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Patents Roundup: Peer-to-Patent Annual Report; FFII, FSFE and IBM Weigh in

Summary: A large load of patent news of importance

THIS is a long roundup of patent news, with the usual focus on software patents.

Peer-to-Patent's Take



As we noted in an update the other day, Peer-to-Patent had not shut down. In fact, Peer-to-Patent has just released its 2nd annual report and they mailed us an update:

We are proud to announce that Peer-to-Patent, recognized by the White House Open Government Initiative as an innovative social networking program, successfully completed its second year. To celebrate this occasion, the Center for Patent Innovations at New York Law School has today released the Second Annual Report.

The report illustrates the growth that Peer-to-Patent underwent from the first year and details the results from the second year of public collaboration in the patent examination process. As a baseline, the first year data showed that an open network of reviewers could improve the quality of information available to patent examiners by producing relevant prior art for the claimed invention. The second year data, expanded on these results by illustrating that Peer-to-Patent reviewers possessed the time and motivation to voluntarily participate as a community in reviewing more patent applications covering broader subject matter. Most notably, reviewer dedication to the project grew as the project expanded.

This culmination of the second year is bitter sweet for us at Peer-to-Patent. While Peer-to-Patent gained governmental, national and international notoriety, the USPTO has chosen not to extend the program beyond June 15, 2009, so that they can evaluate the program's success and assess it's future. In the meantime, we will continue to review applications submitted before June 15th. We hope that further review of the Second Anniversary Report will provide proof that Citizen Experts are ready to participate in the Open Government Initiative.

To view this report in its entirety, please visit: http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent/CPI_P2P_Year... [PDF]

To view the NYLS press release, please visit: http://www.nyls.edu/news_and_events/releases/pee...


FFII's Take



The FFII is still trying to reform the system in favor of the Digital Majority.

On the other hand we have the maximalists, such as this. FFII's president says that "Peter Messerli is vice-President of the EPO and member of the EPOorg EBA." How can it be both? As Henrion puts it, "where is the [separation] of powers?"

Moreover, based on the same Web site (subscription required), "Microsoft [is] behind the Stockholm Network biased index." That's what Henrion claims anyway. He also shows another attempt to push software patents into Europe (Goteborg). "New round table titled "Software patents as a business opportunity" on September 9th at CIP FORUM 2009," he notes. The original says: "#CF09 New round table titled "Software patents as a business opportunity" on September 9th at CIP FORUM 2009: The Future of Innovation."

Vigilance is important here.

FSFE's Take



The FSFE's founder and former leader visited an event where General Electric (GE), an advocate (with Microsoft) of software patents in Europe, got quoted extensively. When GE does not complain about patent trolls it seems very busy acting as a maximalist. It uses patents as monopoly enforcers.

Georg writes:

[1]

'#WIPOGC: GE: "All of you who believe in the IP system as I do." That seems to summarise the issue of faith based policy setting well.'

[2]

'#WIPOGC: General Electrics counsel http://2tu.us/k6q: If there were compulsory licensing for green technologies it would reduce investment.'

[3]

'#WIPOGC: GE: Spent 50m USD on hydrogen engine problem to get patents. They failed. So how did patents help? And they won't recoup elsewhere?'

Also from the same event and person:

'#WIPOGC: Johnsons claim: No cost to the "IPR system." As a physicist I am astonished by the invention of the perpetuum mobile by economists.'

Glyn Moody shares this article about GE and intellectual monopolies.

Moody also posted a series of short articles where he is blasting these intellectual monopolies. Among the latest: "What Are Intellectual Monopolies For?"

If you still doubted that intellectual monopolies are in part a neo-colonialist plot to ensure the continuing dominance of Western nations...

[...]

We can't possibly have dveloping countries protecting their traditional medicine and national lore - "genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore" - from being taken and patented by the Western world. After all, companies in the latter have an inalienable right to turn a profit by licensing that same traditional knowledge it back to the countries it was stolen from (this has already happened). That's what intellectual monopolies are for.


Here is what the FSFE wrote on the subject:

On 'Intellectual Property' and Indigenous Peoples



[...]

Consequently the monopolising system is breaking the bond of solidarity, sharing and communication connecting all of humankind. To the Indigenous Peoples it means their language, rituals and heritage will be in danger of becoming extinct along with the last generation that grew up with them.

