06.14.18

Gemini version available ♊︎

Google Gets Told Off — Even by the Typically Supportive EFF and TechDirt — Over Patenting of Software

Posted in America, EFF, Europe, Google, Patents at 2:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jarek Duda
Source: Jarek Duda’s homepage

Summary: The EFF’s Daniel Nazer, as well as TechDirt’s founder Mike Masnick, won’t tolerate Google’s misuse of Jarek Duda’s work; the USPTO should generally reject all applications for software patents — something which a former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO seems to be accepting now (that such patents have no potency after Alice)

THE EPO is not allowed to grant ‘pure’ software patents; the USPTO, if it was to fully embrace Alice, would not permit this either. In practice, however, they nowadays rely on buzzwords, as we shall explain in the next post. To bring up again an example that we mentioned the other day, Uber is trying to call software patents something “AI”, basically patenting bogus, abstract ideas (courts would definitely reject these).

“The Supreme Court no doubt ‘upsets’ the status quo and pisses off the patent maximalists, but that’s just the law.”The term “AI” comes from CNN, which has just published “Uber wants to patent a way to use AI to identify drunk passengers” (AOL went with another kind of headline). Still just a patent application, CNN says that “[t]he patent application describes a system that learns how you typically use the Uber app, so that it can identify unusual behavior. The system relies on an algorithm to weigh a variety of factors, including typos, how precisely a user clicks on links and buttons, walking speed, and how long it takes to request a ride. The time of day, and where a ride is requested may also be considered.”

Of course this should be rejected. The Supreme Court no doubt ‘upsets’ the status quo and pisses off the patent maximalists, but that’s just the law. Robert Stoll, a former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO, now admits (implicitly) that software patents are pretty much ‘dead’ in the US and trade secrets should be pursued instead. Have such patents outlived their usefulness? His summary at Watchtroll says: “Innovative algorithms and even diagnostic methods may be easier and more effectively protected by trade secret. Trade secret protection avoids the uncertainty of compliance with the vague patentability standard set forth by the Supreme Court.”

Coming from a patent maximalist like Stoll, this is pretty significant. These people have seemingly given up. Almost.

It is good to see that EFF staff is nowadays speaking explicitly about “software patents” rather than just “bad patents” (or equally vague terms). Mr. Nazer has just noted: “In an important sense, this is the story of just about every software patent. Almost all of them take the form: Use [existing hardware] and [known software methods and techniques] to get a [fairly unexceptional result]. [] When IBM is getting 9,000 freaking patents every year, and Google and Microsoft are getting 2,500 each, they are filing applications for every trivial little thing they do.”

Well, IBM acts like a patent troll and Microsoft keeps feeding patent trolls whilst also using software patents to blackmail GNU/Linux companies (an extortion racket). Google being mentioned there is noteworthy and we’ll explain why in just a moment.

Historically we have been relatively sympathetic towards Linux-powered products such as Android. We openly supported these products knowing that these had been subjected to Microsoft’s blackmail. This had an impact on both GNU and Linux (and beyond).

Some hours ago, in writing about Space Data Corporation v Alphabet, Inc. and Google LLC, the Docket Navigator revealed that Google seemingly suspects that it is being sued by proxy (maybe by Microsoft). We say Microsoft because we already have extensive evidence that Microsoft does such things, e.g. the SCO lawsuit. Might a company like Microsoft be funding these lawsuits against Google and Android? We know for sure that Microsoft has been feeding patents into the mouths of patent trolls which go after Android OEMs. “The court denied defendants’ motion to compel additional discovery regarding plaintiff’s litigation funding because defendants failed to establish relevance or proportionality,” says the Docket Report. Who does Google suspect to be the financier of Space Data Corporation’s litigation campaign? We don’t know. But does Google deserve full sympathy? Well, not anymore.

The EFF’s Daniel Nazer mentioned the situation we covered earlier this week. He wrote that “Google’s ANS patent only stands out because the real inventor of ANS took every step he could to ensure that the new compression algorithm would truly belong to the public.”

