“Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.”
–IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz
Summary: A review of recent writings about software patents and patents on business methods in the United States, demonstrating that patent lawyers have gotten very vocal and sneaky (trying to evade the rules)
THE patent landscape in the US is getting a lot better, not because of any reform but because of a SCOTUS ruling in a case widely referred to as Alice. Brian Fung from the trend-setting media says “new patent lawsuits are down for the first time in five years.”
“Patents were deemed invalid and a criteria was established for removal of many software patents, not ‘creation’ of new ones.”Over the past year (since the Alice precedence was set) we have written a great deal about patent lawyers’ fears and their endless attempts to rewrite the rules or cheat the system (which is basically what their job is often about–finding and exploiting loopholes, sometimes misleading judges).
Corporate Counsel, a site of patent lawyers (as its name reveals if not gently indicates), is trying to tell us that “Software Patents Are Still Valuable”. Written by R. Flynt Strean, Michele M. Glessner and Zachary A. Higbee from Corporate Counsel, the article basically tells patent lawyers what they want to hear. Surely it’s music to their ears.
Another lawyers’ site, Law 360, says that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit‘s “Eon Ruling Offers Map For Clear Software Patents”. To quote: “A recent Federal Circuit decision invalidating an interactive TV patent owned by Eon Corp. IP Holdings LLC is the latest ruling by the appeals court stressing the need to make software patents clear by including an algorithm and provides guidance for writing software claims that can withstand scrutiny, attorneys say.”
This is basically the giving of tips on how to patent software, despite many of prospective patents being ineligible.
Watch sites composed by lawyers (National Law Review in this case) ridiculing critics even of patent trolls as if patent lawyers support patent trolls, not just software patents. This one site wrote this about Alice: “Alice did provide, however, that if the subject matter “improves the functioning of the computer itself” or “any other technology”, such subject matter may be patent-eligible. In this way, one can see this as leaving open the possibility of finding computer software patent-eligible.”
They are reversing the actual outcome as positive. Patents were deemed invalid and a criteria was established for removal of many software patents, not ‘creation’ of new ones. The way lawyers like to frame it is a way that generally supports software patents, i.e. the opposite of what SCOTUS actually ruled on. These articles are full of lawyers’ tricks for patenting software despite the highest court’s ruling which serves to bar/limit them.
Watch this other lawyers’ site stating about CBM (covered business method): “As a § 101 analysis under Alice Corp. does not require the time and expense necessary to analyze prior art, swiftly launching a CBM petition that relies either solely or primarily on § 101 challenges presents a cost-effective approach with good potential for success. This is especially true in view of the limited estoppel particular to CBM post-grant reviews, which would allow for subsequent challenges under §§ 102, 103 and 112, at the district court. In addition, a CBM, unlike an inter partes review is not required to be filed within one year after a district court patent infringement suit is initiated. Note, however, that upon a final written decision, § 325(e)(1) estoppel will still bar grounds that the petitioner “raised or reasonably could have been raised” in pending or future PTO proceedings, this is true even if the parties settle.”
“To lawyers, everything that reduces the number of permissible patents is evil.”The pattern here is clear and we have omitted nothing that we’ve come across in our research (this month’s news). Lawyers who profit from patents are working very hard to get around the rules and continue to patent software, showing disregard not just for science but also for the highest court.
Here is one statement which we also found mystifying, under the headline “Patent Laws Are Getting Cloudy”: “While the cloud reduces the barrier to entry for innovation, moving from a hardware to a software model makes getting a technology patent more difficult, he added. He attributed this to biases in U.S. and European patent law.”