So in a perfectly working system and world, the price to pay for such expansion of monopolies may be nothing less than the cultural identity of the Indigenous Peoples.


Also, there is this long analysis, which highlights some countries that are negatively affected (exploited and oppressed by intellectual monopolies)

At the heart of the discussion lay a proposal by the African Group which called for the IGC to submit a text to the 2011 General Assembly containing “a/(n) international legally binding instrument/instruments” to protect traditional cultural expressions (folklore), traditional knowledge and genetic resources. Inextricably linked to the legally binding instruments were the African Group’s demands for “text-based negotiations” with clear “timeframes” for the proposed program of work. This proposal garnered broad support among a group of developing countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Fiji, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Yemen India, Peru, Guatemala, China, Nepal and Azerbaijan. Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan co-sponsored the African Group proposal.


Patent Critique from Glyn Moody



Few journalists are as vocally opposed to intellectual monopolies as Moody is. Earlier this week, in Twitter, he wrote: "Agreed competition is healthy, but don't think patents do anything to promote that, because monopolies aren't helpful"

Here is another batch of new blog posts from him. It's succinct and punctual.

i. Are Patents Intellectual Monopolies? You Decide

Talking of intellectual monopolies, you may wonder why I use this term (well, if you've been reading this blog for long, you probably don't.) But in any case, here's an excellent exposition as to why, yes, patents are indeed monopolies...


ii. Batik-Makers Say 'Tidak' to Copyright

Interestingly, this is very close to the situation for software. The batik motifs correspond to sub-routines: both are part of the commons that everyone draws upon; copyrighting those patterns is as counter-productive as patenting subroutines, since it makes further creation almost impossible without "infringement". This reduces the overall creativity - precisely the opposite effect that intellectual monopolists claim.


IBM's Take



Bob Sutor, the IBM 'Linux' Vice President, writes to say: "With Microsoft making promises about Mono, they should pledge that they will not assert their necessary patents against the Linux kernel"

We meanwhile find out that IBM is being sued for patent infringement by patent troll Mosaid.

Patent licensing firm Mosaid Technologies Inc said on Monday it was taking IBM to court for allegedly infringing on six of Mosaid's U.S. patents.

Mosaid said the long-running dispute was over IBM's making and selling of microprocessor and application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) products.


IBM played a role in the Bilski test, which it is claimed to be wholly behind, but the above appears to be more hardware oriented, so Bilski killing software patents might not be of use in this particular case. Here is the official press release where In Re Bilski's role in squashing a software patent gets a mention:

DealerTrack Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRAK), a leading provider of on-demand software and data solutions for the U.S. automotive retail industry, today announced an update regarding its patent infringement litigation against RouteOne LLC and Finance Express LLC.

[...]

DealerTrack also has pending patent applications in the United States Patent and Trademark Office that would not be impacted by the Bilski decision.


Patent Lies



Maximalists continue spreading their lies about software patents. Here they are fraudulently using Google's name to claim that Google wants software patents:

Software Patent Supporter Tries To Pretend Google Harmed Without Software Patents



There's a somewhat bizarre and ethically questionable post up on the usually excellent Patently-O blog, hyping up the fact that Google may lose its patent on PageRank (which Google only holds a license to, since Stanford actually owns it). First off, this isn't new or particularly surprising. It's talking about the upcoming decision on the Bilski case, which we've discussed at length. The decision could impact all software patents, and the author is merely using the Google name to get extra attention.


Patently-O had some decent posts in the past, so it will be losing some big points over this. Here is another short article about the perceived value of patents:

Often, the value of a patent is not publicly known because parties often settle matters out of court. Other times, the value of a patent becomes abundantly clear after a blockbuster court case. For example, a jury yesterday awarded nearly $1.7 billion to Johnson & Johnson, whose patent the jury determined was infringed by Abbott Laboratories' drug, Humira. Abbott Labs plans to appeal the verdict.


Watch how MPEG-2 claims credit for lowering prices rather than freeing people's own content, which they helplessly store in patents-encumbered formats. They don't even understand that they do this.

The MPEG LA, the organization in charge of handing out MPEG patent licenses, said that it will drop the fees for “essential” MPEG-2 patents beginning next year.


