Bonum Certa Men Certa

Clouding Abstract Software Patents Using Acronyms and Buzzwords

Summary: The practice of obscuring software patents using fashionable trends from the media carries on in Europe and the United States; the main question is, will judges and examiners see past this fog?

THE European Patent Office (EPO) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have got some overlap in the fashion in which they bypass the EPC and the SCOTUS Alice decision or 35 U.S.C. ۤ 101, respectively. The common denominator is marketing, buzzwords, and hype.



Recently we have been writing a great deal about how the EPO grants software patents in Europe in spite of the rules. Not only do courts say "no" to such patents; they're in violation of the EPC and management of the EPO should thus be reprimanded.

"The common denominator is marketing, buzzwords, and hype."A new EPO tweet said: "Today is the last day you can register for our Patenting #Blockchain event in The Hague."

Those are just algorithms. Over in the US, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) keeps demolishing such patents, sometimes when they're still mere applications. Exceptions to the rule are rare and Janal Kalis keeps looking for them; he has just found this one: "The PTAB Reversed an Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Claims for Video Content Networks: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017007967-10-31-2018-1 …"

"Over in the US, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) keeps demolishing such patents, sometimes when they're still mere applications."Also this one: "The PTAB Partially Reversed a 101 Rejection of Claims in a GE Patent Application for Monitoring Turbine Clearance: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2018002958-10-31-2018-1 …"

One can assume that in all other cases PTAB rejected a decision to grant or affirmed a rejection after an examiner had decided on the matter. Kalis, being a vocal patent maximalist, is looking for exceptions like the above.

How about the following tweet? "Not Surprisingly," it said, "there are more and more #patents filed around #AI. The numbers are even larger than those in this Wired article: Companies Rush to Patent AI Tech https://www.wired.com/story/despite-pledging-openness-companies-rush-to-patent-ai-tech/ …"

That's just because more people now label their stuff, especially in the context of patents -- in order to bypass Section 101 -- "AI". It's the same for "smart", "cloud" and other fluff du jour...

"...more people now label their stuff, especially in the context of patents -- in order to bypass Section 101 -- "AI"."And speaking of "AI", here is what the EPO has just advertised. It's an event that promotes illicit software patents (just calling them "AI") and it says: "Panellists at the EPO’s Patenting #ArtificialIntelligence conference identified three types of AI patenting. More on what they said here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents pic.twitter.com/1HbniC3Td1"

On the "AI" hype Benjamin Henrion (FFII) wrote: "That means they can pay for lobbyists and lawyers to push lawmakers or courts to support their favored approach - which seems to be making all kinds of AI techniques broadly patentable."

It should be noted that patents on software are generally rejected almost worldwide; such patents are de facto dead everywhere but China, where even courts would likely accept these. Chinese patent law is different. As PCK Perry + Currier Inc Currier + Kao LLP put it earlier this week, in Canada a new "case serves as a reminder for patentees that abstract ideas are not patentable." Just like in the US down south...

"It should be noted that patents on software are generally rejected almost worldwide; such patents are de facto dead everywhere but China, where even courts would likely accept these."Michael Borella, also writing earlier this week, was promoting patents on software again. "For the majority of the existence of computers," he wrote, "programmers wrote functions that were designed to take some input and produce a desired output. Machine learning inverts this paradigm."

This is not true. They train classifiers, don't write code. There's code, written by humans, that uses data to make decisions. When people with no clue or experience in programming (let alone particular disciplines or areas of software development) write about software patents it's bound to get embarrassing, misleading, i.e. pure propaganda. Such patents are abstract and are thus to be invalidated by courts, no matter what you call them (ML boils down to statistics/mathematics).

"Well, "ICT" is another one of those buzzwords that typically allude to software."Of course we could go on and on with other new acronyms and buzzwords; the EPO recently made up or brought up "SDV". Yes, then there are all those abstract patents or bogus software patents "on a car". The EPO wrote: "At the EPO, about half of the top 25 patent applicants for self-driving vehicle innovation operate in ICT, and the other half in transportation or related industries."

Well, "ICT" is another one of those buzzwords that typically allude to software.

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