll is no laughing matter. These people are actually poisoning the debate. Yesterday Watchtroll attacked politicians who speak about patent trolls (that was Steve Brachmann and Watchtroll) and today Steve Brachmann attacks the EFF, calling it a “shill” of Google. Later, all sorts of abusive people are trying to call me a “Google shill” (as recently as this past weekend) or something along those lines even though I have absolutely zero connections with Google and never had any (I generally even avoid — as a matter of principle — virtually all of that company’s services except Google News because it’s hard to replace). This isn’t entirely new a theme; they’re seeing Google in everything and blaming it for everything in patents, maybe because of Michelle Lee’s past career (before USPTO). A few hours ago Watchtroll cited the Campaign for Accountability (notice the capitalisation), known for many anti-Google actions (e.g. this one), just like Consumer Watchdog. They’re now latching onto anti-Google front groups to satisfy their own ‘conspiracy theories’.

This does not amuse us. That site is creating truly delusional and abusive people who are genuinely convinced that Google is behind everything, even Techrights! It’s like Fox News, Breitbart and InfoWars causing a bunch of violent people to turn against groups that are scapegoated.

“Watchtroll himself (Quinn) is one heck of a bully, helped by his hired writer Brachmann in their personal witch-hunt against people who favour technology and science (over litigation).”And it gets worse. Watchtroll himself is back to judge-bashing and court-bashing, unable to accept that the patent system in the US is being corrected in line with the law, Constitution etc. “The Collapse of U.S. Patent Policy by a Supreme Court preoccupied with Patent Trolls” is this latest headline, which basically precedes the third (by our count) attack on SCOTUS in the past month alone. It is always Watchtroll himself who attacks the judges, questions their motivations, and even demands their firings/resignations. It’s like a mob site and it played a role in mobbing Lee out of her job.

Watchtroll sometimes has guest writers and not all of them are bad. If only they realised what they associate themselves with by writing for Watchtroll. About a week ago it wrote about pneumatic conveyance system patents, taking note of this case which we saw covered almost nowhere else. To quote:

M-I Drilling owns five U.S. patents covering pneumatic conveyance systems, which are utilized in the oil drilling industry to transport drill cuttings from oil rigs to ships as part of the disposal process. M-I LLC is an exclusive licensee of these patents. Brazilian-based DAL is a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Dynamic Air Inc. (DAI).

Pursuant to a contract with Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), DAL developed and installed pneumatic conveyance systems on two U.S. ships in 2013. M-I subsequently sued DAL in the District of Minnesota for infringement of its patents covering those systems. DAL moved to dismiss, arguing that due process prohibited the district court from exercising specific personal jurisdiction over DAL pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2). The district court granted DAL’s motion to dismiss, holding that DAL did not purposefully direct its activities toward the United States, because DAL’s activities onboard U.S. ships arose pursuant to its contract with Petrobras, who unilaterally determined where the pneumatic conveyance system would be installed. The court reasoned that it would neither be reasonable nor fair to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over DAL.

This post by Joseph Robinson and Robert Schaffer, who cover many cases there (usually in a more or less objective fashion), is why we still keep an eye on the site. But Watchtroll himself (Quinn) is one heck of a bully, helped by his hired writer Brachmann in their personal witch-hunt against people who favour technology and science (over litigation).

05.19.18

LOT Network is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Posted in Google, OIN, Patents at 9:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LOT Network's Ken Seddon

Summary: Another reminder that the “LOT” is a whole lot more than it claims to be and in effect a reinforcer of the status quo

THE idea that we need to fight patent injustice by hoarding more patents was always a laughable one. The IBM-led OIN, for example, had us believing that it would somehow tackle the issue by making patents “defensive” (that can never be; it’s just not how patents actually work).

There’s an old saying along the lines of, to understand what an organisation stands for just check who’s running it. At the EPO it would be Battistelli and at the USPTO Iancu, part of the patent microcosm.

“There’s an old saying along the lines of, to understand what an orgnisation stands for just check who’s running it.”The LOT Network charm offensive and puff pieces aren’t over yet. We’re seeing Susan Decker’s Bloomberg piece licensed and reposted even more than a week later; we responded to it a couple of times before and 3 days ago we saw Wayne Williams in Beta News issuing another belated LOT Network puff piece in which he said:

Ken Seddon is the CEO of the non-profit patent protection network LOT. The organization’s members include Google, Red Hat, Lenovo, Pega and other big players, as well as dozens of startups in areas such as transportation, blockchain, and software.

Startups are disproportionately impacted by patent trolls and we chatted with Ken about how a smart, assertive IP strategy can help protect their businesses.

