EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.10.10

Patents Roundup: Lawyer Takeover, Failed Reform, and Policy Laundering With ACTA

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 3:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brussels
Brussels, Belgium

Summary: What the latest news tells us about the use of law — not improved products — to compete in the market

THIS post mostly looks at policy-making around software patents, which are being used by Apple and by Microsoft at the moment in order to stifle their "most potent operating system competitor". That would be Linux, sometimes with GNU. The issue of software patents is far more important than GNU/Linux-oriented Web sites typically indicate.

Question of Bias

The EPO nominates some people for what it calls “European Inventor Award 2010″.

Twelve candidates from nine countries are competing this year for the European Inventor Award 2010, a highly regarded innovation prize presented annually by the EPO together with the European Commission.

The prize, which is purely symbolic and involves no material recompense, is awarded in four categories: Lifetime achievement, Industry, SMEs/research and Non-European countries. The four winners will be chosen by a high-ranking international jury and will be presented with their prizes by EPO President Alison Brimelow in Madrid on 28 April 2010.

Professor Peter Landrock is in that list and it may all seem fine, except for the fact that the president of the FFII points out that the “EPO [is] nominating a software patent proponent and enforcer [by] the name of Peter Landrock (Cryptomathic)”

“FairSoftware is not a software company. The name is deceiving.”This page says: “We have invested heavily in secure, mobile signature solutions based on two-factor authentication which offer high security as well as ease and convenience to the end-user. Our approach is based on research and development carried out over many years, and we feel strongly that we deserve fair acknowledgement from companies and organisations using our patented technology,” said Professor Peter Landrock, Executive Chairman of the Board of Cryptomathic. “This core technology contributed to Cryptomathic earning a nomination as one of the 40 most innovative companies in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2003. We prefer to resolve such issues through commercial discussions without litigation but have so far been unsuccessful with BBS. Hence we are left with no alternative but to file suit.”

So, it’s another one of those European supporters of software patents. There are also people such as this guy, who describes himself as “the founder of FairSoftware, a venture dedicated to helping entrepreneurs find co-founders for their web or iPhone app.”

FairSoftware is not a software company. The name is deceiving. The company strongly promotes software patents.

Here is something from the news which reminds us that lawyers — not engineers — favour software patents (the more, the merrier to them because it means legal business).

Kimberlee Weatherall, who teaches intellectual property law at the University of Queensland, puts the controversial issue of software patents into perspective.

Here is the new perspective of a software developer:

I’ve considered the arguments by Stallman, John Gruber, and Tim Bray on software patents, and I side with Stallman in that software patents are inherently problematic and are a net loss for society.

The major difference in their arguments is that, while all three mention the realities and dysfunctions of the patent system, Stallman focuses strongly on the difference between what it’s intended to do and what actually happens. He also illustrates the reality of trying to develop any nontrivial software in a patent-filled landscape.

[...]

As a working software developer, the thought of accidentally and unknowingly stumbling into someone’s patent is terrifying. There’s no question that it has hurt our industry in the past and will continue to artificially restrict progress indefinitely, and there’s little convincing evidence that the supposed benefits exist in practice at a large enough scale to maintain the status quo.

Reform

Patent reform in the United States is a subject that we wrote about some days ago [1, 2]. Basically, those in control of the system do not want to truly fix this system. From Senate.gov we now have “Leahy, Sessions, Hatch, Schumer, Kyl, Kaufman Unveil Details Of Patent Reform Agreement”:

WASHINGTON – Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday announced details of an agreement on long-pending legislation to make needed reforms to the nation’s patent system.

This is the third consecutive Congress in which Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the panel, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a former committee chair, have introduced patent reform legislation. A bipartisan majority of the Committee advanced the legislation last April. In the months since, Leahy, Hatch, and Senators Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the Committee’s ranking Republican, and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) have continued to work toward an agreement to make the legislation ready for Senate consideration.

“[The] US Patent Reform [is] promoting cheap patents,” argues the president of the FFII, “good rebate for patent trolls, 75% price reduction.” It sure seems reasonable to argue that the patent reform is a lost cause. Those in control of this system are mostly lawyers, not engineers. According to this patent lawyer blog (floridapatentlawyerblog.com), software patents are still (currently) allowed, even post-Bilski.

In one of its last decisions of today, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) reversed a Patent Examiner’s 35 U.S.C. §101 non-statutory subject matter rejection of a key Invatron Systems invention. As a Miami Patent Attorney, this case was interesting because I haven’t seen any BPAI decisions regarding 35 U.S.C. §101, much less a decision that invokes Bilski, in a while.

At issue was an Invatron Systems claim pertaining to a scale for weighing items, wherein the scale included a computer that performed a series of steps, such as providing a coupon. The Examiner found the claims recite a method of purely mental steps, not tied to another statutory class. The Appellants contended the claimed method recites steps including providing a coupon to the customer and that these steps cannot be performed purely mentally since there is no way to provide a coupon without the coupon being physically inputted into the weigh station display.

[...]

