07.26.18

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Microsoft Patent Trolls and IBM Against 35 U.S.C. § 101 and for Software Patents, Blackmail

Posted in America, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 12:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They hardly even manage to keep it a secret any longer

Telling secrets

Summary: With the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 gaining traction and with Section 101 limiting the scope of patents in the United States we now see increased lobbying and trolling by companies on the decline — companies whose last remaining ‘asset’ is a large pile of software patents

THE enforcement of software patents has become very hard in the US. Many no longer bother with it, so litigation numbers dropped sharply. This is a positive development; unless or except for those who make a living from litigation (patent trolls, lawyers and so on).

“Copyrights do a good enough job protecting one’s code from misuse.”Our latest post on trade secrets certainly was a celebration of the shift away from patents, at least for software. Copyrights do a good enough job protecting one’s code from misuse. Here is some mainstream media coverage about this trend:

Trade secrets claims are an increasingly common avenue companies are using to safeguard their intellectual property rights.

Trade secrets litigation has grown as the digital age has made sharing information quick and easy. In addition, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, passed in 2016, raised trade secrets from simply a state law claim to a federal one.

“Intellectual property holders are increasingly aware they have this tool in their arsenal,” Michael W. De Vries, with Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Los Angeles, told Bloomberg Law. De Vries has substantial experience representing clients in complex intellectual property disputes including patent litigation and litigation involving misappropriation of trade secrets.

We’ve already seen this law being used/leveraged in the context of software. One famous case concerns Sergey Aleynikov.

“Call these “AI” or “cloud” or “blockchain” or whatever, but these are still software patents and even holders of such patents know they’d be rendered invalid by courts (if brought into the context of litigation).”In the wake of Section 101 with Alice (SCOTUS) embodied in it we’re seeing a fall in success rates of software patent litigation. Call these “AI” or “cloud” or “blockchain” or whatever, but these are still software patents and even holders of such patents know they’d be rendered invalid by courts (if brought into the context of litigation). Here comes Stephen O’Neal (yesterday in a blockchain-oriented/cryptocurrency-centric site) ‘blockchain-washing’ a bunch of software patents. To quote:

Last week, news of at least three major players applying for blockchain-related patents emerged: Bank of America sought to legally protect its blockchain-based system allowing the external validation of data, Barclays filed two patent applications relating to the transfer of digital currency and blockchain data storage, while MasterCard’s application mentioned a form of a public blockchain-based method for linking assets between blockchain and fiat accounts.

As blockchain technology continues to be one of the most discussed things in 2018 and a subject for mass adoption, the number of crypto-related patents is steadily growing — and with patent trolls joining the game, a legal war over blockchain might occur in the future.

There are indeed “patent trolls joining the game,” but they too must know that those are software patents and therefore Alice is a threat to them. If they target (engage in extortion against) small companies, they will likely be able to avoid a legal battle. Other than that, they can hope and pray that Alice will just miraculously vanish. IBM lobbyists together with IPO have been working towards that for years; they have created a whole “task force” for this purpose, accompanying IBM’s massive war of patent aggression. IBM’s latest case of patent blackmail has been going public (due to a lawsuit). They do this to probably hundreds of firms behind closed doors and Bloomberg did a report about it last week, as did many other press outlets. Last week we saw IBM’s patent chief (Manny Schecter) associating with and contributing to Watchtroll again. Citing Watchtroll about Mayo/Section 101, he said: “The Court in Alice did not state what “something more” might be? Of course they didn’t. The Court declined to define “abstract” so how can one know what is significantly more than something as yet unidentified?”

“Algorithms are abstract,” I told him. Software patents “are therefore over [and IBM] needs to learn to deal with it and stop blackmailing the whole world.”

“It’s worth noting that both IBM and Microsoft not only attempt to leverage software patents for extortion; they also attempt to change the law to facilitate this massive (multi-billion) extortion racket.”As we noted here in the recent and distant past, Microsoft now pretends that it “loves Linux”, so Microsoft has ‘outsourced’ patent litigation against GNU/Linux to various patent trolls.

We’ve just noticed that there’s this Section 101 (35 U.S.C. § 101) case between Interval Licensing LLC and AOL (maybe the same “Interval” as Interval Research Corporation, the creation of Microsoft’s co-founder; according to Wikipedia they overlap). It’s a Federal Circuit (CAFC) case which Patent Docs covered earlier this week:

Interval Licensing brought an action against AOL and several other defendants in the Western District of Washington, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652. In a previous ruling, all asserted claims of this patent were invalidated as being indefinite. At issue in this decision are claims 15-18, which were subsequently ruled invalid for failing to recite patent-eligibile subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

[...]

Applying step one of Alice, the Court quickly concluded that the claimed invention was directed to “providing information to a person without interfering with the person’s primary activity.” This, in and of itself, is an abstract idea according to the Court due to it being analogous to news tickers on television programs, for example. The Court also frowned upon the claim’s “broad, result-oriented” structure that “demands the production of a desired result (non-interfering display of two information sets) without any limitation on how to produce that result.”

So Alice stopped this Microsoft-connected troll, which previously also attacked Android. It’s worth noting that both IBM and Microsoft not only attempt to leverage software patents for extortion; they also attempt to change the law to facilitate this massive (multi-billion) extortion racket.

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