Sunday, May 31, 2015

An Abstract Idea by Any Other Name - Epicor Software Corp. v. Protegrity Corp., Google Inc. v. Unwired Planet, LLC

Addressing the issue of unpatentable subject matter in a post-Alice world, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) recently invalidated two patents under � 101 in separate covered business method (CBM) proceedings. Epicor Software Corp. v. Protegrity Corp., Case CBM2015-00006 (PTAB, Apr. 21, 2015) (Petravic, APJ); Google Inc. v. Unwired Planet, LLC, Case CBM2014-00004 (PTAB, Apr. 6, 2015) (Bisk, APJ).

Delayed since 2015-5-30 3:26am

Does the US Supreme Court’s latest move further obviate patent reform efforts?

One of the key components of patent reform has been increased disclosure requirements for patent complaints. Patent infringement defendants have long derided the sparsity of information provided by patent infringement plaintiffs in opening pleadings. Traditionally, after providing information proving that the plaintiff owns the patent in question (or holds adequate rights to assert the patent) and other jurisdictional requirements, plaintiffs need only assert that the actions of the defendant violated the exclusive rights of the plaintiff in the patent to adequately have pleaded a case of patent infringement.

But recent Supreme Court action may have addressed the issue. In an order issued in late April, the Supreme Court, without comment, adopted changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that would abolish Form 18 and its model patent infringement complaint from the Federal Rules.

The rule changes take effect on December 1, unless modified by Congress. But with Congressional patent reform contemplating heightening patent infringement pleading standards, it would appear that modifications would seem unlikely.

Delayed since 2015-5-28 1:33pm

Patent Litigation Report Raises Questions

A recent publication by PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that patent suit filings in 2014 had reduced by 13% from the prior year, and concluded that this "dramatic shift" was "[d]riven by Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, which raised the bar for patentability and enforcement of software patents"

A more careful analysis of the government's data, however, shows that PricewaterhouseCoopers' theory is almost certainly wrong.

Delayed since 2015-5-27 11:34am

Is there a future for software patents in an age of software innovation?

Numerous patents have been lost with claims invalidated as being patent ineligible in the wake of Alice. This has negatively affected patent valuation, rendering many patents worth far less if not completely worthless. this has led some commentators to lament the toxicity of the patent asset and question whether the the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has the bandwidth to cope with the increased time demands placed on patent examiners as they navigate the patent eligibility issue in as many as 50% of all pending patent applications.

In December 2014, the USPTO provided interim guidance on patent eligibility. The guidance provided the below flowchart to describe the two-step analysis required when patent examiners are confronted with software patent claims.

Delayed since 2015-5-27 9:48am

PatentVue by Envision IP

With the annual software developer conference Google I/O approaching next week, many in the wearable industry are wondering what place Glass will have on the agenda, and to what extent Google will continue to promote its augmented reality platform. Glass was not a main focus during the 2014 I/O conference, however, that may change this year as Google Glass officially became integrated as a division within Google this past January.

Canon, LG Electronics, Sony, Microsoft, IBM, Siemens, and Samsung are also significant patent owners in this space. Other large companies which have a smaller number of issued US patents (<20) related to AR and HMD technology are Intel, Nokia, Apple, Qualcomm, Sharp, Panasonic and GE, defense contractors Lockheed, Boeing, Rockwell Collins and Raytheon, automotive manufacturers Ford and Honda, and entertainment giant Disney.

Delayed since 2015-5-27 12:48am

Patent reform could do terrible damage to our many successful programmes, says Columbia's tech transfer chief

Patent reform could do terrible damage to our many successful programmes, says Columbia's tech transfer chief
Orin Herskowitz is head of technology transfer at Columbia University, one of the most respected and successful university licensing operations in the United States. His role not only means that he is plugged into the steady stream of new technology coming out of the New York institution, but also gives him a detailed insight into the burgeoning start-up community in the city and further beyond.

Delayed since 2015-5-26 1:11am

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Google Goes Patent Crazy, Seeks one for ‘Creepy’ Toys

Google has filed an interesting patent application for toys which watch moving objects and interact with other media devices in a room.

The toys also interact with other devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, to play videos or songs for children whose command pattern is pre-recorded. The interactive toy can communicate with at least one remote entity, which could be a mobile phone.

The patent application notes that the toy device works like an “intelligent remote control” for home entertainment and activate automation systems.

Lycos patent sale may be happening two years too late

The news this week that Lycos is looking to dispose of some of its patents afforded tech bloggers the opportunity to remind their readers that yes, one of the iconic internet search brands of the before-Google era still exits. For those in the patent community the reaction may have been equally mystified – something along the lines of, they still have anything worth selling? And, have they seen the market out there, particularly for software patents?

Several of the patents have hundreds of forward citations which gives some indication that they are good quality. According to Maulin Shah of EnvisionIP who has published a quick analysis of the portfolio, one of the patents related to relevance ranking in internet search has a “staggering” 566 citations. So maybe there will be some buyers even in a post-Alice world. The patent deals market could certainly do with a shot in the arm.

Software is not Patent Eligible unless Claimed as a Process or Physical Object (US Federal Circuit)

In an interesting – though non-precedential – opinion, the US Federal Circuit has ruled that a “speech-recognition interface” software lacks subject matter eligibility “because [the claims] are not directed to one of the four statutory categories of inventions identified in 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Recent action in patent eligibility doctrine has primarily focused on the judicial prohibitions against patenting abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena. However the statute does have some meat of its own. In particular, Section 101 particularly creates eligibility for four categories of inventions: processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. Inventions that cannot fit within the four statutory categories are not patent eligible.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Patent reform could be end of invention

Invention in America has turned ugly – it costs too much and risks are too high.