As such, claim 17 required a specific structure that captures, stores, and displays specific data. This specific structure ties the recited method to a particular machine, in that the method recites how to operate a weigh station with a weigh station display. Since there is a particular machine required, claim 17 satisfies the machine prong of the machine-or-transformation test and the transformation prong need not be evaluated.

[...]

The lesson learned in this case is that although a claim may not explicitly and positively recite a structural element, the claim may require a specific structure to perform the steps of the claim. If that structure satisfies the machine prong of the machine-or-transformation test, an Examiner’s 35 U.S.C. §101 non-statutory subject matter rejection may be reversed under Bilski.

ACTA

The ACTA encompasses patents, as we last showed about a week ago. It’s just policy laundering for the big companies. The “European Parliament reserves its right to challenge ACTA in front of the European Court of Justice,” shows the FFII’s president, who also found out that “DeGucht tries to keep the European Parliament happy on ACTA” [1, 2]. He cites this article from IP Watch about ACTA. Check out the following part:

IIPA drew commentary from internet rights groups and open source software proponents by saying that government procurement policies encouraging or mandating the use of open source software were akin to piracy. The IIPA suggested Brazil, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam be put on USTR watch lists for policies favouring open source software, saying it limited the ability of proprietary software to compete.

Philip Morris said the increasing number of countries proposing to adopt plain packaging for cigarettes, or having heath warnings covering more than 50 percent of cigarette packaging is worrisome, as it might infringe trademark rights, and encourage “illicit trade in tobacco products.” The cigarette maker called for their IP rights to be protected and enforced in a number of countries, arguing that “these initiatives, which are not based on any solid scientific evidence that they contribute to legitimate public health objectives, would effectively constitute an expropriation of some of the world’s most valuable trademarks without the payment of adequate compensation to manufacturers.”

The Free Software Foundation called for an end to digital rights management software, which they said prevents users from freely enjoying their purchases and are almost always incompatible with free software.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said that IP rights were wrongly considered to be mainly the concern of sectors such as pharmaceuticals, software, and entertainment. International counterfeiting and piracy is a “mainstream and Main Street issue for US manufacturers,” they said. The specific focus of NAM in 2010 is “four Cs”: counterfeiting, customs, cooperation internationally and China.

Agricultural technology company Monsanto complained about patent backlogs in Argentina and Brazil, which it said delays their ability to enter the market and enforce rights on their products, and about government procurement that favours locally owned or registered IP in China. The European Union’s recent trend to “unduly broaden breeder’s exemptions” will undermine IP rights on plants, Monsanto said. Breeders exemptions are intended to protect plant varieties while not restricting follow-on innovation by people other than the original rights holder.

Watch what Monsanto — with all of its sickening business practices [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] — is doing there. Also see the role of IIPA. It is related to what we wrote in [1, 2, 3]. “IIPA suggested Brazil, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand be put on USTR watch list for policies favouring open source,” writes the president of the FFII.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 10/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC6 and Git 2.20

    Links for the day



  2. US Courts Make the United States' Patent System Sane Again

    35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and other factors are making the patent system in the US a lot more sane



  3. Today's USPTO Grants a Lot of Fake Patents, Software Patents That Courts Would Invalidate

    The 35 U.S.C. § 101 effect is very much real; patents on abstract/nonphysical ideas get invalidated en masse (in courts/PTAB) and Director Andrei Iancu refuses to pay attention as if he's above the law and court rulings don't apply to him



  4. A Month After Microsoft Claimed Patent 'Truce' Its Patent Trolls Keep Attacking Microsoft's Rivals

    Microsoft's legal department relies on its vultures (to whom it passes money and patents) to sue its rivals; but other than that, Microsoft is a wonderful company!



  5. Good News: US Supreme Court Rejects Efforts to Revisit Alice, Most Software Patents to Remain Worthless

    35 U.S.C. § 101 will likely remain in tact for a long time to come; courts have come to grips with the status quo, as even the Federal Circuit approves the large majority of invalidations by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) panels, initiated by inter partes reviews (IPRs)



  6. Florian Müller's Article About SEPs and the EPO

    Report from the court in Munich, where the EPO is based



  7. EPO Vice-President Željko Topić in New Article About Corruption in Croatia

    The Croatian newspaper 7Dnevno has an outline of what Željko Topić has done in Croatia and in the EPO in Munich; it argues that this seriously erodes Croatia's national brand/identity



  8. The Quality of European Patents Continues to Deteriorate Under António Campinos and Software Patents Are Advocated Every Day

    The EPC in the European Patent Office and 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the USPTO annul most if not all software patents; under António Campinos, however, software patents are being granted in Europe and the USPTO exploits similar tricks



  9. Team UPC is Still Spreading False Rumours in an Effort to Trick Politicians and Pressure Judges

    Abuses at the European Patent Office, political turmoil and an obvious legislative coup by a self-serving occupation that produces nothing have already doomed the Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC); so now we deal with complete fabrications from Team UPC as they're struggling to make something out of nothing, anonymously smearing opposition to the UPC and anonymously making stuff up



