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08.05.14

“Patent Progress” Now Acting as a Front of Large Corporations (CCIA), Tells Michelle Lee (USPTO Deputy Director) About Trolls But Not About Software Patents

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Framing it as a scale — not as a scope — issue

Ed Black
Source: DECLAN MCCULLAGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Summary: The narrative put forth by CCIA, a Microsoft-funded front group, continues to present the patent debate as revolving around the size of extortionists rather than methods and the scope of patents

Trolls (small companies) are not the only patent issue. There are large companies like Microsoft, which still engage in strategic extortion using dubious software patents and NDAs. The goal is to drive companies away from Microsoft’s competitors and/or tax these competitors.

The USPTO almost had a patent extremist appointed to lead the way, but this is no longer likely to happen. In fact, the USPTO is now backing away from some of its extremism, perhaps much to the chagrin of David Kappos, its former head.

Michelle Lee, in the mean time, is being approached regarding changes in the USPTO. The other day we noticed that CCIA, somewhat of a Brussels- and Washington DC-based lobby group that’s open for corporations to join and does not reveal all of its corporate members and their relative contributions (Microsoft is among those who pay and its head, Ed Black, received millions of dollars from Microsoft), contacted Lee. Knowing that CCIA is clearly not a public interest group but a corporate front, representing the interests of very large corporations, we needed to check what was said to Lee. CCIA had received a lot of money from Microsoft and in recent years promoted Microsoft interests. In last week’s article at The Hill we found that “The Supreme Court’s decision to toss out some software patents earlier this year led to a swift change of operations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the agency’s deputy director said on Wednesday.

“Michelle Lee told the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property that the high court’s June decision caused an immediate flurry of activity.

“It does affect the examination of cases before us and as soon as the ruling came down we were in a position at the PTO where we had to offer guidance to our examiners,” she told lawmakers.’

The site called “Patent Progress”, which is run by CCIA's Matt Levy, hardly told Lee about ‘patent quality’ and instead focused on patent trolls (not even referring to them as such, usually alluding to them as “PAEs”). Lee, the Deputy Director of the USPTO, received this text:

The patent system plays an important role in promoting innovation in the United States. Patents encourage investment in R&D and facilitate technology transfer. But when patent assertion entities (PAEs), commonly called patent trolls, exploit low-quality patents to extort payments from America’s most productive companies and job providers, they harm innovation and the very purpose of the patent system. The solution to this problem is two pronged: the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) must improve the quality of the patents it issues, and Congress must pass patent reform legislation so that PAEs cannot leverage the high cost of litigation as a weapon against economic growth.

Ed Black signed this letter. Remember how much money he received from Microsoft. Not too shockingly, software patents are not even mentioned.

Ali Sternburg, writing in the same blog amid minor updates, said that “CCIA filed comments with the PTO on guidelines after Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.”

As the case was mostly about scope, why bother focusing on trolls at all?

On the brighter side of things, software patents did get mentioned as “computer-implemented inventions” (CII), which is a term some patent lawyers prefer to use (it’s a loaded term). Here is the relevant part: “Unfortunately, patents claiming computer-implemented inventions frequently have unclear boundaries. This is largely because, to date, some patents have been allowed to issue without much more than a description and recitation in the claims of an abstract idea implemented on a conventional computer system. The Alice decision makes clear that this practice is not consistent with 35 U.S.C. § 101, because such patent claims preempt all practical implementations of the abstract idea and stifle innovation. Further, the public notice function is best served by clear claims and a thorough prosecution history explaining the examiner’s understanding of those claims, as well as express statements by the applicant regarding the meaning of the claims. Computer-implemented inventions are too often patented using ambiguous, vague, or overbroad language. When such poor quality patents issue, they can become weapons in the hands of patent assertion entities, which currently drain billions of dollars a year from U.S. businesses.

