04.03.16

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Patents Roundup: More on Patent Shakedowns, IBM Rejoins the Shakedowns Club With Software Patents, China Worries About Patent Certainty (Too Low a Standard)

Posted in America, Asia, IBM, Patents at 2:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The digital version of a protection racket.”

“Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too. [and also] Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy. [...] Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.” [...] Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. “We’re happy to get you under license.” That was code for “We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download” – the digital version of a protection racket.”

Jonathan I. Schwartz, Sun

Summary: Patent news from the United States and new input from China, where there is growing concern about the scope of patents and certainty that granted patents are in fact valid and enforceable (except using shakedowns for ‘protection money’ or secret settlements)

Patent Litigation Costs and Exploitation Thereof

A lot of firms in the US, primarily but not only patent trolls, take advantage of the high cost of patent lawsuits and basically try to settle with victims (prospective defendants). This is a form of ‘protection money’ strategy, akin to racketeering or extortion. Even the copyright field/domain now tends to have such parasites, often referred to as “copyright trolls” (a relatively new term, coined only a few years ago). Watch this new article (or blog post) which states: “Most patent holders would agree that licensing patents for revenue has gone from bad to awful — from difficult less than a decade ago, to virtually impossible today.”

“This is a form of ‘protection money’ strategy, akin to racketeering or extortion.”This article actually bemoans this, as if more ‘protection money’ is a good thing. What this article’s referrer calls “patent industry” is actually a shakedown industry. “Obstacles to innovation” is just gobbledygook intended to make it sound as though innovation and patents are synonymous and interchangeable. Watch this tweet that says “Rather gloomy article on the state of the patent industry and obstacles to innovation” (nothing to do with innovation).

Remarking on this article, Julian wrote: “What an awful article. It refuses to admit that trolls are a problem, sees no flaw in the idea that litigation should be easy. It also believes patents should be “in the middle.” No. Patents exist for public good. There is no “middle.””

IBM Now Acting Like a Patent Troll (Microsoft’s Anti-Linux Strategy)

IBM now does to the Internet what Microsoft has been doing to Linux.

“IBM now does to the Internet what Microsoft has been doing to Linux.”As noted here yesterday, IBM continues to extort companies with software patents it has amassed like an arsenal (by the thousands per year), and this time it’s Priceline facing the firing line. J Nicholas Gross, “Berkeley IP Law Master” by his own description, wrote that “if IBM cant stop patent infringers who can? Priceline “refused to engage in any meaningful discussion on merits” [meaning agree to pay for software patents that are unproven in court, only in the biased and increasingly reckless USPTO]”

“So basically, IBM is now on a warpath of patent extortion using software patents (amid many IBM layoffs).”Here is an article about it which says: “A federal judge has denied several travel and reservation websites’ objections to a report and recommendation that International Business Machines’ patent infringement lawsuit against them should proceed.”

So basically, IBM is now on a warpath of patent extortion using software patents (amid many IBM layoffs). Just like Microsoft. And we’re supposed to actually trust IBM’s OIN? It’s not even so effective. Here comes a new red herring from IBM’s patents chief, who pretends that the only alternative is having no patents at all; well, almost nobody suggests abolishing the whole thing, just software patents. How nice of Manny Schecter to mislead people like this, even with false dichotomies. IBM is becoming increasingly shameless about its patent aggression, even aggression using software patents, i.e. patents that are dubious anyway. Schecter spends too much time hanging out with patent maximalists like Gene Quinn and it truly shows. IBM becomes more like IAM. As the latest figures from Bliski Blog help show, a lot of software patents are still being ruled invalid by US courts. To quote the latest from Bliski Blog (second article in 2 days, which is rare as there are only about a dozen posts per year): “March 2016 is the first month since Alice was decided that the number of decisions upholding patents (15) exceed the number of invalidating decisions (12). However, this is not a sea change. Rather, it’s an artifact of the data: on March 22, 2016, Judge Robinson (D. Del.) released four decisions denying motions to dismiss that had been pending for many months. The clustering of these four decisions spiked the numbers. More important is that underlying trend of invalidating decisions continues upwards.”

“It’s rather disappointing to find that China and the US moved closer into alignment when it comes to patents.”Tell that to IBM. It’s now that confidence in software patents is on the decline (like the number of IBM employees) that IBM chooses to attack perfectly legitimate companies using patent lawsuits.

“Supreme Court vacate Alice patent decision,” as the author of Bliski Blog (Robert Sachs) put it, and “UPSTO reacts” (we covered this before).

China

China’s own Supreme Court (Supreme People’s Court) has meanwhile remarked as follows, based on the USITO: “On March 22, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) issued a new legal interpretation that will impact patent infringement case resolution. The policy, called the “Interpretation of Several Issues Concerning the Trial of Patent Infringement Dispute Cases (II)” (henceforth “Interpretation II”), will be implemented beginning on April 1.”

“Low-quality patents for the sake of quantity take their toll.”One of the points made there is: “With the compromise interpretation principle, strengthen functions in the publicity and delimitation of claims and increase the certainty of the scope of patent protection” (something which decreased in the US following Alice).

It’s rather disappointing to find that China and the US moved closer into alignment when it comes to patents. They basically patent just about everything under the Sun (or the Dragon) and now there’s low confidence that patents will actually endure in the courts. Low-quality patents for the sake of quantity take their toll.

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