“Startups”-themes nonsense is the typical thing we also hear from Battistelli’s EPO. It’s pure marketing, trying to quell dissent from those who suffer the most. LOT Network is led by Google, which has a massive number of patents; all the key members are large companies, not SMEs (the term typically favoured in Europe).

“LOT Network is no solution to software patenting; it merely perpetuates all the same problems.”Ken Seddon the famous scientist (with an OBE) died earlier this year. The above Seddon, however, “drafted over 300 patent applications while at Motorola and Intel, and managed all US patent prosecution at Intel,” according to his official biography (later today we’ll remark about Intel’s patent policy). He is also connected to IPO and AIPLA, two front groups of patent maximalists. They — like Intel — promote software patents. That tells us what LOT Network really boils down to. LOT Network is no solution to software patenting; it merely perpetuates all the same problems.

05.15.18

A Google-Centric and Google-Led Patent Pool Won’t Protect GNU/Linux But Merely ‘Normalise’ Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LOT Network: A WHOLE LOT OF SOFTWARE PATENTS

Summary: Patent pools, which are basically the wrong solution to a very clear problem, continue to expand and promote themselves; the real solution, however, is elimination of abstract patents, notably software patents

OIN is no longer the only ‘game’ in town. IBM is the foremost player in OIN and OIN is not against software patents (same as IBM). A key staff from OIN recently left to join the Conservancy, which is strongly against software patents.

“…perhaps, to use OIN’s explanation, it’s trying to prevent such patents from ending on the laps of patent trolls. Just perhaps… in which case, wouldn’t it be better to work toward these patents’ elimination (using Section 101)?”The Google-led, Red Hat-backed LOT Network is in some headlines these days. It’s described as “defensive”, as usual. It’s not new, it’s just making another ‘charm offensive’, this time with Lenovo in the mix. Engine recommends LOT Network, which was mentioned in the puff piece from Bloomberg (copied a lot by Indian media) the other day. Some more Indian media has licensed and published it since. What was it all about? Did the author liaise with LOT Network for a puff piece, knowing that she would soon see further coverage like this? We now see two sites that habitually write about EPO scandals perpetuating the myth of “free patents and membership”. There’s no such thing as “free” patents because patents are something being taken away to begin with, it’s not a “charity” to give it ‘back’. It’s a PR stunt of large firms with many patents which they refuse to bury. To quote WIPR:

Non-profit LOT Network has announced two new programmes to “enrich and protect the global start-up community”, in efforts to incentivise innovation and encourage responsible patent use.

LOT, which lists Google, Canon, and Dropbox as its members, announced its new programmes on Thursday, May 10.

Mike Lee, head of patents at Google, said: “We think the protections afforded by LOT should be available to established and start-up companies alike, and do not want cost to be a barrier to participation.”

The first scheme is the Patent Transfer Program, which will allow qualifying start-ups to receive three free patents from LOT. The second is the organisation’s plan to expand free membership to LOT to any operating company which has up to $25 million in annual revenue.

Here’s the other new article about it:

The LOT Network, a Google-led patent initiative that aims to combat so-called ‘patent trolls’, has announced a new extended free membership, available to any company having up to $25 million in annual revenue.

Alongside the new membership, the LOT Network is granting qualifying startups three free patents, provided they have a membership in the LOT Network.

The group said it believes that “startups fuel innovation” and has “committed to share patents provided by its members with startups to promote and fuel further innovation and encourage these startups to join the LOT Network.

The first 200 operating companies in the LOT Network with $500,000 to $25 million in annual revenue or $500,000 to $25 million in financing over the past 18 months are eligible to receive patent assets at no cost.

The problem is that rather than work towards elimination of software patents they sort of ‘normalise’ them. Meanwhile, as IAM noted yesterday, RPX hoards more such patents:

RPX has acquired a small portfolio of patents from former search behemoth Lycos, according to an assignment recorded late last week with the USPTO. In total, the defensive aggregator picked up 24 assets from the tech company which grew rapidly during the 1990s dotcom bubble before quickly being eclipsed by the likes of Google and seeing a massive fall in value. The deal assignment was executed last November but has only just shown up on the PTO assignment database.

Those Lycos patents are likely software patents which are about to expire (almost 20 years since the dotcom bubble burst). What will RPX do with these? It did not buy these just for vanity; perhaps, to use OIN’s explanation, it’s trying to prevent such patents from ending on the laps of patent trolls. Just perhaps… in which case, wouldn’t it be better to work toward these patents’ elimination (using Section 101)?

Companies like Red Hat and Google try to “add value” by compiling a patent “portfolio”; if or when they die or get sold to another company those patents can be used offensively; see Sun and Oracle. Patents are never defensive; that’s just not how patents work. To call them “defensive” is part of the PR stunt, which IBM did a lot of a decade or more ago.

