Summary: The latest stories and warnings about software patents in the United States
IN another defeat for software patents, Erise has just declared “big victory against patent troll” and to quote the only report we’ve found about it (so far): “Packet Intelligence owns U.S. Patent No. 6,651,099, which is named “Method and Apparatus for Monitoring Traffic on a Network.” The company used this patent to prosecute patent applications against 275 issued patents…”
We have been hearing many stories like this recently. Patent trolls, equipped with software patents, quickly perish in courts. If not the first time, then the second time (higher court). Sometimes the patents get invalided before they even reach any court at all. The patent trolls’ lobby, which includes Watchtroll, has just been moaning about software patents being rightly invalidated by PTAB. Here we have Watchtroll defending a troll. saying that the “Memphis, TN-based B.E. Technology, L.L.C., filed a suit alleging claims of patent infringement against Google in the Western District of Tennessee, asserting claims from two patents owned by the company.”
Guess what happened. PTAB trashed it all. Good riddance, no matter who initiated the case and how wealthy the defendant is (Watchtroll obsesses over the wealth amassed by Google in order to create sympathy for the troll). The last paragraph has nothing to do with the story at all. That’s just Watchtroll trying to influence a SCOTUS case and solicit lobbying. To quote: “All of this may soon change after the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC on November 27th. The case will decide whether the PTAB acts in violation of the U.S. Constitution by extinguishing private property rights in a non-Article III forum without a jury. Whether the Supreme Court decides that the PTAB acts in violation of the Constitution, many patent owners hope the Supreme Court will at a minimum acknowledge that the PTAB works consistently to the detriment of patent owners in favor of efficient infringers.”
Anyone who has watched this long enough (the subject of this case and SCOTUS) can easily tell that Justices will defend PTAB, maybe even unanimously. But Watchtroll would cling onto anything at this stage. The patent microcosm has grown so feeble in recent years and Watchtroll just attacks judges and officials more often than it actually covers something exclusively. It’s an embarrassment for a lobbying body.
In other news, yesterday we learned about a bankrupt company, Violin, stating: “We are filing for 45 patents.”
So suddenly they have money? And what for? Trolling the NVMe market? One can imagine where this is going…
To quote the article:
“There are no precise dates we can give,” he said. “We are filing for 45 patents.
“We’ve got our own SSD technology and we will not abandon leadership in IOPS and latency.”
The word “technology” rather than gear or software is often suggestive of paperwork. We shall see what they do next, but it doesn’t look too promising. Patents are expensive to pursue and they already ran out of cash; are patents really their priority?
Another item that caught our eye in yesterday’s news is this report about a financial surveillance firm known as Square. It seems to have not much left to it momentum-wise, so now it’s hoarding software patents:
Since the payments company was founded in 2009, Square has filed 712 patent applications and obtained 221 patents. But between July 2016 and June 2017 alone, the company filed 144 patent applications and obtained 80 of those patents.
“We believe that a good IP program is targeted at fostering innovation all around and not at stifling creativity or competition,” they said. That’s just marketing talk. People don’t end up spending millions of dollars on patents for “fostering innovation all around,” they either use these patents or sell them. So will Square sue bigger firms that have a much larger share in this market (e.g. Apple, Samsung, Google)? That remains to be seen…
Speaking of finance, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP’s Michelle Tyde and Jason D. Gardner have just published this article titled “Becoming a Unicorn Fintech by Shoring Up Intellectual Property”
Aside from the fact that they are saying “Intellectual Property” and promoting — by mention — evil Black Duck, the positive thing is that they break it down to meaningful items: “IP assets, such as patents, technical know-how (including software and other technology), trade secrets, copyrights, licenses, trademarks, and data, are assessed by sophisticated purchasers and investors…”
Those are very different things. Lumping it all together under “IP” is undesirable as that leads to misjudgment. Here is the part about Free/Open Source software:
Many software engineers and developers use open source software or incorporate such software into their work in developing products or technology. But the use or incorporation of such open source software by a fintech company can lead to ownership, licensing, and compliance issues for a buyer. In particular, some open source licenses require any user modifying and distributing the open source software to make its source code generally available to other users and to license its software to third parties under the same terms as the open source license. Buyers usually want representation and warranty that no open source or similar software has been incorporated into any of their software or products as they want to be able to exclusively use the fintech company’s technology. Thus, open source issues could become a deal killer.
When has that actually happened? When did alleged violation of the GPL, for example, undermine a company’s takeover/VC? This is more FUD than anything…
Either way, to their credit, they do not promote the illusion that software patents are worth pursuing. Because they aren’t. █