What biases? Ones that limit patenting of software? And for good reason? To lawyers, everything that reduces the number of permissible patents is evil. They view everything as a nail because they are hammers. All they care about is money and destruction (in courtrooms, where real products can be embargoed or castrated, companies can be driven to bankruptcy, and ideas come to be squashed). Don’t listen to patent lawyers if you want the facts; we know how they make their money. They create nothing but paperwork and court hearings. █
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Summary: The existence of publicity patents, or patents whose sole purpose is to advertise some products, serves to discredit the US patent office, which was originally set up to promote science and technology
IN A COUPLE of recent blog posts from Steph in her rather obscure WordPress blog readers become aware of an old trick where USPTO seals of approval are used as a form of endorsement, even if there is only a patent application (“patent-pending”), which means just about nothing, even in a system where up to 92% of patent applications are "successful" (meaning that approved patents too are almost meaningless or worthless as a measure of innovation). Steph writes: “According to a suit filed in New Jersey, L’Oreal decided that they’d require their IP attorneys to file a certain number of patents each year, not to promote the progress of science and useful arts, but so that customers would be persuaded to buy their products because of a “patent pending” stamp on them…
“To recap,” says another post, ” you’re spending money on IP attorneys and USPTO fees and office action fees and clogging up the patent system for people with real things to patent and getting virtually nothing in return, except for a lawsuit from an attorney who thought the process was so ridiculous he quit doing it?”
“The only good patent is a non-existent or dead patent, not an “open” patent.”That’s what people who buy L’Oreal pay for; they not only pay for the ads that bamboozle them but also for lawyers who exploit the USPTO for marketing purposes. These are ‘trophy patents’, or some kind of medals for potential recognition by the public (at face value).
What does the USPTO intend to do about this? Nothing of course, it’s all business to them. This patent system hardly needs to be publicly discredited when it does so much to discredit itself. This does nothing for science; it’s about consumerism.
Speaking of ‘publicity patents’, how about the nonsense which is “Open Patent Licensing” or claims that giving up on litigation with a patent is “open source” (as Panasonic or Tesla want us to believe). To quote this new report from AOL: “A new trio of open patent licenses can help encourage innovation, discourage patent trolls and help companies attract top engineering talent. These licenses aren’t just for open-source romantics. They are practical legal tools used by software companies like Google, Twitter and Dropbox.”
The only good patent is a non-existent or dead patent, not an “open” patent. As Oracle served to show when it acquired Sun and later used its patents offensively, not even a “good” patent owner makes his/her patent/s benign. Google’s Android is at times defended using patents from IBM, which is itself a patent bully (it famously attacked Sun) and a prominent lobbyist for software patents all around the world. █
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Risks to Battistelli’s control be dismantled?
Summary: The unaccountable thugs who run the EPO have hired London-based spooks to help silence their opposition and their critics
Benoît Battistelli, whose own staff (not his establishment) dislikes him greatly, can only ever pretend to have learned his lessons about the downsides of tyranny. His Napoleonic complex remains in tact and as a result of this we are going to renew our criticism of the EPO’s crooked management.
Weeks ago, seeing that there was talk about recognition of a staff union and reform (“reform of sick leave and invalidity constitutes another severe attack on both dignity and fundamental rights of EPO staff”), we decided to stay quiet, giving an opportunity of reform a chance. There was later “Union Recognition Working Group – Report on the 1st meeting of 11 May 2015″.
“Surveillance on people who cover EPO corruption (including Techrights) is now a fact, not merely a possibility.”To quote one recent bit: “In its 119th session the Tribunal delivered a total of 77 judgments, of which 24 cases involving the EPO. Of the 24 EPO cases, only one case was won by the complainant. The remaining 23 cases were dismissed, 13 summarily. This paper discusses the cases that have broader relevance and the overall implications.”
Things seemed to have calmed down a bit, but different sources have told us about at least 3 nefarious surveillance and cracking companies that EPO hired (or is said to have hired because there is disagreement on which firm/s the EPO actually hired, with Blue Coat seemingly quite likely).
Surveillance on people who cover EPO corruption (including Techrights) is now a fact, not merely a possibility. Some of these surveillance agencies need to intercept or thwart encryption, so cracking is usually within their toolset. There is now public information in SUEPO’s Web site, which says: “SUEPO understands that the company Control Risks has been commissioned by the European Patent Office to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union.”
