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Blockchain Hype Exploited by the EPO and by Patent Law Firms to Wrongly Assert Free/Libre Software Can Coexist With Software Patents

Summary: Managing IP and 'Software IP' (IAM) among other think tanks of patent trolls and litigators continue to advance a toxic agenda while the EPO openly and endlessly promotes software patents under the guise of blockchain "innovation"

THE management of the USPTO has been receiving backlash recently. Blockchain, AI and other media buzz get used to grant software patents. A lot of people aren't happy about it. Soon, to make matters potentially worse, IBM will take over Red Hat. IBM is a strong proponent of software patents.



Last week Red Hat's McBride was quoted as saying: "we have been very single minded about patents - we don't see any value in them other than the deterrent impact they have..."

But that does not deter patent trolls. In fact, it doesn't really accomplish anything.

Will things improve/change for the better any time soon? That depends. In a sense, things improved a little when Microsoft left only its patent trolls to do the battles. Microsoft will not refrain from lobbying for software patents and it still pursues some of its own (there's a new article right now about "virtual keyboard methods for Xbox and touch" -- another patent from Microsoft).

The way we see it, there's a battle between the litigation 'industry' (or 'in-house' legal teams at large corporations) and geeks who actually write code and make things. The former group is trying to justify its existence and for that there's a constant need for litigation (like weapons makers rely on perpetual war/conflict).

"In-house counsel from confectionery, biopharmaceutical, telecommunications, technology, plastics and medical research companies explain how they’re measuring patent worth to find cost-saving wins," this article from a site of the litigation 'industry' (Managing IP) wrote some days ago. Extortion "on a budget"? This is a truly sick 'industry' of litigation and threats and what "cost-saving wins" means is neither cost-saving nor a win.

"AMERICAS Thirteen practitioners from McKool Smith have established a litigation boutique called Reichman Jorgensen with offices in Silicon Valley, Atlanta and New York," Managing IP wrote around the same time. These vultures and parasites call their extortion rackets "boutiques"; McKool Smith represents a lot of patent trolls.

It has meanwhile emerged that there's another AIPLA echo chamber lobbying event. It calls for software patents because greedy lawyers want lots of frivolous lawsuits to profit from at geeks' expense. Ellie Mertens (Managing IP) wrote:

The software patent eligibility situation in the US is “a really high fence” that requires some sparkle to pass while the European test is drier

The software patent eligibility situation in the US is "a really high fence," said Sarah Knight of Talem IP in a panel at the AIPLA Annual Meeting last week, "when it should be just a threshold."


Managing IP is on the same bandwagon; just look at who sponsors Managing IP. The same goes for IAM, which ran a pro-software patents event last week. In their own words: "First session of day at our #softwareIP event focusing on patentability of software globally with great panel comprising USPTO, Amadeus, Facebook, Alibaba, Lung Tin IP and Haseltine Lake [...] Jean-Francois Cases of Amadeus - 10/15 years ago it was impossible to get a software patent granted in Japan, now it’s one of easiest jurisdictions. For us right now India is hardest place to get a software patent..."

More so than Europe.

The corrupt EPO has made software patents far too easy to get. Blockchain patents (software patents) are outside the scope of European patent law, but today's EPO routinely ignores and violates the law anyway. Here is what the EPO wrote before the weekend: "#Blockchain technology is not without controversy. You can discuss patenting it with patent specialists and blockchain professionals at this #conference: http://bit.ly/EPOblockchain18 "

The EPO is nowadays plagued with nepotism and rapidly-declining patent quality; its founding document (EPC), European authorities and the rule of law are routinely spat at. Even insiders notice. They write about it. They sign petitions.

Even outsides complain: "Dear @EPOorg – blockchains are not device, they're not software. "𝘉𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘯" 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳 𝘴𝘶𝘣𝘴𝘦𝘵 (merkle trees) 𝘰𝘧 𝒑𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒉! There's no software involved, it doesn't require computers. Pen & paper works too..."

