Thursday, April 30, 2015

US Senate Is Finally Getting Serious About Slaying Patent Trolls

Patent reform is back in the US Senate, and it's going to be tougher for Harry Reid to get in the way this time. Seven members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—including Majority Whip John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat—unveiled legislation Wednesday that would overhaul several aspects of the patent-litigation landscape and clamp down on predatory patent-troll behavior. The contents of the measure are the product of months of deliberations that began in January between Cornyn and Schumer, according to congressional aides close to the process.

US Senate Tees Up Bipartisan Bill Aimed at Patent Litigation

 Last year, the US House of Representative cast a strong vote in support of patent reform, specifically for measures intended to clamp down on a flood of patent lawsuits. Corporate defendants, academics and others thought plaintiffs were abusing the court system, filing “nuisance” lawsuits that were likely to trigger quick settlements. But the Senate’s effort to play ball with the House died amid a flurry of finger-pointing. Earlier this year, the House reintroduced its bill — the Innovation Act — and Wednesday afternoon, the Senate offered up a companion to the House bill that seems to have bipartisan support among some influential senators.

US Senate Is Finally Getting Serious About Slaying Patent Trolls

Patent reform is back in the US Senate, and it's going to be tougher for Harry Reid to get in the way this time. Seven members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—including Majority Whip John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat—unveiled legislation Wednesday that would overhaul several aspects of the patent-litigation landscape and clamp down on predatory patent-troll behavior. The contents of the measure are the product of months of deliberations that began in January between Cornyn and Schumer, according to congressional aides close to the process.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Patent and Copyright Protection for Software API

the Court’s decision revolved mostly around copyright issues, the court acknowledged the potential relationship with patent laws and indicated that computer software may be covered by both copyright and patent laws. Copyright protection has the potential to be extremely problematic. However, patent protections are equally problematic. In truth, both forms of protection have inherent balancing factors.

Don’t Reward the Patent Troll that Lies in Wait

They "think laches should still be available, and here’s why: patent defendants and copyright defendants are in very different positions when it comes to defending against stale claims. Patent defendants, unlike their copyright counterparts, often defend themselves by showing that the patent owner’s claimed invention was obvious at the time of filing (thus making the patent invalid). But by delaying a lawsuit, a patent owner can make it difficult for the defendant to find what was known back when the application was filed; records get lost through the passage of time."

"Laches should exist in patent law, despite the Supreme Court’s decision in Petrella, because this is a place where patent law and copyright law differ. We hope the Federal Circuit recognizes the important differences between copyright law and patent law, and how patent owners, by delaying, seriously impact the ability of an innocent defendant to invalidate bad patents."

Microsoft phones face US import ban for patent infringement

Microsoft could be banned from importing a number of its smartphones into the U.S. after it was found guilty of patent infringement.

The software giant used wireless cellular technology owned by InterDigital without permission. U.S. International Trade Commission judge Theodore Essex found Microsoft guilty of infringing two patents owned by InterDigital, which reportedly cover technology that moderates a mobile phone’s power to reduce signal interference.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Google wants to buy more patents

Google's public policy blog has announced a "Patent Purchase Promotion" that is a simple, easy to use, and fast experimental marketplace for patents.

"Patent owners sell patents for numerous reasons (such as the need to raise money or changes in a company’s business direction). Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls. Then bad things happen, like lawsuits, lots of wasted effort, and generally bad karma. Rarely does this provide any meaningful benefit to the original patent owner.

"So today we’re announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion as an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. From May 8, 2015 through May 22, 2015, we’ll open a streamlined portal for patent holders to tell Google about patents they’re willing to sell at a price they set. As soon as the portal closes, we’ll review all the submissions, and let the submitters know whether we’re interested in buying their patents by June 26, 2015. If we contact you about purchasing your patent, we’ll work through some additional diligence with you and look to close a transaction in short order. We anticipate everyone we transact with getting paid by late August."

2015 could be the year US Congress takes action on patent trolls

There's a growing problem with patent trolls, the companies that create no products of their own but earn money threatening other companies with patent lawsuits. The problem has become so widespread that even low-tech companies like restaurants and grocery stores have begun lobbying Congress to do something about it. Now Congress could be on the verge of taking action. On Friday, a Senate aide close to the negotiations told me that a bipartisan group of senators is "very close" to introducing legislation with broad support in the Senate.

