01.29.15

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Corporate Media, Led Astray by Patent Lawyers, Continues to Distort the Reality of Software Patents Post-Alice

Posted in America, Patents at 5:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Alice

Summary: The press of the rich and the powerful continues its attempt to preserve software patents, despite the US Supreme Court’s decision to abolish a lot of them on the basis of abstraction

LAST WEEK we wrote about corporate media lionising IBM for a hoard of patents. IBM is now preparing to lay off over 100,000 workers, demonstrating that its patent strategy does very little for staff; it’s about protectionism and potentially bullying of rivals (something that IBM isn’t foreign to). Forbes relays Cringely’s remarks that over 100,000 people are to be laid off (Cringely warned about this in his blog and foresaw it for years, based on unnamed sources), but watch this new propaganda piece from the plutocrats’ media, USA Today (owned and run by very rich people). It conflates patents with innovation. It is rather telling as it shows gross distortion of the truth. We have become accustomed to this. Whether the authors are willingly or unwillingly dumb (i.e. pushing agenda and misleading readers) is the only unknown. It is well known that patents are not a measure of innovation but mostly a function of paperwork.

Techrights has spent over 8 years and wrote thousands of posts debunking patent myths, but nonetheless, the myths live on and propagate. Earlier this week we saw the ‘patent industry’ shoving press releases into various sites to rewrite Alice history (watch as others are shamelessly exploiting a dead black man for patent PR) and we continue to see lawyers’ Web sites teaching patent lawyers tricks for bypassing patent law, essentially ignoring even Court rulings (from the highest court) to continue doing whatever it wants, all in the name of profit. It is not a sole example. Over the past week we found many other examples that dominate news about software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and do little more than discredit the Court’s decision, acting as though all software patents are still fine and dandy. The patent lawyers who engage in this propaganda/marketing campaign are basically misleading potential clients. The truth of the matter is, courts in the US invalidate and throw out patent lawsuits where the patents are shallow and merely relate to abstract ideas. Patent lawyers prefer to only cover cases where software patents somehow survive a court’s scrutiny, as we have demonstrated in recent months. Lies by omission? You bet.

Days ago we found this article titled “Software, the Supreme Court, and 3D Printing: Why You Should Care About Alice v. CLS Bank”. Here is a key part: “Software—some mundane, some truly ingenious—runs the printers, scanners, and files that power 3D printing. In the past, inventors and technology owners could comfortably look to patent law to protect the proprietary advantage software inventions gave. But with its June 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, some say that the U.S. Supreme Court fundamentally changed the rules for software patentability. Since Alice, some believe that courts around the country have been on a software patent killing spree. Because of the large role software plays in 3D printing, those with a stake in the technology need to understand Alice—and the strategies that exist to get around it.”

While it is acknowledged that things have changed, it serves to legitimise those who want to “get around” the rules (i.e. cheat). Watch vocal boosters of software patents providing tips on how to cheat (or fool) the system. They also try to give a false impression that software patents are thriving. One statement being made therein: “Software and method patents may appear to have fallen out of favor because of recent court decisions and legislation. However, recent trends indicate that they comprise surprisingly high portions of four US companies’ recent grants.” Well, that’s not the point. The point is, the USPTO has become more strict and more importantly the courts (where real tests of validity are put forth) do not honour software patents much of the time. The author is of course being selective (two companies only, Microsoft and Google) to support a bogus hypothesis, putting aside the fact that he chose two companies that increasingly turn to patents as their business strategy. One uses them offensively (Microsoft), whereas the other turns to them mostly for defensively purposes (because Microsoft is attacking it with patents).

Companies like Microsoft, which resort to patent abuse and aggression because the monopoly is quickly crumbling, are bound to lose a lot because of the Alice ruling. Patent lawyers too are bound to lose from a sobering society that knows the limits of patenting.

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