01.24.11

Gemini version available ♊︎

The Patent System — USPTO in Particular — Comes Under More Fire

Posted in Patents at 3:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Kappos

Summary: USPTO needs to change in order to restore approval from citizens whom it supposedly serves

HOW MUCH does the USPTO want to be hated? More and more people speak out against it these days, simply because it cannot make a case in its defence when those who benefit are not scientists but lawyers and franchisees. A little while ago, TechDirt — a longtime patents critic — did some decent investigative work to demonstrate a contemporary chaining of patent trolls, working at someone’s behest a lot of the time (Nathan Myhrvold uses this trick extensively). To quote later parts of the detailed analysis:

Unfortunately, that’s about where the sleuthing runs out… and it really doesn’t tell us that much. We already knew that Vertigo was the parent company, and who owns/runs Vertigo is secret. We did learn that another company owned by Vertigo is using more patents from the same inventors to sue more companies, but that’s about it. Either way, as a basic exercise, it certainly teaches you a fair amount about the sneaky and hidden nature of how patent trolls operate, with layer upon layer of shell companies, changing patent assignments and licenses, all of which hide whoever is actually pulling the strings. It really does make you wonder how this kind of thing does anything whatsoever to improve innovation.

Michael Trick writes about “More patent madness!”, putting forth an example of something that was patented long after it had really been ‘invented’:

Limited discrepancy search has been around since 1995 and occurs often in research (Google scholar is showing 465 references). It is a pretty simple idea: if you are doing a tree search and you have a good idea that, say, all the variables should be 1 (but might not be in the optimal solution), you first search the “all 1″ side of the branches, then try the “all 1 except one” then then “all 1 except two” and so on. Call it twenty lines of code to control the tree search in this manner. Seems like a reasonable approach, but patentable? You have got to be kidding!

[...]

Patents (and companies trying to enforce them) make creating open source software much, much more difficult. How many developers would know that if you embed a method from a 1995 paper in software, you may run afoul of a patent claim?

Patents exist to encourage innovation. The current system, with nonsense like this, serves only to stifle it.

“Inglourious Software Patents” is another good new post which goes around the Web at this moment. It says:

The patent system exists to provide an incentive for innovation where that incentive would not have existed otherwise.

Imagine you’re an individual living in the 19th century. Let’s say the patent system does not exist and you have an idea to make a radically better kind of sewing machine. If you invested the time to develop your idea into a working invention, the existing sewing machine companies would just steal your design and crush you in the marketplace. They have massive distribution and production advantages that you wouldn’t be able to compete with. You wouldn’t be able to monetize the initial investment you made into developing that invention. Therefore, you wouldn’t have invented the radically better sewing machine in the first place.

From this perspective, patents are actually a rather clever hack on society to encourage innovation. By excluding others from using your invention for a fixed amount of time, you get a temporary monopoly on your invention. This lets you monetize your invention which makes your initial investment worthwhile. This in turn benefits society as a whole, as now society has inventions that it wouldn’t have had otherwise.

[...]

Quite the opposite. Software startups are thriving nowadays in spite of software patents rather than because of them. Instead of helping startups get off the ground, patents are a cost. Startups must build “defensive patent portfolios” and worry about getting sued by patent trolls or businesses trying to entrench their position. Instead of patents being a protective shield for a startup, they’re instead a weapon that causes economic waste.

Vivek Wadhwa, consistently a critic of software patents despite having some which he now regrets [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] advises China not to compete on the basis of patents:

The Times quotes David J. Kappos, director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as saying that the leadership in China “knows that innovation is its future, the key to higher living standards and long-term growth. They are doing everything they can to drive innovation, and China’s patent strategy is part of that broader plan”. Kappos seems to believe that, with patents, China is unleashing a golden age of innovation.

Kappos is wrong.

