Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patents Roundup: Twitter and Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, USPTO and SCOTUS

Summary: A collection of news about software patents and patents in general

THERE is troubling news from the embargo agency known as ITC, which helps one company attack another by means of a sanction. There are some more reports on this which highlight the relevance to software patents, including this one which says:

The ITC affirmed the Chief Administrative Law Judge's ruling earlier this year that Suprema, Inc. of South Korea and Mentalix, Inc. of Plano, Texas infringe Cross Match's hardware and software patents, further determining that Suprema actively induced others to infringe one of Cross Match's patents.

The ITC loves blocking Asian products at the behest of US companies such as Microsoft and Apple. Pressure is applied to them in the same way that US pressure is applied to Cuba. The 'sin'? Allegedly having similar ideas. How can anybody justify this?

In other news, Twitter, which opposes software patents, is being hit by another patent troll/parasite, just amid complaints from Amazon that it too has become a victim of the patent system:

BOOKSELLER AMAZON has had 11 patent lawsuits filed against it this year, according to a filing with US financial regulators.

The MSBBC covered this too:

Amazon has revealed that 11 companies have filed patent lawsuits against it since the start of the year - more than three times as many as in all of 2010.

From Amazon's original SEC filing:

Risks have been amplified by the increase in third parties whose sole or primary business is to assert such claims [...] our website technology, including our 1-Click ordering system, infringes a patent obtained by Cordance

Amazon has meanwhile been pushing for software patents in the EU and it is in no real position to complain. It also pays Microsoft for GNU/Linux servers and the Linux-based Kindle. The next Kindle too (based on Android) will allegedly be taxed by Microsoft. Amazon did not even put up a fight. Why is it that the press neglects to mention such stories for background? Amazon is not in a position to whine. Stallman is meanwhile quoted widely as saying that Jobs also made it a personal crusade to attack Android with software patents. It is not far fetched to assume that Larry Ellison did a favour to his "best friend" (by his own words) Steve Jobs by suing Android through Google.

The Wall Street Journal mentions the latest twist and IDG comments on the Oracle vs. Google case, which was delayed, by heckling Google, as one ought to expect. IDG has never been a Google-friendly platform.

Meanwhile, patent lawyers get a platform in the Washington Post and they sort of admit being the parasites coming at the expense of actual work. By one's own words:

But when patents cannot be understood, are difficult to obtain, or become nearly impossible to enforce, much of the money that would go toward research and development is spent on lawyers. These legal fees drastically increase the barriers to investment for a promising new idea, dulling America’s technological edge. The modern trend of bundling patents into large portfolios for sale on the open market further demonstrates how the patent market currently favors large corporations over the individual entrepreneur.

As a patent attorney, I am constantly meeting hopeful inventors who dream of securing a patent to protect their ideas. They have been told by potential investors that they need a patent before they are willing to invest in their technology. When I explain that a patent will cost upwards of $30,000 and take around five years to obtain, their hopes are dashed. The news only gets worse when I inform them that enforcing a patent is a multi-million dollar proposition. At that point, most simply give up.

Another paper is giving a platform to Microsoft's FUD against Android and promotion of software patents (there are some parts there about both). To quote the puff piece (Microsoft guest post essentially):

Microsoft attorney outlines Android patent tactics


Those patents (cover) individual features that have been created in a particularly inventive way by Microsoft and that have been recognized by the patent office. It's now being tested in court. It remains to be seen what courts say; they will be the ultimate arbiter. But we believe they're solid patents.

Guess who is is playing along? MSN, Microsoft's fake 'news' site. The Microsoft press on Apple's ridiculous patents that threaten Android is as shallow as one should expect. Compare it to this good piece which complains about a "broken" system:

Apple's Newly Awarded Patent and a Broken System


The result, in my humble opinion, is that the system is broken for the modern age and in need of an overhaul. Over the last few years I’ve seen patents, which were originally developed as a form of protection for an inventor, become a corrupted version of its original intent. Instead of protection they’re now used primarily as strategy and legal weaponry against competition. And the reason is the pure power behind it – a patent grants exclusive rights on the technology in question for 20 years.

Outside of basic patent trolling, there are a number of examples that can be cited here that illustrate the shambles that our patent system is now plagued with, but it was the most recent one that set me off this week. Just recently Apple, which is a perennial member of the patent lawsuit club, was just awarded patent 8,046,721 (7,657,849 is the same thing just older) by the good ol’ USPTO, entitled “Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image.” I’m going to let that one sink in for a second and let you read some of that patent I linked before the tirade that’s about to follow, divided cleanly into three (3) parts for your convenience. And before I get to it, let me put a disclaimer out there that I’m not a lawyer, nor do I have any formal legal education or professional experience.

You good? OK.

E.D. Kain asks, "Do Patents Kill Innovation?"

Of course they are killing innovation. Their goal was never innovation. It was documentation. "Patent office strained by time, staffing" reads a new headline from the Nashua Telegraph and one lawyers' site helps remind us that this problem is systemic because even SCOTUS won't do what needs to be done:

The Supreme Court's decision did not invalidate the multitude of business method patents already issued or threaten patent applications still pending. Rather, the court invited the Federal Circuit to consider the appropriate way to evaluate business method patents. Due to the lack of guidance from the courts, the time was perhaps ripe for intervention by Congress.

The patent system is harmful and it helps harm small players in particular. Something must be done about it.


Recent Techrights' Posts

[Video] Time to Acknowledge Debian Has a Real Problem and This Problem Needs to be Solved
it would make sense to try to resolve conflicts and issues, not exacerbate these
Daniel Pocock elected on ANZAC Day and anniversary of Easter Rising (FSFE Fellowship)
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Ulrike Uhlig & Debian, the $200,000 woman who quit
Reprinted with permission from
Girlfriends, Sex, Prostitution & Debian at DebConf22, Prizren, Kosovo
Reprinted with permission from
Audiocasts/Shows: FLOSS Weekly and mintCast
the latest pair of episodes
[Meme] Arvind Krishna's Business Machines
He is harming Red Hat in a number of ways (he doesn't understand it) and Fedora users are running out of patience (many volunteers quit years ago)
[Video] Debian's Newfound Love of Censorship Has Become a Threat to the Entire Internet
SPI/Debian might end up with rotten tomatoes in the face
Joerg (Ganneff) Jaspert, Dalbergschule Fulda & Debian Death threats
Reprinted with permission from
Amber Heard, Junior Female Developers & Debian Embezzlement
Reprinted with permission from
[Video] IBM's Poor Results Reinforce the Idea of Mass Layoffs on the Way (Just Like at Microsoft)
it seems likely Red Hat layoffs are in the making
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, April 24, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Links 24/04/2024: Layoffs and Shutdowns at Microsoft, Apple Sales in China Have Collapsed
Links for the day
Sexism processing travel reimbursement
Reprinted with permission from
Microsoft is Shutting Down Offices and Studios (Microsoft Layoffs Every Month This Year, Media Barely Mentions These)
Microsoft shutting down more offices (there have been layoffs every month this year)
Balkan women & Debian sexism, WeBoob leaks
Reprinted with permission from
Martina Ferrari & Debian, DebConf room list: who sleeps with who?
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 24/04/2024: Advances in TikTok Ban, Microsoft Lacks Security Incentives (It Profits From Breaches)
Links for the day
Gemini Links 24/04/2024: People Returning to Gemlogs, Stateless Workstations
Links for the day
Meike Reichle & Debian Dating
Reprinted with permission from
Europe Won't be Safe From Russia Until the Last Windows PC is Turned Off (or Switched to BSDs and GNU/Linux)
Lives are at stake
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, April 23, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, April 23, 2024
[Meme] EPO: Breaking the Law as a Business Model
Total disregard for the EPO to sell more monopolies in Europe (to companies that are seldom European and in need of monopoly)
The EPO's Central Staff Committee (CSC) on New Ways of Working (NWoW) and “Bringing Teams Together” (BTT)
The latest publication from the Central Staff Committee (CSC)
Volunteers wanted: Unknown Suspects team
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Debian trademark: where does the value come from?
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Detecting suspicious transactions in the Wikimedia grants process
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 23/04/2024: US Doubles Down on Patent Obviousness, North Korea Practices Nuclear Conflict
Links for the day
Stardust Nightclub Tragedy, Unlawful killing, Censorship & Debian Scapegoating
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Gunnar Wolf & Debian Modern Slavery punishments
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
On DebConf and Debian 'Bedroom Nepotism' (Connected to Canonical, Red Hat, and Google)
Why the public must know suppressed facts (which women themselves are voicing concerns about; some men muzzle them to save face)
Several Years After Vista 11 Came Out Few People in Africa Use It, Its Relative Share Declines (People Delete It and Move to BSD/GNU/Linux?)
These trends are worth discussing
Canonical, Ubuntu & Debian DebConf19 Diversity Girls email
Reprinted with permission from
Links 23/04/2024: Escalations Around Poland, Microsoft Shares Dumped
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/04/2024: Offline PSP Media Player and OpenBSD on ThinkPad
Links for the day
Amaya Rodrigo Sastre, Holger Levsen & Debian DebConf6 fight
Reprinted with permission from
DebConf8: who slept with who? Rooming list leaked
Reprinted with permission from
Bruce Perens & Debian: swiping the Open Source trademark
Reprinted with permission from
Ean Schuessler & Debian SPI OSI trademark disputes
Reprinted with permission from
Windows in Sudan: From 99.15% to 2.12%
With conflict in Sudan, plus the occasional escalation/s, buying a laptop with Vista 11 isn't a high priority
Anatomy of a Cancel Mob Campaign
how they go about
[Meme] The 'Cancel Culture' and Its 'Hit List'
organisers are being contacted by the 'cancel mob'
Richard Stallman's Next Public Talk is on Friday, 17:30 in Córdoba (Spain), FSF Cannot Mention It
Any attempt to marginalise founders isn't unprecedented as a strategy
IRC Proceedings: Monday, April 22, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, April 22, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Don't trust me. Trust the voters.
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Chris Lamb & Debian demanded Ubuntu censor my blog
Reprinted with permission from
Ean Schuessler, Branden Robinson & Debian SPI accounting crisis
Reprinted with permission from
William Lee Irwin III, Michael Schultheiss & Debian, Oracle, Russian kernel scandal
Reprinted with permission from