“And he also approached the media,” I told Nazer, “myself included…”

Nazer highlighted “Google’s response: “but we are applying the technique to video” might not impress a talented computer scientist like Jarek Duda. But arguments like that prevail at the USPTO all the time.”

The USTPO profits from issuing lots of bogus patents that courts would invalidate later (if the defendant/IPR filer can afford it). This really ought to stop. Google itself ought to stop as well. TechDirt has just published a complaint about this as well, including this preceding background:

For the most part, Google has actually been one of the good guys on patent issues. Unlike some other Silicon Valley companies, Google has long resisted using its patents to go after others, instead only using the patents defensively. It has also fought for patent reform and experimented with new models to keep its own patents out of the hands of patent trolls. But it’s been involved in an ongoing fight to patent something that an earlier inventor deliberately released into the public domain, and it reflects incredibly poorly on Google to keep fighting for this.

A Polish professor, Jarek Duda, came up with a new compression technique known as asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) years back, and decided to release it to the public domain, rather than lock it up. ANS has turned out to be rather important, and lots of companies have made use of it. Last summer, Duda noticed that Google appeared to be trying to patent the idea both in the US and around the globe.

Tragically, this happened just weeks after Duda had called out other attempts to patent parts of ANS, and specifically said he hoped that companies “like Google” would stand up and fight against such attempts. Three weeks later he became aware of Google’s initial patent attempt and noted “now I understand why there was no feedback” on his request to have companies like Google fight back against attempts to patent ANS. In that same thread, he details how there is nothing new in that patent, and calls it “completely ridiculous.” Despite noting that he can’t afford to hire a patent lawyer, he’s been trying to get patent offices to reject this patent, wasting a bunch of time and effort.

The bottom line is, irrespective of Google’s disgusting behaviour, the USPTO should stop tolerating software patents. These have caused misery and brought about nothing but agony. The Supreme Court made it rather clear that no such patents should be granted anymore (assuming that the patent office does not wish to grant patents courts would later reject). So one might say that the real problem here boils down to the patent office, which Google simply seeks to game/exploit. Like many other companies do…

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 4/12/2021: Gedit Plans and More

    Links for the day



  2. Links 4/12/2021: Turnip Becomes Vulkan 1.1 Conformant

    Links for the day



  3. IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 03, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, December 03, 2021



  4. Links 4/12/2021: EndeavourOS Atlantis, Krita 5.0.0 Beta 5, Istio 1.11.5, and Wine 6.23; International Day Against DRM (IDAD) on December 10th

    Links for the day



  5. Another Gemini Milestone: 1,500 Active Capsules

    This page from Balázs Botond plots a graph, based on these statistics that now (as of minutes ago) say: “We successfully connected recently to 1500 of them.” Less than a fortnight ago more than 1,800 capsules overall were registered by Lupa, almost quadrupling in a single year



  6. [Meme] António Campinos and Socialist Posturing

    Staff of the EPO isn’t as gullible as António Campinos needs it to be



  7. António Campinos as EPO President is Considered Worse Than Benoît Battistelli (in Some Regards) After 3.5 Years in Europe's Second-Largest Institution

    The EPO's demise at the hands of people who don't understand patents and don't care what the EPO exists for is a real crisis which European media is unwilling to even speak about; today we share some internal publications and comment on them



  8. Media Coverage for Sale

    Today we're highlighting a couple of new examples (there are many other examples which can be found any day of the year) demonstrating that the World Wide Web is like a corporate spamfarm in "news" clothing



  9. Links 3/12/2021: GNU Poke 1.4 and KDDockWidgets 1.5.0

    Links for the day



  10. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 02, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 02, 2021



  11. Links 3/12/2021: Nitrux 1.7.1 and Xen 4.16 Released

    Links for the day



  12. Links 2/12/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.4 Alpha, Qt Creator 6

    Links for the day



  13. The EPO's “Gender Awareness Report”

    There’s a new document with remarks by the EPO’s staff representatives and it concerns opportunities for women at the EPO — a longstanding issue