So what happened to bring this kind of damage to all of us? I think it’s because we are hunting a comic book character – a patent troll. Many describe this fictitious character as an unscrupulous inventor who sues a small business for infringement. The small business has to settle even though it doesn’t feel they infringe, because it is far too expensive and risky to fight it.

To slay the patent trolls, since 2005, virtually every significant change to [US] patent law has had the by-product of increasing the risks and costs for inventors. The America Invents Act did this in 2011, and now, four years later, we are told the patent troll problem has worsened and we need to pass the Innovation Act, which would further raise those risks and costs. The result is that the solution is creating a new problem.

The Case For Patent Reform In High Tech

Gary Shapiro, head of the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) explains:
“This case is Exhibit A for patent reform. The patent troll in this case doesn’t produce any products and services, has zero employees and operates from an office across the street from the courthouse in the notoriously troll-friendly Eastern District of Texas,” 

But in their defense, there’s just no room for employees in their tiny office just down the street from the federal courthouse.

Naturally, Apple will fight the verdict and they have the lawyers and money to do it.

New patent lawsuits are down for the first time in five years. Here’s why that’s a huge deal.

Here's another newspaper article explaining the Price Waterhouse report on patent lawsuits in the USA.

The Washington Post writes:
"This is a big deal for a whole range of industries, not just the tech sector. It's happening at a time when the spotlight on frivolous patent lawsuits has never been brighter. And that makes it a surprising find.

Here's the key chart from PricewaterhouseCoopers' latest report on patent litigation. The line in gray shows the number of new patent lawsuits that were filed each year.

How to kill the next generation of startups

It’s one of the slickest bait-and-switch maneuvers in recent congressional history. A bill advertised as a targeted approach to reining in patent trolls who extort small businesses has been twisted into a measure to immunize big tech companies against the patent rights of the startups and small businesses who create nearly all breakthrough innovation and job growth in the U.S.

The last time a legislative miscarriage of this scale occurred, it was the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which was supposed to prevent financial misconduct by big businesses like Enron. Instead, the law burdened small public companies with multi-million-dollar accounting costs and killed the IPO market for nearly a decade, while still allowing the biggest banks in the world — all of them Sarbanes-Oxley compliant — to plunge the world into the economy-shattering financial meltdown of 2008.

Is America about to shoot itself in the foot again — only this time with patent rather than accounting reform bullets?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New immunotherapy technology company launched

An immunotherapy technology for treating cancer and other diseases, jointly developed by Victoria University of Wellington’s Ferrier Research Institute and the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, has been patented and will be the initial focus of a newly-formed company.

The research has been led by Dr Gavin Painter from Ferrier Research and Dr Ian Hermans from the Malaghan Institute, and works as a therapeutic vaccine, activating a patient’s own immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells.

$1B lawsuit filed against U.S. government for voice and face recognition patent infringement

Texas based 3rd Eye Surveillance and Baltimore based Discovery Patents have filed an infringement lawsuit against the U.S. federal government seeking damages of more than $1 billion for unlawful use of the company’s three video and image surveillance patents, two of which covered voice and facial recognition software by James Otis Faulkner.

Faulkner’s invention includes the method of transmitting real-time surveillance video and images to emergency workers via a communications link, as well as two subsequent patents that were issued to cover voice and facial recognition software.

The three patents allow the government to provide real-time surveillance video, audio recognition, facial recognition and infrared images to emergency responders and defense agencies.

US Congress seeks to quash patent trolls

Predatory ‘patent trolls’ could soon find it harder to operate in the United States. Legislation to curb frivolous patent lawsuits has regained momentum after lawmakers in the US Senate added a provision to stop university patent holders from being penalized along with the trolls.

The process is moving quickly. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the bill by the end of the month, readying it for a final Senate vote this summer, and the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee is likely to vote this week on a similar measure. That gives observers optimism that Congress will finally enact patent-troll legislation after a failed effort last year.

Copyrighting Your Patent?

Although it sounds of a malformed naive question, at times patent applicants do want to copyright their patent.  The patent application may, for instance, include software code, prose, or particular schematics that would seemingly be amenable to copyright protection.

Published works are no longer required to include any copyright notice, and the PTO has never indicated (AFAIK) that submission without the copyright notice constitutes a waiver or abandonment of copyright protections. However, the failure to include a (c) notice could potentially be relevant to fair-use analysis.

RPX Insurance Services Launches Indemnification Coverage for NPE Litigation

RPX Corporation RPXC a provider of patent risk management solutions, today announced that it is offering a solution for software companies to insure their contractual indemnity obligations, with policies where both a supplier and its downstream customers are covered if a non-practicing entity (NPE or "patent troll") sues for alleged patent infringement. "Based on our unique ability to quantify patent risk company by company, we have designed an effective risk transfer solution for companies to insure themselves and their customers against NPE litigation,"

A patent problem

Earlier this year, a group of 51 legal scholars and economists sent a letter to the US Congress urging it to take action on the increasing toll of frivolous patent lawsuits. Over the past five years, they said, researchers have published more than two dozen studies on the economic consequences of patent litigation. The view that has emerged is grim: the lawsuits are hindering research and development, and slowing the launch of firms.

Less than a month later, another 40 scholars rebuffed the claims, saying that the impact of the lawsuits has been exaggerated. Furthermore, they argued, patent litigation is on the wane, and legislation to rein it in could damage the US “engine of innovation” by weakening patent protections for inventors.

