The arrogant Apple is so certain that it invented everything
Summary: Apple’s relentless patent war on Android shows no signs of stopping, even several years after Steve Jobs, who had started this mess, died
Half a decade ago, after shamelessly suing HTC, Apple started suing Samsung, which was already a leading Android OEM, using software patents and design patents that are often indistinguishable from software patents. Remember who started this war. Always remember that it wasn’t Samsung reaching out to patents. It was Apple under Steve Jobs' megalomania. This case might soon reach the Supreme Court, SCOTUS, but there’s no confirmation yet.
“The final section of Samsung’s petition [to SCOTUS],” Florian Müller wrote the other day, “stresses the “enormous national importance” of the petition. This sounds to me like “this should be reviewed, but at the very, very, very least there should be a call for views of the Solicitor General (CVSG).” Or maybe I tend to read too much between the lines.”
“I appreciate that both Samsung and Apple are willing to fight this to the bitter end,” wrote this one person. “The process is as important as the result” (and very expensive thus far).
Apple has been drawn rather heavily into PTAB as of late; we wrote about PTAB earlier this month on numerous occasions. According to this new blog post, a biotechnology patent is about to be reviewed. Remember that quite a few Apple patents, including some in Europe, got invalidated in the process. “One-fifth of all IPR petitions denied institution according to 2015 PTAB report,” says IP Watchdog. To quote the former post, the said patent family “is likely the most famous patent family in biotechnology. With claims that cover basic steps in generating therapeutic antibodies, these patents are gatekeepers in an industry that has shown unprecedented growth—currently, half of the 10 top-selling drugs in the world by sales are therapeutic antibodies. Through licensing to antibody manufacturers, Genentech—one of the owners of the Cabilly patents—is expected to reach a billion dollars in royalties from this patent family by 2018.”
Well, it sure seems like Apple is hoping to make billions, not just a billion dollars, out of patent royalties alone. Apple is hoping to become a patents firm, as Android keeps growing and it’s hard to stop it without artificially elevating prices of Android devices. █
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Summary: What the media really ought to be talking about after the high-profile VirnetX case, rather than obsess about the status of Apple or patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas
EARLIER this week Apple made headlines because VirnetX had ‘lectured’ Apple on patents. Apple got hit by a troll and it will have to pay a lot of money unless a miracle happens. Apple will not blame software patents (which are inherently the issue almost everywhere) but just “trolls” (the small ones). Joe Mullin, a trolls expert, called VirnetX a “Patent-based company”. When a troll’s value depends just on patents (or a patent) the share price can double because of a court’s ruling. The jury bumped the stock by 88% (the members of this jury may as well have just invested in this troll before the ruling), so there we have an example of non-practicing entities doing little more than just litigation.
A patent lawyers’ site said that a “jury in the Eastern District of Texas has awarded VirnetX $626m after finding Apple had infringed four patents. The PTAB instituted inter partes reviews on the patents last October, however, the results of which could affect the district court case” (that’s from MIP).
Notice the role of the Eastern District of Texas again. It’s not a coincidence. Trolls love the Eastern District of Texas. There’s no lack of coverage of this ruling. Within a few hours we saw more than 100 headlines (too much for exhaustive listing here), some of them included [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28] for the record. “Apple now owes VirnetX more than what Samsung owes it”; that’s one way to put it.
Samsung is the leading Android (Linux) OEM, so this is very relevant to us. Even EPO-funded sites mentioned this and then took note of a lesser known patent lawsuit against Apple in China. The author wrote: “Court records from the Chinese manufacturing hub of Shenzhen show that BYD has dropped two patent infringement lawsuits that it filed against client Apple back in May 2015. But since the two cases were closed in late December, the legal back-and-forth has continued in a California federal court, as Apple argues that its supplier breached an IP non-assert clause in their contract and should be compelled to participate in arbitration.”
“This clearly serves to discredit the way this patent system works.”According to software patents fans, some of the patents Apple uses against Samsung are now being challenged at PTAB, and Florian Müller, who spent years promoting/bolstering Apple’s side before defecting, has just published the decision’s PDF and said: “Apple has just responded to Samsung’s mid-December petition for writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review) regarding two legal questions concerning design patents and, in the same document, to amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs from major industry players, many IP law professors and various public interest advocates, all of whom agree with Samsung that the top U.S. court should take a look at this matter.”
One can find the PDF of the troll’s case here in Patently-O, which also debated other interesting patent-related matters this week.
“In this case,” wrote Patently-O in one of the above, “the district court found that Lotan had assigned his rights to AngioScore and that his later purported assignment to TriReme actually transferred no rights. These two conclusions led to the final dismissal with a holding that TriReme had no standing to bring its claim.”
This clearly serves to discredit the way this patent system works. The latter analysis, also about the district court, involves Google and says:
In Cioffi v. Google, the Federal Circuit sided with the patentee, Cioffi — holding that the district court erred in its construction of the asserted patent claims and thus vacated the holdings non-infringement and invalidity via indefiniteness. (Non-precedential opinion). Now, Google has petitioned the court for an en banc rehearing asking the court to “strictly construe” claim amendments against the patentee.
This again is about software patents. In fact, pretty much all the above is about software patents, which is what we ought to focus on if these severe issues are ever to be resolved. █
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Publicado en GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 8:14 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
“Se cree que ls monopolios de patentes impulsan la innovación, pero que en realidad impiden el progreso de la ciencia e innovación, dijo Stiglitz. La “maraña de patentes,” actual en la que cualquier persona que escribe un programa de software con éxito es demandado por supuesta infracción de patentes, pone de relieve el fracaso del sistema de propiedad intelectual para fomentar la innovación, dijo.”
–IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz
Sumario: Microsoft ha convertido a Nokia en un troll de patentes que ahora ataca a Linux y Android.
Microsoft ha convertido Nokia en un anti-Adroid/Linux troll de patentes, como se esperaba. ¿Está alguién sorprendido? Preveímos esto desde el principio. Asi como otros (incluso aquellos que Microsoft pago por ´reportajes´).
Como Florian Muller lo puso esta mañana: ¨Como lo sospeché, el pacto de patentes de 2013 Nokia-Samsung esta lejos de ser comprehensivo: litigación todavía una posibilidad¨ (en aquel entonces él todavía era cercano a Microsoft).
Para citar el blog de Muller: ¨La realidad que muchas de las aserciones de patentes de Nokia contra HTC fallaron (aunque HTC fue forzado al final a pagar por licencias en cualquier términos) puede hacer que prospectivos licenciadores sientan que pueden probar suerte en la corte.
¨El próximo anuncio de Nokia-Samsung, cuando este sea dado, será probablemente un comunicado ¨pescado o carnada¨. No hablarán por siempre. En algún momento se pondrán de acuerdo o Nokia los enjuiciará. Por mi parte recomendaría a Samsung (si me lo preguntaran, obviamente no lo harán) que no sobrepaguen.¨
“Microsoft también pasó patentes de Nokia a trolles de patentes como MOSAID (ahora llamada Conversant).”¨Así que ¿Microsoft ama a Linux, si? Por ello destruyeron Nokia después que Nokia se ´atrevió´ a ser uno de los mayores contribuyentes de Linux (casi numero uno). Microsoft también pasó patentes de Nokia a trolles de patentes como MOSAID (ahora llamada Conversant).