  14. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 01, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 01, 2021



  15. EPO Staff Committee Compares the Tactics of António Campinos to Benoît Battistelli's

    The Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO talks about EPO President António Campinos, arguing that “he seems to subscribe to the Manichean view, introduced by Mr Battistelli…”



  16. Prof. Thomas Jaeger in GRUR: Unified Patent Court (UPC) “Incompatible With EU Law“

    The truth remains unquestionable and the law remains unchanged; Team UPC is living in another universe, unable to accept that what it is scheming will inevitably face high-level legal challenges (shall that become necessary) and it will lose because the facts are all still the same



  17. Links 1/12/2021: LibrePlanet CFS Extended to December 15th and DB Comparer for PostgreSQL Reaches 5.0

    Links for the day



  18. EPO Cannot and Will Not Self-Regulate

    The term financialisation helps describe some of the activities of the EPO in recent years; see Wikipedia on financialisation below



  19. [Meme] Germany's Licence to Break the Law

    Remember that the young Campinos asked dad for his immunity after he had gotten drunk and crashed the car; maybe the EPO should stop giving diplomatic immunity to people, seeing what criminals (e.g. Benoît Battistelli) this attracts; the German government is destroying its image (and the EU’s) by fostering such corruption, wrongly believing that it’s worth it because of Eurozone domination for patents/litigation



  20. EPO Dislikes Science and Scientists

    The EPO's management has become like a corrupt political party with blind faith in money and monopolies (or monopoly money); it has lost sight of its original goals and at this moment it serves to exacerbate an awful pandemic, as the video above explains



  21. Links 1/12/2021: LibreOffice 7.3 Beta, Krita 5.0, Julia 1.7

    Links for the day



  22. Links 1/12/2021: NixOS 21.11 Released

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, November 30, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, November 30, 2021



  24. Links 1/12/2021: Tux Paint 0.9.27 and WordPress 5.9 Beta

    Links for the day



  25. [Meme] EPO Administrative Council Believing EPO-Bribed 'Media' (IAM Still Shilling and Lying for Cash)

    IAM continues to do what brings money from EPO management and Team UPC, never mind if it is being disputed by the patent examiners themselves



  26. The EPO's Mythical “Gap” Has Been Found and It's Bonuses for People Who Use Pure Fiction to Steal From Patent Examiners

    The phony president who has the audacity to claim there's a budget gap is issuing millions of euros for his enablers to enjoy; weeks ahead of the next meeting of national delegates the Central Staff Committee (CSC) tells them: "Events show that the delegations’ concerns about functional allowances have materialised. The lack of transparency and inflation of the budget envelope gives rise to the suspicion that high management is pursuing a policy of self-service at the expense of EPO staff, which is difficult to reconcile with the Office’s claimed cost-saving policy, and to the detriment of the whole Organisation."



  27. Video: Making the Internet a Better Place for People, Not Megacorporations

    Following that earlier list of suggested improvements for a freedom-respecting Internet, here's a video and outline



  28. Links 30/11/2021: KDE Plasma 5.23.4, 4MLinux 38.0, Long GitHub Downtime, and Microsoft's CEO Selling Away Shares

    Links for the day



  29. A Concise Manifesto For Freedom-Respecting Internet

    An informal list of considerations to make when reshaping the Internet to better serve people, not a few corporations that are mostly military contractors subsidised by the American taxpayers



  30. Freenode.net Becomes a 'Reddit Clone' and Freenode IRC is Back to Old Configurations After Flushing Down Decades' Worth of User/Channel Data and Locking/Shutting Out Longtime Users

    Freenode is having another go; after “chits” and “jobs” (among many other ideas) have clearly failed, and following the change of daemon (resulting in massive loss of data and even security issues associated with impersonation) as well as pointless rebrand as “Joseon”, the domain Freenode.net becomes something completely different and the IRC network reopens to all


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts