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|SIIA Tells the FTC What Patent Trolls Are Doing to the Software Industry ~pj||There are now 68 public comments listed on the FTC's website on the topic of patent trolls. Patent Progress's David Balko's
article, The End-Users Strike Back, notes that a surprising number are from end users, defined as "retailers, financial services, grocery stores, advertising, hotel industries, and even oil companies [who] are coming out in droves to fight abusive patent troll tactics":
Patent trolls have started to target end-users, especially small companies, because they typically lack the expertise, experience and ability to fight questionable claims. Litigation costs can quickly mount up to $250,000 to $500,000, and reach millions if the case goes all the way through trial (not to mention appeals). End-users also have to deal with disruptions to their business from discovery requests and managing the litigation. Often companies are forced to divulge secret financial and technical information as well as divert key personnel from their work to participate in depositions and give testimony. Patent trolls, on the other hand, have few costs in pursuing a suit because they do not operate in any market. The lawsuit has no disruptive effect on the patent troll's business because it is the patent troll's business.You may enjoy going through them, but I thought you might like to see one of the more thoughtful of the public comments, the one from Ken Wasch [PDF], President of the Software & Information Industry Association, or SIIA, a trade association for the software industry with 700 plus members, because it provides details on how the patent trolls attack and what the results have been. I don't see members listed on the site, but the Software Board lists a number of companies, including Red Hat and IBM, and a number of smaller companies. And the comment states that trolls are hindering innovation, being "masters at abusing and manipulating the patent system." The footnotes alone are worth noting, but the really interesting part is how the comment explains how trolls do what they do. I learned something I've long wondered about, why trolls hide who they are in litigation.
|Motorola Files Reply Brief in Appeal of Judge Posner's FRAND Decision in Apple v. Motorola-~pj||The beat goes on in the Apple v. Motorola appeal of Judge Richard Posner's ruling dismissing both parties' claims with prejudice, saying neither was entitled to damages or an injunction. Both are appealing, but for different reasons. Motorola has now filed its redacted reply brief [PDF] in response to Apple's response and reply brief [PDF]. And as soon as Judge James Robart issued his Microsoft-friendly ruling in Microsoft v. Motorola in the Seattle litigation, Apple sent
a letter to this appeals court, bringing it to the court's attention, because it supports Apple's position and calls Motorola's patents a trivial contribution to the standard.
Motorola defends the value of its patents and then tells the Federal Circuit that RAND patent holders have to be able to seek injunctions against "intransigent" licensees like Apple. Otherwise, they'll take advantage, delaying by litigation any reckoning for years while benefiting from the technology without paying for it.
What exactly should happen to a company that refuses to pay and won't accept an offered rate or a court-set rate? The RAND patent holder *still* can't do a thing? No injunction? Nothing? Apple began its infringement, Motorola points out, in 2007. It's now 2013, and it still hasn't paid a dime. "Motorola should have the opportunity to seek an injunction to stop Apple's six years of ill-gotten gains from stretching into a decade or more," Motorola says.
|Happy 10th Anniversary, Dear Groklaw! Happy 10th Anniversary to Us! ~pj||We made it. A decade of Groklaw as of today. Who'd a thunk it?
When I started, I thought I'd do a little fiddling around for a couple of months to learn how to blog. But then all you guys showed up and taught me some important things that I didn't know, and vice versa I hope, and here we are, on our 10th anniversary, still going strong, together on a very different path than I originally imagined. The important moment for me was when I realized the potential we had as a group and decided to try to surf this incredible wave all of you created by contributing your skills and time. I saw we could work as a group, explain technology to the legal world so lawyers and judges could make better decisions, and explain the legal process to techies, so they could avoid troubles and also could be enabled to work effectively to defend Free and Open Source Software from cynical "Intellectual Property" attacks from the proprietary world.
And it worked! That's the amazing part. It actually worked. So far, so good.
If I take three things away from our experience, it's this:
1.) Education is never a waste,Group dynamics are awesome. Whenever there is a new need, somehow the right people show up and fill it. Whether it was meticulously demolishing SCO's claims, one by one, or doing patent prior art searching, or explaining that software is mathematics and hence unpatentable subject matter, or noticing what the real game is in the patent smartphone wars, you came through with competence, donating your knowledge, research, and skills to the group effort. And you did it entirely as volunteers, as a free gift to the world.
Groklaw was attacked with venom, of course. But here we are, ten years later, still standing.
|Hackathon Trademarked in Germany? Now What? ~pj Updated||I am sure you saw that somebody in Germany, a company called nachtausgabe.de, has sneaked through a
trademarking of the word HACKATHON in Germany. There was no opposition, because nobody knew about it. We know now, however, so what can anyone do about it? It turns out, plenty.
It's a word that OpenBSD and Sun each came up with independently at the same time back in the '90s, for heavens sake, and it surely can't belong to any one company now that it's in the dictionary and everyone has freely used it for years now.
Anyway, as soon as I read about it, I wrote to the German equivalent of the USPTO, DPMA, the German Patent and Trademark Office, and I've learned some things that can still be done. I'll share them with you, so the community knows how to go forward if it proves necessary.
|Federal Circuit, en banc, rules in CLS Bank ~pj Updated 3Xs||OMG. CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. has been decided [PDF] by the the Federal Circuit en banc. And Patently O says the court "finds many software patents ineligible"!
As described more fully below, we would affirm the district court's judgment in its entirety and hold that the method, computer-readable medium, and corresponding system claims before us recite patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.1The Federal Circuit. OMG. We've worked hard for so many years to get to this point, I almost can't believe it. And I suppose it's possible it could be appealed, but this is proof of what I've always told you, that education is never a waste. Judge Rader is very upset, I gather. He has written a dissent. But he didn't prevail. And I'm sure he gave it his best effort. OMG. This is a new day.
I knew you'd want to know *that* immediately. We can read and analyze it later in more detail, so stop back by. After I read it again, I'll be sure to post it and we can discuss.
I remember the first time we wrote on Groklaw that software and patents need to get a divorce. Remember? So long ago, and how everybody laughed at us. I remember that too. I am thinking about Apple and Microsoft and all the software patent bullies. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'll read it more carefully now.
|Blackberry Tells the Federal Circuit Judge Posner Got It Wrong Re No Injunctions for FRAND Patents in Apple v. Motorola ~pj||Blackberry's amicus brief [PDF] is now made public in the Apple v. Motorola appeal of Judge Richard Posner's
order which seemed to say that if you own FRAND patents, you have no right to seek an injunction under any circumstances.
But that is not how folks understood their rights back when they volunteered their patents for use in standards; it's a change in the rules midstream. And Blackberry tells the Federal Circuit exactly that. This is a change, and it isn't fair, or in the public interest. SEP owners might behave badly, but so can prospective licensees. Here's how attorney Matt Rizzolo at the Essential Patent Blog sums up the Blackberry argument:
Just as it has argued in prior submissions to agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. International Trade Commission, BlackBerry asserts here that a categorical rule against injunctions for FRAND-encumbered standard-essential patents is wrong - both as a matter of policy and as a matter of violating Supreme Court precedent. BlackBerry alleges that industry participants have "never understood FRAND to absolutely preclude a patent holder from seeking injunctions."The misunderstanding by one and all, if that is what it is, stems from accepting Apple's argument that a FRAND agreement is a contract, as Motorola's brief points out, but if it's a contract, then contract law should apply. Motorola never waived its right to injunctions, and since that is a right under law, it would have to have specifically waived its rights to lose them. Not even judges can just waive their hands and remove legal rights. Why, indeed, would they want to?
|Google, Red Hat, HTC, SAP and Rackspace Seek to File Amicus in Apple v. Samsung Appeal ~ pj||Google, Red Hat, HTC, SAP America, and Rackspace have asked leave of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to file an amicus brief [PDF] in the Apple v. Samsung appeal. That's on the first case., the one Samsung lost but has been whittling down a bit in post-trial motions. Here's the issue they'd like to address:
Amici are all innovative technology companies that develop and provide a variety of products and services that, like the mobile devices at issue in this appeal, incorporate a wide array of features. As such, an issue presented in this appeal - whether a court may enjoin the sale of innovative and technologically complex products based on the incorporation of trivial patented features without evidence that the accused features drive sales of the products - is a matter of great concern to amici.Apple opposes [PDF]:
The lead party on the brief, Google, Inc., admittedly has a direct interest in the outcome of this appeal. As the motion explains (ECF No. 55 at 4; ECF No. 60 at 4), Google is the developer of the Android operating system running on the Samsung smartphones that Apple seeks to enjoin in this case. That interest conflicts with the traditional role of an amicus as "an impartial friend of the court-not an adversary party in interest in the litigation." United States v. Michigan, 940 F.2d 143, 165 (6th Cir. 1991) (emphasis in original).Even if they win, they still lose, though, because there are several others seeking to file the same material, and they are not by any stretch of imagination parties in interest. Except for HTC, none of the rest of the proposed filers is even in the mobile phone marketplace.
|SCO: But waitaminnit, yer Honor ~pj||SCO, of course, is asking [PDF] the judge in U.S. District Court in Utah to reconsider his
order denying SCO's request to reopen its case against IBM.