The EPO’s surveillance on staff is an intimidation tactic. Deterrence is the goal. Too bad they don’t know how “blowback” works and how contracting abusive companies (military industrial complex-connected) hurts them in the long run, coinciding with other scandals and reinforcing a perception of corruption and lack of ethics, not to mention gross disregard for the law (Battistelli never cared much about the law, he even snubbed a Hague court’s ruling).
Here is the letter which SUEPO sent to Control Risks:
Nick Allan (Regional Director)
London, SE1 2QG
Crawford Gillies (Chairman),
Richard Fenning (CEO),
Dear Mr Allan,
We understand that your company has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union. You should be aware that the EPO is going through a serious crisis in its social relations, caused largely (in our opinion) by a series of controversial reforms initiated by the current President, Mr Battistelli.
The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) firmly believes that several of the reforms affront fundamental human rights. Indeed, in one case that we have been able to present to a national court, the court agreed with SUEPO (see Annex 1).
In reaction to the crisis, the EPO announced an initiative to renew the “social dialogue” (see Annex 2). This renewed social dialogue was not intended to address any of the controversial reforms, but rather to discuss the formal recognition of a Staff Union that has existed for more than 35 years and to which some 50% of the staff of the EPO are members. Although sceptical about the real intentions of the administration, SUEPO accepted the offer to talk. Yet while these talks are on-going, the Office apparently pursues one or more investigations against its newly found, but not yet formally recognized, “social partner”.
This is not the first time that staff representatives in the EPO have come under fire from Mr Battistelli. Last year several elected staff representatives and experts nominated by the staff representation have been investigated and/or disciplined. The disciplinary measures imposed by the President were significantly more severe than the proportionate measures – if any – recommended by the disciplinary committee.
We understand that Control Risks’ has a Code of Ethics and Human Rights policy. The former states that “If Control Risks has reason to believe that in undertaking an activity it would be complicit in human rights abuses committed by others, it will avoid that activity. ” The latter adds that “our employees are never to be complicit in human rights abuses.” We note that your company also adheres to the widely accepted UN Global Compact’s “ten principles”.
As indicated above, SUEPO is of the opinion that in particular the human resource policies and reforms currently implemented by the Office are repressive and serially offend fundamental human rights. For example, the unlawful restrictions on freedom of association have been confirmed by the Dutch court judgment. The right to engage in collective bargaining has never been recognized by the EPO, nor has the Staff Union been formally recognized, an apparent prerequisite (see “historic” talks) to being treated as a social partner. The list of staff grievances is long (see Annex 3) and ever lengthening.
To provide further context, you will find below further references to a selection of publicly available information about the current EPO “situation”. We cannot provide you with any of the internal material since this would be deemed to offend our EPO internal regulations, which are themselves also confidential. However, the cited documents and further information are available on our website: http://www.suepo.org/public/news
SUEPO is not aware of any wrong doing on our side, so we conclude that any investigation serves no other purpose than to intimidate, harass or simply silence Staff / Union representatives who oppose the present regime at the EPO.
We respectfully ask Control Risks to exercise due diligence by verifying both whether the commission from the EPO is “proper” and whether accepting this commission is fully in line with your company’s code of ethics.
We remain at your disposition should you wish to discuss this situation.
For information about “Control Risks” see Source Watch and see also WikiSpooks. To quote some relevant bits: “The majority of their clients are large multi-nationals; they state that more than 90 per cent of the FTSE 100 use one or more of their services [...] CRG is a member of the British Association of Private Security Companies and the Private Security Company Association of Iraq.”