Google patents a way to win a text message argument

Google might have found a way to settle such arguments almost instantly.

In a patent awarded May 12, Google outlined a system for getting search results without having to leave a voice, instant message or text message conversation. The patent calls for a piece of software that could be incorporated into a messaging program that would allow users to query Google’s search engine in the same way as responding to the person they’re talking to.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Drop in Patent Lawsuits, Damages Blunts Call for US Congress to Act

The number of US suits dropped 13 percent to 5,700 in the fiscal year ended in September, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s PwC. Median damage awards from judges and juries fell to $2 million, the second-lowest amount in 20 years, PwC said in the study released Wednesday.

The findings signal a reversal of the rising number of lawsuits in the past decade, which led companies such as Google Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. to lobby Congress for curbs on patent-licensing firms. Often derided as “trolls,” the companies profit by obtaining patents cheaply and turning them into big payouts with lawsuits or royalty demands. Even after passing a 2011 law overhauling the patent system, lawmakers are weighing more lawsuit curbs, such as making the loser pay the winner’s court costs.

How to kill the next generation of US startups

The proposed Innovation Act (HR 9) is supposed to target only patent trolls. But as the National Venture Capital Association and 144 major universities warn, the bill's poorly drafted provisions actually will undermine the startups and small businesses responsible for nearly all breakthrough innovation and job growth in the United States.

At the very least, Congress should ask powerful supporters of the bill like Google and Amazon to explain their recent (and rather convenient) change of heart regarding patents.

When Google was a startup, after all, it filed its seminal PageRank patent before it even had a business plan, venture funding or a domain name -- and then paid Stanford University $336 million in shares for an exclusive license to it. But today Google claims that patents (especially software patents) "hinder innovation" -- a rather disingenuous argument from the first company in the world to build its initial success on a software patent.

And what about Amazon's famous one-click software patent, granted in 1999? Only 23 days after it obtained that patent, Amazon filed a patent suit against its then-larger competitor Barnes and Noble.

Patent trolls down but not out

The number of patent litigation cases filed in U.S. courts dropped in 2014, the first decrease in five years. That's according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report comes out Wednesday. It credits the Supreme Court's decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank for much of the drop in patent litigation. The case, which was decided in June 2014, raised the bar for software patents, the sort that many nonpracticing entities (aka NPEs, or patent trolls) prey upon.

"We'll probably see this trend continue, and more dramatically," Barry said. That's because the case was concluded halfway through 2014, meaning a full year's worth of effects in 2015 should really show a big decline.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hungarian Innovation Protection Software Earns Success In California - Hungary Today

Hungarian innovation protection software that uncovers counterfeits was received in California with plaudits. At the congress of the International Trademark Association, Pintz and Co presented the product to 10,000 patent and trademark lawyers from 150 countries, the Hungarian Intellectual Property Protection Association told news agency MTI.

The software, which runs on several servers, simultaneously monitors the entire web’s one billion sites in real time, including Chinese sites and Facebook, uncovering fake products. The application is unique because it trawls through logos as well as text. The association said in a statement that the company will be making the software free of charge to Hungarian companies within a year.

Congress must thwart patent trolls, promote innovation

We at make custom products like photo books and photo blankets for anyone to make using simple and powerful software tools our team designs in-house.

We're always rolling out new features and new products but are worried about the threat posed by "patent trolls," shell companies that exist solely to extort other companies for alleged patent infringement.

Apple Samsung partial Win

The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that Samsung copied specific Apple design patents related to the iPhone. However, the court also threw out part of the ruling and asked a lower court to reduce the amount Samsung is to pay Apple.

This ruling partly closes the book on a 2011 legal battle that caused the two companies to wage a global patent war. The two companies have since dropped other battles except this one and another case involving what Apple contends are specific patented software features found in Galaxy phones.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Both sides of the patent reform debate have been giving Hilary Clinton cash

Timothy B. Lee writes
"On Friday night, Hillary Clinton revealed the names of the various companies and trade groups that have collectively given her millions of dollars in speaking fees since the beginning of 2014. Looking through the list, one thing that stood out to me was how many of the payments came from companies with a strong interest in the patent reform debate.


"Overall, Clinton was paid speaking fees by about 50 companies and groups, receiving around $225,000 for a typical speech. Of those 50 organizations, at least five have a record of lobbying against reforms to the patent system, while three are in the pro-reform camp."

Unfortunatly I'm not convinced that the money is directly related to her stance or lack of it on patent reform.

The pro-reform names Lee mentioned: Cisco, eBay and Salesforce are all big businesses that would benefit from having a president beholden to them while of the five anti-reform names Xerox and Corning are not active anti-reform lobbiests, one of them is a pro patent lobbiest while two of them are technology companies. Other than the pro-patent lobiest, are the other businesses supporting her for patent reasons or other reasons?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Patent-Eligibility of Computer Software Inventions in a Post-Alice Era

Thomas Nguyen of Lewis Roca Rothgerber writes
Decided on June 19, 2014, the Supreme Court decision on Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International[1] has introduced a lot of uncertainty regarding patent-eligibility of certain types of technologies. In particular, Alice indicated that abstract ideas (e.g., business methods), even when carried out by a generic computer, do not automatically become patent eligible. Alice did provide, however, that if the subject matter “improves the functioning of the computer itself” or “any other technology”, such subject matter may be patent-eligible. In this way, one can see this as leaving open the possibility of finding computer software patent-eligible.

Since then, a number of cases have tackled the issue on how to apply the new Alice guidelines set by the Supreme Court with respect to computer software. In the following decision (summary judgment at a district level court), the remarks provided by Judge Pfaelzer may be helpful in evaluating the patent-eligibility of computer software under 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the post-Alice era.