Chinese High Court Returns Zhizhen's patent to SIPO

This has been reported on a number of different media site as Apple winning, but this report makes it seem that it has only been returned to SIPO for re-evaluation. Certainly a plus for Apple but if correct then the fight's not over yet.
"Apple was sued in 2012 over these allegations, which prompted it to file a petition in the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO). Initially, the case seemed to be in favor of Zhizhen but it was until the last week, when the court asked the SIPO to further probe into the authenticity of the Zhizhen’s patent. "

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rebuttal of John Oliver on patents

A few days back John Oliver's segment on Patents was being reported all across the web. Michael Gulliford of Soryn IP Group, a patent advisory company has written a rebuttal.

"Indeed, if Mr. Oliver wanted to tell the real story of today’s patent world, he would have had plenty of good material. Instead of relying on litigation statistics from 2012, for instance, he could have explained how current patent reform, in making it so much easier and significantly cheaper for defendants to win patent cases, has already caused litigation filings to drop markedly in 2014. After all, no one likes losing money, least of all NPEs.

"At the end of Mr. Oliver’s admittedly humorous diatribe, we learn his real motivation: passage of the Innovation Act (HR 9) — the patent reform bill currently pending in the House that would no doubt benefit Mr. Oliver’s employers.

"But even here, Mr. Oliver strongly misses the mark. It is not trial lawyers who are blocking the Innovation Act, as Mr. Oliver claims. Rather, it is a large swath of the technology community — from universities, to technology companies, to small businesses, to professors, and even venture capitalists — who understand that many innovators are now at a breaking point when it comes to patent rights and that the potential for further unintended consequences via additional reform is just too great."

U.S. Patent Filings Rising Again, After Brief Dip

USA Patent litigation is once again on the rise after what now appears to be an only temporary dip in 2014. There were 1,443 patent filings in the first quarter this year, according to an analysis by Unified Patents, which hand sorts out duplicate filings. Unified is an advocacy organization with the stated goal of deterring frivolous patent litigation.

If present trends continue, there would be an estimated 5772 filings for calendar 2015, a 15% increase over the previous year, when Unified reported there were 5,002 suits.

Patent litigation filings have been up and down in recent years, with a record high of more than 6,000 filings in 2013. In 2014, however, patent litigation declined slightly for a variety of reasons.

Trend Micro Vindicated in U.S. District Court Ruling on Patent Infringement Claims by Intellectual Ventures

Trend Micro announced Wednesday that Judge Leonard Stark for the U.S. District Court of Delaware invalidated two Intellectual Ventures patents that have been asserted against Trend Micro since 2010. Judge Stark ruled that the patents were too abstract and not patent eligible. Trend Micro applauds the court’s decision which voids the need for a trial in early May.

“At Trend Micro, we recognize how important patent rights are for companies who invest millions of dollars in research and development, in addition to the human capital required to create innovative products in a competitive industry like software security,” said Eva Chen, CEO, Trend Micro. “We respect the judge’s decision that patents should protect new, original thinking and generic or abstract ideas do not become patentable merely because they are embodied in software. This validation is positive for our entire industry.”

Intellectual Ventures sued Trend Micro in 2010, seeking $150 million for its alleged infringement of U.S. Patents 6,460,050 (‘050) and 6,073,142 (‘142), along with two other patents that are no longer being asserted against Trend Micro. The ‘050 patent concerns generation of a digital identifier for email messages through a method of filtering. The ‘142 patent describes an “automated post office” which allows for the analyzing and filtering of vetted emails recognized to be unsafe.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Basics Of Open Patent Licensing

A new trio of open patent licenses can help encourage innovation, discourage patent trolls and help companies attract top engineering talent. These licenses aren’t just for open-source romantics. They are practical legal tools used by software companies like Google, Twitter and Dropbox. Last month, Eric Adler gathered a panel of experts at General Assembly in NYC to talk about open patent licenses. Here’s what he learned.

Software to automate patent application process launched by startup

Patent Navigation this week launched TurboPatent, a cloud-based tool that automates the patent application production and prosecution process and is designed to minimize time, expenses, and mistakes for attorneys who prepare patent applications.

The idea is to allow lawyers to focus on drafting robust claims, rather than tasks like formatting or document preparation, for example. The company said it is “doing for the patent attorney what CAD did for the architect.”

“Unlike so many other professions, patent attorneys have not had an automated solution,” CEO James Billmaier said in a statement. “Think about it — no architectural or engineering firm could remain competitive without utilizing CAD tools. We want legal professionals to benefit from automation tools in the same way.”