There is definitely more coming. We shall keep an eye on this. As we assured at the start, this gross, crude, unethical and potentially illegal behaviour from EPO management is only going to motivate us to write more about EPO abuses, not less. █
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Aiming their biggest guns at Android
Summary: A timely reminder of the importance of patent matters, for they are being used to eliminate the zero-cost advantage of Free/libre software and make it more proprietary, privacy-infringing, and user-hostile (as a result of blackmail)
WHILE pro-Apple sites keep bragging about new Apple patents (granted despite being monopolies on dumb or trivial ideas) there are many dozens of articles, such as [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] , about Apple’s latest assault and taxation of Android (nearly a billion dollars against just one Android backer). On the receiving end there is Samsung, which Microsoft blackmailed (using patent lawsuits) into including Microsoft's software/spyware, by default, in Android. Anyone who still considers Apple and/or Microsoft increasingly friendly towards Linux (or Android) is clearly not paying attention… or paying attention to proprietary software-leaning propaganda which calls extortion “licensing”, “settlement”, “agreement”, and so on. In the coming days we are going to refute a lot of patent propaganda in a rather long series of posts. █
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Scientists need not apply
Summary: Only large corporations and their lawyers are able to formally change the US patent system through public officials and politicians, despite recent rulings from very high courts
THE PATENT Act may be better than nothing, but it is nowhere near a solution to the patent mess that even Chinese actors complain about. In a very recent article at IDG Robert X. Cringely called it a “sick, sluggish U.S. patent system”. See the article “Even Uncle Sam admits: US patent law is whack”. It says that the “US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is calling on the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to overhaul its rules on licensing intellectual property.” Well, it is Bloomberg (front of Wall Street) that celebrates monopolies, not developers or scientists. It’s all about big business now. It’s about occupation of the industry, not creation or expansion. The Economist has this interesting article which says “Patent records reveal that the way inventions are made has changed over the years” (growing in terms of number by making rules more lenient). Here is an interesting part about a notorious patentor: “Invention can come about in two ways. Thomas Edison’s light bulb, for example, was not so much the product of a metaphorical light-bulb moment of discovery as of the bringing together of pre-existing components—an electricity supply, a heated filament, a vacuum and a glass envelope. None of these things was novel in the 1870s, but in Edison’s hands the combination became a patentable invention. In contrast, William Shockley’s transistor, invented 70 years later, involved a lot of new physics that Shockley and his colleagues had to work out for themselves. Both devices changed the world, though (Shockley’s was the foundation on which IT was built). And together they exemplify the two sorts of novelty that exist, in differing proportions, in any successful invention: discovery and recombination.”
A lot of large corporations are battling small ones and they are artificially elevating prices using software patents. It’s an attack on any emergent entity and it slows down science and technology for the sake of profit (of few large entities alone). See this new article titled “Is Big Business a Bigger Problem Than Patent Trolls?” To quote one of the opening sentences: “It’s easy to point fingers at so-called patent trolls for problems with the U.S. patent system, but corporations might be posing the biggest threat to innovation.”
A large entities-funded Web site which serves to shift focus to trolls (under the misleading guise of “Patent Progress”) wrote this: “Mark Lemley and Robin Feldman have just put out a new paper that shows something many of us suspected: patent licenses tend to be for the freedom to operate, not for technology transfer. That is, in their survey, they found that the overwhelming majority of the time, companies took licenses in order to settle an infringement claim for technology they’d developed independently; they generally did not take licenses in order to be able to develop new products.”
This aligns very well with corporations’ lobbying because it serves to distract from much bigger issues. What this site calls “Real Patent Reform” is not the “Patent Reform” that would actually fix the problems in one fell swoop, it would just empower large corporations even more. Watch this three-part series [1, 2, 3] about a mirage of a ‘reform’. It is clear that the goal there is not to solve the big issues but instead to shift attention to bogus ‘reforms’. It’s about protecting the likes of Apple from lawsuits such as this new one [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], not about tackling the patents themselves. The US is reportedly going as far as allowing patents on brain processes [1, 2, 3, 4], but no politicians speak about limiting patent scope as part of the overall solution. How come? Are they just couriers or spokes(wo)men for large corporations? Are too many blogs that cover these issue written by lawyers of large corporations or lobby groups that are funded by large corporations? It’s probably a bit of both. It is even complementary because if sites serve to inform (or misinform) politicians and decision-makers, then this whole situation is cyclic. It is an echo chamber.
A Red Hat-run site recently commented on the Supreme Court’s impact on need for reform, stating: “The thrust of the HJC hearing was pretty clear: Congress needs to act. And while the Supreme Court has taken some steps, it is not a substitute for legislative actions focused on the fundamental issues in the system that abusive patent litigants use to game the system.
“As Sen. John Cornyn—a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of the key advocate for reforms that failed to reach the Senate floor last May—put in a speech at the end of January, the Supreme Court’s actions around the standards for fee shifting and the modified pleading requirements introduced by the Judicial Conference are welcome, but essentially “marginal changes.””
“A lot of large corporations are battling small ones and artificially elevating prices using software patents.”This latter observation is important because it reminds us that there is already a way to restrict patents (scope of patenting), even without a bill in Congress. Therein lies the real solution and it is scaring a lot of patent lawyers whose biggest clients are very large corporations.
TechDirt recently aired a show titled “How The Patent System Can Be Fixed” and in it there was a “patent attorney [called] Hersh Reddy [who] helped us navigate the many ways in which the patent system is broken.”
They are not focusing on trolls. “Lawyers who know their way around a software patent,” wrote The Register in a recent article, “the blokes who supply those 1s and 0s in the bulk so vital for programming, coffee shops up to date with the latest weird milk for that latte (have they got to badger or vole yet?).”
Actually, these lawyers rarely even understand computers, they are just good with trickery, they are skilled enough at English, and they know how to sneak patents past a system that at least attempts — however loosely — to control their quality. “Drafting Software Patents In A Post-Alice World” is a recent headline from a patent lawyers’ Web site. It gives tips on dodging the rules. “It has been a challenging year for software patent owners,” it says, “following the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International. Since that ruling was handed down, a large number of software patents have been invalidated in the Federal Circuit and in district courts. So what should IP owners do if they are seeking to file a patent in today’s legal environment? Attorneys Seth Northrop and Sam Walling discuss the current state of affairs and offer some useful advice.”
What they mean to say is that they want to dodge the rules. Here is the previous Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO (apropos, Patent Commissioner Peggy Focarino is retiring now) writing for a pro-patents site, providing an opinion in yet another patent lawyers’ site (echo chamber), trying to highlight ways to dodge the rules and successfully patent software in spite of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.
The EFF is clearly upset, but it hardly scolds/scoffs at all this. It merely asked a few weeks ago: =”Why Does The US Patent Office Keep Approving Clearly Ridiculous Patents?”
The original article is here (by Daniel Nazer) and it says: “Imagine you’re on your way to deliver a case of beer to a party. Before you get there, your boss sends you a text: They want 2 cases now. You read the text while driving (don’t do that), so you deliver an extra case when you arrive. Having successfully completed that task, you leave for your next delivery.”
Well, that’s a patent, sort of. Provided it’s encoded in software. That’s how bad things have become in the USPTO. The EFF has been somewhat of a mixed bag as of late. Julie Samuels (EFF) promotes the PATENT Act, despite its inherent flaws and suppositions (that trolls alone are the core issue). The PATENT Act is also promoted by Adi Kamdar (EFF) right here. To quote: “The PATENT Act fixes this by requiring patent owners to supply certain specific information when filing suit: which patents and claims are being infringed, what product is infringing, and how. If such information isn’t accessible, the patent owner must state why.”