US Federal Circuit rules company’s TV software patent indefinite

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit cracked down on a vague software patent in a ruling last week. The Federal Circuit, which hears all U.S. patent appeals, affirmed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in two cases brought by EON Corp. IP Holdings LLC.

“Resolution of this case is straightforward,” Chief Judge Sharon Prost wrote in the May 6 opinion. “The district court made explicit factual findings, based on expert testimony, that each of the eight claim terms at issue recited complicated, customized computer software.

“We see no clear error in any of the district court’s factual findings, nor any error in the district court’s ultimate conclusion of indefiniteness.”

Prost noted that EON does not contend on appeal that the terms at issue recite functions that are coextensive with a microprocessor.

EON also does not differentiate between any of the claim terms in its argument, the chief judge said.

“In fact, EON cites to testimony from its expert that a person skilled in the art would need to consult algorithms outside the specification to implement the claimed functions,” she wrote in the 14-page ruling. “Similarly, based on expert testimony, the district court found that ‘special code would have to be written in order to accomplish the claimed functionality.’

Friday, May 15, 2015

Who Wins With Google's New Patent Marketplace?

There’s something off about Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion. Purchasing patents is not new. In fact, Google has a long history of buying patents. What’s new is the idea of a limited-time solicitation. To me, Google’s announcement evokes a stereotypical used-car ad—“Get a great deal on your patent, but you better hurry, because this offer won’t last!” And just as the car dealership continues to sell cars after the “big, blowout sale,” Google will continue to buy patents after the promotion ends.

During Google’s promotion period, sellers get one shot at naming their price for a single U.S. patent. No counter-offer. No negotiations. Although this greatly simplifies that patent purchase process, sellers may not receive top dollar for their patent, because the short length of the program makes it difficult for patent holders to shop around for competitive bids. Another gripe is Google’s motivation for this promotion. Google tells us that this program will “remove friction from the patent market” and “improve the landscape.”

But for whom—the public, startups, or Google? It’s true that the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging. But how does Google’s purchase of hundreds or potentially thousands of patents solve that problem?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

If patent reform goes wrong

Let me start with a disclaimer that may soon become obvious to you all, I’m the least expert member of this panel when it comes to analyzing the specifics of the pending patent reform bills and how they will impact various constituencies. Luckily, the other panelists more than make up for my deficiencies.

If we try and look at the current patent reform debate objectively there are some overall themes it might be helpful to consider. One is what a poor job we have done as a community over the years presenting the importance of the patent system to the American public and our political leaders. That’s now come back to bite us.

Limelight did not infringe Akamai patent

Limelight Networks Inc did not directly infringe a patent on managing Web images and video held by rival Akamai Technologies Inc because it did not carry out all the steps, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit also said there was no basis to find the media content delivery company and its customers could jointly be held liable for infringement because Limelight was not in direct control of its users.

"Limelight’s customers do not become Limelight’s agents simply because Limelight provides its customers a written manual explaining how to operate Limelight’s product," the appeals court said in a 2-1 majority opinion.

Veeam Software defeats Symantec in favourable USPTO rulling

Veeam Software has announced a victory over Symantec, with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board issueing final written decisions on four more inter partes reviews in Veeam's favor. The decisions conclude that all of the remaining patent claims Symantec asserted against Veeam in its second lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Northern California are invalid, thus vindicating Veeam’s innovative approach to delivering availability solutions for the modern data center.

These USPTO decisions are the latest triumphs for Veeam in a three-year dispute initiated by Symantec because its legacy physical backup products could not compete with Veeam's innovative approach to delivering availability solutions for the modern data center

CCGroup Seeks Injunction Against OptumInsight

A California federal jury determined that UnitedHealth Group’s subsidiary OptumInsight infringed Cave Consulting Group’s patent for measuring physician efficiency by operating and licensing its Impact Intelligence software, a competing solution for developing physician efficiency scores.

“The jury found that OptumInsight’s Impact Intelligence software infringed because it uses, among other things, a pre-defined set of medical conditions to evaluate each specialty type,” “Despite the federal jury verdict,

"OptumInsight continues to offer Impact Intelligence to health plans, health systems and others,” explained Dr. Cave. To prevent this Cave recently filed for a permanent federal injunction against OptumInsight. If granted, the permanent injunction will prevent OptumInsight from offering its competing Impact Intelligence software in the marketplace.

FatPipe Networks Files Infringement Lawsuit Against Talari Networks

FatPipe Inc, the inventor of software defined networks for wide area connectivity and hybrid WANs, announced that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Talari Networks, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The company asserts that Talari Networks' products infringe on FatPipe Networks patents and seek injunctive relief to stop further sale of the infringing Talari Networks products.

FatPipe currently has 11 U.S. patents and over 180 technology claims related to multipath, software defined networking and additional patent applications pending. This complaint asserts that the technology in Talari Networks products infringes on one or more claims of certain FatPipe's patents.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Seminar Software licenses and software patents

On the May 19, seminar on IP in software development will be held in the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu, Estonia. Our special guests from acknowledged patent and trade mark company Kilburn and Strode, represented by associate Jeremy Smith and from leading international lawfirm Bird & Bird, represented by associate Tim Harris, offer their extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of software patenting and licensing.

Have a question? Free one-on-one consultation available.

