08.08.16

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Software Patents Not Potent in the United States Anymore, But Threat of Resurgence Persists Inside CAFC

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 3:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Judge Raymond Chen has a track record of resisting § 101

Raymond T. Chen

Summary: The perception of correlation between the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) judge that is assigned to a software patent/s case and the outcome of the case gives room for speculation

THERE is a lot to be celebrated now that the USPTO hardly accepts (abstract) software patent applications and even when it does, boards or courts will overrule it down the road. We fought for this for over a decade and after Alice it gradually became a reality, lowering the overall number of patent lawsuits and patent trolls, as expected. The EPO currently moves in the opposite direction, due to its misguided President. As Benjamin Henrion put it yesterday, in relation to the UPC with its bogus 'expert' teams, “software dev[elopment] does not need patents. UPC is a back door.”

The US Supreme Court has not dealt with the subject of software patenting for several years, but the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) deals with it all the time and usually, in about 90% of cases, accepts the Alice ruling and tosses away software patents. It is worth keeping track of who inside CAFC has a track record of not obeying Alice and in fact defying/rejecting it. This subject is hardly explored anywhere. In his latest article about CAFC, for example, Professor Crouch focuses on Halo, Pulse, and Seagate in relation to willful infringement claims, which is another subject altogether, namely damages.

“In order to keep software patents at bay (and away) we need to at least name the judges.”Daniel Cole, a patent attorney with Bold IP, worries about Alice and says that “Removing Section 101 Won’t be Enough” (to restore software patenting). This was published yesterday (as in every Sunday) in the pro-software patents site of Watchtroll. Well, software patent proponents want it all and they know how they can get it, if only opponents of software patents don’t remain vigilant. “If section 101 of the patent act,” he explains, “is removed the Supreme Court is extremely likely to simply continue to rely on those two precedents and continue to find abstract ideas and natural phenomena unpatentable. As the “broad language” of section 101 would also be removed the Supreme Court might even assume congress is giving it broad authority to enact further limitations on patentability.”

Brian Watkins, in the mean time tells me that “[i]n real life, on the other hand, the CAFC—especially J Chen—is halfway to overturning Alice.” He added [1, 2] “DDR Holdings: copying color code out of HTML file is patent-eligible. Bascom: running IPtables on remote host eligible. The two biggest steps on the road to overturning Alice and Bilski and returning to State Street Bank, both by Chen.”

The Enfish judgment, by contrast, he says is “[b]y Hughes w/ Moore, Taranto on panel.”

Citing Watchtroll, a vocal proponent of software patents, he says the article “lays out exactly how the trolls are overturning Alice step by step.”

This is worth noting perhaps, and better late than never, as we never really bothered checking who issued which CAFC ruling/s and what the patterns of outcomes were. In order to keep software patents at bay (and away) we need to at least name the judges. In the past, specifically inside CAFC, some judges were crooked and were working closely with outside interests. Randall Ray Rader is a recent example which we mentioned here many times before. Watchtroll already has a ‘thing’ for Mr. Chen (4 out of the top 6 search results are Watchtroll articles; see for example Google images search).

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