06.20.15

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After Alice Case ‘Judges Invalidated Patents Wholesale’

Posted in America, Patents at 5:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wonderland may be on the horizon now

Alice in Wonderland

Summary: Courts in the United States are rapidly eliminating many software patents, but the media, (mis)informed by patent lawyers and other patent practitioners, is slow to report it if it ever reports this at all

PatentBuddy says that “ABA [American Bar Association] Alice Task Force found that Dist. Ct. judges invalidated patents wholesale, citing Alice, without any evidence, 66% of time.” Separately it claims that “ABA Post Alice Task Force Found that USPTO Rejections of Claims under 101/Alice Relied upon Boilerplate only, no evidence, 64% of time.”

Whichever figure is taken (with a grain of salt of course), it is clear that a lot of software patents are being invalidated and patent lawyers (and by extension barristers or judges) are expectedly worried. Lawyers are trying to discredit courts’ decisions to invalidate software patents because it’s basically their livelihood — preying on programmers who are actually creating something, not just printing lots of pages and fighting in courts or sending threatening letters at the rate of approximately $300 per hour.

“Whichever figure is taken (with a grain of salt of course), it is clear that a lot of software patents are being invalidated and patent lawyers are expectedly worried.”PatentBuddy also shares this PDF and writes that this is “Amicus Brief in Support of Ultramercial’s Petition to S.Ct. Seeking 101 Clarity Post Alice” (for the uninitiated, 101/Alice alludes to invalidation based on how abstract a patent is).

Techrights is of course delighted to see some software patents diminishing in the US, for their demise in the US might, in turn, lead to their global demise (even in Japan and maybe China).

Scott Graham, a writer for The Recorder, says that the “Federal Circuit Tightens Squeeze on Software Patents”. He writes (behind a paywall of some esoteric kind): “En banc ruling Tuesday in ‘Williamson v. Citrix’ means more patents will be subject to statutory requirements for means-plus-function claims.”

This is again good news, especially coming from the Federal Circuit despite its notorious biases.

Obviously, software patents are still celebrated in the corporate media. Even the so-called ‘Guardian’ does it. Language of lawyers can be found in Science Magazine (behind paywall), saying that “IBN has generated more than 300 patents, 80 licenses” (as if patents are “generated” and licences are “generated”), but we have come to expect that from media that large corporations are controlling, irrespective of what courts are ruling. Here is a prominent blog of patent lawyers speaking about patents being sold like a commodity, sometimes to trolls (at the behest of corporations even). It says: “The chart above shows the percentage of U.S. patents issued to Inventors and not (reportedly) assigned to any organization or government. The data comes from the PTO. While this chart shows a dramatic drop, the actual number of inventor-owned patents has stayed relatively stable over the past decade — the dropping percentage is due more to a rise in the number of patents granted to corporate owners. The drop here does not necessarily mean that independent inventors are being squeezed-out — just that the rise in patent grants is not due to independent inventors.”

The term “independent inventors” is in itself a form of propaganda. It seeks to promote the old myth that patents exist to protect the “small guys” rather than massive corporations with a gigantic library — perhaps weighing at millions of pages — of patent monopolies (to be wielded like a weapon).

All in all, things appear to be improving with each ruling on software patents in the US. Don’t expect patent lawyers to acknowledge that. It would be like Microsoft publicly stating that proprietary software is doomed.

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