“Accordingly, CCIA believes that it is critical for both the examiner and the patent applicant to create a clear prosecution history. In the context of § 101 rejections, the examiner should provide more than a conclusory rejection. Rather, any rejection should identify the abstract idea to which the claim is directed. Further, such a rejection should explain the examiner’s understanding of the claim’s scope, including why the combination of claim elements do not add “significantly more” to the abstract idea, either expressly or through interpretation under 35 U.S.C. § 112(f). This analysis should include an explanation of whether a claim qualifies as a “means-plus-function” claim under section 112(f) and why or why not.”

Well, “poor quality patents” not only “can become weapons in the hands of patent assertion entities” (to quote the above); it is often misused by large companies too, like the companies which are funding CCIA. Here is a new example of a small troll: “Personal Audio LLC is an East Texas shell company that gleaned national attention when it claimed it had the right to demand cash from every podcaster. The company was wielding a patent on “episodic content,” which it said included anyone doing a podcast, as well as many types of online video.”

Today in the news we have many articles about a much bigger troll: Microsoft. Here is an article which says: “Alleging that the company is being stiffed by Samsung, Microsoft turns to the courts.”

Microsoft “stiffed” because Samsung is not engaging with a racketeer/troll? Really? Microsoft sued Samsung because Microsoft can hardly sell any real products, let alone force them on OEMs. It makes Microsoft very similar to trolls. It’s a non-practicing strategy; it makes Microsoft and patent assertion firm. The BBC quotes Samsung as saying: “We will review the complaint in detail and determine appropriate measures in response.”

The BBC rightly points out that “[t]he case marks the first time that Microsoft has launched legal action against Samsung.

“The two companies have a long-running partnership, due to the Asian manufacturer’s sale of Windows PCs and Windows Phone handsets.”

This is why it’s a misguided move by Microsoft; it is likely to alienate Microsoft even further. Perhaps CCIA should stop promoting this narrative where only trolls are the problem and focus again on showing abuses by Microsoft, which is using software patents to abuse its competition or pressure companies to adopt Microsoft Windows rather than the competition (notably GNU/Linux, ChromeOS, Android, and so on).

07.30.14

Ruling Against ‘Abstract’ Software Patents is Already Derailing Patent Attacks on Linux and Free Software

Posted in Patents, Samsung at 3:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patent litigation against Android/Linux impeded by the introduction of arguments that cite the Supreme Court

Dr. Mohan Dewan, Dr. Niti Dewan and Adv. Sahil Ahuja say that “Alice v. CLS Bank [is] another blow against software patents” (the headline of an article just published in a legal site). This is part of exciting developments around software patents. As a result of this ruling, which is still quite fresh and is reportedly impacting USPTO guidelines (Groklaw’s Pamela Jones broke her silence and came back to point this out), the patent cases against Linux, FOSS and other entities or projects like Android will be severely impeded. Samsung is in fact striking back against Apple using the precedence above:

When the US Supreme Court decided the Alice v. CLS Bank case last month, it was a signal that courts should be throwing out a lot more patents for being too abstract to be legally valid. Groups seeking patent reform and tech companies rejoiced, hoping the decision would knock out more of the patents wielded by so-called “patent trolls,” whose only business is litigation.

[...]

In legal papers (PDF), Samsung argues that both patents are attempts to “claim an abstract idea, implemented with generic computer functions that do not state any technical innovation.”

The search patent describes using “heuristics,” which an Apple witness described at trial as simply being “good ideas,” to “locate information in multiple locations.” Slide-to-unlock, meanwhile, “covers nothing more than the idea of moving an image to unlock the device.” Everything else in the key patent claim is generic computer language. “This simply is not enough to qualify for patent protection post-Alice,” write Samsung lawyers. “Both claims are invalid as a matter of law.”

Many thanks to Joe for his report. Nobody else appears to have reported this. Some people don’t agree with Joe’s “troll” classifier, but overall he is one of the best reporters out there on patent issues.

This is great news that shows how software patents were all along a major barrier to FOSS. Unlike Tesla with its PR stunts, FOSS backers do not play ball with software patents (Microsoft is a FOSS foe). As one site put it the other day:

Beware Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk’s patent pledge, say experts

[...]

Unlike pledges from other companies like IBM and Red Hat, Musk did not explicitly say that his promises were intended to be legally binding or irrevocable.

Microsoft uses a similar type of promise against Mono, reminding us that Microsoft uses “Open Source” for marketing purposes. It is not a FOSS supporter but an opponent.

06.22.14

With Help From Corrupt Legal System, Apple is Patenting the Competition’s Products, Then Copying Them, Then Banning Them

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 11:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Apple continues to misuse patents as a tool of competitive advantage, relying in part on a biased US corporations-run system (USPTO and ITC) or courts (CAFC)

AS WE SHOWED earlier this month, the US patent office has been exceptionally friendly towards Apple, not the Korean giant, Samsung. The USPTO (and by extension ITC) is one of those pseudo-public institutions that are run by US corporations, not impartial actors. Those are are friendly towards Apple have financial reasons to be like that.

It was very recently reported that Apple patents ideas that relate to stuff which already exists from Samsung but not from Apple. Since the patent system checks what’s already filed rather than what exists in the world/market, this type of abuse is allowed. Apple is basically allowed to patent what the rivals have (and have not patented), then copy the rivals and block their products (e.g. ITC embargo on imports). Watch this ITC war that Apple started. It’s failing badly, but it is still unjust. “Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.,” says this report, “on Friday agreed to drop their appeals of a patent-infringement case at the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that resulted in an import ban on some older model Samsung phones. Samsung has been seeking to overturn the ban, while Apple was trying to revive other patent claims it had lost. The import ban will remain in effect, according to a filing with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Last month both companies blamed each other for their inability to reach a global settlement. Appeals of district court cases between Apple and Samsung are still pending.”

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is a corrupt sham. It should cease to have any impact on law and it is highly predicable (barely surprising) that it let Apple make all this mess. As one respectable site put it, Apple’s patent wars may in fact be “a Marketing Strategy”, pretending that Apple invented everything despite its founder’s admission that it copies a lot from other companies. To quote the analysis: “The latest battle in the three-year long Apple-Samsung patent saga concluded few weeks ago. In contrast to previous litigation between the two tech-giants—which revolved on the overall look of the phones—this case focused around autocomplete, tap-from-search and slide-to-unlock software. Despite the technical nature of these innovations, there are a few broad managerial lessons that have emerged from this prominent patent case.”

Further down it says: “The Apple-Samsung patent war illustrates how patent litigation has impacts that go far beyond stopping a specific firm from copying a particular technology. This narrow view overlooks the effect it has on brands, and on other competitors not named in the suits. In considering their own IP strategy and in responding to litigation, managers can benefit from thinking more broadly about patent wars and recognizing their multiple effects.”

Apple is a shameful embargo company that copies others, then tries to ban them. Apple relies on an inherently corrupt and biased legal system in the US. Those who have not yet chosen to boycott Apple should think about what Apple does to innovation and fair competition. Remember that all those devices that Apple fights against are based on Linux.

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

Steve Jobs

06.12.14

Apple Hopes to Enjoy Inherent Corruption in the Patent System and the Legal System

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple

Summary: Apple is reportedly trying to start a new wave of patent attacks on Android/Linux — a plan which failed after misconduct at the legal system had been made publicly known

The USPTO not only lost the ability to protect its reputation; this long-lost reputation or credibility loss is bound to get worse because scope is expanding and the number of approved patents is rising, to the point where almost every application is successful at one point or another (e.g. after resubmission). Recent numbers showed just how bad it was getting all around.

Here is a good new example of patent scope gone awry, even expanding to software (IBM to blame here). Here is another new example from
Apple, which enjoys support from the USPTO (it grants Apple patent monopolies on almost everything Apple wishes).

