Bonum Certa Men Certa

Courts Are Being Showered With Motions to Invalidate Software Patents, Former USPTO Officials Like Kappos and Stoll in a Panic

Officials-turned-lobbyists freak out as courts finally do something to combat USPTO greed

Heritage Foundation and Robert L. Stoll



Summary: Representatives of large corporations' interests, who used to actually hold key positions at the USPTO, are not particularly happy about the avalanche of software patents (slipping down the cliff)

Another death of software patents (in the US) was recently reported, but not much media attention has been paid to it. That's pretty much what we expect when the media is controlled or steered by particular interests. It should be noted that software patents are dying in bulk in the US and the 'mess' this creates (more requests for invalidation) clogs up the system. As Law 360 put it the other day:



Three federal judges from California and Delaware speaking Tuesday at a symposium to honor retiring U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice ruling, saying it has spurred hundreds of patent invalidity motions in their districts, and its two-part test for analyzing patent validity is too subjective.


As a proponent of software patents put it, "Fed. Judges Report that Their Dockets Are Clogged by 101/Alice; Test Too Subjective to Use..." (that latter part is made up, it's not even in the headline or the article, at least outside the paywall).

"Don't think that lobbyists and think tanks of large corporations will just stay idle and watch this without a reaction."What's worth emphasising, verbatim from the above, is: "hundreds of patent invalidity motions in their districts" (good news!)

Don't think that lobbyists and think tanks of large corporations will just stay idle and watch this without a reaction. Watch how in the David Kappos years patent quality in the USPTO sank to gutter level (we wrote about this many times before). This new chart speaks for itself. "In the end," remarks the author, "the Patent Office was able to ramp-up production enough to end FY2016 with the most utility patents issued in any fiscal year in history – 304,500 utility patents!"

What they mean by "production" is what Battistelli means by production. It's a distortion of the whole patent system for the sake of short-term profit gains. Battistelli basically repeats the mistakes of Kappos, who is nowadays a paid lobbyist for software patents. "In Europe" according to IAM, "they have not degraded patents like in the US, says Kappos #LESAM16"

Actually, they are now. Battistelli fancies himself another Kappos. As Benjamin Henrion said in response, "he means corrupt and malicious EPO still grants software patents?"

Well, it has certainly gotten there. Insiders told us this too.

"Don't let the USPTO decide on patent scope."So while the US moves away from software patents, having ejected this disaster who was David Kappos, Europe under Battistelli turns patent examination into a production line with minimal quality control -- the very thing that the US Government Accountability Office recently warned about.

According to this very recent post, Kappos took his lobbying to AIPLA and "Director Lee is likely nearing the end of her term as USPTO Director." Here is the part which mentions Kappos: "USPTO Director Michelle Lee offered a set of Remarks at the October 28, 2016 AIPLA Luncheon. As a presidential appointee, Director Lee is likely nearing the end of her term as USPTO Director. Although the likely election of fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton suggests a smooth transition that could extend her term beyond January 2017, I expect that she will step-down prior to that point and that Deputy Director Russ Slifer will step-up as Acting Director."

According to this post from IAM, the USPTO improves patent quality somewhat (Mayo/Alice) and associated fees go up. A sign of improvement to come? Here is how Patently-O put it:

From the USPTO: The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that as part of its effort to solicit input from the public regarding the legal contours of patent subject matter eligibility, it will be holding two roundtables, one in November and one in December.

“In recent years, the jurisprudence on the very basic issue of what is patent eligible subject matter has been evolving requiring adjustments by innovators, businesses, lower courts and administrative agencies such as the USPTO,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Michelle K. Lee. “Our goal is to minimize any uncertainty in the patent system by ensuring we not only continue to apply the statute and case law in this area as faithfully as possible, but also understand the impact of the jurisprudence on innovation by assessing what, if any, changes might be helpful to further support innovation.”


Don't let the USPTO decide on patent scope. It's not their job and they are biased because more patents mean job security for them, at the expense of the public that's attacked by patent trolls and taxed at every corner by low-quality patents. As a cautionary tale look at the EPO.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street media gives a platform to the former USPTO patent commissioner -- a broad platform in which to promote patent maximalism, as usual. Here is what Robert L. Stoll wrote earlier this month:

In conclusion, after a long spell of bad news, Planet Blue—along with decisions like Bascom and Enfish—provides software innovators, applicants and owners with not only increased clarity, but also concrete evidence that the courts are working to address the challenges arising from the Alice test and that we're not headed for a software patent apocalypse (as some have claimed).

I, for one, remain optimistic that the courts and PTO are fully committed to a healthy patent system and will continue working to resolve the remaining issues around patent eligibility and to ensure that effective patent protection is available to innovations in software (and every other field of technology).


Why does Stoll call the end of software patents "bad news"? Is he -- like Kappos -- a former USPTO official that's now de facto lobbyist on patent scope, where the goal is just maximising everything with little or no regard to public interests? See our previous article, the one about Stoll's meddling in policy.

For those who may be wondering about Intellectual Ventures v Symantec, it will be the subject of our next few posts (later tonight). It's a game changer that may have really heralded the very irreversible death of software patents in the US.

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