02.02.10

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Patents Roundup: Software Patents in the United States, Europe, and Rise of the Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Europe, Google, Law, Patents at 9:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Latest patent news (just as links, due to lack of time to expand)

General Debate

Do Patents Slow Down Innovation?

I’m still obsessed with my mission to “abolish software patents” especially after receiving yet another email from a new startup that claims to be a “Patent Insurance Company.” A number of these have popped up recently in the past few years, including several that are funded by VCs. Their pitch is that you pay them an annual fee, license any patents you have to them, and they will “protect you” against any patent litigation. Whenever I hear this pitch, all I can think about is Al Capone walking the streets of Chicago going door to door offering “protection” to all of the local businessmen if they will pay his vig every week.

United States

US Dir. of Citizen Participation Patents the News

theodp writes “Ex-Googler and now White House Director of Citizen Participation Katie Stanton is charged with promoting open public dialogues. Last Thursday, Stanton and Google snagged a patent on displaying financial news. Google explains that Stanton’s invention — Interactive Financial Charting and Related News Correlation — will ‘facilitate and encourage the user’s use and understanding of financial information,’ which does jibe nicely with Stanton’s appointment to Obama’s New Media Team. Too bad it’ll be encumbered by a Google patent until 2027.”

Global CIO: Software Patents And The CIO (FFII’s president says: “The majority of new patent applications are in software and business methods, and that volume continues to grow”)

Patent attorney Stephen Glazier weighs in on two recent developments, which dictate a more hands-on IT organization approach to intellectual property.

[...]

The second development is that, as of 2008, the majority of all new patent applications are in the area of software, computer systems, and business methods, and that volume continues to grow. These patents can enable the owner to stop competitors from copying the patented improvements (i.e., the patent owner can use the patent monopoly to obtain market share and competitive advantage) and to obtain cash for damages, triple damages, and attorney fees.

Europe

Germany following the EPO approach to patentability of CII? (FFII’s president says: “BGH found that processing, storing and transmitting data by a computer makes it technical and patentable”)

The German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) analysed in his decision X ZB 22/07 („Steuerung für Untersuchungsmodalitäten“, in German) of January 20, 2009 under which circumstances a software that is embedded in a larger technical system may represent statutory subject-matter. Some commentators assume that this decision may represent a turnaround of the BGH’s approach to assess technical character of an invention towards that of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office.

[...]

Conclusion: The decision clarifies that a software program that is embedded in a larger technical system and that involves steps of processing, storing and transmitting data by a technical apparatus represents statutory subject-matter according to § 1 PatG, which corresponds to the EPO’s approach as presented in “auction method/Hitachi” according to which executability of a computer program by a computer is sufficient to render the claim technical.

Siemens cuts staff (Siemens is a big lobbyist for software patents in Europe/Germany)

Patent Trolls

From the Patent Litigation Weekly: PwC Study Shows Patent Trolls Are Thriving

This week, our colleague Joe Mullin, who writes the Patent Litigation Weekly for IP Law and Business, guides readers through a new PricewaterhouseCoopers study on patent litigation. What grabbed Mullins’s attention was the significant role played by “non-practicing entities,” the polite term for patent trolls. (Patent trolls are entities that bring or threaten litigation to enforce patent rights, without any intention of making or marketing the product at issue.) “Patent trolls aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving,” Mullin observes. “Patent-holders are starting to delve into previously untouched economic sectors, suing small retailers and even photographers.”

2009 patent litigation study

The debate over patent reform has become more strident in the past few years as many of the world’s largest companies face increasing threats of litigation from competitors and from organizations known as nonpracticing entities (NPEs) that do not design, manufacture, or distribute products.

Report Shows Patent Trolls Are Thriving

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A Single Comment

  1. NotZed said,

    February 3, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Gravatar

    The software patent thing is such a big and constant news item … but where do they actually hold any legal weight?

    I wonder if an article of where they actually apply would be any worth?

    As it is, it appears we are ALL giving up our sovereign rights to appease the laws of the USA – but many of us do not reside there, so why are we acquiescing to, or suffering the consequences of, their laws?

    e.g. why isn’t there a ‘world’ ubuntu and a ‘usa’ ubuntu. One with all the functionality we expect, and one disabled to penalise the consumers who allowed their government to be hijacked. While we’re all treated equally there is no political motive for anybody to change.

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