Apple continues using patents as a weapon against Android/Linux, seeking to tax and eliminate features. Apple pretty much lost the case, with just under a dollar charged per phone from Samsung, so any additional patent the USPTO grants Apple will almost certainly pose a threat to Free software. Apple wants billions from Samsung’s sales of Android devices, and that’s just from Samsung alone. Apple is pursuing patents on all sorts of exotic ideas that Samsung is not pursuing for aggressive purposes like Apple does. In pro-Apple sites one can find the expected bias (portraying Samsung as some kind of thief) as a new trial is expected, this time perhaps without a foreman conflict of interest (only corrupt trials have worked in Apple’s favour).

There is a good new article where a conflict of interest has led to a judge stepping down, proving perhaps that in the area of patents we rely on people in gown ideologically deciding on stuff with their dogma and vested interests.

The USPTO’s conflicts of interest (e.g. profit from patents) and conflicts of interest in the courtroom (e.g. Jury moles) may be beneficial to Apple at one stage or another, but if justice prevails one way or another (eventually), then Apple’s war on Android will always fail miserably at the end.

05.22.14

Apple is Abandoning Steve Jobs’ Thermonuclear War on Linux/Android

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Samsung at 10:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple is reportedly folding and moving away from the counterproductive war that Steve Jobs started before his death

There are indications in the media (both large and small outlets) that after vicious attacks against HTC Apple may end litigation against Samsung, quite similarly. As one person put it: “The long and drawn out battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple over the ownership of various intellectual properties may be coming to a close.”

Samsung and Apple have been in the courts for years (only lawyers won). Apple started it all because Apple is silly and it was headed by an arrogant man at the time. To quote HBR:

Look out across today’s ultra-competitive smartphone market and you’ll see something resembling the religious wars of the Middle Ages. This is no quaint summer-weekend reenactment. The weapons being brandished are devilishly constructed patents; the rules of engagement the arcane procedures of federal courts. And the havoc being wreaked — in higher prices, banned devices, and stifled innovation — is laying waste to the industry landscape.

The central battle pits Apple against everyone and everything involved with Android, Google’s open source operating system.

Android’s release, for Apple’s late founder and CEO Steve Jobs, was the ultimate heresy. “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to,” Jobs is quoted as saying in a series of jeremiads, “and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40bn in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

And so Apple has. Between 2006 and 2012, the company was involved, sometimes as plaintiff and sometimes as defendant, in nearly 150 patent lawsuits around the world over various features of its iPhone — including hardware, software, and product design.

Like the religious wars of old, a complex web of alliances, side agreements, and mutual defense pacts have conspired to draw the entire industry into open warfare. Sony is suing LG. Nokia is suing HTC. Motorola (owned by Google since 2011) is suing and being sued by everyone.

Based on this other new report, Apple is close to giving up, having failed to tax Android in any significant way. Reuters says the following:

Apple Inc and Google Inc’s Motorola Mobility unit have agreed to settle all patent litigation between them over smartphone technology, ending one of the highest profile lawsuits in technology.

In a joint statement on Friday, the companies said the settlement does not include a cross license to their respective patents.

“Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform,” the statement said.

Apple and companies that make phones using Google’s Android software have filed dozens of such lawsuits against each other around the world to protect their technology. Apple argued that Android phones that use Google software copy its iPhones.

It is starting to look like Apple is admitting defeat and abandoning Jobs’ aggressive legacy. It is worth noting that Apple has launched no new major cases since Jobs died. It is a good sign because it may mean that Apple as an aggressor in the courtroom might be a dead legacy.

05.04.14

Apple’s ‘Thermonuclear’ Strategy Backfires as Apple Found to be Infringing Patents That Relate to Android

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’ve Always Been Shameless About Stealing Great Ideas”Steve Jobs


Direct link

Summary: Steve Jobs and his ‘genius’ plan of starting “thermonuclear” war against Linux/Android turns out to be a colossal failure

Two companies, namely Apple and Samsung, command the lion’s share of the mobile market, so it should come as no surprise that there is fierce rivalry there. But Apple was the company which chose to start with lawsuits, perhaps realising even years ago that it was losing to Android on several fronts, including smartphones and tablets. Apple first sued HTC (which had few patents) and later took on the giant Samsung, which had a huge number of patents and also produced components for Apple. Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung was in many ways a sign of desperation and at the same time arrogance (claiming that the manufacturer and innovator was “copying” Apple). Google is like Apple in the sense that it doesn’t really manufacture anything, but it works on software and has got hardware partners. Samsung is doing a whole load of stuff, with staff that’s like 10 times (an order of magnitude) bigger than Google’s and Apple’s. Production helps make it all happen. Google focuses on server-side development/hosting and Apple does marketing.

When it comes to the mobile market, another non-hardware-producing company exists but hardly counts. That company is Microsoft and unlike Apple and Google, it is a loss leader. It’s an utter failure, subsidised in part by governments for snooping, back doors, etc. Here is a new article about Microsoft:

Microsoft‘s hopes of establishing a sizeable presence in the tablet market continue to be thwarted, new figures reveal.

And it seems as though Microsoft loses money on every Surface it sells, despite the relatively high retail price of the machines.

Notice this towards the end: “Chitika analysed the tablet web usage habits of tens of millions of North Americans found that Surface users generated a slightly greater share of their total online traffic during working hours when compared to iPad or Android tablet users.”

It probably means that those using a Microsoft-branded product are forced by employers to use it. To Microsoft, litigation against Android (often by proxy) is the only resort left, or racketeering tactics which attempt to make Android a cash cow of Microsoft.

What’s noteworthy at the moment is the outcome of this trial, which granted Apple only 5% (i.e. only cents on each Samsung device sold) of the amount of money it wanted to grab from Samsung. As one report put it:

The Cupertino company can notch a second win, but with far less damages than it requested. Apple wanted $2.2 billion, and the jury awarded it $119.6 million, or just over 5 percent of what Apple had requested.

Samsung won as well as both parties were guilty of patent infringement. Apple wasted its time and tarnished its reputation. Android will only be boosted by this. Wait and watch.

As a side note, Techrights was approached for an interview by the Linux Foundation, so we shall soon have some coverage about the rise of Linux in the embedded/device space.

05.03.14

The European Union Legitimises Software Patents by Intervening in Android Patent Case

Posted in Apple, Google, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mistakes made in the EU as well

Made in EU

Summary: Software patents make an appearance in Europe again, this time in FRAND form

SOMETHING troubling has happened in the Apple vs. Samsung case, which is how Microsoft’s subversive club of Android foes (Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft plus smaller trolls for the most part) has been trying to make Android expensive, undermining its principal selling point, The patent-stacking battle, which Microsoft has been wittingly and visibly involved it (Microsoft supports Apple and Oracle of course), now reaches a phase of EU intervention:

EU moves to end smartphone patent wars in landmark ruling

The ruling will help to draw a line under long-running feuds between smartphone makers

Apple propaganda sites have been covering this case, saying that “jurors deciding the outcome of the second Apple vs Samsung trial haven’t yet returned a verdict, but their options are limited to a few possible outcomes, ranging from a fiery thermonuclear blast to a wintery new Dark Ages.”

Well, “thermonuclear” is a term borrowed from Steve Jobs himself. He strives for thermonuclear outcome. He is as apocalyptic as he is “visionary”.

Anyway, here is Richard Stallman’s response to the EU’s intervention:

The European Union is stopping Apple and Samsung from suing each other for patent infringement.

Unfortunately, its “solution” is a terrible mistake: imposing “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” terms. In practice, this means patent licenses that discriminate against free software by charging license fees per copy, which free software developers can’t possibly pay. There is nothing “reasonable” about that.