El reporte que todos van a citar en los próximos dis es este. El Wall Street Journal escribió: ¨Nokia Corp espera ganar más de 1 billón de dollares en cash por su portafolio de propiedad intelectual en los próximos tres años, incluyendo las ganancias de su pacto con Samsung Electronics Co. firmado hace más de dos años.¨
Aparentemente, Nokia quiere mucho más dinero que esto. ¨NOKIA ES UN TROLL DE PATENTES ahora, extorsionó 1 Billon de dolares de Samsung,¨ escribió el presidente de la FFII (Fundación para una Infraestructura de Información Libre) esta mañana. Revisaremos esta materia más adelante (hay muchos más urgentes temas que cubrir ahora). █
“Microsoft está pidiendo a la gente a pagar por las patentes, pero no van a decir cuáles son. Si un tipo entra en su tienda y dice: “Es un barrio peligroso, ¿por qué no me pagas 20 dólares y me aseguraré de que estés bien,” eso es ilegal. eS CRIMEN ORGANIZADO.”
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“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: Microsoft has made a sort of patent troll out of Nokia and Nokia now attacks Linux and Android
Microsoft turned Nokia into an anti-Android/Linux patent troll, as expected. Is anybody surprised? We foresaw this right from the very start. So did others (even those whom Microsoft paid for ‘reports’).
As Florian Müller put it this morning: “As I suspected, the 2013 Nokia-Samsung patent deal is far from comprehensive: litigation still a possibility” (at the time he was still close to Microsoft).
To quote Müller’s blog: “The fact that most of Nokia’s patent assertions against HTC failed (though HTC ultimately felt forced to take a license on whatever terms) may also make prospective licensees feel they should take their chances in court.
“The next Nokia-Samsung announcement, whenever that one may issue, will most likely be a “fish or cut bait” statement. They won’t be talking forever. At some point they will agree or Nokia will sue. I, for my part, would recommend to Samsung (if they asked me, which they obviously don’t) not to overpay.”
“Microsoft also passed Nokia patents to patent trolls like MOSAID (now named Conversant).”So Microsoft loves Linux, right? That’s why it destroyed Nokia after Nokia had ‘dared’ to become a top Linux contributor (almost the number one contributor). Microsoft also passed Nokia patents to patent trolls like MOSAID (now named Conversant).
The report which everyone is likely to cite in the coming days is this one. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “Nokia Corp. expects to gain more than a billion dollars in cash from its intellectual-property portfolio in the next three years, including the proceeds from a patent pact with Samsung Electronics Co. signed more than two years ago.”
Apparently, Nokia wants a lot more money than this. “Nokia is a patent troll now, extorts 1 Billion USD from Samsung,” the FFII’s President wrote this morning. We shall revisit this subject some time later (there are more urgent topics to cover right now). █
“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”
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Publicado en America, Apple, Patents, Samsung at 7:29 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Esta reciente foto de Rick Frenkel (del Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng) nos muestra y recuerda que Frenkel todavía esta combatiendo a los troles de patentes.
Sumario: Eventos reciéntes en el mundo de los trolles de patentes, incluyendo los relacionados a Apple y Linux/Android, donde las batallas de patentes de software persisten y se han convertido en un factor considerable.
La decadencia de Apple puede ser explicada en muchas maneras (Android/Linux tiene mucho que ver con ello). Pero estamos particularmente interesados en la asquerosa estrategia de litigación de patentes de Apple, que motivo nuestro llamado a un BOYCOTT hace media decada (el que seguimos motivando), despues de sus primeros ataques (contra una menos armada HTC). La OEP comparte la culpa aquí como que facilitó muchos de esos ataques por erróneamente otorgar patentes que más tarde fueron encontrada ser invalidas.
Los más vocales proponentes de patentes de software nos han hecho recordar que ¨Samsung va a pagar a Apple aproximadamente $546 millones en daños como parte de una continua disputa de infingimiento de patentes entre los dos gigantes.¨
“La OEP comparte la culpa aquí como que facilitó muchos de esos ataques por erróneamente otorgar patentes que más tarde fueron encontrada ser invalidas.”Esto es acerca de patentes de software. Apple las esta usando para sacar ganancias de productos rivales pero también para prohibirlos. Pero es una espada de doble filo por que Apple también ha sido demandada por un monto similar (medio millón de dolares) por un trol de patentes. Esta vez, como siempre, son patentes de software (los trolles de patentes rarámente usan otra clase de patentes). El desgraciado troll de patentes VirnetX quiere que ej jurado le dé medio millón de dólares de Apple. Hay algo poético acerca de esto, dada las noticias de arriba. Cuando un troll de patentes ataca a Apple, como este nuevo artículo de Joe Mullin ayuda a mostrar, grandes cantidades de dinero son exigidas. ¨Un juicio reciéntemente empezó en el lugar perferido de las patentes: East Texas,¨ escribió Mullin, ¨ y es uno grande. VirtnetX, una compañía poseedora de patentes que dice ser dueña un buen número de ellas relatadas a Networks Privados Virtuales (VPNs), se está enfrentando a Apple.
¨VirnetX dice que la VPN tecnología usada por Apple, así como su mensajero reconocedor de caras, infringen patentes de la compañía. Un jucio comenzó hoy, y VirnetX busca $532 millones en daños.¨
“Esto es acerca de patentes de software. Apple las esta usando para sacar ganancias de productos rivales pero también para prohibirlos.”Hemos escrito mucho acerca de VirnetX y East Texas en el pasado. Esto es un gran ejemplo de lo que las patentes de software hacen a los trolles de patentes.
Hablando de East Texas, parece que el rastreador de trolles de patentes (Rick Frenkel) esta ocupadísimo ahora mismo. Escribió bastante acerca de Fish & Richardson PC, especialmente cuando el padre de trolles de patentes, Sr. Niro los enjuició (antes que Frenkel y su empleador Cisco fueran enjuiciados). Recuerden que lo que trajo problemas al rastreador de trolles de patentes (muchos articulos acerca de esto aquí). Fish & Richardson tuviero que ver mucho con ello directa o indirectamente. Fish & Richardson es una compañía que trabajo por multinacionales como Samsung y Nokia en patentes. Ahora expresa amor de la UPC (hace menos de un día en medios de abogados). La publicación de ellos ayer dice: ¨el próximo gran paso por la UPC sera la selección de jueces. Aproximadamente 1,300 personas han expresado su interés, incluyendo muchos jueces altamente calificados, abogados de leyes y abogados de patentes. El comite preparatorio es esperado adoptar una selección de procedimiento en su reunión de Febrero 24-25, 2016 y comenzar el proceso inmediatamente despues.
“Resulta que el Rastreador de Trolles de Patentes Todavía los esta combatiendo.”Fish & Richardson en sí es una firma de abogados de patentes, y una que representa clientes que les puede traer muchísimo dinero cuando una compañía como Apple, por no hablar de algunos pequeños trolles de patentes, tomen ventaja de la UPC por juicios de gran escala sin fronteras. Tengan esto en mente; ven que podrida esta la UPC; MUESTRA QUIÉN SE BENEFICIARÍA DE ELLA. Por supuesto no las PYMEs europeas.
Suficientemente interesado, Joe Mullin ha escrito esta pieza acerca de trolles de patentes que atacaron Newegg y rápidamente se lamentaron. Resulta que el Rastreador de Trolles de Patentes Todavía los esta combatiendo. Los juicios de difamación en su contra de parte de los trolles no lo han detenido. Ante lo cual nos sacamos el sombrero delante de tan magnífico caballero. Para citar de la de arriba: “Latham & Watkins socio Rick Frenkel, quien representa a Newegg en algunos de sus casos de patentes. Frenkel y Cheng hicieron una parada para barbacoa y pasteles fritos en un reciente viaje a la zona activa de patente de este de Texas “. Buen provecho Señores. █
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This recent photograph of Rick Frenkel (from Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng) shows or reminds us that Frenkel is still fighting patent trolls
Summary: Recent developments in the world of patent trolls, including the relation to Apple and Linux/Android, where (software) patent battles persist and have become a considerable factor
THE decline of Apple can be explained in all sorts of ways (Android/Linux had a lot to do with it). But what we’re particularly interested in is Apple’s nasty patent litigation strategy, which motivated our call for a boycott half a decade ago, some time after the seminal attacks (on a lesser-armed HTC). The EPO shares the blame here as it too facilitated some of these attacks by incorrectly granting patents which were only later found to be invalid.