Fujifilm Patent On Converting To Greyscale

One of the most protracted lawsuits concerning smartphone patents has concluded. The case was brought by Fujifilm against Motorola for infringing its patents in mobile phones. The jury brought in a mixed verdict, rejecting three of the patent claims relating to face detection and WiFi/Bluetooth. But one of the patents was deemed valid and Motorola was ordered to pay $10 million. This isn't much of a victory for Fujifilm as they asked for $40 million and probably won't make a profit on the award after the lawyers have been paid. This might be a timely warning to any company thinking of entering the patent wars, but it is also worth looking at the patent that Fujifilm used to get $10 million out of Motorola.

Those skilled in the art almost certainly knew how to convert an RGB image into greyscale long before the patent.

There are lots of silly patents on the obvious in photography and computational photography but not that many that get $10 million awarded on their strength.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Legislation to Reduce Uncertainty in AIA Grace Period Introduced in US Congress

On April 14, 2015, the US House of Representatives introduced a bill to amend the pre-filing grace period provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA). The bill, entitled "Grace Period Restoration Act of 2015" (H.R. 1791), proposes to clarify the standard for determining whether a third-party disclosure subsequent to an inventor disclosure eliminates the grace period. If enacted, the effect of the legislation will be important to inventors and applicants who make an early disclosure of an invention and rely on a one-year grace period to decide whether to pursue patent protection for the invention.

Compiling Successful IP Solutions for Software Developers (Video)

Patent eligibility for software has been in a state of flux ever since the 2014 US Supreme Court ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International. Attorneys Seth Northrop and David Prange discuss the two-step framework for software patentability in a post-Alice world, recommended strategies for software patent holders, and options for protecting intellectual property outside the patent system.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

'Economic and health benefits' from QuakeCore funding

A University of Canterbury earthquake engineering expert sees economic and health benefits from the university being awarded $21.5 million of government funding over five years to run the QuakeCore, centre of research excellence for earthquake resilience.

"QuakeCoRE research will underpin export growth in New Zealand goods and services related to earthquake engineering, principally through increased international competitiveness of our engineering consultants engaged in our research and training programmes and the development and sale of novel seismic-resistant systems and devices, and patented software tools for seismic protection of infrastructure.

"We want an earthquake-resilient New Zealand where communities recover rapidly after major earthquakes as a result of mitigation and pre-disaster preparation informed by internationally-leading research. A reduction in infrastructure damage, fewer casualties and lower business disruptions, through faster recovery in future major earthquakes will reduce stress and long-term psychological impacts in affected communities.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

EFF Asks Patent Office to Focus On Protecting Public from Bad Patents

This week, together with Public Knowledge and Engine, EFF submitted written comments to the Patent Office regarding its Patent Quality Initiative. We urge the Patent Office to ensure that this program actually reduces the number of invalid patents being issued. Its quality efforts should serve the public interest, not the special interests of patent applicants.

[EFF has] written before about the Patent Office’s problem with software patents. The Patent Office does a very poor job searching for prior art and protecting the public from vague and overbroad claims. There are good reasons to think that software patents are a bad idea even if applications are reviewed carefully. But they cause even more harm when the Patent Office does a bad job. Once issued, invalid patents are very expensive to formally invalidate. Patent litigation can cost millions of dollars—an unreachable sum for members of the public wishing to reclaim property that ought to have been the public’s from the start.

Patent Laws Are Getting Cloudy - Post - No Jitter

Regarding the cloud and intellectual property, "the barrier to entry into a new business has been reduced," Fred Logue, founder of New Morning IP, an Irish law firm specializing in intellectual property law for technology industries said. "In some ways this is good, because it means that more people can enter into a market and they can innovate. But in other aspects it's a bad thing, because a market with a low barrier to entry ... is open to wider competition than is the case where there is a high barrier to entry." While the cloud reduces the barrier to entry for innovation, moving from a hardware to a software model makes getting a technology patent more difficult, he added. He attributed this to biases in U.S. and European patent law.

Brainwave-reading patents spike on commercial mind-reading apps

More developers are creating commercial applications that use brainwave-reading technology that was previously found only in the medical field.

Last year, brainwave-reading patents quadrupled compared to 2010 and doubled over 2012, according to SharpBrains, a market researcher focused on this type of technology. Sharpbrains CEO Alvara Fernandez said "[the] expansion into non-medical use shows that we are at the dawn of the pervasive non-medical neuro-technology age," explaining the spike in patents.

Why America’s patent system is not killing innovation

U.S. laws over intellectual property give companies the incentive to invest billions in research and development of new products and services. “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

The old saying, often attributed to Mark Twain, is as applicable today as in his time. And in the intellectual property arena, a “good story” has been going around recounting the death of American innovation at the hands of an outmoded and obstructive patent system. But, again to paraphrase Twain, rumors of innovation’s death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, American innovation is thriving—and not in spite of patents but because of them.

Eon v. AT&T and the role of "Pure Functional Claiming"

The one area where patent-challengers see continued success is when means-plus-function claims lack appropriate structural support in the underlying patent document. 35 U.S.C. 112(f) allows a patentee to claim a “means” for accomplishing a specified function without reciting the actual structure of the mechanism or material used to accomplish the function.

However, as a rule of construction, the statute indicates that the “means” will be construed to “cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof.” The impact is that, although the claim appears to broadly cover a “function” it will be construed to be much more limited. When an applicant follows this claiming approach, but fails to specify any corresponding structure within the specification then the claim is deemed invalid as indefinite.

In Eon Corp v. AT&T (Fed. Cir. 2015), the Federal Circuit has affirmed that Eon’s asserted patent claims are invalid for failing to specify the structure associated with a purely functional claim element.

Patents in Taiwan

The criteria for patentability in Taiwan include:
  • statutory subject matter;
  •  enablement;
  • written descriptions;
  • industrial applicability;
  • novelty; and
  • non-obviousness.

To what extent can inventions covering software be patented?

To determine whether a software-related invention meets the definition of an ‘invention’, the content of the claimed invention – rather than the recitation form of the claims – must be considered in order to identify whether the invention (as a whole) is of a technical nature. If a portion of the claimed invention does not use the laws of nature, it will still meet the definition of an ‘invention’.

Judgments are made based on the technical features recited in the claims; but due to the special nature of software-related inventions, the specification must also be reviewed in order to understand the essential meaning of each feature of the claim.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Does Your Mobile App Need A Patent?

So you’ve got an app idea and want to protect it. Is a patent the right route to keeping it safe?

The answer to this question is rather complex. At the heart of the matter is the need for protecting your idea, but does it even meet the criteria?
Before we get into the specifics, let’s understand what a patent is [...]
If you’re entering a crowded market, getting a patent issued will be a tall order. Although, if your technology is innovative, unique and there’s no directly competing technology, you have a better chance of it being issued.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Last Week Tonight Stuck in 2012

The heady days of 2012 saw “Gangnam Style” dominate the U.S. music charts, Patricia Krentcil rocket to fame as the “New Jersey Tanning Mom,” and the New York Giants win the Super Bowl. That year also is the source of nearly all the statistics John Oliver cited on the April 18, 2015 edition of his HBO program Last Week Tonight during a very humorous but potentially misleading piece about abuses in the patent system.

John Oliver echoes complaints others have raised against the patent system, namely that (A) patent owners that don’t practice their patents shouldn’t be able to assert them; (B) patent owners enforcing their patents are extorting parties, including small businesses and end users, that lack the funds or capability to litigate; and (C) patents, especially software patents, are too vague, resulting in uncertainty as to what products or actions are encompassed. The solution to most of these problems, he posits, is the Innovation Act, H.R. 9, the latest version of which was introduced on February 5, 2015. Seemingly, John Oliver is unaware that the last several years have seen judicial action and legislation that address the costs of patent litigation and the vagueness of software patents. Whether these measures are sufficient without additional legislation is up for debate, but John Oliver’s hypothesis is weakened by his reliance on outdated and largely irrelevant facts and data.

Google Wants to Buy Your Patent—To Keep it Away from a [Different] Patent Troll

In an apparent effort to generate good karma, Google is purporting to buy patents in order to keep them out of the hands of patent trolls.  But what then does Google intend to do with all these newly acquired patents that it so gallantly saved from the trolls?

 While Google holds itself out as strongly against the traditional patent system, it continues to amass an enormous patent portfolio for itself. In 2014, Google earned the 8th-highest number of patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, for a total of 2,566 U.S. patents. When Google purchased Motorola in 2011, discussions focused on the valuable patent portfolio Google obtained in the deal. In recent years since the Patent and Trademark Office instituted a “fast track” program by which applicants can pay fees in order to have their patents cut in line and be examined more quickly, Google has utilized the program extensively in order to push its patents through the system. In 2014 for example, Google obtained 875 patents through the fast track program.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The PATENT Act: US Senate’s Solid Start to Reforming their Patent System

Will this be the year the US passes patent reform? With both houses of the US Congress finally introducing strong bills to target patent trolls, the EFF sure hopes so.

EFF supported the House’s Innovation Act through its passage in 2013. Unfortunately, the Senate did not respond with a bill worth fighting for. This year, though, not only is the Innovation Act (H.R. 9) back, but the Senate has responded with its own comprehensive legislation—the PATENT Act (S. 1137).

The "Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015" includes some much-needed reforms, and EFF supports its passage.

Here’s what we like about the PATENT Act—and what we think could be improved.

How to Fix the Software Patent Mess: Go Back to Basics

Not all patents that are granted foster innovation. Indeed, after experiencing the mischief arising from undeserved privileges bestowed by the British Crown, the U.S. founders deemed the concept of patents to be a public embarrassment.

[...] the authors of the U.S. Constitution thought it worthwhile to accept such embarrassment in return for a patent system that would “promote the useful arts.” The term, useful arts, as used at the time, referred to practical knowledge, in distinction to the performing or fine arts. In crafting the provision for patents found in Article I of the Constitution, they effectively directed that the government be “stingy” in granting patents, issuing such exclusive rights only when it would promote important practical knowledge.

Bradley J Hilbert IP Watchdog

Apple’s HealthKit Faces Patent Lawsuit

Apple has been sued for patent infringement regarding HealthKit technology by New Jersey-based LMG 3 Marketing and Development Corp which holds two patents related to the digitization and storage of a patient’s medical records on a mobile device. Those patents were granted in 2002, 12 years before Apple unveiled HealthKit and a slew of mobile apps aimed at health care providers.

Much of the new tools similarly digitize and store patient records for easy access by those providers. LMG 3 claims that Apple touted the adoption of these tools by major health care institutions, some of which had already been approached by LMG 3 with its technology.

Einstein Medical, Inc. Announces Pending Patent of CMS "Lucid"

Exactly how this isn't either prior art or published far too long ago eludes me, but they are making the claims:

Einstein developed the LUCID CMS® because it identified a need for software that would allow a medical practice to manage its website in a cost-effective and timely manner. The company has continued to refine the software and build compatible applications to keep up with the changing needs of the healthcare industry and the evolving standards of the Internet. The name LUCID CMS® was successfully trademarked by the company earlier this year.