You knew they would:
SCO submits that reconsideration is appropriate because the Bankruptcy Court overseeing SCO's bankruptcy proceedings lifted the stay of IBM's counterclaims in February 2012 and IBM agreed to the reopening of the case should that stay be lifted. The Bankruptcy Court order lifting the stay was previously submitted to the Court with SCO's Request to Submit for Decision, on June 14, 2012. (Exs. A and B.) Accordingly, SCO respectfully asks the Court to reconsider its decision and grant the Motion to Reopen the Case forthwith.They are right about the Bankruptcy Court lifting the stay. So unless the judge is much more clever than I am, which is likely actually, I suspect he'll have to grant the motion to reopen, and then we'll see IBM make its moves. But of course, SCO wants more.
|The Novell v. Microsoft Hearing at the 10th Circuit - Eyewitness Report ~pj||Our own Justin Ellis attended today's hearing at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Novell's appeal in Novell v. Microsoft. This is the antitrust litigation Novell brought over WordPerfect. He has a report for us. He begins with his general impressions, and then provides his notes on the arguments.
To help you follow along, here are some resources:
His general impression is that Microsoft will prevail, as the judges seemed more positive toward its arguments. But keep in mind that you can't always tell what judges are thinking from their questions.
|MS v. Motorola Appellate Jurisdiction - Another Appeal Issue ~pj||Matt Rizzolo has an interesting article, "Which appeals court has appellate jurisdiction over the Microsoft-Motorola RAND case?":
The Western District of Washington sits within the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which, as noted below, has already heard an interlocutory appeal in this case). But as you may know, in order to preserve uniformity in patent law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit in Washington, DC is the court designated by Congress as the appeals court with exclusive jurisdiction for nearly all patent cases. The Microsoft-Motorola case (at least the part which has garnered the most attention) involves a breach of contract issue relating to patents, standard-setting, and patent licensing issues. So, which is it - the 9th Circuit or the Fed Circuit?It's worth it.
|Newegg Tells the FTC and DOJ How Patent Trolls Are Damaging Retailers ~pj Updated||Newegg's Chief Legal Officer Lee C. Cheng tells the FTC and DOJ in its public comment [PDF] on Patent Assertion Entities that patent troll is a better phrase than politely calling them PAEs, because it describes exactly what they do:
While the FTC's and DOJ's investigation refers to this class of NPEs as "patent assertion entities," I believe that the term "patent troll" is more appropriate. A "troll," as in the under-a-bridge fairy tale figure that blocks one's way across a bridge without some payment (or worse, a fight), is the perfect term for this class of NPEs.Newegg describes what it and other retailers are going through, being sued for using internet commerce software they merely license from other companies, like Microsoft, Oracle, and Citrix. Rather than sue those companies, trolls go after users of their software, like Newegg, claiming that some minor detail of the software is the reason for Newegg's success and seeking damages, even though the troll isn't in business and isn't hurt at all by Newegg using the software. This, Newegg concludes, promotes opportunism rather than innovation. And the impact on Newegg of the constant flood of lawsuits is that it can't create new jobs, despite its success because patent trolls are skimming of the top of retailers' already "razor-thin profit margins".
|Let's Hear From the Trolls For a Change ~pj Updated||I've already highlighted a couple of public comments from those filed with the FTC by companies being harassed by trolls, describing just how destructive they think they are, like Barnes & Noble's and Google/Red Hat's. Now let's take a look at what the trolls have to say in their defense.
Wait. It seems their feelings get hurt if you call them trolls. IPNav tells the FTC it's "pejorative". Barnes & Noble in its comments uses the word troll throughout, and Newegg in its comments [PDF] said the word is a perfect fit, absolutely descriptive of how they act (see next article). The FTC calls them PAEs. I'll stick with Barnes & Noble and Newegg on this one, if you don't mind.
We'll be reading the comments from IPNav [PDF], which claims to be a "white hat" troll, as well as a snip from MOSAID [PDF], which also claims to be one of the good guys. They feel they are misunderstood. It is in a deal with Nokia and Microsoft to go after people with their sorta donated patents, so you might wonder what Microsoft has to say. In a nutshell, it says [PDF] it wouldn't want the PAE business model shut down. *That's* not the problem. Noooo.
|Judge Koh's Order in Apple v Samsung: No Stay on Damages Retrial, Unless... ~pj||Judge Lucy Koh has reached a decision [PDF] on going forward on the retrial on damages in Apple v. Samsung. Trial is set now for November 12th, on damages only, same Daubert rulings, motions in limine, discovery disputes, and evidentiary objections ruled on the same as the first trial, meaning if she made mistakes in the first trial, they'll be repeated in the retrial. "The parties may not relitigate these issues," she writes. So it's all for the appeal court to figure out. She isn't interested in reviewing all that. So if the appeals court orders a third trial, that's the way it will have to be. She wants to keep the damages retrial short and sweet and limited to just one issue, and then send it on its way to appeal, so no new theories and no new fact discovery. There is a schedule for expert discovery. The jury will be 8 people, with the parties' given three peremptory challenges each. Apple asked for the very same jury instructions, but she says they will get together on October 17th to discuss "how to present infringement and validity findings" to the new jury. Other than that, she is silent on that point.