The reality, as I explained in my BusinessWeek column China Could Game the U.S. in Intellectual Property, is that patents will neither make China more innovative nor benefit the global economy. Just as the vast majority of China’s academic papers are plagiarized or irrelevant, so will its government-sponsored patents be tainted. In contrast to the tiny proportion of Chinese academic papers that serve to expand the world’s knowledge base, however, Chinese patents will serve as land mines for foreign businesses. They will allow China to demand license fees from companies that do business there or to shut them out entirely. (And these will hurt China’s own startups.)

Kappos did not bring the change we had hoped for [1, 2, 3]. People who actually make products hope for change… real change. Is there a chance of In Re Bilski making a comeback in light of conflicts of interest?

Apparently two of the SCOTUS justices, Scalia and Thomas, were deeply involved in “conservative” (not sure what they are conserving but it’s not impartial justice) political events. That brings to mind how they ruled in Bilski. Did these two justices have a hidden agenda and should they have recused themselves or should they be impeached?

It’s too easy to find some reasons to sack a SCOTUS justice (e.g. Kagan for allegedly being gay). The problem is likely to be the USPTO, which is still run by people who simply treat is like business as opposed to an establishment dedicated to the goal improving innovation. The patent system has been hacked. It’s vulnerable and antiquated.

“People naively say to me, “If your program is innovative, then won’t you get the patent?” This question assumes that one product goes with one patent.” —Richard Stallman

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 24/10/2021: Ceph Boss Sage Weil Resigns and Many GPL Enforcement Stories

    Links for the day



  2. GAFAM-Funded NPR Reports That Facebook Let Millions of People Like Trump Flout the So-called Rules. Not Just “a Few”.

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  3. Some Memes About What Croatia Means to the European Patent Office

    Before we proceed to other countries in the region, let’s not forget or let’s immortalise the role played by Croatia in the EPO (memes are memorable)



  4. Gangster Culture in the EPO

    The EPO‘s Administrative Council was gamed by a gangster from Croatia; today we start the segment of the series which deals with the Balkan region



  5. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXI: The Balkan League – The Doyen and His “Protégée”

    The EPO‘s circle of corruption in the Balkan region will be the focus of today’s (and upcoming) coverage, showing some of the controversial enablers of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos, two deeply corrupt French officials who rapidly drive the Office into the ground for personal gain (at Europe’s expense!)



  6. Links 23/10/2021: FreeBSD 12.3 Beta, Wine 6.20, and NuTyX 21.10.0

    Links for the day



  7. IRC Proceedings: Friday, October 22, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, October 22, 2021



  8. [Meme] [Teaser] Crime Express

    The series about Battistelli's "Strike Regulations" (20 parts thus far) culminates as the next station is the Balkan region



  9. Links 23/10/2021: Star Labs/StarLite, Ventoy 1.0.56

    Links for the day



  10. Gemini on Sourcehut and Further Expansion of Gemini Space

    Gemini protocol is becoming a widely adopted de facto standard for many who want to de-clutter the Internet by moving away from the World Wide Web and HTML (nowadays plagued by JavaScript, CSS, and many bloated frameworks that spy)



  11. Unlawful Regimes Even Hungary and Poland Would Envy

    There’s plenty of news reports about Polish and Hungarian heads of states violating human rights, but never can one find criticism of the EPO’s management doing the same (the mainstream avoids this subject altogether); today we examine how that area of Europe voted on the illegal "Strike Regulations" of Benoît Battistelli



  12. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XX: The Visegrád Group

    The EPO‘s unlawful “Strike Regulations” (which helped Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos illegally crush or repress EPO staff) were supported by only one among 4 Visegrád delegates



  13. [Meme] IBM Has Paid ZDNet to Troll the Community

    Over the past few weeks ZDNet has constantly published courses with the word "master" in their headlines (we caught several examples; a few are shown above); years ago this was common, also in relation to IBM itself; clearly IBM thinks that the word is racially sensitive and offensive only when it's not IBM using the word and nowadays IBM pays ZDNet — sometimes proxying through the Linux Foundation — to relay this self-contradictory message whose objective is to shame programmers, Free software communities etc. (through guilt they can leverage more power and resort to projection tactics, sometimes outright slander which distracts)



  14. [Meme] ILO Designed to Fail: EPO Presidents Cannot be Held Accountable If ILOAT Takes Almost a Decade to Issue a Simple Ruling

    The recent ILOAT ruling (a trivial no-brainer) inadvertently reminds one of the severe weaknesses of ILOAT; what good is a system of accountability that issues rulings on decisions that are barely relevant anymore (or too late to correct)?



  15. Links 22/10/2021: Trump's AGPL Violations and Chrome 95 Released

    Links for the day



  16. [Meme] How Corporate Monopolies Demonise Critics of Their Technically and Legally Problematic 'Products'

    When the technical substance of some criticism stands (defensible based upon evidence), and is increasingly difficult to refute based on facts, make up some fictional issue — a straw man argument — and then respond to that phony issue based on no facts at all



  17. Links 22/10/2021: Global Encryption Day

    Links for the day



  18. [Meme] Speaking the Same Language

    Language inside the EPO is misleading. Francophones Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos casually misuse the word “social”.



  19. António Campinos Thinks Salary Reductions Months Before He Leaves is “Exceptional Social Gesture”

    Just as Benoît Battistelli had a profound misunderstanding of the concept of “social democracy” his mate seems to completely misunderstand what a “social gesture” is (should have asked his father)



  20. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 21, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 21, 2021



  21. Links 21/10/2021: MX Linux 21 and Git Contributors’ Summit in a Nutshell

    Links for the day



  22. [Meme] [Teaser] Miguel de Icaza on CEO of Microsoft GitHub

    Our ongoing series, which is very long, will shed much-needed light on GitHub and its goals (the dark side is a lot darker than people care to realise)



  23. Gemini Protocol and Gemini Space Are Not a Niche; for Techrights, Gemini Means Half a Million Page Requests a Month

    Techrights on gemini:// has become very big and we’ll soon regenerate all the pages (about 37,500 of them) to improve clarity, consistency, and general integrity



  24. 'Satellite States' of EPO Autocrats

    Today we look more closely at how Baltic states were rendered 'voting fodder' by large European states, looking to rubber-stamp new and oppressive measures which disempower the masses



  25. [Meme] Don't Mention 'Brexit' to Team UPC

    It seems perfectly clear that UPC cannot start, contrary to what the EPO‘s António Campinos told the Council last week (lying, as usual) and what the EPO insinuates in Twitter; in fact, a legal challenge to this should be almost trivial



  26. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IXX: The Baltic States

    How unlawful EPO rules were unsurprisingly supported by Benoît Battistelli‘s friends in Baltic states; António Campinos maintained those same unlawful rules and Baltic connections, in effect liaising with offices known for their corruption (convicted officials, too; they did not have diplomatic immunity, unlike Battistelli and Campinos)



  27. Links 21/10/2021: GIMP 2.99.8 Released, Hardware Shortages, Mozilla Crisis

    Links for the day



  28. How Oppressive Governments and Web Monopolists Might Try to Discourage Adoption of Internet Protocols Like Gemini

    Popular movements and even some courageous publications have long been subverted by demonisation tactics, splits along unrelated grounds (such as controversial politics) and — failing that — technical sabotage and censorship; one must familiarise oneself with commonly-recurring themes of social control by altercation



  29. [Meme] Strike Triangulations, Reception Issues

    Financial strangulations for Benoît Battistelli‘s unlawful “Strike Regulations”? The EPO will come to regret 2013…



  30. [Meme] Is Saying “No!” to Unlawful Proposals Considered “Impolite”?

    A ‘toxic mix’ of enablers and cowards (who won’t vote negatively on EPO proposals which they know to be unlawful) can serve to show that the EPO isn’t a “social democracy” as Benoît Battistelli liked to call it; it’s just a dictatorship, currently run by the son of a person who actually fought dictatorship


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts