Photo source: Intellectual Ventures
Summary: News collated which pertains to software patents, especially those which affect Free/libre software
TODAY’S series of links is divided based on themes, starting with what we deem most important.
Apple’s Attacks on Free Software
Joe Mullin is flabbergasted by Apple’s vicious assault on the Linux-powered platform that reduced the ‘i’ empire to rubble, with at most 18% market share (depending on the source and the geography).
“All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.”Android rose to unbeatable levels of dominance despite Apple’s assault (remember that Apple started it 5 years ago) and in one legal case alone there are now “3,200 documents [...] not including exhibits.” Imagine the cost of legal defence here. Apple and Samsung are still fighting in court and “Koh’s recent orders suggest she is fed up with the intense litigation by both parties,” Mullin notes. “The case docket for the first of two Apple v. Samsung lawsuits now has more than 3,200 documents in it, not including exhibits. Last week, Koh issued an order prohibiting the parties from making any further additions without permission.”
This is, at the very least, deterrence. More importantly, it’s Apple greed (it wants billions of dollars from Samsung). Apple is just hoping that companies with pockets less deep than Samsung’s will simply give up and pay Apple for profits made through distribution of Android (Free software). This is clearly an attack on Free software, so anyone still insisting that Apple likes “Open Source” is about as delusional as people who deem ‘i’ products superior and worthy of the high price tags.
Several years ago we openly and unambiguously called for a boycott of everything “Apple”. The company is malicious and it is dangerous to the future of Free software. All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.
Rothschild Connected Devices ‘Innovations’
Joe Mullin, covering and citing the original rant from the EFF, expands on Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, which is essentially a patent troll. He provides some details on what Leigh Rothschild, whom the world’s biggest patent troll (Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft-connected) glamourises, has been up to:
Patent-holding company Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations (RCDI) owns US Patent No. 8,788,090, which was granted in 2014 and describes a system where a “remote server” “transmits” a “product preference” via a “communication module.” Using those broad claims, RCDI has sued more than 20 companies for making things that connect to the Internet. The company sued ADT (PDF) over its Pulse product that allows for things like adjusting a thermostat.
The patent relates to an application filed back in 2006 that essentially describes an Internet drink mixer. A consumer can customize products by connecting to a server on “the global computer network, e.g., the Internet,” which can then “provide product preferences of a user to a product or a mixing device, e.g., a product or beverage dispenser.”
This is an example not just of patent trolling but also software patents, which are the weapon favoured among patent trolls. If the latter can be eliminated, much of the former too will vanish (go bankrupt). This is why we emphasise the need to combat software patents (scope), not just “trolls”, however one defines them (definitions tend to vary somewhat as some very large companies act indistinguishably from classic patent trolls or patent sharks).
There are more new signs of the US patent system tightening. Yesterday for example Foley & Lardner LLP published an analysis of another criterion (not “abstract”) by which patents can be squashed in US courts, even the notorious Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). To quote the analysis: “As noted in the Federal Circuit decision, Dow Chemical Company asserted selected claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,847,053 and U.S. Patent No. 6,111,023 against NOVA Chemicals Corporation (Canada) and NOVA Chemicals Inc. (Delaware). A jury found the asserted claims to be infringed and not invalid, and the Federal Circuit affirmed, holding, among other things, “that the asserted claims were not indefinite.” The district court then conducted a bench trial for a supplemental damages period through the expiration date of both patents, granted $30M in supplemental damages in the form of lost profits and reasonable royalties, and denied Dow’s request for enhanced damages. NOVA appealed, and Dow cross-appealed.”
Earlier this year we wrote about the Nautilus case. This too is relevant here. “Applying the Nautilus standard,” says Foley & Lardner LLP, “the Federal Circuit held that existence of multiple methods that could lead to different results and the absence of guidance in the patent or prosecution history as to which method should be used rendered the claims indefinite because they “fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” The court therefore reversed the $30M supplemental damages award.”
This ought to discourage litigation, filing of new patent applications that are similar in nature to the above, and generally feed back (like in a loop) into the US patent system so as to modify examination guidelines, in very much the same way that Alice has done since last year. See this new article titled “After Alice: A Feedback Loop of Software Patent Invalidity”. The article comes from the pro-patents media (whose audience is patent lawyers) and it’s summarised as follows: “Ever since a major patent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, patents have seemed to be invalidated right and left. But is that a result of the decision itself, or because of the feedback loop caused by the process by which patents are challenged?”
They are trying to dismiss the legitimacy of the decisions by casting them as an “echo chamber” of sorts. Well, that’s what one might expect from the patent profiteers, even thought some patent lawyers’ blogs already acknowledge that software patents may be on their death throes.
IP Kat, a blog run by patent lawyers (and other monopolies like copyrights, trademarks, etc.), is still openly concerned about voices of reason, or published opinions from people who don’t profit from this corrupt system of protectionism by patent monopolies. Watch this latest dismissal of The Economist‘s pair of articles.
“No,” insist sthe patents proponent, “what these articles are ultimately intended for is to try and set the narrative by which the patent system is discussed. To this end, economics is merely a hand-maiden. In so doing, The Economist joins a long tradition. We have seen the struggle to control the patent narrative played out several times in the recent past.”
OK, so the lawyers are upset at an opposing (not dissenting) view and insist that The Economist is basically trolling (in the Internet troll sense of the word). “No,” continue this particular lawyer (second in this blog this week to write about The Economist‘s articles from one month ago), “this Kat is not an IP Luddite. The patent system and the laws underlying it can certainly be improved. But this is not what the two pieces in The Economist are about.”
It was perfectly clear what The Economist meant to say. Rather than tip-toeing and making decorative, minor changes to a broken system (like all of these proposed ‘reforms’ we keep hearing about) the writers/editors at The Economist wish to just scrap the entire lot, potentially starting from scratch (if at all). Seeing the patent lawyers squirm over this very idea is hardly surprising. Their want their share. They want to tax everything, even if nobody needs them at all. █
“We cannot hope to own it all, so instead we should try to create the largest possible market and insert ourselves as a small tax on that market.”
–Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft at the time (now a patent troll)
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Hopping to the competitor’s side of the fence/gate, just like in Troy
Summary: Vista 10 adoption is already plateauing (at very low levels considering the zero-cost ‘upgrade’) and Microsoft is trying to assert or exploit (patent) monopolies where adoption and market growth are extremely high (Free software)
Barely anybody is using Microsoft’s ‘new’ (rebranded) browser, according to this article which cites an IDG report, which in turn uses Microsoft-friendly data sources such as Net Applications. That’s despite Microsoft’s dirty and anti-competitive tricks regarding the default Web browser (Microsoft overriding users’ preferences) [1, 2] in Vista 10. Microsoft Emil, who is writing lots of propaganda pieces for Vista 10 over at VentureBeat these days, is trying to give a terribly false impression by passing the gross distortion/illusion that Vista 10 now has majority market share (extreme cherry-picking) while even the most Microsoft-friendly surveys put its market share at under 5%, instantaneousness debunking Microsoft’s unverified claims of 75 million Vista 10 ‘users’ (however Microsoft defines these). Matt Weinberger, in the mean time, comes out with another promotional Microsoft piece advocating a new Microsoft monopoly (because the operating system monopoly has been lost to Android, GNU/Linux, and so on). One Microsoft apologist (very Windows-centric) is now trash-talking GNU/Linux and devaluing privacy in an effort to convince people to adopt Vista 10 and avoid GNU/Linux. How much more blatant can it get? Microsoft doesn’t “love Linux”, it just hates it. The Microsoft boosters truly fear Free software and they’re pretty bad at hiding it.
“Expect Microsoft to continue wielding patents against GNU/Linux and Android (it’s still happening), especially now that Windows is in a state of crisis.”Android is currently being besieged by Microsoft. A site that is affiliated with Microsoft’s MSN (and by its own admission “owns shares of Microsoft”) is trying to promote Microsoft inside Android, a former Microsoft lackey (see her career history, before she scrubbed it off her profile) is promoting Skype on Android, and Ketan Pratap says “Microsoft’s Push Into Google’s Android Is Good News for Users”. That’s almost as foolish or terrible as saying that the Trojan horse was good for Troy.