Einstein Medical, Inc., a leading provider of Internet marketing strategies to elective healthcare professionals, has submitted a patent application for its proprietary LUCID CMS®(content management system) software

Patents in Indonesia

Software cannot be patented in Indonesia. The Patent Law specifically excludes rules and methods of doing business, as well as rules and methods concerning computer programs, from the definition of ‘invention’. In practice, inventions consisting of computer software that are combined with hardware and result in a technical contribution outside the prior art can be patented.

OpenTV Sues Apple, Alleging Patent Infringement

Interactive television pioneer OpenTV has sued Apple, alleging that the Cupertino technology giant infringed on its patents. The civil suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, alleges that several Apple products and services violate five of OpenTV’s patents related to streaming digital video. The San Francisco company is asking the court to award it unspecified compensation for Apple’s alleged infringement.
Meanwhile, other reports include:
Interactive television pioneer OpenTV has sued Apple, alleging that the Cupertino technology giant infringed on its patents. The civil suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, alleges that several Apple products and services violate five of OpenTV’s patents related to streaming digital video. The San Francisco company is asking the court to award it unspecified compensation for Apple’s alleged infringement.
OpenTV was an early entrant in the arena of digital television industry, it provides middleware, which enables set top boxes to be interactive with the users. The company’s software was among the first few to provide Internet browser in TV. Presently, OpenTV is providing software solutions that enable video on-demand services and digital video recorders. In accordance with the complaint filed by the firm in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, OpenTV is asking the court to grant it undisclosed compensation for Apple’s alleged infringement. These patents were registered by the OpenTV in 1990s and early 2000s.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

MS offers to cut patent fees for Samsung, LG

Microsoft (MS) has offered to cut annual patent fees for Samsung and LG Electronics, sources said Monday. "MS approached Samsung and LG Electronics to provide them with sizable discounts to the licensing fees in an attempt to sell more of its cloud computing and software products," a source said.

"MS also has a competitive Google Android patent portfolio. MS is trying to crack down on Google's dominance by promoting its software to be used in companies and consumers to leading smartphone manufacturers. MS exactly knows what its clients want and I believe this company is really smart," said another source.

In the case of Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone vendor decided to install MS's office programs such as OneDrive on its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge devices. Both of them are powered by the Google Android system.

Samsung said it paid about 1 trillion won to MS for patent fees in 2013. Samsung paid between $2.6 and $2.7 to MS for fees on every Samsung tablet and smartphone that are sold.

Bitcoin API provider BitGo Commits to Defensive Patenting

The Bitcoin API provider, BitGo, recently received backlash for filing a patent for multi-sig technology the company developed. BitGo responded by announcing their adoption of the Innovator's Patent Agreement, which eliminates the ability for the company to use patents “offensively.” The company has continued to show their support for free technology by open sourcing their Chrome app today.

BitGo Co-Founder Michael Belshe, commented on the Reddit post, “First off, note that I also was the co-inventor of spdy, which has just recently become http/2.0. During the course of creating spdy, we filed a slew of patents. I, and the other engineers on the spdy team, all made sure that google was willing to give that IP away for free before we filed the patents. [...] Google came through on its promise to give away the IP.”

Monday, May 04, 2015

Google collects patents despite lobbying against them

Despite what Google lobbyists may say in Washington, DC, the company has always supported a strong patent system, at least for themselves.

It’s great to see that the company, which popularized the corporate catchphrase “Don’t Be Evil”, is taking action and getting vocal about making the patent system better. It’s just not a sure thing that will happen, and actually, it should be pointed out that this system at least flirts with the idea of draining intellectual property from innovators under the guise of restoring stability to the patent system. The HBO television show Silicon Valley used a very unsavory term for a tech company trying to learn more about a patented technology which they want to develop without licensing: “brain raping.”

Of course, if this is the company that still intends to not be evil, none of this will ever be a problem. But it is hard to forget that Google also promised not to be evil with the patents acquired from Motorola and then subsequently was adjudicated to be a patent troll with respect to those patents.

On its face, the Patent Purchase Promotion program doesn’t look evil, just highly suspicious and wrought with pitfalls.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Last Week Tonight’ Host Ignores the Last Three Years of US Patent Reform

In another rebuttal of John Oliver's piece on problems with the US patent system, Michael T. Renaud posted:

"[John Oliver's] reporting posited the idea that the Innovation Act, H.R. 9, working its way through the House of Representatives, would solve most of the problems he identified in our patent system. Far from providing the solutions its proponents claim, that legislation would do little or nothing to limit the sending of bogus demand letters to unsophisticated targets in hopes of extracting nuisance value settlements – a practice that many decry as the most egregious example of patent abuse. Further, Mr. Oliver seems unaware that the last several years have seen judicial action and legislation that address the costs of patent litigation and the vagueness of software patents. Whether these measures are sufficient without additional legislation is up for debate, but John Oliver’s hypothesis is weakened by his reliance on outdated and largely irrelevant facts and data"

Patent troll's bad ethics costs them a case

As it turns out, one patent troll is also really awful at ethics.
Seriously, what kind of shenanigans do you have to be up to for every single member of your in-house legal department and outside law firm to be disqualified from a case?

In 2013, Acacia Research Corp. hired Charlotte Rutherford, who’d worked in the oil industry for years, including, most relevantly for this story, at Schlumberger Limited, the world’s largest oilfield services company. Amongst Acadia’s acquired patents was the ‘319 patent which relates to Schlumberger’s 3-D oil drilling software, Petrel.

BitGo Accused of Seeking Patent of Bitcoin Multisig Technology

Bitcoin wallet company BitGo, Inc. is currently alleged to be making attempts to patent the Bitcoin multisig technology.

