Bonum Certa Men Certa

USPTO: Eliminating Young Companies While Defending Abuse by Giants

Demands for a patent system reform are very loud nowadays. To pick some headlines and stories from yesterday:

Google: Kill all the patent trolls



So, even a company that has begun thriving in search-related patents is getting fed up.

Google's head of patents believes the U.S. patent system is "in crisis".


RealNetworks Case Highlights Sea-Change In Patent Law



Once again, we see the KSR decision coming into play.

"I can tell you that as a result of the KSR decision, we are receiving new training to determine how we process patent applications," Locker said. "Right now it's an open question as to how it will impact us. But it very well may mean that it will be a lot tougher for people to get patents."


Microsoft and Xen and Patent Leadership



This one comes from a consultant who denounced Microsoft's "patent terrorism".

A quick check of the USPTO patent database can give us a initial inexact feel for the space:

  • Patents with VMWare as the assignee (22)
  • Patents with Microsoft as the assignee (7117)
  • Patents with Microsoft as the assignee and containing "virtualization" (20)
  • Patents with Advanced Micro Devices and containing "virtualization" (4)
  • Patents with International Business Machines and containing "virtualization" (130) !!!
  • Patents with SWSoft as assignee and containing "virtualization" (2)
  • Patents with SWSoft as assignee [SWSoft makes Parallels] (6)
  • Patents with Intel as assignee and containing "virtualization" (100)


[...]

To date their competitors keep rolling positional hand grenades out into the field and the Microsoft legal team feels obliged to leap on every one of them. Mention the GPL and the Microsoft legal team runs screaming with their hair ON FIRE (to borrow a phrase from Eben Moglen's great Ubuntu Live keynote.)


Advertising that is relevant to a person - classic case of patent trolling



Microsoft is always a step ahead when it comes to abusing the patent system.

Patent application Advertising that is relevant to a person just filed by Microsoft is a splendid example of patent abuse or patent trolling.


Is the U.S. patent system in crisis? Apple, Google patent czars disagree



As I've always suspected, Apple is not so different from Microsoft when it comes to habits which defend dominance.

Chip Lutton, Apple chief patent counsel, said at a conference at Stanford University that the United States patent system is not broken and he's not sure there's a crisis.


Time Warner and IBM Enter Patent Cross-License Agreement



IBM is no angel either, but what else would you expect from large and long-established companies?

Patent cross-licenses support one of the basic reasons for granting patents -- sharing information about new inventions -- and give companies greater freedom to innovate.


What freedom to innovate? Every startup is scared. This is nothing but a system that discourages competition and gives rise to an oligopoly. Just to illustrate this point, here is some older (and highly disturbing) news where a report gets 'hijacked' by large companies.

A report published by an EU task force on intellectual property claims that small businesses benefit from a patent system, despite lacking almost any participation by the small business community.

Instead, the report, titled IPR (intellectual property rights) for competitiveness and innovation, was written up almost entirely by large corporations and the patent industry.

[...]

The report does note objections from the likes of patentfrei.de and Sun Microsystems, which were recorded at some length in the report. But this does not appear to have impacted the conclusion of the report in any way

[...]

Jean-Pierre Laisne, of ObjectWeb, an open source software community, said that he found the report useless: participants were told that all their contributions would be recorded but at the end only those of Business Software Alliance and Microsoft were used.

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