06.17.10

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Bilski Decision Likely Released This Monday, USPTO Urgently Needs a Reform

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 5:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”

David Kappos (currently head of the USPTO) speaking about patents

Tired USPTO eagle

USPTOSummary: In Re Bilski decision is imminent and the problems with the USPTO are meanwhile made more apparent, thanks to Acacia and Amazon

EVERYONE keeps asking where the Bilski decision is. It will definitely be released this month [1, 2, 3, 4] and Red Hat’s Fontana says that “Bilski is only remaining SCOTUS case to be decided from November 2009 sitting. Next day for opinions’s Monday 21 June.”

Jose’s rant about the USPTO is sign of the unrest we’re seeing as patent trolls like Acacia continue to gobble up patents with which to attack companies that actually produce something. Here is the latest from Acacia, which Microsoft paid a lot of money last month.

Acacia Subsidiary Acquires Rights to Patents for Video and Software Technologies from a Leading International Research Institute

[...]

The patented technologies generally relate to the encoding of video and tracking of video objects as well as software covering operating systems and object-oriented development environments.

It’s not innovation, it’s trolling. Microsoft happens to be part of this and VirnetX recently got a lot of money out of Microsoft. Now it “Advances to Russell 3000 Index and Global Index” (yes, parasites are being rewarded in this ill system).

Another new sign that the USPTO needs a reform is this new patent from Amazon which Slashdot describes as follows:

theodp writes “After shelling out a reported $90 million to buy PlanetAll in 1998, Amazon shuttered the site in 2000, explaining that ‘it seemed really superfluous to have it running beside Friends and Favorites.’ But years later in a 2008 patent filing, Amazon described the acquired PlanetAll technology to the USPTO in very Facebook-like terms. And on Tuesday, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 7,739,139 to Amazon for its invention, the Social Networking System, which Amazon describes thusly: ‘A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users. For example, in one embodiment, users can identify other users based on their affiliations with particular schools or other organizations. The system also provides a mechanism for a user to selectively establish contact relationships or connections with other users, and to grant permissions for such other users to view personal information of the user. The system may also include features for enabling users to identify contacts of their respective contacts. In addition, the system may automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts.’ So, should Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg worry about Amazon opening a can of patent whup-ass?”

Legal firms* are counting patents (per nation) as though counting patents would give some indication of real progress rather than the level of vindictive protectionism. The USPTO ought to take pride in a system that has fewer patents (higher bar), not the opposite. That’s why the Bilski case is important. It is rare to see patentability scope being limited rather than extended at the USPTO.
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* At the bottom it says “Bird & Bird is a recognised leader in the field of intellectual property law in the UK.” In other words, they make money from patents, i.e. taxing technology.

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2 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    June 18, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Gravatar

    Software patent monopolies, if allowed, will mean these super trolls will decide exactly which companies can do what where and when. They can easily create a bunch of monopolies or preserve past monopolies. Patents are broad by definition.

    These supertroll business leaders will have so much leverage that entrepreneurialism will greatly suffer and software developers will have very little leverage since monopolies by law have little incentive to fear any competition and hence to spend their dollars on quality developers (who can’t challenge them through a start-up).

    That’s right, support software patents and many business leaders and top software developers will lose their leverage to more savvy monopoly horders.

    See http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2010061701539OPMSSW “Watch Microsoft megatrolls monopolize Linux” (this one is mostly about mono)

    Also, for humor: http://getnix.com/thetuxproject/?q=node/400 “The Stifling the Progress Weekly announces award winner: the USPTO”

    Jose_X Reply:

    >> Legal firms* are counting patents (per nation) as though counting patents would give some indication of real progress rather than the level of vindictive protectionism.

    Not sure if you got my link message from irc yesterday. In any case, the second of the above links is a little bit of satire focused on how patents are absolutely intended to allow private individuals full tax rights and stifling rights. Too bad it’s not a good intro for people that don’t know too much about software patents. We need lots of new people to see sw patents for what they are and the trouble they will eventually cause, eliminating a lot of no charge software opportunities and small business opportunities, despite the fact those writing the open source intend for everyone to use it freely (and preferably to contribute back).

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