John Oliver: Innovation Act vs Strong patents act

"It’s great that John Oliver brought the subject of patent trolls, about which IPWatchdog has already produced some considerable coverage, to an audience that topped 1.4 million viewers. But there are a significant number of stakeholders in the ongoing patent debate who are not in favor of the Innovation Act and they’re not, as John Oliver would have you believe, simply lobbyists for trial lawyers. For example, the Innovation Alliance, which is made up of innovator companies, does not support the Innovation Act. Neither do independent inventor groups, independent inventors, innovative startup companies, biotechnology companies or universities. If John Oliver is for helping small business victims of patent trolls while preserving patent rights he should actually be promoting the STRONG Patents Act and not the Innovation Act.

"Much of the small business community that Oliver purports to be speaking for is in favor of the STRONG Patents Act instead of the Innovation Act."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

U.S. judge cancels patents on eve of Trend Micro trial

A U.S. judge has invalidated two patents owned by Intellectual Ventures just weeks before its lawsuit against Japanese security software provider Trend Micro Inc over the same patents was set to go to trial. U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in Delaware said on Wednesday the two patents were too abstract to deserve legal protection. The ruling likely means Intellectual Ventures' infringement trial with Trend Micro will not proceed.

Trolling for an Inventive Method for Patent Enforcement

Much of the discussion of the “patent troll” surrounds how exactly a “patent troll” is defined. Some refer to patent trolls as “non-practicing entities,” and others to “patent assertion entities.” These sound in the media like lazy, menacing, evil, money-grubbing corporate shells waiting for their crossing fee from under the bridge – and surely there are some of those. But that “patent troll” definition can also appear as an independent inventor who doesn’t make, use, or sell his invention. Maybe that inventor’s idea was stolen by another company that now makes, uses, or sells it. Before filing a lawsuit, he may set up a corporate entity to hold the asset to help protect him from personal liability or fund the litigation. Patent litigation is expensive and shouldn’t that right be afforded to everyone? Otherwise wouldn’t the Apples and the Samsungs be the only ones skating in the rocket docket of Marshall, TX? We need to think very carefully about how we define “patent troll” before we try to make it unjustly hard for so-called trolls to litigate.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Techdirt Podcast Episode 21: How The Patent System Can Be Fixed

Last week, podcast co-host and patent attorney Hersh Reddy helped [Techdirt] navigate the many ways in which the patent system is broken. This week, we turn our attentions to the ways in which it might be fixed, whether by small changes or sweeping reforms.

For music, they've got more of Destroy All Patent Trolls by Jonathan Mann (CC-BY).

Apple wins voice recognition patent case in China

The patent infringement dispute between Apple and Zhizhen goes back to June 2012, when Zhizhen, developer of speech recognition technology Xiao i Robot, filed a case against Apple for infringement of intellectual property rights, claiming that Siri technology violates its patent for "a type of instant messaging chat robot system."

Xiao i Robot, which began in 2003 as a chat bot for MSN, Yahoo Messenger and other chat programs, has expanded to iOS and Android, where it bears a striking resemblence to Siri.

At the same time, Apple applied to the Patent Review Committee under the State Intellectual Property Office to invalidate the Xiao i Robot patent. When the committee supported Xiao i Robot, the US-based tech giant sued the committee and the Shanghai company.

[As I found multiple copies online, I believe this story is syndicated. As this seems to be a major news site I presume I'm crediting a legitimate reprint -- Bruce Clement]

US software copyright registration is game changer

Israeli website Globes English published this claim that US copyright is an alternative to patent registration:

"Every Israeli software company should protect their software with registered US copyrights, says Adv. Mitchell Shelowitz.

"Global software leaders, Including Oracle, Sony, Adobe, Microsoft, SAP, Apple, and Amazon recognize the importance of US software copyrights and have registered thousands. Every Israeli software company should also protect their software with registered US copyrights.

" While Israeli companies are leaders in encryption, network protection, and cyber security, many companies do not realize that their most valuable software assets are dangerously exposed to theft and misuse. Due to a confluence of very recent events, the US legal landscape for software protection has been completely reshuffled - placing US copyrights as the vanguard for software protection."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How east Texas became the epicenter for 'patent troll' lawsuits

Of the 4,070 patent lawsuits filed in the USA in 2012, 3,000 of them were of the trolling kind. East Texas seems to be a particular popular spot for these types of cases. Apple alone has been sued 84 times in area patent courts in the last six years, reported in March.