There is one proviso. If the USPTO does not reopen the reexaminations on the two Apple patents that so far it has found invalid, then Samsung can submit a new motion asking for a stay, but that's only meaningful if the USPTO acts faster than the trial. If not, the damages issues will include the currently invalided patents. No, I can't explain the logic. I'm like Alice in WonderLand watching this.
It's mostly tilting Apple's way at the moment, with a Hail Mary pass possible for Samsung, if certain milestones at the USPTO happen quickly enough. As I've told you many times, US patent law favors patent holders, not defendants. That's one reason trolls can do what they do, bully victims into paying up rather than risking the uncertain outcomes of expensive trials that can illogically go against you even when the trial centers on stupid patents that shouldn't have issued in the first place, because once issued there is a presumption the patent is valid. Even if you win at trial and the patent is invalidated or the jury decides you didn't infringe, nobody pays you back all the millions you've spent defending yourself. Your US patent law at work. How do you like it?
|The Microsoft v. Motorola Order on RAND, as text, plus Some Appeal Issues ~pj Updated 3Xs||I've found some materials that I think will help us to put the order [PDF] from Judge James Robart in context, the order setting a RAND rate for Microsoft to pay Motorola. From the materials, particularly this report [PDF] from a conference on patent pools and standards bodies held in Brussels in April, 2012, I think you will see that the judge has used the wrong ruler, namely patent pools, to set a rate that is not fair to Motorola for its standards patents. And as you will see, that is the very danger that the conference highlighted, that patent pools can impede innovation, by lowering the price for newcomers to a field who wish to merely implement the standard, like Microsoft, by letting them unfairly underpay those who did the research to develop the standard, as in Motorola.
I'm getting the impression that the judge is just guessing at a rate in places, and from the wrong starting point too, and if you look at the footnotes, you'll see what I mean. Whenever he has insufficient evidence, instead of saying, "Well, I guess I can't figure that out on this record," he says, "I have insufficient evidence, so I'll just set the lowest rate." Here's just one example, footnote 24:
24 Motorola contends that Microsoft products other than Windows and the Xbox use the H.264 Standard. Motorola lists at least the Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, Windows Embedded, Silverlight, the Zune, Lync, and Skype, as Microsoft products that use the H.264 Standard. (Motorola Pr. FC ¶ 535.) Motorola, however, did not provide sufficient evidence for the court to ascertain the functionality ofthese products, making it impossible for the court to determine the importance of Motorola's H.264 SEPs to these products. Indeed, the little trial evidence regarding functionality of these additional products demonstrates that Motorola's SEPs would have little value to them. (See 11/14/12 Tr. at 150 (Orchard Testimony).) Without such evidence, the court is left to conclude that the low bound of RAND is the appropriate royalty rate for all Microsoft products -- Windows, the Xbox, and all others.But Microsoft is the one asking that the court set a RAND rate, not Motorola, so it has the burden of proving what a RAND rate should be on the other products. So presenting sufficient evidence to support a decision is not, as I understand it, Motorola's burden. So why didn't the judge say, I can't set the rate on these others products because *Microsoft* didn't provide enough evidence? Or, if he insisted on setting a royalty, set it at the highest rate, or even at an average? That's where the pro-Microsoft bias shows through, to me. That's only one place where I see an appeal issue that favors Motorola, if it chooses to appeal.
I'm most of the way doing a text version for you of the order itself, but it's 207 pages, and I'm very interested in you guys quickly taking a look at the way the judge writes about the tech and also his math in figuring out the royalty. You'll find that mostly in the footnotes, which are done. I'll keep working on the grunt work of cleaning up the text version, which is still OCR-messy, while you do that part. You have the PDF, and the text is understandable at least, while I work to perfect it. So, let's each get to work.
Update 2: How great is this? Matt Rizzolo and David Long at The Essential Patent Blog have done an annotated version of the order [PDF].
|In a First, Seattle Judge Sets RAND Rate in MS v. Motorola ~pj Updated 2Xs||I did tell you not to be surprised if the judge in Microsoft's home court in Seattle favored Microsoft in setting a RAND rate for a couple of Motorola standard essential patents in Microsoft v. Motorola. And in fact, he more or less did, in a Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [PDF, 207 pages], although he ordered more than Microsoft offered or thought fair. But interestingly, as Matt Rizzolo points out on The Essential Patent Blog, he used Motorola's methodology to come up with a figure, not Microsoft's:
One interesting thing about the findings is that while the ultimate RAND royalty appears to favor Microsoft, Judge Robart seems to have sided with Motorola as to the right approach to determine RAND royalties - simulating a hypothetical, bilateral negotiation between the parties (whereas Microsoft had suggested determining RAND on the basis of an ex ante, multilateral negotiation at the time of the standard's adoption).I feel confident that this will be appealed by Motorola, because the judge in effect sets the "rule" that you can be ordered to accept pool rates in pools you haven't joined instead of following the normal negotiation structure of the standard body you did agree to put your standard essential patents in. And that just can't be right. Who'd donate patents to standards bodies if they know it has no bearing on the royalties they can expect in return?