04.19.18

Microsoft’s Lobbying for FRAND Pays Off as Microsoft-Connected Patent Troll Conversant (Formerly MOSAID) Goes After Android OEMs in Europe

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Royalty stacking until free/libre platforms become very expensive

Coin stacking

Summary: The FRAND (or SEP) lobby seems to have caused a lot of monopolistic patent lawsuits; this mostly affects Linux-powered platforms such as Android, Tizen and webOS and there are new legal actions from Microsoft-connected patent trolls

EARLIER THIS week we wrote a couple of short articles that alluded to Samsung’s small victory over Huawei. For those who don’t know, Huawei is a highly government (or regime) connected entity, more so than a corporation as is known in Western democracies. Huawei nowadays uses patents in an effort to embargo the competition, but that hasn’t been particularly successful outside China (where government connections help). The Asian giants almost always use Android; this includes Huawei and Samsung, which also has the Linux-based Tizen (LG has the Linux-based webOS). As one site put it yesterday:

Back in January, we updated you on the Huawei vs. Samsung patent infringement lawsuit. The big news was that a Chinese court found in favor of Huawei in that dispute.

The patent infringement had to do with Samsung using Huawei’s cellular technology and software patents in various Samsung devices, without paying Huawei the necessary licensing fees. Samsung denied any wrongdoing (as usual), but the court said that Huawei’s patents were indeed infringed upon, and Samsung would have to pay a fine and halt Chinese production and sales of the infringing devices.

Docket Navigator also wrote about Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. et al v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al, showing that the US patent system/law suddenly becomes friendlier (to engineers, not lawyers) than China’s. To quote:

The court granted defendant Samsung’s motion for an antisuit injunction prohibiting plaintiff Huawei from enforcing injunction orders issued by a Chinese court and found that the Chinese injunction orders would frustrate domestic policies.

Boasting a new Samsung patent that we criticised the other day, this one new article says, “Samsung May Use Top Notch in Their Future Phones, New Patent Spotted in China” (so Samsung remains in China in the long run).

LG has already been driven out of China, or least partially. Patent lawsuits accomplished that.

As for Samsung, as we said and showed some days ago, it’s a top target for patent trolls. PACid, for example, is a patent troll whose latest action (against Samsung) belatedly got the attention of Watchtroll.

What we’ve only just noticed (this morning) is this update about MOSAID (now known as “Conversant”) with its litigation campaign in Europe. This Microsoft-connected (and Microsoft-armed) patent troll is still actively harassing companies with litigation in London. It’s nowadays going after Huawei and ZTE. To quote:

Does the English Court have jurisdiction to grant relief in the form of a global FRAND licence in relation to a claim for infringement of UK patents, where UK sales account for only 1% or less of worldwide sales on which royalties are claimed? This was the subject of the decision of Carr J. in the Patents Court on Monday in Conversant Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L v Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, ZTE Corporation and Ors [2018] EWHC 808 (Pat). The answer – on the facts of this case as explained below – was “yes”.

[...]

Conversant commenced proceedings in July 2017, claiming that the Defendants were infringing 4 EP(UK) patents, and sought a determination of FRAND terms for its global SEP portfolio. Conversant’s global portfolio of patents includes SEPS in over 40 countries.

[...]

It was common ground that Art 24(4) (validity of IP rights) and 27 (court first seised) of the Recast Brussels Regulation would require the English Court to declare of its own motion that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon cases concerning the validity of (non-UK) European patents. The Court also assumed that the English Court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon cases in which the dispute concerned validity of non-European patents. The Defendants however maintained that Conversant’s claims are in substance claims for infringement of foreign patents – which therefore depend on the validity of foreign patents, which the English Court has no jurisdiction over.

Although Huawei did not formally challenge jurisdiction in Unwired Planet [2017] EWHC 711 (Pat), it did rely upon some jurisdictional arguments to support its argument that a global licence was not FRAND, including that a worldwide FRAND determination in the English Court would undermine existing infringement and validity proceedings in Germany. Carr J. referred to the “simple” and “compelling” analysis of the judge in that case, where it was held that the Brussels Regulation and CJEU case law has nothing to do with what the terms of a FRAND licence should be.

What’s noteworthy about the case is: 1) it’s happening in Europe and 2) there’s a Microsoft connection. Microsoft was never able to blackmail Huawei over its Linux use, but later it managed to do this through Nokia, which also passed (at Microsoft’s instructions) patents to MOSAID (the same troll as above, owing to a rename/rebrand).

Microsoft might think it’s pretty clever by telling us that it “loves Linux” or “uses Linux”. But we’re not stupid enough to not see where patents come from.

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