A quarter of all patent cases are filed in the East Texas city of Marshall, according to Last Week Tonight. But this is not a community of regular Einsteins.

Patent holders have a higher winning percentage here than in other parts of the country (Most cases are settled out of court since it costs millions of dollars to defend a patent suit). The number of patent infringement cases in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has skyrocketed since 2002.

Patent trolls are out of control. John Oliver explains why.

This is currently all over the internet. Heres' a couple of references to it.

"If you’re creating a new technology or have a business idea beware. Patent trolls are everywhere.

"HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver took on the world of companies that fish for other companies to sue for infringing on their patents, or, as Oliver puts it, “legally binding dibs,” in this segment on “patent trolls.”"

"A lot of people have credited a John Oliver segment for catalyzing a successful grassroots effort to get the Federal Communications Commission to institute strong network neutrality rules back in February. In yesterday's show, Oliver tried to get the same results with another tech policy issue: patent trolls and the broad software patents they use to shake down the American economy. "

Synopsys Request for Stay of Injunction Denied in Emulator Patent Case

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied a motion by Synopsys for a stay, pending appeal, of the injunction issued by an Oregon federal district court against Synopsys emulators. The injunction, issued March 12, prohibits Synopsys, Inc. from making, using, selling, offering to sell, licensing or leasing in the United States any emulators or software that incorporate Mentor Graphics' patented emulation technology covered by U.S. Patent No. 6,240,376.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Open source patent protection extended to popular software

OIN (the Open Invention Network) has announced important changes to its definition of what constitutes “the Linux system."

Licensing community participants were advised yesterday that, as of June 25, the Linux System Definition will include more than 100 new packages and updated versions of nearly 70 existing ones. This refresh brings Docker, Puppet, Nginx, the Ceph storage system, and the full LibreOffice suite under the OIN umbrella, as well as the Debian packaging tool APT, the Java build manager Maven, the reference implementations of the Go and Lua languages, and a number of other development tools and libraries. Coverage for Red Hat’s OpenShift project will also be significantly enhanced.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

U.S. patent chief in Detroit: We'll get faster

Michelle Lee, the new director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Workplace and undersecretary of commerce for intellectual house, stated the agency is aiming to be more responsive to tech organizations that are searching for patents.

USPTO's aim, she stated, is to provide patent decisions within an average of 20 months by 2019. It at present can take years for patent applications to make their way by means of the system, an excruciating delay for businesses that have to have patents to introduce new merchandise and add jobs.
"We do recognize that it is critically critical that providers get their intellectual property rights swiftly so that you can take venture capital funding and enter the markets,"

Friday, April 17, 2015

Drafting US Software Patents Post-Alice

It has been a challenging year for software patent owners following the US Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.

Since then, a large number of software patents have been invalidated in the US courts. So what should inventors do if they are seeking to file a patent in today’s legal environment?

In this video, Robins Kaplan LLP attorneys Seth Northrop and Sam Walling discuss the current state of affairs and offer some advice.

Tech giants complain about US ITC misuse by trolls

 A consortium of tech giants have written to senior US politicians demanding a reform of the International Trade Commission, one of America's key federal watchdogs.

The business goliaths, represented by the ITC Working Group, claim patent trolls are unfairly using the commission to extract money from their coffers, and hamper innovation. The letter – signed by Google, Intel, Apple, Cisco, and 16 others – takes issue with Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930: this piece of law is routinely used by patent trolls.

It sounds rich hearing Intel, Apple, Cisco and others complaining – of all people – about organizations being outrageously litigious with patents. The tech world loves using patents to destroy upstarts or force them into an acquihire deal. Their beef appears to be that patent trolls don't actually make or design anything, as if they are unworthy opponents.

Apple ramps up patent portfolio to take on Samsung

Apple has grown its US patent portfolio by 25 per cent every year for the last three years, new figures have revealed.

According to the US Patent 100, an annual ranking of the world’s biggest US patent portfolios, Apple has seen the biggest percentage increase in portfolio size over a three year period, and now owns 10,942 patents. Samsung, meanwhile, owns over 55,000 US patents – more than any other entity.

Fighting for Patent Reform in Washington, D.C.

The main focus: Defend Innovation, Electronic Freedom Foundation's newest report on the broken US patent system.

This report is more than just EFF’s ideas for patent reform. It’s the result of more than two years of research, interviews, and data collection. They surveyed the concerns of software developers, entrepreneurs, legal professionals, students, and everyday technology users affected by the current patent system. They held town halls at major tech companies in Silicon Valley and interviewed individual programmers, and we launched a petition where users could submit comments and share their feedback on proposals to address these issues. Over 16,500 people spoke up.

All of this research culminated in over thirty pages that highlight just how broken the current patent system is: not only does it create a chilling effect on innovation and new technologies—exactly opposite of its claimed goal—but it is readily abused by bad actors and patent trolls.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Apple Patents method to automatically broadcast updates

Deny that its the end of  privacy as much as they like but this is a really scary innovation by Apple who added another new patent to its ever increasing patent portfolio. Granted by the USPTO, the patent describes a software option which would analyze factors such as your time zone, battery percentage, location, phone sound profile and network signal strength to automatically determine your call availability, and then transmit your status to your friends.

Microsoft Cuts Android Patent Fee To Attract Vendors To Pre-install Android Apps

Microsoft has made an offer to vendors in Taiwan and China to pre-install its application software such as Skype and Office programs like Word, Excel PowerPoint and OneDrive, on their Android devices, in exchange offering discounts on the patent licensing fees. On March 23, Microsoft signed an agreement with almost 11 vendors around the globe for pre-installation of its application softwares and now they have to pay fees for shipment of every Android based devices.

After the patent fees agreement, Microsoft patent licensing fees have grown remarkably, as the demand for Android devices shipments is rising. The discount given to Android products is a step towards increasing the usage of Microsoft application in the mobile devices.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Facebook modifies patent grant

After widespread criticism of the termination language in its patent grant, Facebook has removed the worst excesses.

Late Friday, Facebook announced it's finally giving in to pressure from the open source community and fixed its open source patent grant. While most people felt the intent was good and welcomed the original version of the grant, it was worded in such a way as to give Facebook a significant legal advantage in any open source community where it was the initiator.

Zimbabwe Met Service to Patent Climate Software

Climsoft Climate Software is a data management system which was
designed by experts at the Zimbabwe Meteorological Services Department.

The software brings data from multiple sources together and formats it so that it can easily be accessible not only by the Met Dept but by other end users who include aviation,agriculture and other sectors.

Climsoft is currently being used by 27 countries in Africa, 10 in Asia, eight in the Caribbean and 12 countries in the Pacific.

Zimbabwe is the only developing country in the world that has developed such software for the world and is now moving to patent the software.

Met Dept director Dr Amos Makarau said "This week we were discussing how to patent the software. Our developers have been to ARIPO to start the process of patenting the Climsoft software.

"The idea came about following attempts by some developed countries
to high-jack the software and patent it as if they developed it."

 Full Article at

Saturday, April 11, 2015

USPTO’s examples for patent eligibility examined

"The second installment of a three-part series examining the USPTO's Interim Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility. The first installment describes the Interim Guidelines' implementation of the Supreme Court's two-part test for determining patent eligibility. Now, we will review examples published by the USPTO of patent-eligible and patent-ineligible claims."

"When the Supreme Court issued its decision in Alice, many believed the decision spelled the end of software patents. However, the examples provide several samples of how software-related patents may be patent-eligible."

Retroactive changes to patent eligibility law

"Understand that there is no such thing as a quick, cheap and easy software patent any more. Perhaps there never should have been, but you really cannot blame patent attorneys for writing software patent applications in ways that explained software as a method.

"Yes, it is now clear that Courts, particularly the Supreme Court, will not allow software method claims. But if we want to be intellectually honest software is best described as a method. Software is not an abstract idea, and it is not some product of nature. Software instructs a machine to operate in a specific way to accomplish a specific task. The fact that judges cannot understand the nature of software doesn’t change the reality that software is best understood by a method."

EFF Busts Podcasting Patent, Invalidating Key Claims at US Patent Office

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invalidated key claims in the so-called “podcasting patent” today after a petition for review from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)—a decision that significantly curtails the ability of a patent troll to threaten podcasters big and small.

“We have a lot to celebrate here,” said EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri. “But unfortunately, our work to protect podcasting is not done. Personal Audio continues to seek patents related to podcasting. We will continue to fight for podcasters, and we hope the Patent Office does not give them any more weapons to shake down small podcasters.”

EFF partnered with attorneys working pro bono and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society to craft the petition for review with the USPTO.