Nothing is being done to actually limit patent granting or create new rules (not precedence) regarding patent scope. Then there is this return to the term “bad patents”, yet again, courtesy of Daniel Nazer (EFF). Writing about patents and especially software patents has become increasingly depressing because the corporate media is only willing to blame ‘trolls’ right now. Lobbyists of large corporations (like Microsoft or Apple) would rather name companies that feed patent trolls, omitting names of companies that these lobbyists represent or work for. The EFF plays along with this, so who is left to fight the good fight? The FFII is mostly defunct now.
“This week,” writes the EFF, “together with Public Knowledge and Engine, EFF submitted written comments to the Patent Office regarding its Patent Quality Initiative.” When they talk about quality they don’t quite talk about scope and the EFF is preoccupied with patent trolls these days, especially when it puts so much effort into the PATENT Act. Everyone talks about it, even in Canada and on television in the US (e.g. John Oliver at HBO, who still receives flak from patent lawyers and opportunists such as Mintz Levin Cohn, Ferris Glovsky, and Popeo PC [1, 2]).
The patent lawyers are still working hard to ensure they can patent everything under the sun [1, 2, 3, 4] and patent academics like Dennis Crouch provide some tips. One of these so-called ‘professionals’ goes as far as suggesting that people register copyrights even though they’re automatically in effect, without needing to be “registered”. Here is why: “CLS Bank International, which has created significant obstacles in patent protection for software. Numerous US patents covering software applications have been invalidated by the courts in recent months relying on the Alice decision.”
So this ‘genius’ now suggests “copyright registration” for software. USPTO is for trademarks and patents to be registered, copyrights do not need to be registered; that’s just the way they work, that’s their nature and that’s why they’re cheap to ‘acquire’ (no cost at all). These tips are just horribly misinformed then.
“Corporate Counsel”, another site for patent lawyers and the likes of them, published “Technology Patent Licensing Trends in 2015 and Beyond”, whereas another bunch of lawyers’ sites cited the Nautilus v. Biosig case [1, 2, 3] because it challenges a heart monitor patent [1, 2]. We generally found a lot of coverage about this in “legal” sites, but not in sites that are not run by lawyers, except in one case (corporate media coverage). Here is the gist about the same case: “The Federal Circuit considered the question of indefiniteness on remand from the Supreme Court’s reversal in Nautilus v. Biosig and, perhaps not surprisingly, found again that the Biosig’s claims were not indefinite.”
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is actually the most pro-software patents court in the US. One site asks, “Is Federal Circuit Really ‘Terrified’ of Reversals?”
As we demonstrated last year, there’s corruption in CAFC, which led to its head leaving. There are conflicts of interest. Corruption is in fact endemic in the US patents system and the court system, as this new report serves to show. To quote, the “US District Judge Leonard Davis said this week he’s going to leave the bench to join Fish & Richardson, a large law firm focused on intellectual property.
“Davis, who has presided in the Eastern District of Texas since 2002, has one of the most active patent dockets in the nation and has presided over some of the biggest technology lawsuits of the past decade. Corporate Counsel magazine reported this week that he has handled more than 1,700 individual IP cases as a judge. Before becoming a judge, he worked for 23 years in private practice.”
“Here again we see tips being given for getting around the rules.”We wrote about Fish & Richardson before and so did Patent Troll Tracker [1, 2, 3]. As a quick reminder, East Texas is like the capital of patent trolls and Texas media insists these days that “There’s no crisis in current patent law”. Texas Lawyer (capital not only of patent trolls but also stagnant in education amongst US states) wrote about the USPTO‘s new guidelines on software patentability, noting: “The recently revised USPTO guidelines for subject matter eligibility offer an effective summary of the case law post-Alice, and should be closely considered by any attorney representing patent owners.”