|SCO's Motion To Reopen the Case Is Denied with a Bonk on the Head ~pj Updated||SCO's motion to reopen its case against IBM has just been denied by the US District Court Judge David Nuffer in Utah. And the denial presents SCO with a Catch 22. It can go forward only when the bankruptcy stay is lifted, meaning when *both* parties can present their claims, not just SCO, with IBM sitting with its arms tied behind its back on a chair with duct tape over its mouth, which was, I gather, SCO's dream on how to go forward:
The court has reviewed the parties' submissions and finds that SCO's claims and IBM's counterclaims are inextricably intertwined. Thus, proceeding in the piecemeal manner suggested by SCO would be an inefficient use of judicial and party resources, and potentially could result in inconsistent rulings. Accordingly, the court declines to reopen the case at this time. When the bankruptcy stay is lifted, either party may file a motion to reopen the case. Until then, the case shall remain administratively closed.That's a bonk on the head for SCO, for sure, by a judge who demonstrates the simple truth that judges tend to be brainiacs, and they know it's a duck when they see one paddling along calling out "quack, quack" even if it holds up a sign saying, "I am a Swan." Utah, or so I've read, is the scam capitol of the US. So judges there not only have brains, they probably get a lot of experience as well, one assumes. Judge Nuffer also ruled that he doesn't think oral argument would be needed on this, so SCO's request for a hearing is also denied. I guess you could call it a no-brainer. I mean, fair is fair. Isn't that what courts are supposed to be for? But dealing with SCOfolk does take brains and some careful planning, because they are tireless and nothing dissuades them from trying again any which way, and you see that careful thought went into this order. Also because dealing with SCO is like picking up a scorpion. You do want to give it some advance thought before you try it.
Surely SCO's "We Own Linux" scam must be in the top ten scams in history, not just in Utah.
What? You thought the law was dry and boring? Ha!
|Barnes and Noble's Common Sense Suggestions to the FTC and DOJ on Patent Trolls ~pj||The public comments sent to the FTC and DOJ on patent trolls are fascinating. I'd like to show you one outstanding submission, by Barnes & Noble [PDF], who has been sued by trolls, or politely Patent Assertion Entities, or PAEs, over 25 times in the last five years (and received an additional 20+ claims that didn't result in litigation) which meant it has spent tens of millions defending against the avalanche in those five years. They have yet to lose, so they ask what is the point of a company having to endure constant claims that are without merit? Nobody pays them back in full to make them whole, even when they were totally innocent.
Its submission begins: "The patent system is broken," having "lost its true north", adding that the AIA did not fix the troll problem. And so it suggests five common-sense solutions to fix the problems. One suggestion is that trolls should not be allowed to file with the ITC at all, because that agency is about protecting trade, and trolls are not in business. And it points out that the Constitution requires a change. Yes. The Constitution:
The Patent and Copyright Clause grants Congress the power "[t]o...promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," not science fiction and litigious arts. (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 (emphasis added)). But the current system allows trolls to pursue fantastic allegations-claims that would be laughed out of the room in actual scientific or technical circles-in endless litigation that taxes and taxes true innovators while making no meaningful contribution to society.If you enjoyed Barnes & Noble's revelations in court and to the ITC about what it called Microsoft's anticompetitive patent scheme against Android, you'll enjoy reading this new comment on trolls. They don't sugar coat. One of the claims it had to deal with was for using HTML. Wait. I'll let Barnes & Noble tell it:
Even the most plainly baseless lawsuits are expensive and can take years to defeat. In at least four cases, Barnes & Noble has faced litigation by patentees asserting the same theories on which they previously lost. In one case, for example, Barnes & Noble is alleged to infringe patents because BN.com uses the HTML language and returns search results other than exact matches. The patentee asserted these allegations against Barnes & Noble despite having tried and lost a case against other ecommerce retailers based on the same functional allegations levied against their websites....Barnes & Noble and other technology companies see countless lawsuits in which the asserted patents purport to cover products and technologies common to the entire industry. We face repeated allegations that anyone using Wi-Fi, anyone using 3G, anyone using MP3, anyone with an e-commerce website, anyone using Ethernet, and, recently, anyone using InfiniBand technology, to name a few, is infringing and must pay a hefty price to license purportedly essential patents. The allegations sweep far beyond specific innovations to which a patent might legitimately lay claim.I guess I shouldn't be surprised that lawyers for a book company know how to write. Lawyers can be excellent lawyers without that skill, but when they've got that ability too, what a pleasure it is.
|Microsoft and Motorola Argue About Jury or Bench Trial on Contract Claims in Seattle ~pj Updated||Motorola has now filed its opposition [PDF] to Microsoft's "motion to confirm bench trial of breach of contract issues", and is asking the judge in the Microsoft v. Motorola trial in Microsoft's backyard courtroom in Seattle for a jury trial instead. Can you blame them, considering the history of the case so far, if they think they will have a better chance with a jury, any jury, than with this judge? I mean, Motorola doesn't believe the judge has the authority to decide the litigation in the first place. And that's likely why Microsoft is now insisting that there is supposed to be a bench trial. It claims Motorola waived a jury trial. I'll show you some exhibits that indicate otherwise.