Microsoft is viciously attacking Google, Android, and ChromeOS using patents. Make no mistake about it, there is extensive evidence of that and not even Microsoft would deny it when asked. When Microsoft approaches Android et al. it’s part of an effort to weaken competitors, not contribute or complement them.
Patents are an ugly business. They’re offensive, not defensive, but tabloids like Gizmodo make gossip out of Google’s patent search, adding a ‘sexy’ angle to it. Google is no fan of patents and it tries combating them using prior art searches.
There is a practice we’ve been covering here in relation to patent attacks to Android. Tim Sparapani calls this “Attack of the Patent Privateers”, alluding to a system of cartels that collude against competitors (assuring one thrives with protectionism, not innovation). As Sparapani puts is, companies like Apple or Microsoft “are becoming more clever about using – or misusing, depending on your perspective – the patent system to extract funds from competitors or thwart others’ growth. This harms America’s best companies and most promising startups.
“One example of this growth is the emergence of so-called patent privateering, which contributes to an ever-greater amount of frivolous or abusive patent litigation. Privateering is a pleasant euphemism for empowering a pirate to attack your competitors for profit. Patent privateering occurs when a company lends or sells a portion of its patents to another litigious company to sue alleged patent infringers who are all too often the competitors of the original patent recipient company that was under the impression it had licensed the entire portfolio.”
That’s what Microsoft is doing to Android and Google, using Nokia‘s patents in MOSAID/Conversant‘s hands, to give just one example. Microsoft even does this more directly with Vringo. Sparapani uses the word “pirate”, not “troll”, to refer to the types of goons whom Microsoft empowers to attack competitors.
Patents are thankfully collapsing with developments such as the Alice determination. Patents on software lose their value, as do their profiteers, based on this latest analysis of the Marathon Patent Group, which (as the name implies), is not a producing company. This is basically nothing but a bunch of goons for hire — people who will use patents to attack by proxy (hence retaliatory litigation becomes an impossibility). To quote the latest on this:
According to Zacks, “Marathon Patent Group Inc. is a patent and patent rights acquisition and licensing company. The Company acquires patents from a wide-range of patent holders from individual inventors to Fortune 500 companies. It serves its clients through two complementary business units: IP Services and IP Licensing and Enforcement business. Marathon Patent Group, Inc. is based in Alexandria, Virginia. “
Expect Microsoft to continue wielding patents against GNU/Linux and Android (it's still happening), especially now that Windows is in a state of crisis. Microsoft will do this not only directly (blackmail using patents) but also indirectly, using entities like the one above (we wrote about several of them before).
Microsoft does not want peace, it wants domination. As long as this remains the case, peace will be reached with Microsoft only when Microsoft is practically dead. █
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Yet another “over the Internet” patent gets flagged
Summary: Another example of patent trolls and software patents as gatekeepers and parasites, denying access to very trivial ideas or implementations
“Stupid Patent Of The Month” this month was mentioned by the EFF on the last day of August, giving us another glimpse at “over the Internet” patents — so-called ‘innovations’ that basically involve just connecting an existing thing to the Internet. It’s a sham and an embarrassment to the USPTO. Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations is just a litigation apparatus, which makes it a classic patent troll, not just holder of an ugly patent.
The EFF’s rant (composed by Daniel Nazer) was reprinted in TechDirt, as usual, stating: “Imagine if the inventor of the Segway claimed to own “any thing that moves in response to human commands.” Or if the inventor of the telegraph applied for a patent covering any use of electric current for communication. Absurdly overbroad claims like these would not be allowed, right? Unfortunately, the Patent Office does not do a good job of policing overly broad claims. August’s Stupid Patent of the Month, U.S. Patent No. 8,788,090, is a stark example of how these claims promote patent trolling.
“A patent troll called Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, LLC (“RCDI”) owns a family of patents on a system of customizing products. Each of these patents stems from the same 2006 application. The idea is simple: connect some kind of product mixer to the Internet and allow users to make custom orders. The application suggests using the system to make beverages or shampoo.”
This is basically a software patent and it ought to be thrown out along with many other patents that are equally ridiculous. Watch Apple‘s latest ludicrous patent to have made headlines. Putting smoke detection “over the Internet” or “on a phone” is now deemed patentable too? Were the patent examiners drunk?
“The problem is not just various particular companies but the system itself. Until or unless it correct itself this abuse will carry on.”“Patents need to be questioned,” wrote IP Kat today, “questioning whether we have that balance right.” Alluding to the recent articles from The Economist (almost a month later), the author “notes the magazine’s support for the abolition of the UK patent system in the 19th century. The Economist is not immune to flip-flopping (e.g. flip-flops on African economies). TechDirt finds flip-flops on patents in the last five years. In 2015, The Economist is arguing in favour of patent policy reform with higher thresholds for patentability and shorter terms in what they call a “rough-and-ready” system.”
It is clear that the aforementioned RCDI patent is not just some rotten apple. Many other patents are equally ridiculous if not even more ridiculous. The problem is not just various particular companies but the system itself. Until or unless it correct itself this abuse will carry on. █
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Summary: Voices for patents are accepting the new order wherein software patents are hardly potent at all (and increasingly difficult to acquire)
TECHRIGHTS has chronicled the post-Alice aftermath and the demise of software patents in the United States for well over a year. We wrote about the subject dozens of times and gave examples of cases that demonstrate change, both at the courts (rulings against patents) and at the patent office (examination guidelines being tightened).
The USPTO‘s evolving guidelines for examiners are very much instructed by courts’ decisions. Each time a court invalidates a patent granted by the USPTO it serves to discredit the USPTO and decrease confidence in (or perceived worth of) USPTO patents. According to this interesting new post from a pro-patents blog, the “USPTO provides the following data on petitions challenging examiner decisions:
– the average decision time on petitions challenging a final Restriction Requirement is 91 days, with a 47% grant rate.
– the average decision time on petitions challenging the finality of a rejection is 46 days, with a 39% grant rate.
There are many more statistics there, based on petitioners’ data. Even more interesting, however, was this other pro-patents blog. Usually patent lawyers are denying the magnitude and weight of the Alice case, but this one admits the harsh reality (for patent lawyers):
Courts Everywhere are Finding Software Patents Invalid, So What Next?
The Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank calls into question the eligibility for patent protection of these issued utility patents on computer software, and is a barrier to future applications on computer software. Alice and its progeny compel software developers to look beyond patents to protect their intellectual property. What are these alternatives? When and how can they be used?
In Alice, the Supreme Court found that an issued patent protecting high frequency trading software was invalid because it was directed to patent ineligible subject matter. Unfortunately, the Court provided little or no direction as to how to determine patent ineligibility. The Court said that a “patent-ineligible concept” is “an abstract idea.” So the natural next question must be: What is an abstract idea? The Court defined “an abstract idea” as “[a]n idea of itself,” or one that is “a fundamental truth.”
With the issued patent challenged in Alice, the Court used this definition to deem them directed to an “abstract idea” and therefore patent ineligible. But the Court did not explain how the patented claims were “drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement” in the high frequency trading software realm. The Court did not pinpoint what fundamental truth the patents purported to protect such that they were ineligible.
We are gratified to see that people no other than the pro-patents crowd are coming to grips with the demise of software patents, even in the United States.
The threat of software patents in Europe persists, however, due to gross abuse by EPO management and other autocrats. “Software [is] not patentable in France,” wrote the President of the FFII today, “but French courts will be replaced by biased Unitary patent courts” (as covered here before). █
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Summary: Another weekly summary, focusing on issues that pertain to or affect Free software in particular
THIS post looks at the past week’s news and groups the news by topic.
Software Patents in India
The patent maximalists from IAM wrote at the very beginning of this week that “India is becoming more receptive to software patents”, despite the fact that software patents are not allowed in India. IAM is framing India’s policy as a bad thing: “Two subject areas have long dominated critiques of the Indian patent system by foreign (and especially US) companies and government bodies: pharmaceuticals and software. But, the recent release of new guidelines for the examination of computer related inventions (CRIs) by the Indian Patent office (IPO) provides the latest sign that the country may be headed in a more software-friendly direction. That has the potential to affect not just filing activity in the country, but also efforts to sign up licensees there.”