Here again we see tips being given for getting around the rules. It’s disregard or even mockery of the law. All the proponents of software patents are very much worried about fees and patent scope being restricted, due to changes in law. Some lawyers’ sites and law firms pursue change to law pertaining to design patents, hoping to latch onto the reform all sorts of expansions in terms of scope exceptions. To quote this one new article: “With all the patent reform legislation discussion going on, PARTS are not getting as much attention. Specifically, in February, members of the House and Senate each re-introduced the “Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales Act,” known as the “PARTS Act.” The House bill and the Senate bill are identical.” Here is what the PARTS Act is about: “The PARTS Act would amend 35 U.S.C. § 271 to provide an exception from design patent infringement for certain external component parts of automobiles, which include collision-related parts such as hoods, fenders, tail lights, and side mirrors.”
Here is the Washington Post, a front for large business interests, alluding to “design patents” as well. To quote part of the report: “Though design patents play a valuable role in the system that encourages innovation by inventors, they’ve also proven to be a rich source of meritless litigation.”
How does it promote innovation? That’s nonsense. “The patent system has been in focus all year,” says the article, “with the Senate last week announcing a bipartisan proposal to reform the system. Similar to legislation that passed the House last year, the Senate bill will be aimed at making life more difficult for abusive lawsuits by so-called patent trolls — companies that buy up dubious patents from inventors and use them to extract settlements from innovators and users rich and poor.”
The problem is not trolls, it’s broad patent scope that facilitates patent trolls. Bradley J. Hulbert, a lawyer, defended software patents the other day. In a pro-software patents site he wrote: “In following this mandate, the U.S. patent system should be implemented in a way to promote software innovation. In recent years, U.S. courts have developed a series of guidelines defining boundaries for patent eligibility. To the extent that such rules block patents from being issued too freely, they should be applauded as consistent with the Constitutional mandate. However, over the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions have presented a “moving target” of when software and other computer-implemented inventions are eligible for patent protection. This lack of clarity is reducing business incentives to develop software.”
This is complete nonsense. People don’t stop developing software just because they cannot patent algorithms. Since he wrote in the site of Gene Quinn, who works hard to undermine any reform that jeopardises broad patent scope, much of this should be expected.
One new article is titled “Does your mobile app need a patent?”
It is a loaded question and so is the part which says: “So you’ve got an app idea and want to protect it. Is a patent the right route to keeping it safe?” No, there are already copyrights. Besides, app developers need to worry about being sued over patent infringement, not about imitations. If one is entitled to a software patents, everyone else is too. It makes the environment unpleasant to work in. Besides patents there are already copyrights and failing that, there are trade secrets. Here is a major patent case being dropped, with the press release and press coverage saying that “CA had alleged that AppDynamics misappropriated trade secrets, among other things.”
Eventually they settled, so the only winners are the lawyers who make money from the two-year-old dispute. Sadly enough, it is those parasites that continue to dominate the debate (also in the media) over patents while many scientists remain apathetic or uninvolved. This ought to change.
Andy Updegrove recently related the subject of patents to Free/Open Source software development. He focused on patent pledges, noting: “For all its benefits, one aspect of open source software does cause headaches: understanding the legal terms that control its development and use. For starters, scores of licenses have been created that the Open Source Initiative recognizes as meeting the definition of an “open source license.” While the percentage of these licenses that are in wide use is small, there are significant and important differences between many of these popular licenses. Moreover, determining what rights are granted in some cases requires referring to what the community thinks they mean (rather than their actual text), and in others by the context in which the license is used.”
In a world where there are no software patents issues such as these would not emanate. For a lot of developers in many countries patents are not a factor in choosing a licence, but if they want to bring their software to the US, for example, then it starts to matter. The issue does not affect just Free/Open Source software but also proprietary software. It affects every software developer and to a lesser degree software users as well.
Where has the opposition to software patents gone? █
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Summary: Simple mathematics becoming patented as Fujifilm claims ‘ownership’ of photographic conversion to greyscale
IN my field of expertise (research profession), which is computer graphics/vision (fundamentally a lot of matrix maths), there has been a big growth in the number of patents. These are all software patents and they are typically filed in the US because the USPTO is far too permissive. This makes it virtually impossible or at least very risky to bring software to the US; almost everything in a computer program these days can be considered patent infringement and if not, then you may be forced to prove this at a court of law, at your own expense. It harms the ability to distribute software (at zero cost), not just develop software. It is a huge impediment to research and development. This only protects monopolies and giant multinationals. It makes them untouchable.
