06.29.09

Patents Roundup: OIN Addresses Patent Trolls Issue, Public Patent Foundation Video, and More

Posted in Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Videos at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News that matters, about intellectual monopolies

THIS is another quick rundown through the news. Included below are only reports that have some relevance to Free software in a land of monopolies on thought and applied ideas.

Patent Trolls

This year’s LinuxTag contains a portion from OIN, which speaks about patent trolls, for a change. [via Digital Majority]

Patent Trolls are an ever-growing threat to global innovation. These IP aggregators purchase low-quality patents and use them as leverage to hijack potential revenue and profits from hardware and software companies, our largest economic driver. This causes entrepreneurs to reconsider launching companies, while CEOs devote more of their time and resources to managing intellectual property. New online and offline tools and services are becoming available to combat Patent Trolls and enable technology companies to focus on their core business.

Also worth a glance are the following new pages, which highlight the impact of patent trolling:

i. Distric Court Warns that ‘Patentee’s Time For Trolling’ Will End Without More Definite Infringement Contention

In June 2008, DSC was given the source code to 8 of the accused software products, along with executable copies and operating manuals for the accused products. Despite having this information, DSC did not elaborate further on the PICs.

ii. Patent Litigation Weekly: PubPat and ‘Patent Troll’ Make Strange Bedfellows

Ravicher acknowledged that it seems strange for a lawyer affiliated with PubPat—even as a volunteer—to have gone so far as to set up his own patent-holding company and then sued a group of major Internet players.

“Dave, if you were to talk to him, he’d say software patents are good, and they incentivize innovation,” says Ravicher. “Some people can’t be friends with people who disagree with them. But I’m friends with lots of people I have strenuous disagreements with.”

Asked whether he surprised by his friend’s involvement in the business colloquially known as “patent trolling,” Ravicher pauses, and then laughs. “Nothing surprises me these days.”

Software Patents

Microsoft is to pay damages for software patent infringement and Blackboard has just made another pledge, this time to “follow open standards more closely.” Blackboard also made pledges regarding software patents, which it is using to injure its competition.

This week Blackboard’s new head of course-management software, Ray Henderson, sent a letter to customers pledging that the company will do more to follow industry software standards, and to participate more actively in their development.

Backed by Microsoft, Blackboard still threatens Free software using software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], so its behaviour is worth keeping an eye on.

Over in the UK, IPKat is “Wondering if the questions the EU Council of Ministers want to ask the ECJ about the unified patent litigation system have been made public” and in New Zealand it is a matter of urgency.

URGENT: Unlimited Software Patents In New Zealand. Act Now!

[...]

NZ government is about to pass a new Patents Act. In the 8-year review, they seemingly forgot to consider the impacts of patents on computer software! Submissions on the bill are being accepted till 2 July, so we need to move fast.

We wrote about the software patents situation in New Zealand about a week ago.

In the pro-intellectual monopolies Web site known as Law.com there is this rare criticism of software patents, which “hinder innovation,” according to Daniel Ravicher.

But meanwhile, as Mullin notes, the former Ropes & Gray partner is also working closely to spearhead a litigation project with an old friend, Daniel Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation–who has publicly proclaimed that software patents hinder innovation. Garrod is helping Public Patent file suits to block products from carrying false patent markings.

Speaking of the Public Patent Foundation, here is a video about it.

USPTO Madness

Direct link

Patents other than ones pertaining to software are causing unrest. Some lead to unnecessary deaths [1, 2], whereas others obstruct works of art. It turns out that Michael Jackson has a US patent. It’s a patent on motion and dance moves. Shame on the USPTO for going this far with intellectual monopolies. Here is a patent site that has just called In Re Bilski (business method patents) “a Mess”.

Claim: (Ex Parte Borenstein) A method for providing catalog information for presentation to a user of a store in an electronic commerce system, comprising the steps of . . .

BPAI: while the storage of information in independent claim 1 could arguably be done as a mental process, the recitation of a structured relationship between multiple stores that requires “path information” inherently implies that this information must be stored on a computer or database. This “particular” computer or database is sufficient structure to meet the machine prong of the machine-or-transformation test of In re Bilski. As independent claim 15 recites a computer program product, it is not a method claim that must be analyzed under In re Bilski.

Need anything else be said about ACTA, which takes patents to the extreme [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]?

IPWatch has this new report about the ACTA:

EU, US Consumer Groups Issue Resolution On Enforcement; Demand Role In ACTA

An international coalition of consumer groups has issued a resolution calling into question global enforcement policy and offering core principles for policymakers to consider in setting new enforcement standards.

The Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue on 18 June issued the resolution on the enforcement of copyright, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights. The TACD is a trade advisory body to the European Union and United States government, and brings together 80 member organisations from those regions, claiming a direct paid-up membership of some 20 million consumers.

Malfunction

As more signs of a system in state of distress (the EPO is already in a limbo [1, 2]), consider the renaissance of patent reexaminations, which are indicative of the granting of patents that should never have been granted in the first place.

Given this, it is certainly no surprise the patent infringement defendants have been using the reexam strategy more and more. The semiconductor field is no different. Two well known patent enforcers in the industry, Tessera and Rambus have seen their patents thrown into reexam by various parties that are the targets of their licensing programs. Furthermore, I have also seen evidence that courts are willing to stay litigation if a quick reexam request is filed in the Patent Office, though obviously this is very judge and district specific.

It speaks about hardware patents, where an ambush harmed the consumer. Nobody wins in this case and the same goes for patent-caused embargoes, such as this latest example:

The U.S. International Trade Commission issued a decision Wednesday that blocks the U.S. import of LCD panels and LCD televisions made by Sharp, ruling that the company violated a patent held by rival Samsung Electronics.

Here is another new example where patents stifle fair competition.

The IEEE is ready to jump into the patent pool game, and it is starting with a call for patents on power over Ethernet.

Via Licensing Corp. will act as administer of the pool. Via announced Monday it will work with the Open Patent Alliance to set up a separate patent pool for WiMax.

Patent pools are a farce and the notion of “call for patents” is ludicrous. What about small companies that have no patents? Can they not participate in the market?

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2 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    June 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Gravatar

    Interesting video, but the speaker appeared to leave room for allowing many types of (strong) software patents and royalties for them. He did not state details, but I can see how such details might still leave the public and many many potential inventors being sold quite short. One example that comes to mind is that I don’t remember him questioning the foolishness of giving a patent to one person as if an invention (a) happens all because of one person or even (b) can’t frequently be recreated by others in a time span much shorter than 20 years. However, he did state the Cisco exec and Billg quotes. He also pointed to a great many of the most unfair issues with today’s patents.

    I do worry about compromises that will still leave in lots of hurt for much FOSS and much of the public.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Peer2patent, OIN, and RAND pose similar problems.

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