04.06.17

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At the Courts, Another Reminder of PTAB’s Importance and Ericsson’s War (via Patent Trolls) Against Linux and Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ericsson is a patent troll by proxy

Ericsson troll

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is grappling with dubious patents that Ericsson’s patent troll is using against GNU/Linux/Android while this troll continues to taunt and pursue ‘protection’ money from various large Android OEMs, including the largest one (Huawei)

PTAB is an essential ‘tool’ for eliminating bad patents and patent trolls. It can stop them before they even initiate a lawsuit, sometimes before they even make a threat thereof.

“PTAB basically applies the law and does so in an affordable fashion which is thus accessible to small(er) companies.”Google’s petition against Unwired Planet’s patents, as we covered here recently, is an example of this. Unwired Planet is nothing but a troll, and this troll is directly being armed by Ericsson — a company whose aggressive patent strategy IAM has been repeatedly grooming in recent weeks. Here, in this new IAM article, IAM continues to protest against PTAB. “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board,” IAM writes, “has allowed Shire to cancel all claims instituted for inter partes review except for one multiple dependent claim that was amended to depend on only non-instituted claims”

In another new article, IAM’s Richard Lloyd uses talking points from Martin M Zoltick and Derek F Dahlgren from Rothwell Figg; Finnegan’s Jason Stach and Joshua Goldberg; and Scott McKeown from Oblon. They are, as usual, bashing PTAB, which they view as an obstruction to patent maximalism. “Since its establishment in 2012,” Lloyd says, “the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has reshaped the US patent litigation landscape. Whether you think it is helping to improve patent quality or killing IP rights, there is no doubt that the changes have been profound…”

Yes, and yet, it's under persistent attack/scrutiny from 'Establishment' microcosm like Crouch. They want to stop PTAB and thus empower patent aggression, trolling, etc. There’s no secret about that. They’re hardly even hiding these desires.

In the latest bit from Crouch, which is as usual about PTAB, he writes: “The most interesting aspects of the decision are found under the surprising heading: Prior Judicial Opinions Did Not Bind the PTAB. When taken out-of-context, we can all agree that the statement is silly and wrong. The PTAB is obviously bound by Supreme Court and other precedent.”

“We certainly hope that, especially at this point, Google will appeal and repeal (or invalidate) all of Unwired Planet’s patents.”“The PTAB is obviously bound by Supreme Court and other precedent.”

Well, yes. PTAB basically applies the law and does so in an affordable fashion which is thus accessible to small(er) companies. It’s not surprising that proponents of trolls hate PTAB so much. Trolls rely on being able to go after vulnerable companies one by one and blackmailing them in isolation. PTAB potentially puts that at risk. Moreover, trolls prefer going after Android OEMs rather than after Google itself because the OEMs have less financial incentive to fight back (a costly process); in some rare cases, for this very reason, Google actually helped particular OEMs by buying patents and passing these to the vulnerable OEMs for legal defence, e.g. against Microsoft and Apple.

Going back to our original point about Google’s use of PTAB against the troll (Unwired Planet), see what we wrote about it earlier this week and just over a week ago.

James Nurton, who habitually produces EPO puff pieces, suggested in his latest report that Unwired Planet keeps rolling and trolling Android (Linux) though he did not mention the Ericsson connection (which is rather obvious) and the implications for GNU/Linux. “Unwired Planet,” he wrote, “did not abuse its dominant position by seeking to enforce standard-essential patents against Huawei, and is entitled to damages and possibly an injunction, Mr Justice Birss of the UK Patents Court has ruled…”

This also mentions “the manufacturers Huawei, Samsung and Google.” We are not going to resort to judge bashing (that’s what Watchtroll likes to do) but instead we shall concentrate on the role of Unwired Planet, a satellite of Ericsson.

“Sadly, however, Ericsson has created trolls/proxies other than Unwired Planet and they too are running after legitimate companies all around the world — a strategy now shared by Microsoft.”The Bristows lobbyist quoted the judge as saying: “I have found to be FRAND, and since Unwired Planet are not in breach of competition law, a final injunction to restrain infringement of these two patents by Huawei should be granted.”

We certainly hope that, especially at this point, Google will appeal and repeal (or invalidate) all of Unwired Planet’s patents. It’s a monumental task. It has not much to sue Unwired Planet over because unlike Unwired Planet’s ‘feeder’ (Ericsson) it has no products. Sadly, however, Ericsson has created trolls/proxies other than Unwired Planet and they too are running after legitimate companies all around the world — a strategy now shared by Microsoft.

None of this spurs innovation. It’s more like legalised extortion by losers (those who lost the race on purely technical grounds). As GNU/Linux grows in prominence and dominance we should expect the losing firms (Apple, Microsoft, Ericsson, Nokia and so on) to do nothing but attack with patents, significantly raising the prices of everything and thus harming end users. It’s the hidden cost of public apathy.

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