An article published the other day by a Microsoft-friendly programming-oriented site showed that even converting an image to greyscale is now a patent trap. “There are so many instances where software patents are clearly stupid,” said the author, “but this one has to be seen to be believed. As long as you see it in color there should be no patent problems.”
The author correctly pointed out that: “Those skilled in the art almost certainly knew how to convert an RGB image into greyscale long before the patent.”
This means that such a patent should never have been granted in the first place. This system is just corrupt, defunct, or striving to maximise profit rather than serve the public.
It is worth also seeing the new article titled “The strange things you need to do to file patents in the US”. The sad thing is that the EPO seems to be assimilating (attaching itself) to the USPTO over time, so computer scientists everywhere must fight back. If everything can be deemed illegal, everyone is a criminal. If every creation is “infringing”, then those in power have the ability to remove anything on a whim. Patents have become a gross extension of protectionism instrumentation. █
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“Intellectual property is the next software.”
–Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll
Summary: UCLA and Microsoft-linked media are framing big thugs as heroes, doing a great disservice to both academia and journalism
THREE weeks ago we wrote about a very tasteless move from UCLA, which had resorted to whitewashing thugs. Intellectual Ventures is a Microsoft proxy that attacks many companies and blackmails others (even universities are among Intellectual Ventures’ targets). How can this proxy be considered suitable for a commencement ceremony at a university? Are they paying Myhrvold for this or is he bribing UCLA for the ‘privilege’? It’s hard to say.
Either way, Steph from IP Troll Tracker wrote: “I only wish I had taken myself up on my dreams of attending UCLA so I could write a scathing letter to the Alumni Association, letting them know how I felt about this bad apple choice of a speaker.”
Microsoft’s booster Todd Bishop, an occasional grooming actor for Intellectual Ventures (a tool of Microsoft) and for Bill Gates (friend of Myhrvold and early financier of Intellectual Ventures), uses Intellectual Ventures to smear Google, a leading Microsoft rival. He says that “Google was an early investor in Intellectual Ventures’ patent fund but has since distanced itself from the Bellevue, Wash.-based company, and the companies have faced off over patents in the courtroom.”
Yes, Intellectual Ventures is now suing Android, as we showed several times last month (we highlighted this several times). Intellectual Ventures did not have Google as an “investor”, Google just wanted peace with this parasitic aggressor. Bishop is reversing roles to make Google look like the troll. Isn’t it funny how Microsoft-friendly (and at times Microsoft-funded) media keeps trying to groom Myhrvold and Intellectual Ventures? █
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Roman empire giving up
Summary: Opposition to the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being crushed and Italy is one of the latest actors to have fallen in the battle
SO IT TURNS out that “Italy [is going] to join the UPC after decision of 5th May,” based on Benjamin Henrion’s rant. “Does Italy has a constitution?”
IP Kat backs that up in this article, showing us that Europe going the way of the dodo when it comes to patents. Four years ago we commended Italy for standing up against the this polymorphic and nym-shifting charade (Unified Patent Court is the latest name), but the EPO fought against them for years; it fought for software patents in Europe.
IP Kat‘s criticism of the EPO carries on in other ways, but the news from Italy is covered as follows: “Now it seems that the legal challenges to the new system are coming to an end but, as Merpel suggests, the biggest challenge of all remains — the challenge of making this unknown, untried, hybrid system work in practice. The patent-granting and administration work is the easy bit: all depends on the functionality of the Unified Patent Court.”
Large multinational companies will soon be suing European companies using patents Europe-wide, imposing embargoes and raising costs considerably. Patent trolls can join these multinationals in the heist. Who does the Unified Patent Court serve if not wealthy globalists? █
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