Yes, blockchains aren't exactly new; few people understand the underlying concepts and the EPO exploits that. Here again the EPO is promoting software patents ever so shamelessly. That's just merkle trees: "What are the main challenges in patenting #blockchain & its applications? Experts will discuss that and their solutions at this event we're co-hosting with @GoI_MeitY: http://bit.ly/indoeur pic.twitter.com/hZjqGCr4Sn"

The mentions of blockchains are endless at the EPO. Here again the EPO does it: "Are you involved in #patents and #blockchain developments? Then this is the event to attend!"

The management of the EPO does not understand blockchains (the people at the top are not scientists and they were selected for nepotism); it got a lot worse under António Campinos, who is merely a quieter version of Battistelli.

IAM wrote: "Amadeus's Cases - in Europe our experience is that once an examiner has made up their mind on an application it's very hard to change it..."

Examiners at the EPO simply lack the time to properly assess applications. We know it because they say so, usually anonymously.

Notice what the EPO wrote some days ago: "Elke von Brevern, PCT Expert at the EPO, and Richard Garvey, Key Account Manager at the EPO, will tell you how you yourself can make the PCT system more efficient. Join them in Washington..."

And Houston, Texas. Yes, also in Texas, where many law firms work with patent trolls. Notice what the EPO has turned into and who it's attempting to appeal to. Where next? Dallas? This latest roundup from "Dallas Invents" contains a lot of software patents (also creepy ones like "Apparatus and method for deploying an implantable device within the body").

Today's EPO is very much on board with patent trolls' agenda and IAM's too. Citing Alibaba's Roger Shang, IAM wrote about software patents again; "we don't see a contradiction between open source and patents," Shang is quoted as saying. That's a lie.

Alibaba was also mentioned a few days ago in relation to patents on blockchains, not in China (where software patents are permitted) but in the US. "Alibaba Files Patent For Blockchain System," says the headline. So these ridiculous software patents from China have spread to the West with Campinos and Iancu eager to allow software patents. From the article: "Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a blockchain based system that allows a third party administrator to intervene in a smart contract in case of illegal activities. The USPTO published the patent application on October. 4, 2018."

Alibaba Group is a big "client" to the USPTO, so we won't be surprised to see such patent applications accepted. Doubling down on the lie above, days ago we saw a new article titled "10 Things to Know About The Intersection of Blockchain Technology, Open Source Software, and Patents". Complete nonsense right from the get-go or the headline, courtesy of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. Blockchain patents are fake patents that would be rejected by courts and these patents are clearly not compatible with the distribution model of Free/Open Source software. The article says: "This set of issues is important now because blockchain technology is on the verge of mainstream commercialization and much of it relies on open source software. As with any technology where there is rapid innovation, the number of patents being filed and obtained is increasing. The interplay between patents and open source is often confused. The recent changes to the scope of patentable subject matter under U. S. patent laws have created uncertainty over what is patentable. This is particularly true with respect to blockchain-based inventions and how innovations in this space are disrupting business processes."

This is misleading because those things (what they call "blockchain-based inventions") have always been around to some degree. Terminology may have changed, but like "cloud" there's a hype explosion and it's mostly associated with a word, not substance. These patent law firms are trying to destroy software development and they're misleading people by saying software patents are OK if you say "blockchain". Mind this days-old spammy press release, published under the headline "Can You Patent the Blockchain if it is Open Source?"

The actual text starts under "Why Businesses using Blockchain Technology are Filing for patents and Other Useful Info about Software Patents" (after that they merely promote their services). We're assuming that they hope people may search the Web, perhaps searching for "Blockchain" and "Open Source", then give them a call.

Here's another new one: "10 Lessons On Blockchain And Open-Source Licenses"

So says Law 360's James Gatto and the patent 'industry' when they try to impose software patents on Free/Open source developers, mainly by using hype waves. "On their own," Gatto says, "blockchain technology, open-source software and patents each present legal issues that are often complex and frequently misunderstood. When combined, the complexity and misunderstandings of these three topics are..."

The only real connection between these three is that a lot of code associated with blockchains is Free/libre software and companies try to take control by claiming monopolies on the algorithms -- something which they should not do.

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