The most vocal proponents of software patents have just reminds us that “Samsung is going to pay Apple approximately $546 million in damages as part of the ongoing patent infringement dispute between the two technology giants.”
“The EPO shares the blame here as it too facilitated some of these attacks by incorrectly granting patents which were only later found to be invalid.”This is about software patents. Apple is trying to use them not just to tax rival products but also ban these. But it’s a two-edged sword because Apple is being sued for a similar amount (half a billion dollars) by a patent troll. This time, as always, it’s software patents (patent trolls rarely use any other kind of patents). The infamous patent troll VirnetX wants jury to give it a half-billion dollars of Apple’s cash. There’s something poetic about it, given the above news. When patent trolls hit Apple, as this new article from Joe Mullin helps show, big damages are being claimed. “A trial has just kicked off in the patent hotspot of East Texas,” Mullin wrote, “and it’s a big one. VirnetX, a patent-holding company that says it owns wide-ranging rights to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), is facing off against Apple.
“VirnetX says that Apple’s VPN technology, as well as its FaceTime video-messaging, both infringe the company’s patents. A jury trial began today, and VirnetX seeks $532 million in damages.”
“This is about software patents. Apple is trying to use them not just to tax rival products but also ban these.”We have written a lot about VirnetX and about East Texas in the past. This is a great example of what software patents do for patent trolls.
Speaking of East Texas, it turns out that Patent Troll Tracker (Rick Frenkel) is busy there right now. He wrote a lot about Fish & Richardson PC, especially when the father of patent trolling, Mr. Niro, sued them (before Frenkel and his employer Cisco got sued). Recall what got Patent Troll Tracker in trouble (lots of articles about this here). Fish & Richardson had a lot to do with that, even if indirectly. Fish & Richardson is a firm that worked for multinationals such as Samsung and Nokia on patents. It now expresses love of the UPC (less than a day ago in lawyer’s media). Yesterday’s publication from them says: “The next big step for the UPC will be selection of judges. Approximately 1,300 persons have indicated an interest, including many highly qualified judges, attorneys-at-law and patent attorneys. The Preparatory Committee is expected to adopt a selection procedure at their meeting on February 24-25, 2016 and begin the process immediately thereafter.”
“It turns out that Patent Troll Tracker is still fighting patent trolls.”Fish & Richardson itself is a firm of patent lawyers, and one that represents clients who can bring a lot of income when a company such as Apple, for instance, let alone some small patent troll, takes advantage of the UPC for large-scale cross-border lawsuits. Bear this in mind; see who’s rooting for the UPC; it shows who would benefit from it. Nothing at all to do with European SMEs.
Interestingly enough, Joe Mullin has just published this piece about patent trolls that attacked Newegg and quickly regretted it. It turns out that Patent Troll Tracker is still fighting patent trolls. Defamation lawsuits from trolls did not stop him. To quote from the top: “Latham & Watkins partner Rick Frenkel, who represents Newegg in some of its patent cases. Frenkel and Cheng made a stop for BBQ and fried pies on a recent trip to the patent hotspot of East Texas.” █
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Nearly challenging the price of gold now
Phones now a pocket-sized patent thicket
Summary: A roundup of recent news about patents that affect phones in particular, notably patents on software rather than hardware
THE SUBJECT which is software patents hasn’t been covered here recently. It’s due to other important issues. “How to get around software patents” is an article published nearly a week ago. To quote part of it: “Isn’t is possible to work around software patents and use [...] In some cases it is really possible. The Ogg/Vorbis developers have done patent research and hope their format won’t vulnerate patents in the United States.”
“The patent attacks on Chinese companies have led some of them to a pursuit of patents akin to stockpiling.”Well, Apple’s Steve Jobs attacked Ogg, as we wrote here several times in past years (well before Jobs’ death). Don’t forget that, when it comes to patents, Apple is not only a foe of Linux (and by extension Android) but of FOSS as a whole. There’s a long tradition to it, as we showed here over the years.
Earlier this month and later last year we wrote about Xiaomi, a rival of Apple, craving or lusting for patents (perhaps as many as 10,000). Two recent articles from IAM [1, 2] said more about this area, noting that “Xiaomi’s latest gambit in its quest to find sales growth outside of its home market of China was a short-lived one. The company launched its first phones in South Korea last Monday, 4th January, through KT Corporation, the nation’s second largest mobile carrier. Just two days later, the handsets were abruptly pulled from the market, based on what KT described as “legal matters related to sales”. There are several possibilities for what has happened, but given the company’s history of IP troubles, some in the media have wondered whether a patent dispute is behind the setback. If that does prove to be the case, it would raise some serious questions about Xiaomi’s IP strategy and its ability to gauge its own freedom to operate.”
The patent attacks on Chinese companies have led some of them to a pursuit of patents akin to stockpiling. Over a week ago we learned about Huawei and Ericsson signing a patent agreement [1, 2] and it is worth noting that Ericsson uses patent trolls as fronts. “As the battle for patents rages on,” said one report, “and tech giants are at each other’s throats on court, arguing who has the right to use what technology, two companies have extended their agreement to use each other’s patents without much hassle.
“Imagine higher prices on everything (the lawyers’ tax), including mobile phones whose prices are artificially high.”“Those two companies are Ericsson and Huawei and they have, according to a recent press release, extended their global patent licence agreement that includes patents regarding wireless communication technology.”
This new report about Ericsson’s troll, Unwired Planet (formerly Openwave Systems), shows that Ericsson has become a big liability to Android companies. Unwired Planet has become a leading example of patent trolls serving even European companies, or a proxy war with SEPs. This is what UPC would lead to more of (given growing momentum it’s easy to be pessimistic, especially now that UK-IPO and British patent lawyers make decisions behind closed doors), making Europe more accessible to patent trolls from the US as well. To quote lawyers’ media: “The UK government has prepared legislation to give effect to EU legislation on the unitary patent and to the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which backs the creation of a new UPC for resolving disputes over new unitary patents.”
Imagine higher prices on everything (the lawyers’ tax), including mobile phones whose prices are artificially high. That’s where we are today.
Earlier this month, Florian Müller chose to focus again on Apple’s patent war with Android [1, 2]. “Today I received a really interesting Lex Machina press release,” he wrote. “Lex Machina, a LexisNexis company, operates the Legal Analytics platform and claims that companies such as Microsoft, Google, Nike and eBay as well as various top-notch law firms are among its clients. Its new “Patent Trial and Appeal Board 2015 Report” provides lots of insight about last year’s trials before the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board, i.e., the USPTO’s in-house court system.” This study, Müller says, shows that Apple and Samsung now use so-called ‘patent death squads’.
“We have written so much about the so-called slide-to-unlock patent, which is effectively a software patent.”In other news [1, 2], “Samsung is appealing its Apple infringement case to the Supreme Court because a very old law is a bad fit with very modern technology” (with the CCIA’s support).
The case, which we have grown quite tired of after half a decade, is still the subject of much media coverage (the latest development is that Apple is suing Samsung for embargoes to be belatedly enforced and technology giants take Samsung’s side [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) and legal sites too.
“Devices that cost just several dollars to make (on the basis of material) end up being sold for almost a thousand dollars in some cases.”As Müller put it earlier this month: “The ’721 slide-to-unlock patent, whose European sibling has already been held invalid by 15 judges, is irrelevant not only because it will likely be held invalid but also because it covers only certain graphical variants of the slide-to-unlock mechanism, but not the slide-to-unlock functionality as a whole.”
We have written so much about the so-called slide-to-unlock patent, which is effectively a software patent. We don’t wish to spend too much time debating it again, but we are gratified to learn that Apple too receives a reminder of the harms of software patents. “Apple has been targeted in a patent infringement complaint centring on its voice recognition technology Siri,” said WIPR the other day.
The bottom line — if there is one — might be that patents are very destructive in the so-called ‘smart’ phone space (smartphone). Devices that cost just several dollars to make (on the basis of material) end up being sold for almost a thousand dollars in some cases. Who benefits from this? █
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Copyright already covers many designs, so why extend so-called ‘protection’ to the vastly broader domain of patents?
Slide to unlock: put it on a computer and you’re apparently a genius deserving a patent
Summary: A fine demonstration of how dumb a lot of patents in the United States have become, including so-called ‘design’ patents that pertain to an abstraction on a computer (hence software patents)
IN SOME sense, many design patents are inherently software patents, as schematics attached to patent applications often serve to show. I have personally reviewed some patents before, so I know how particular lawyers — not programmers — try to give a ‘life’ (or a form) to algorithms by drawing things*. Doodles are not algorithms. They’re often a spurious presentation that attempts to give a physical form to something which is inherently abstract. It can mislead examiners and judges, presumably by intention. Just look at the many post-Alice articles composed by patent lawyers; just look at the tips they’re giving to one another. They almost self-incriminate.
“Doodles are not algorithms. They’re often a spurious presentation that attempts to give a physical form to something which is inherently abstract.”Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols called Microsoft’s latest high-profile patent attack “design patent wars” and said that the “Electronic Frontier Foundation has declared “User Interface for a Portion of a Display Screen” to be this month’s stupid patent. Here’s what’s really going on between Microsoft and Corel over the Office ribbon design patent.”
We wrote about this in last week's coverage regarding Corel. “The EFF named Microsoft’s design patent for a slider as its Stupid Patent of the Month,” one person wrote to us, just over a week after it all happened. But actually, it’s more of a software patent, or something in the blurry line/s between design and software (like interface elements).
“Just because one takes something that has existed for thousands of years before computers (like a fence/gate’s metal or wooden lock) and draw it on a computer with some callback function/s doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make it magically patent-worthy, just as doing something “over the Internet” doesn’t make old and trivial ideas patent-eligible.”Consider today’s patent lawyers’ views [1, 2] about Apple’s attacks on Samsung, which include the infamous slide-to-unlock patent (slider again, amongst other patents). And speaking of sliding, how about the “LANDSLIDE article” mentioned by Patently-O today? “And as a larger policy issue,” said the author, “it’s questionable whether verbal claim dissection is either desirable or appropriate in the context of design patents. The better approach may be, as Chris Carani argued in the LANDSLIDE article mentioned above, to simply instruct juries “that design patents only protect the appearance of the overall design depicted in the drawings, and not any functional attributes, purposes or characteristics embodied in the claimed design.””
We wrote quite a lot about Apple’s so-called ‘design’ patents (in principle software patents) more than half a decade ago when Apple’s patent war against Linux/Android began. When authors mention terms like “design patents” it would only be fair to read or interpret this as software patents, or a particular subclass of these. These patents don’t allude to any physical thing like a bar that you slide, only an abstraction thereof. Just because one takes something that has existed for thousands of years before computers (like a fence/gate’s metal or wooden lock) and draw it on a computer with some callback function/s doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make it magically patent-worthy, just as doing something “over the Internet” doesn’t make old and trivial ideas patent-eligible. Then again, this is what the USPTO brought about with its laughable quality control. █
* I am a software professional with experience both as a programmer and a researcher, having reviewed papers for the world’s top international journals (even in my twenties), which meant I needed to identify prior art (existing/published research) in areas like computer vision and machine learning.
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