Motorola's best option is an appeal down the road, from all I've seen. I'd call this a Teacher's Pet trial. And you know how it goes when you try to tell the teacher that its pet kicked you in the lunch room.
And you'll see in the docket that the judge, the Hon. James Robart, has decided the issue about how much Motorola's RAND rate should be, but we don't get to read it until the parties tell him if they want redactions. But personally, what are the odds he'll do anything but bonk Motorola on the head again? Still, if you noticed in the Apple v. Samsung litigation, post-trial action can be very effective, even when the trial itself is unfair and the result reflects mistakes or even favoritism, especially when Quinn Emanuel is representing you, because they never give up. It's not over 'til it's over. All of it.
|Joint Case Management Statement Filed in Apple v. Samsung ~pj||The judge in the first Apple v. Samsung patent case in California, the Hon. Lucy Koh, asked the parties to file a joint case management statement, just in case she decides to go forward with an immediate second jury on the issue of damages on the 14 products where the first jury got the math wrong. And they have now done so [PDF]. There will be a hearing on all this on April 29. Of course, they disagree. Because they don't agree on how to go forward, they each set out their positions, once again. The short version is that Apple wants to hurry up and have the trial immediately and Samsung wants to hear from the appeals court before the new damages trial goes forward, so as to ensure the same mistakes aren't repeated.|
|Comments to USPTO on How to Improve Patent Applications: Red Hat's and Morrison and Foerster's ~pj||The USPTO has been asking the public to respond to a series of questions with suggestions on improving patents. It is aware that the technical community isn't happy with the way patents are being issued, particularly software patents. You are familiar with some of the USPTO's questions, because we at Groklaw responded to two of them, topic 1 on how to improve software patents, regarding functional language, and topic 2, suggestions for future topics for discussion.
There are now comments publicly available on the USPTO's website responding to a third question also, this one about improving patent applications. It has some suggestions for consideration regarding clarifying the scope of claims and the meanings of claim terms in specifications. I thought you'd like to see what Red Hat and Morrison & Foerster [PDFs] had to say. These days Morrison & Foerster seems to find its firm representing the old guard in the smartphone patent wars, and of course Red Hat reliably upholds the interests of the new guys on the block, Open Source. Red Hat points out to the PTO, quoting Tim O'Reilly, that were it not for Open Source, there'd be no Google, Twitter, Facebook, or Amazon:
As one seasoned observer has noted, many best-known brands (like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google) "were built on a foundation of open source software, and wouldn't exist without the ... [open standards and protocols of the] Internet and the world wide web, Linux, and the cornucopia of open source tools and languages that made the fertile soup from which today's tech innovation sprang."That hopefully will help the PTO to realize that catering only to the old guard would be damaging. Open Source is now mainstream, and that means the USPTO's old way of doing things with respect to patents -- particularly software patents -- needs to be adjusted to accommodate the new. Happily, the USPTO seems to realize this, and so while Red Hat thinks some changes require changes in law, it commends them for this effort, the Software Partnership:
Nonetheless, we see a clear nexus between the growing thicket of software patents and abusive patent litigation, so we support and encourage the PTO's Partnership, its systematic examination of the issues identified in the Federal Register Notice, and its efforts at improving quality. Indeed, we believe the agency should accelerate and expand these important initiatives.Tactfully, it indicates that there are more problems to be addressed that the PTO has yet to identify.
|Samsung Parries Apple's 7th Amendment Arguments ~pj||Samsung has responded to Apple's arguments that the Seventh Amendment is not violated by a damages-only retrial and that in any case Samsung waived that issue. Not so, Samsung says, because the claims are intertwined and there was nothing to waive until the new trial was ordered, plus a right to a jury trial can't be impliedly waived:
Apple's response on the Seventh Amendment issue (Dkt. 2303 ("Opp.")) offers no answer to the constitutional problem presented by a damages-only new trial in the circumstances of this case, where a second jury would necessarily have to reexamine infringement findings determined by the first jury because the scope and extent of infringement as to the design patents and some utility patents are inextricably tied to the amount of damages. Samsung did not waive this argument because the proper scope of a new trial could not be addressed until a new trial was ordered.1...The parties also argue further on Apple's conditional motion for reconsideration of damages.
|Apple's Game Revealed in Apple v. Samsung Post-Trial Skirmishes ~pj||Apple has filed several new documents in Apple v. Samsung -- the trial that never ends. The main issue is whether Samsung's
request [PDF] for a stay in holding the new trial on damages should be granted. Apple votes no [PDF], again. It would prefer not to wait until the USPTO and the courts finish the reexaminations of two of Apple's patents, preferring an immediate retrial.
Why? It means setting damages for at least one patent claim the USPTO just decided isn't valid in a final office action and another patent that has been ruled preliminarily invalid, but this is Apple. It indicates it will appeal until it gets what it feels is the outcome it wants.
But that's not the real game. The real game is to get the appeals over with before the reexaminations plus all its appeals are finished, because, as Apple itself states, if a final invalidity ruling arrives after the appeals process is over, it doesn't "disturb an earlier final court judgment awarding damages for past infringement of those claims." So that's Apple's game. Take the money and run. It wants the damages trial to happen right away, so that the appeals process can get going quickly, to try to beat the timeline on the USPTO findings of invalidity. That way, even if the patents are ultimately found to be indeed invalid, Samsung will still have to pay the damages the deluded earlier jury sets.
Do you admire Apple for angling for such an outcome? I don't either.
See what happens when a jury gets things so very wrong? They wanted to "send a message" but the message turns out to be that US patent law can be wildly unfair. Samsung can be forced to pay for invalid patents, because that's how patent law in the US works currently. How do you like it? Think some reform might be in order? Add on top that these are software patents, which some, including me, think are not properly patentable subject matter, and it's cringe-worthy to watch this case play out like this.
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|Google, Red Hat, et al. Ask FTC and DOJ to Investigate Antitrust Implications of Patent Outsourcing to Trolls ~pj||Joe Mullin at ars technica has the welcome news that the FTC is thinking about using subpoena powers to investigate patent trolls, such as Intellectual Venture. He mentions that Google, Red Hat, Blackberry and Earthlink just sent some comments [PDF] to the FTC and the Department of Justice asking for an investigation into what they politely call patent assertion entities, or PAEs. So have the Computer and Communications Industry Association [Comments, PDF] and the National Restaurant Association [Comments, PDF] also asked for such scrutiny.
But the most important part of the Google et al. request, to me, hasn't yet been highlighted in the media reports I've seen. What they are asking for is not just an investigation into trolls, but into active companies outsourcing their patent enforcement *to* PAEs. And what they are asking for is whether such activities in some instances can rise to the level of antitrust violations.
That is something I've wondered about for a while -- why didn't regulatory bodies see what is happening to Android, for example, with all the old guard working apparently together to try to crush it? One thing that Microsoft and Nokia have done, for example, is outsource patent enforcement to MOSAID and other patent enforcement-style non-practicing entities. (If you recall, Google filed a compliant specifically about that with the EU Commission last summer.) The new comments call the new outsourcing to trolls patent privateering, which they say is designed for assymetric patent warfare -- meaning the defendant's business is at stake, but the outsourcing company's business isn't, and the troll has nothing to lose, because it has no business.
So, finally, the day I've been waiting for begins.
I've taken the time to do the comments as text for us, because the footnotes alone are a treasure trove of resources. So let's take a look at the antitrust issues and see if we can learn something about antitrust law that way.
|Today is Human Genome Day at the US Supreme Court ~pj Updated 4Xs - transcript||Today is human genome day at the US Supreme Court. There will be oral argument on Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.. The link will take you to the ABA's collection of amicus briefs, and there are many of them, and the merits briefs. The question before the court is this:
QUESTION PRESENTED: Many patients seek genetic testing to see if they have mutations in their genes that are associated with a significantly increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer. Respondent Myriad Genetics obtained patents on two human genes that correlate to this risk, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These patents claim every naturally-occurring version of those genes, including mutations, on the theory that Myriad invented something patent--eligible simply by removing ("isolating") the genes from the body. Petitioners are primarily medical professionals who regularly use routine, conventional genetic testing methods to examine genes, but are prohibited from examining the human genes that Myriad claims to own. This case therefore presents the following questions:Can you believe that is the question, are human genes patentable? But it is what the court has to decide. How in the world did we get to such a place? The argument [PDF] by Myriad is that they aren't patenting genes *in* the body, only after they've removed them and done things to them that are not done in the body, arguing that "isolated" DNA can perform functions that DNA can't. But ACLU's lawyer points out in its reply brief, you can't patent gold after you take it out of a stream just because you can make jewelry with it or patent kidneys after you remove them from one body and transplant them:1. Are human genes patentable?