The San Francisco based company had submitted a patent request to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on February 4th last year, a document of which was published yesterday, on April 30th 2015. The document reveals BitGo’s application in which it is seeking a patent for a network device that is “configured to receive public keys, over an electronic network, of two or more second public-private keys,” something that is reportedly identical to the multisig functionality.

Payment Information Does Not Necessarily Make a Covered Business Method

Addressing the issue of what qualifies as a covered business method (CBM) under the America Invents Act (AIA), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO’s) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) denied institution of a CBM review, finding the patent was directed to technology that restricts the use of software and had no particular relation to financial products or services. SEGA of Am., Inc. v. Uniloc USA, Inc.

Amazon Web Services earns $5.16 billion despite modest patent portfolio

Amazon is currently disputing two allegations of wrongful patent infringement filed in U.S. district courts over its AWS business. St. Louis-based cloud computing startup Appistry is accusing Amazon of infringing two patents which were the topic of discussions between Appistry and Amazon officials between August and September of 2004. U.S. Patent No. 8200746, titled System and Method for Territory-Based Processing of Information, claims an information processing system comprised of a plurality of networked hive engines grouped into a plurality of territories, the hive engines configured to receive processing job requests. The distribution of processing jobs within particular territories is advantageous for the reliability and performance of cloud processing.

Amazon is also facing suit from ZitoVault, LLC, over a patent related to AWS’s Elastic Compute Cloud and Virtual Private Cloud products, among other Amazon cloud offerings. U.S. Patent No. 6484257, titled System and cryptographic sessionsMethod for Maintaining N Number of Simultaneous Cryptographic Sessions Using a Distributed Computing Environment. Issued to solo inventor Alonzo Ellis of San Jose, CA, in November 2002, the patent claims a software architecture for conducting a plurality of cryptographic sessions over a distributed computing environment.

Friday, May 01, 2015

A New Index of US Copyright Fair Use Cases

Slightly off topic for this blog but I just wanted to mention the U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index.

"This Fair Use Index is a project undertaken by the Office of the Register in support of the 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement of the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC).

"Fair use is a longstanding and vital aspect of American copyright law. The goal of the Index is to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public by presenting a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use (e.g., music, internet/digitization, parody).

"The Fair Use Index tracks a variety of judicial decisions to help both lawyers and non-lawyers better understand the types of uses courts have previously determined to be fair—or not fair. The decisions span multiple federal jurisdictions, including the U.S. Supreme Court, circuit courts of appeal, and district courts. Please note that while the Index incorporates a broad selection of cases, it does not include all judicial opinions on fair use. The Copyright Office will update and expand the Index periodically."

I found a pointer to this on Wondermark comic site. They note:

"The Index itself is a series of summaries of key legal decisions regarding copyright and fair use, largely from the last sixty years.

"The Fair Use Index includes some watershed copyright cases, such as 1978′s Walt Disney Productions v. Air Pirates, the precedent that defines the infringement threshold for copying copyrighted characters for “parody” purposes. It might be said that under the Air Pirates test, the entire product line of the t-shirt website TeeFury is illegal, and I notice that very conveniently, most of their designs are only available in strictly limited, before-they-can-send-us-a-cease-and-desist editions."

Patent on sending text messages is EFF's stupid patent of the month

Imagine you’re on your way to deliver a case of beer to a party. Before you get there, your boss sends you a text: They want 2 cases now. You read the text while driving (don’t do that), so you deliver an extra case when you arrive. Having successfully completed that task, you leave for your next delivery.
Congratulations! You might get sued by the owner of April’s stupid patent of the month.

Eclipse owns a patent family of more than 20 patents, all of which claim priority back to a single 2003 provisional application. These patents claim various closely related “notification systems.” Eclipse interprets its patents very broadly and has asserted them against a wide range of mundane business practices. For example, in January it sent a letter claiming that Tiger Fitness infringes one of these patents by sending emails to customers updating them about the status of orders. This letter explains that “Eclipse IP aggressively litigates patent infringement lawsuits” and that “litigation is expensive and time consuming.” The letter demands a $45,000 payment.

We think that all of Eclipse’s patents deserve a stupid patent of the month award. But the ’334 patent is especially deserving. This is because the Patent Office issued this patent after a federal court invalidated similar claims from other patents in the same family. On September 4, 2014, Judge Wu of the Central District of California issued an order invalidating claims from three of Eclipse’s patents. The court explained that these patents claim abstract ideas like checking to see if a task has been completed. Judge Wu applied the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice v CLS Bank and held the claims invalid under Section 101 of the Patent Act.

Creative  Comons By Electronic Frontier Foundation

Big companies are stopping US Congress from fixing their patent system

Trolls aren't the primary problem with the [US] patent system. They're just the problem Congress is willing to fix. The primary problem with the patent system is, well, the patent system. The system makes it too easy to get broad, vague patents, and the litigation process is tilted too far toward plaintiffs. But because so many big companies make so much money off of this system, few in Congress are willing to consider broader reforms.

The problem of large companies exploiting the patent system hasn't gone away. If anything, it's gotten worse as the courts made it easier to get broad, vague patents in the 1990s and early 2000s. A modern example is Microsoft, which has more than 40,000 patents and reportedly earns billions of dollars per year in patent licensing revenues from companies selling Android phones.


New Taiwanese electronic payments law will encourage patent growth

I'm not sure I understand this article, perhaps it lost something in the translation. It seems to be saying that because Paypal can't operate in Taiwan that patents are difficult to obtain but a change to the electronic banking law may let them operate. -- Bruce Article at Lexology