FRAND, as we have argued for years, is a Trojan horse for software patents in the EU and elsewhere. We need to reject this. Ideally, the EU should just send Apple and its “thermonuclear” ambitions somewhere far away — a place where the Sun won’t shine. Apple is the aggressor here and it is part of a broader plot to undermine Android and Linux rather than outwit or provide technical competition.

02.27.14

Tizen and Samsung

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Samsung at 12:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Samsung’s proximity and increasing control of Tizen is another reason to avoid Tizen, not just Samsung

LONG before Samsung was really into Linux there were numerous efforts to bring Linux to mobile. It’s a shame that one of the largest such efforts is now controlled by Intel/Samsung but officially steered by the Linux Foundation, which is funded by those companies that help Microsoft. By far the biggest player, however, remains Android, which is also based on Linux (some journalists don’t seem to know that Android has Linux in it [1] and others overlook the contribution of Alien Dalvik back in MeeGo’s days [2]). There are numerous articles about Samsung’s adoption of Tizen as an important platform [3-5], but none of them offers a critical take on Samsung’s special relationship with Microsoft.

CBS had a lot of coverage regarding the latest Samsung phone [6-8] which increasingly involves the likes of Intel [9]. The coverage in Muktware [10,11] focused on the features and release date, but there too there was no criticism of Samsung, which increasingly imitates the bad side of Apple.

The bottom line is, Samsung has too much control of Tizen and only to a lesser degree of Android. This is not a good thing; Samsung never cared about freedom, instead emphasising DRM and other such negative aspects of technology. This issue merits an open discussion.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Samsung ditches Android for Tizen on Gear 2 smartwatch — Google loses, Linux wins!

    Tizen has a long road ahead in terms of matching Android in apps or popularity. Quite frankly, that happening is very unlikely. Of course, many would have said BlackBerry was unbeatable years ago, so never say never.

  2. Software converts Android apps to Tizen OS — too bad there’s no phone yet

    With a simple click, the Polaris App Generator software is able to wrap an Android APK and convert it to a Tizen OS executable file. This means developers don’t have to pour additional resources into manually porting their apps.

  3. Tizen devices are HERE…. Hello, Samsung Gear 2 smartwatches
  4. Samsung smartwatches run on Tizen
  5. Tizen Smartwatches Tip Samsung’s Ecosystem-First Strategy

    The long wait for a major Tizen OS device is finally over, and it’s a…smartwatch? At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Samsung skipped the unveiling of its first Tizen smartphone, and instead rolled out a trio of Tizen-based wrist computers: the Gear 2, Gear Neo, and Gear Fit. Due to ship in April, the devices are lighter and more stylish than Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy Gear.

  6. Samsung Galaxy S5: Why I’m rooting for the little guys
  7. Samsung wants you to make Gear 2 apps, ASAP

    The Korean electronics giant unveiled three new software development kits to make it easy to create programs that work with its new wearables and its Galaxy S5.

  8. Samsung Galaxy S5: Evolution, not revolution, but still packs a powerful punch (review)
  9. Intel LTE poised to join upcoming Galaxy S5 family
  10. Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5S

    The much-anticipated Galaxy S5 is finally here! After months of rumors and leaks, Samsung unveiled the successor to the Galaxy S4 at a press conference at Mobile World Conference (MWC) 2014 in Barcelona. Though it’s a minor evolution of the Galaxy S4, the new phone packs a sharp 5.1-inch screen, a faster, 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 16-megapixel camera. Taking cue from the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, the smartphone is also waterproof. It features a new fingerprint scanner similar to the iPhone 5S.

  11. Galaxy S5 revealed in all its glory — launches in April

    We’ve waited for this moment for quite some time, but now the S5 has officially been revealed. Samsung’s latest offering comes with a 5.1″ 1920 x 1080p screen, 2GB of RAM, 16 or 32GB of storage plus the ability to host a Micro SD card. Android 4.4.2 is on board as expected, and it sports a 2.5Ghz quad-core Snapdragon process (not sure of 800, 801 or 805).

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