Myriad is in effect arguing that it may obtain a patent on a product or law of nature itself if it finds a new use for it. Under this theory, Section 101 would not prohibit someone from obtaining a patent on gold if she found a new use for gold. As a matter of law, that argument is incorrect.So that is what is at stake.
|Samsung Granted Leave to Depose Toshiyuki Masui in Japan Re Prior Art ~pj Updated||Samsung has been given leave [PDF] in Apple v. Samsung II to depose Toshiyuki Masui [PDF] in Japan regarding prior art. Specifically, it's about POBox software, which it believes is relevant prior art.
Here is a paper [PDF] on POBox by Professor Masui, "An Efficient Text Input Method for Pen-based Computers", published in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'98) (April 1998). Here's another, "An Efficient Text Input Method for Handheld and Ubiquitous Computers" the following year [PDF]. Professor Masui was approached and expressed willingness to attend the deposition. The deposition is set for June 11 in Tokyo, in the US embassy there. The Declaration [PDF] attached to the motion asking for leave to depose Professor Masui explains how it all happened:
2. I first spoke with Professor Masui on or about February 5, 2013. I explained that we were interested in Professor Masui's work on the POBox software, which is relevant prior art in this litigation. On or about the morning of February 6, my colleague John McKee and I spoke to Professor Masui about POBox. During this call, Professor Masui expressed willingness to gather and provide information about POBox. Several days later, on or about February 12, 2013, Professor Masui verbally confirmed to me that he would be willing to sit for a deposition in this matter.Attached are the rules for such depositions, Exhibit 1, The United States - Japan Consular Convention, and Exhibit 2, the State Department's guidelines for conducting depositions in Japan.
Also the judge, the Hon. Lucy Koh, has filed her order [PDF] construing disputed patent claim terms. It's full of the usual infuriating spaghetti language about terms that describe elements of patents that in my view should never have issued in the first place. Don't read on if you don't want to know about one specific. But there is a link to Professor Masui's work.
|Apple and Samsung File the Extra Briefs the Judge Asked For ~pj Updated||The parties in Apple v. Samsung have filed the extra briefs the Hon. Lucy Koh asked for in her April 2nd order. She asked for the following:
To assist the Court in resolving the many pending disputes, the Court sets the following briefing schedule:There will be more on all this, as you can see each gets to respond to the other's brief.
|USPTO Roundtables on Software Patents: CA and NYC, video available||The USPTO has now made available video and slides from the speakers at the two roundtable discussions on improving software patents held so far, the first in Silicon Valley on February 15, and the second in New York City on February 27. Sadly, it's .wmv and mostly all PowerPoints, like it's still the '90s and everyone uses Windows.
Those days are so over. Time to modernize, I'd suggest. Nowadays, most people use Apple or Android, on mobiles, to boot.
There's a new deadline for sending them comments, April 15. Groklaw already sent ours in, but if you have further thoughts, there's still time. And the comments already received are available now too.
|Another Cynical "Antitrust" Complaint From Microsoft and Its Buddies Against Google ~pj Updated 4Xs||Evidently, Microsoft and its proprietary friends didn't get the result they hoped for from their first antitrust complaint against Google to the EU Commission. The latest news is that the first one is being amicably resolved, according to the New York Times. Instead of saying to themselves, I guess we were wrong, instead Fairsearch, the Microsoft-led group that seems to have no other reason for being but to attack Google,
files another antitrust complaint.
And when someone files a complaint with the EU Commission, it has to consider it. So it will.
Here's what the new complaint is about, or says it's about:
FairSearch's complaint is that "Google uses deceptive conduct to lockout competition in mobile" - by, specifically, requiring OEMs that use Android to pre-load a suite of Google services and give them "prominent default placement" on the device in order to also get access to "must-have Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play". By doing this, FairSearch argues that Google "disadvantages other providers, and puts Google's Android in control of consumer data on a majority of smartphones shipped today", adding that this "predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google's dominant mobile platform"....That is preposterous, and I'll tell you why. But what I do want the EU Commission to think about is this: is this constant attack on Google itself a result of antitrust schemes by the old guard to destroy the new kid on the block? What? Microsoft would never do anything mean or underhanded? Puh lease.
|Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj Updated 2Xs||Rackspace is going after a troll, Parallel Iron and its "agent", IP Navigation (or IPNav), bringing a declaratory judgment of noninfringement action against Parallel Iron, because it owns the patents and is asserting them against the Open Source Hadoop distributed file system ( Parallel's patents being on storage-area-network and network-attached-storage equipment) and a breach of contract action against both. Since Rackspace says, as the H Online reports, one goal is "to highlight the tactics that IP Nav uses to divert hard-earned profits and precious capital from American businesses", I thought we could pitch in and spread the word.
And if you are free to do so, why not look for any prior art on the patents involved? There are three, but once again, we have a continuation loop, so it's really just one with some variations on the theme and some doodads. Don't read on if you are not supposed to look at patents.