Go Away, Daddy



GoDaddy manages our 3 domain names (not my choice), but it is a greedy company that participates in the software patents mess. Here it is doing it again:

Go Daddy Group Inc. has filed a patent for a method of selling equity in domain names and protecting the domain names in which the equity is issued.


This would not be an isolated case because years ago GoDaddy was accused of going on a "patent-filing binge". From the older article: "One interesting application will allow [...] GoDaddy to ping customer’s computers with alerts..."

How innovative.

Patent Trolls



The father of patent trolls, Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], is finally losing his mojo. Had Niro lost all of his junk patents, maybe he would make a living suing some more bloggers who tell the truth about his unethical business practices.

Lawyer Raymond Niro, for whom the term "patent troll" was apparently first coined, has been known to use the fact that he represents a company called Global Patent Holdings (GPH) to his advantage. GPH owns patent 5,253,341, but looking at it there won't do much good. You see, Niro and others claimed that the patent covered pretty much anyone running a web server, leading to quite a few legal battles, including one against a guy, Greg Aharonian, who called it a "bad patent." For claiming that, he got sued for patent infringement. In fighting the patent, it was re-examined, and all 16 of its claims were rejected... but a 17th claim was added and allowed to stand.


Here is another new article which is titled "The Patent Troll".

Spangenberg predicts a day when corporations and trolls will live in relative harmony. He estimates that in the near future, litigation will be taken out of the patent equation, and people will buy and sell intellectual property in a way similar to the method now used to buy and sell works of art: auctions with built-in criteria to determine value.

He explains: “The courts are intermediaries for patents right now, and the courts are extremely inefficient. Patents will trade as a commodity in the next five to six years, and what I do won’t even exist.


Wallclimber told us that "the guy predicts that someday patents and "IP" will be traded like commodities, bought and sold on the market." This sounds like the vision of Microsoft's chief patent troll, who says that "Intellectual property is the next software." These would be the words of Nathan Myhrvold.

Microsoft and Other Patent Abusers



Nathan Myhrvold's buddy Bill Gates is also totally and insanely obsessed with patents, based on this new interview where he says that "We're going to make the cows that don't fart." No kidding. Read the transcripts below.

And you've been doing some stuff with Intellectual Ventures. I know every time you show up on a patent application that, folks get interested in what you're looking at, whether it's stopping hurricanes, or beer kegs, or what-have-you. Gates: That's right. We're going to make the cows that don't fart. You name it, we've got it under control.

That's been really exciting to take this idea of gathering top scientists from a broad set of areas and think about problems that can be solved. And in the case of the foundation, you know, Nathan (Myhrvold) has used that ability to convene great scientists to look at things like how do you deliver vaccines without having to use as many refrigerators, or how do you pasteurize milk in a better way, some very interesting things. And then I also sit down with that group when they're looking at their rich world applications, including things around energy, and one of those has actually led to creating a company called TerraPower, which is focused on a new, very radically improved nuclear power plant design, which is a hard thing to get done, but extremely valuable if it comes through.


The last time we we wrote about Bill Gates and his patent-trolling firm [1, 2, 3] was four days ago. As part of a broad new strategy, he tries to monetise life and death using patents. He already does that with drug patents that he financially supports. He is well positioned behind the the pharmaceutical cartel. For more information, see:



The EU is finally calling pharmaceutical patents anti-competitive and an antitrust action gets launched. How does Bill Gates always manage to find himself doing anti-competitive things and ending up with antitrust scrutiny?

EU Finds Anti-Competitive Abuse Of Pharmaceutical Patents, Launches Antitrust Action



[...]

Pharmaceutical companies are manipulating the intellectual property rights system and are “actively trying to delay the entry of generic medicines onto their markets,” a top EU official said of an EU inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector released Wednesday. As a result, there has been a decline in the number of innovative medicines getting to the market, it says.


For older information from the press, see:



The short story is that Gates was repeatedly accused of monopolising drug research. He is accused by several prominent people like the chief of malaria at the World Health Organization (WHO). Why does the press not cover this sufficiently? Notice how the EU official talks about business (and uses business terms) to justify antitrust action, but nothing is said about ethics and the loss of lives. It's business as usual.

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