We have not seen this anywhere else in the media, only in IAM, which is strongly biased on favour of software patents. India is hopefully not falling into the software patents trap at the same time that the US is cracking down on software patents (court rulings post-Alice and consequently new examination guidelines).
ITC Defends Microsoft
“For years, despite lack of fairness, the ITC has helped Apple (US-based company) ban rival imports.”The ‘International’ Trade Commission is not international at all; it’s a US apparatus for US megacorporations, as we have shown before. Now that Microsoft hypocritically complains the ITC defends one patent troll (Microsoft) from another (smaller) patent troll, based on several news reports [1, 2, 3, 4].
This whole episode mostly serves to show how biased the ITC really is. For years, despite lack of fairness, the ITC systematically helped Apple (a US-based company) ban rival imports. This affected only rivals from east Asia. The ITC bureaucracy ought to be challenged. Who does it really serve?
Watch patent lawyers and propagandists at IP Watchdog pretending everything is great and that even patents on business methods are possible, post-Alice. They’re asking questions like, “Are Patents Getting Their Mojo Back?” Well, the very opposite is true.
Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School recently came up with an eye-catching headline, “Faith-Based Intellectual Property”. It’s the title of a paper whose abstract bemoans policies that are based on dogma rather than reality. The abstract states: “The traditional justification for intellectual property (IP) rights has been utilitarian. We grant exclusive rights because we think the world will be a better place as a result. But what evidence we have doesn’t fully justify IP rights in their current strong form. Rather than following the evidence and questioning strong IP rights, more and more scholars have begun to retreat from evidence toward what I call faith-based IP, justifying IP as a moral end in itself rather than on the basis of how it affects the world. I argue that these moral claims are ultimately unpersuasive and a step backward in a rational society.”
The term “faith-based IP” (ignoring facts, embracing dogma) resembles the terms often used in the copyright debate, where the wishes and the interests of the very few (moguls and middlemen) outweigh public interests. It’s class war. Controversial new laws are being used to authorise passage of wealth and power to few plutocrats’ hands — plutocrats who also happen to bribe politicians for these laws to be passed.
Meanwhile, a plutocrats’ oppressive tyranny uses a famous casino’s hotel (I was there earlier this year just to look around) in order to harbour more ‘IP’ nonsense, as covered by IP Kat (with its new policy for comments) in a four-part series [1, 2, 3, 4], concluded by this final (belated) part. Watch how lawyers collude or conspire in super-expensive places to just monopolise things; public input has zero impact on their decisions or findings.
PTAB Versus Kyle Bass
Kyle Bass was mentioned before, but rarely regarding the patent pressure he was using to crash companies (we covered this once before, but not in great depth). According to this, “Kyle Bass, the hedge fund manager who filed a number of inter partes review petitions against pharmaceutical companies, has struck terror into the shriveled hearts of the pharmaceutical industry. The first petitions he filed were against Acorda Therapeutics, and its stock dropped on the news.
“The pharmaceutical industry immediately started lobbying to change IPR procedures to make themselves invulnerable. Senator Coons even offered an amendment to the PATENT Act to block IPR petitions from anyone who hasn’t been sued for patent infringement. (The amendment failed.)”
PTAB’s involvement is noteworthy here. There’s more about PTAB in IP Kat and bigger sites for lawyers [via]. To quote the most prominent article: “Kamholz was on the front lines as the America Invents Act (AIA) remade the PTAB and created new proceedings that revolutionized patent litigation. About 60 new administrative judges, many with prestigious resumes in private practice and government service, have joined about 25 veterans of the PTAB’s predecessor, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, to take on most of the inter partes reviews (IPRs) and covered business method reviews to date.”
Here too we have patents being used by billionaires (or at least millionaires) to rig the market. When will more people out there realise who the patent regime really serves? █
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Summary: Patent trolls throw stones in glass houses, contributing to their own unpopularity, but some influential “Conservatives” continue to defend (conserve) them
THE MANY loud calls and very persistent lobbying for a so-called patent reform in the US, notably the PATENT ACT [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], won’t improve things, except perhaps for large corporations. They will, however, help put some additional burden on patent trolls, which is arguably better than what the US has got in place these days (trolls also target small businesses and startups with no legal budget). While fighting for big corporations’ protectionism, the lobbyists can help destroy some of the ‘little guys’ who are actually trolls, or ‘little trolls’ (not the big trolls with glorified brands and very high levels of revenue).
Mytheos Holt, who described himself as an Associate Policy Analyst with the R Street Institute (RSI is an entity which calls itself “Free-market think tank advancing real solutions to complex public policy problems”), wrote in the “Conservative” (GOP) media the other day. It’s yet another article in this site which challenges the “Conservative” stance on patent reform. Holt asks: “What do you call someone who supports Federal bureaucrats granting rights out of thin air, judges legislating from the bench about how those rights work, and spreads terror about technological progress (along with derogatory comparisons to Uber)?
“Sadly, some people seem to think you should call them “conservatives.”
“At least, that’s the only thing I can get out of looking at the so-called conservative opposition to patent reform, which just this week added yet more confusion to the debate when a group calling itself the Conservative Action Project put out a letter slamming the two major patent reform bills making their way through the House and Senate currently.
“It’s truly sad that this document could garner the signatures of the likes of Ed Meese and Club for Growth President David McIntosh, because as written, its concerns over patent reform are utterly contentless. It’s hard to talk of refuting arguments, when the arguments as presented mean nothing, but I will try for the sake of clarity.”
In conclusion, writes Holt: “Patent Reform will do something that conservatives have done since the days of William F. Buckley, Jr: It will stop people from pleading the case for bad ideas. It is a terrible shame that so many so-called “conservatives” are pleading that exact case.”
Sadly, a lot of self-acclaimed “Conservatives” (and GOP-leaning media) will continue to oppose patent reform and defend even large trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. IP Troll Tracker noted the other day that “there’s the option that Intellectual Ventures takes, which is to patent stuff so they can go sue people.”
Well, actually, Intellectual Ventures often just buys patents in bulk and then uses them aggressively, against a maximal number of weak (or affluent) targets. If this is the practice which “Conservative” are willing to not only tolerate but actively defend, what are they conserving? it’s a form of blackmail and racketeering in many cases. █
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Software patents through globalisation
Summary: The relentless campaigns to bring software patents into Europe have not stopped and so-called ‘unification’ — much like so-called ‘trade’ deals — serves to support them
THE EPO will be the subject of many posts next months, having been de-emphasised somewhat during the summer vacation.
One interesting aspect of the EPO is its role in the UPC and the globalisation of patent law (in a US-leaning fashion, not EU-led). Quality is compromised for the sake of quantity, e.g. income and protectionism. This is secretly steered by multinational globalists with effectively no borders — shady people who have no loyalty to any country in particular.
Only a few days ago we showed how the EPO-supported UPC was potentially big news because experts in the field say that the unitary patent regime can bring software patents into Europe. Now we have a new article from some Web site titled “europeansoftwarepatents” (presumably in favour of them*). The article is titled “Software patents in Europe: Marketing campaigns are not patentable” and it says: “The patent application at stake concerned an intelligent mail system to coordinate direct mail with other marketing channels. The invention concerns the calculation of dates on which people should be contacted for marketing purposes. The idea is to predict when marketing mail pieces will arrive at recipients’ homes, and to use those dates to determine an optimal date on which the recipients should be contacted using a further marketing channel (e.g. telephone, e-mail, television, radio).”
“One interesting aspect of the EPO is its role in the UPC and the globalisation of patent law (in a US-leaning fashion, not EU-led).”That would not be patentable also on grounds of triviality, never mind how abstract it is and how overtly software-related it is (nothing physical in the process).
Europeans are meanwhile coming to realise that the UPC may change all this. More of them grasp the simple fact that it herald the start of a software patents era in Europe, dictated by patent lawyers and their biggest clients. One person wrote that “shamefully Gov PT [Portugal] approves unitary patents, no info released” — a subject that we covered here the other day (3 days ago to be precise). We have already explained why it’s so undemocratic and here is one article from earlier this month, showing that this was done with pretty much zero input from the Portuguese public. “Portugal has officially ratified the Unified Patent Court (UPC) agreement, raising the total number of signatories to eight,” wrote WIPR. “The ratification was confirmed yesterday, August 6, after a notice was published in the country’s official gazette on legal developments. The document states that President Aníbal Cavaco Silva ratified the agreement on July 30.
“In a statement on the ratification, published in English, the Portuguese government said the agreement will help to “improve the enforcement of patents and the defence against unfounded claims”.”
That’s a shamelessly misleading statement. The UPC would do exactly the opposite. It would make so-called ‘enforcement’ (litigation) more broad in terms of scope, which is of course a bad thing. This may seem bad on its own right, but UPC would also make more things patentable, which in turn renders many “unfounded claims” well founded. It’s euphoria for the patent maximalists and multinational corporations. █
* The site describes itself as “your one-stop resource for everything you need to know to protect your valuable software innovations with European software patents.”
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Software patents demolition in the United States
Summary: The crackdown on software patents is coming along nicely and the Alice case is now being utilised even in the capital of patent trolls
WE RECENTLY gave many examples where Alice demolished software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. The Alice v. CLS Bank case (at SCOTUS) led even the CAFC (overzealously in favour of software patents and their original endorser decades ago) to — believe it or not — overturning decisions/biases. They must all simply obey the new rules/laws and examiners at the USPTO cannot grant patents on software like they used to. It’s huge news, even if many news sites continue to overlook these developments (patent lawyers’ sites try to counter these worrisome — to them of course — developments and precedents using propaganda and cherry-picking of facts).
“Business method patent app[lications] get no respect,” says Patently-O‘s article, according to Richard Beem (patent lawyer). He just says (or whines) that it harms his parasitic business. “The chart above shows the USPTO patent grant rate across a variety of major technology areas,” says Patently-O, but notice the reluctance to distinguish software patents from the rest. The survey does not list “software” separately from other things. Therein lies a potentially strong bias, like that of the originator of software patents, Martin Goetz. He recently wrote no less than two articles dismissing altogether the existence of a “software patents” category/classification.
“If this trend continues, then perhaps the trolls epidemic too will stop, not because of some corporate lobbyists who ask for a bogus ‘reform’ but because of the US Supreme Court.”The EFF, taking note of some recent developments, writes about the quick demise of software patents in the US, owing to courts’ decisions (each reinforcing predecessors). “With Kafkaesque Flourish,” says the title, “the Eastern District of Texas Penalizes Parties for Following the Rules” (we have already written some articles about corruption in Eastern District of Texas courts).
The Eastern District of Texas is the worst court when it comes to patents (favourable to software patents and patent trolls who wield these). To quote the EFF: “In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, most courts have been quickly and efficiently getting rid of patents that improperly claim “abstract ideas.” In Alice, the Supreme Court held that “abstract ideas,” without more, were unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101. According to one source, at least 150 patents have had claims invalidated as “abstract” since Alice. Those accused of infringing these invalid patents have regularly filed motions to dismiss at the outset of a case, having the issue heard before too much time and energy is spent. Courts have, for the large part, embraced these “Alice motions” and invalidated abstract patents as soon as practicable.”
Here comes the new part: “Following the Eastern District of Texas’s unconventional rules, the defendants filed a letter asking permission to file their Alice motion. Given the potential for wasted time, effort, and money, the defendants very shortly thereafter filed a motion for a stay of the case while the court decided the issue of whether the asserted patent claims are invalid under Alice. The patent owner did not oppose the motion to stay. Presumably the patent owner also recognized that it was more efficient to hear the issue at the outset, without incurring costs that may prove to be wasted if the Alice motion is granted.”
It is nice to see Alice being brought up even in Eastern District of Texas courts. If this trend continues, then perhaps the trolls epidemic too will stop, not because of some corporate lobbyists who ask for a bogus ‘reform’ but because of the US Supreme Court. Even corrupt courts must sooner or later follow the law to avoid being throughly discredited and potentially abolished. █
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