Bonum Certa Men Certa

Poor Excuses for Granting Poor (and Often Illegal/Invalid) Patents

Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) don't make the system stronger but weaker

Let them eat patents. All the world's problems will be solved by more patents.



Summary: A quick look at some of the latest examples of software patents advocacy (not by actual software professionals, obviously) and why it's deeply misguided (or guided solely by greedy law firms)

THE PUSHESR of what's called "stronger" (or STRONGER) "patent act" in the US don't care about the strength of patents. They care about the contrary and push for the very opposite. They just want the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to grant loads of software patents that courts reject anyway.



"In practice, however, they merely grant monopolies in technology that can reduce pollution."The same is true for the European Patent Office (EPO), where António Campinos -- like Battistelli before him -- measures 'strength' in terms of so-called 'productivity'. Not quality, not examiners' skills, not validity rates (or rates of European Patents being upheld by courts). It's hardly surprising that Campinos shamelessly lobbies for software patents in Europe. That helps him fake 'production'...

In order to pretend that the EPC does not exist (like 35 U.S.C. ۤ 101 in the US) they resort to misleading, novelty-sounding buzzwords such as "hey hi" (AI). To deny patents on this "hey hi" would surely be a denial of progress and amazing novelty, right? The media speaks about "hey hi" day and night, especially more so since 2017 or thereabouts (it boils down to superficial, faked hype).

Another pattern of EPO propaganda has recently been greenwashing. They pretend that their patents somehow "save the planet..." (no, they seriously try to imply that!)

In practice, however, they merely grant monopolies in technology that can reduce pollution. As we mentioned in an earlier post of ours, there's a new example of this which is promoted in a misleading fashion. For instance, the article "SeaTwirl Granted European Patent" (from North American Windpower) says: "SeaTwirl, a producer of floating wind turbines, will be granted a patent for a divisible wind turbine by the European Patent Office (EPO). SeaTwirl has already been granted the same patent in Sweden, the U.S. and China. [...] SeaTwirl is working strategically to build a broad patent portfolio. By protecting technical solutions that make the wind turbines cheaper to build and maintain, the company strengthens its market position, notes SeaTwirl."

How does a monopoly make things cheaper? The opposite is true. But never let "green" stunts slip away, right?

The National Law Review has just published this new piece from a giant law firm (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C). The piece mentions the EPO's position on so-called 'AI' patents and notes that "IEEE-USA urged the USPTO to focus on correcting the problems facing all computer implemented technologies as a primary approach to providing strong patent protections to AI based inventions."

Well, IEEE is at least consistent in his anti-software developers stance. We've long warned about IEEE pushing illegal software patents and it seems rather clear that IEEE does not represent engineers. Here are some portions: (it's about input sent to the US patent office)

The European Patent Office (EPO) has refused two European patent applications that designated an artificial intelligence called DABUS as the inventor, following a non-public hearing on November 25, 2019. The EPO has not yet published its reasons for refusing the applications but merely stated that “they do not meet the requirement of the European Patent Convention (EPC) that an inventor designated in the application has to be a human being, not a machine.” The refusal refers to Article 81 and Rule 19 of the EPC. The EPO further noted “A reasoned decision may be expected in January 2020.”

[...]

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA): IEEE-USA urged the USPTO to focus on correcting the problems facing all computer implemented technologies as a primary approach to providing strong patent protections to AI based inventions. IEEE suggested looking to other areas of IP law for models as it relates to inventorship. For example, the IEEE cited Naruto v. Slater (“monkey selfie case”) which denied a monkey copyright authorship of a selfie taken by the monkey. The rulings were based in part on the constitutional authorization to reward human authors and inventors. Accordingly, the IEEE also believes that AI cannot be inventors.


A reader has meanwhile alerted us about this upcoming 'course' from the patent zealots of ResearchAndMarkets (who also push UPC lies). Surely they know that software patents are disliked by programmers and are also illegal in Europe but that does not discourage them. Their target audience is law firms and they say: "This intensive one-day event will help you to understand the development strategies impacting software patents and update you on the major developments in European patent law, in particular, GUI inventions and 'mixed' inventions with both patentable and non-patentable subject matter."

Those old loopholes of combining algorithms with something like a "device"; it's a popular kind of loophole and we've seen that in New Zealand and in India. Just to be clear, patents on algorithms are still forbidden in India, but Spicy IP (a site whose founder died last year) is still peddling old myths, promoting such patents even though software developers -- many of whom live in India -- do not want software patents (and that's all that matters). Their introduction says: "Who would have thought a Tunisian citizen would end up having a couple of major impacts on the Indian IP landscape?" (Correction below)

So what's their excuse for advocacy of software patents? To quote: “In today‟s digital world, when most inventions are based on computer programs, it would be retrograde to argue that all such inventions would not be patentable. Innovation in the field of artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies and other digital products would be based on computer programs, however the same would not become non-patentable inventions – simply for that reason. It is rare to see a product which is not based on a computer program. Whether they are cars and other automobiles, microwave ovens, washing machines, refrigerators, they all have some sort of computer programs in-built in them. Thus, the effect that such programs produce including in digital and electronic products is crucial in determining the test of patentability.”

They're basically squeezing a bunch of buzzwords in there, arguing that because those buzzwords are used in relation to lots of things it is therefore "innovative" and deserves a patent.

So, in summary, anything that is "green" and "widespread" -- tell us the patent maximalists -- needs to be patented, irrespective of underlying law, economic rationale, and so on.

Correction: There was a misunderstanding. The author at Spicy IP has stated or clarified that "the point I've made through that post, is that the court order is flawed and is unnecessarily favouring "software patenting"..."

The pro-software patenting position is contained in that post not as a form of endorsement; it is the writer showing what others have said.

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