  10. Patents on Life and Patents That Kill the Poor Would Only Delegitimise the European Patent Office

    After Mayo, Myriad and other SCOTUS cases (the basis of 35 U.S.C. § 101) the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reluctant to grant patents on life; the European Patent Office (EPO), however, goes in the opposite direction, even in defiance of the European Patent Convention



  11. EPO 'Untapped Potential'

    "Campinos is diligently looking for ways to further increase the Office’s output without increasing the number of examiners," says the EPO-FLIER team



  12. Links 9/12/2018: New Linux Stable Releases (Notably Linux 4.19.8), RC Coming, and Unifont 11.0.03

    Links for the day



  13. Links 8/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.0, Mageia 7 Beta, WordPress 5.0

    Links for the day



  14. The European Patent Organisation is Like a Private Club and Roland Grossenbacher is Back in It

    In the absence of Benoît Battistelli quality control at the EPO is still not effective; patents are being granted like the sole goal is to increase so-called 'production' (or profit), appeals are being subjected to threats from Office management, and external courts (courts that assess patents outside the jurisdiction of the Office/Organisation) are being targeted with a long-sought replacement like the Unified Patent Court, or UPC (Unitary Patent)



  15. Links 7/12/2018: GNU Guix, GuixSD 0.16.0, GCC 7.4, PHP 7.3.0 Released

    Links for the day



  16. The Federal Circuit's Decision on Ancora Technologies v HTC America is the Rare Exception, Not the Norm

    Even though the PTAB does not automatically reject every patent when 35 U.S.C. § 101 gets invoked we're supposed to think that somehow things are changing in favour of patent maximalists; but all they do is obsess over something old (as old as a month ago) and hardly controversial



  17. The European Patent Office Remains a Lawless Place Where Judges Are Afraid of the Banker in Chief

    With the former banker Campinos replacing the politician Battistelli and seeking to have far more powers it would be insane for the German Constitutional Court to ever allow anything remotely like the UPC; sites that are sponsored by Team UPC, however, try to influence outcomes, pushing patent maximalism and diminishing the role of patent judges



  18. Many of the Same People Are Still in Charge of the European Patent Office Even Though They Broke the Law

    "EPO’s art collection honoured with award," the EPO writes, choosing to distract from what actually goes on at the Office and has never been properly dealt with



  19. Links 6/12/2018: FreeNAS 11.2, Mesa 18.3 Later Today, Fedora Elections

    Links for the day



  20. EPO, in Its Patent Trolls-Infested Forum, Admits It is Granting Bogus Software Patents Under the Guise of 'Blockchain'

    Yesterday's embarrassing event of the EPO was a festival of the litigation giants and trolls, who shrewdly disguise patents on algorithms using all sorts of fashionable words that often don't mean anything (or deviate greatly from their original meanings)



  21. The Patent Litigation Bubble is Imploding in the US While the UPC Dies in Europe

    The meta-industry which profits from feuds, disputes, threats and blackmail isn't doing too well; even in Europe, where it worked hard for a number of years to institute a horrible litigation system which favours global plaintiffs (patent trolls, opportunists and monopolists), these things are going up in flames



  22. Links 5/12/2018: Epic Games Store, CrossOver 18.1.0, Important Kubernetes Patch

    Links for the day



  23. Links 4/12/2018: LibrePCB 0.1.0, SQLite 3.26.0, PhysX Code

    Links for the day



  24. EPO Management Keeps Embarrassing Itself, UPC More Dead Than Before, and Nokia Turns Aggressive

    The EPO’s race to the bottom of patent quality continues, it’s now complemented by direct association with patent trolls and law stands in their way (for they repeatedly violate the law)



  25. The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) and IBM Are Part of the Software Patents Problem in the United States

    IBM's special role in lobbying for software patents (and against PTAB) needs to be highlighted; even Ethereum’s co-founder isn't happy about IBM's meddling in the blockchain space (with help from Hyperledger/Linux Foundation)



  26. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Not Falling for Attempts to Prevent It From Instituting Challenges

    In the face of patent maximalists' endless efforts to derail patent quality the tribunal keeps calm and carries on smashing bad patents



  27. Links 2/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC5, Snapcraft 3.0, VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3

    Links for the day



  28. The Patent Microcosm Hopes That the Federal Circuit Will Get 'Tired' of Rejecting Software Patents

    Trolls-friendly sites aren't tolerating this court's habit of saying "no" to software patents; the Chief Judge meanwhile acknowledges that they're being overrun by a growing number of cases/appeals



  29. 35 U.S.C. § 101 Continues to Crush Software Patents and Even Microsoft Joins 'the Fun'

    The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and even courts below it continue to throw out software patents or send them back to PTAB and lower courts; there is virtually nothing for patent maximalists to celebrate any longer



  30. The Anti-Section 101 (Pro-Software Patents) Lobby Looks at New Angles for Watering Down Guidelines and Caselaw

    By focusing on jury trials and patent trolls the proponents of bunk, likely-invalid abstract patents hope to overrule or override technical courts such as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts