Landmark patent case will determine whether you can ever truly own a device again


Former IBM division Lexmark (which, a decade ago, lost a key copyright case that tried to ban ink-toner refilling) is headed to court in a patent case called Lexmark v. Impression, where it argues that patent law gives it the right to restrict your use of your property after you buy it. Read the rest

The shape of the Internet (according to patent drawings)


The stylized art of patent drawings is instantly recognizable. Before the information age, the drawings were drafter's jewelboxes, designed to make the workings of new mechanical inventions legible to other inventors (and patent examiners). Read the rest

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The libertarian case for patent reform

Derek Khanna, who spearheaded the legislative initiative that made phone unlocking legal, has published a report on patent reform with the libertarian-leaning Lincoln Labs that sets out the case for patent reform being necessary for economic liberty. Read the rest

Stupid patent for the ages: "Changing order quantities"

The USPTO granted a notorious patent troll a patent on allowing customers to change quantities after they place their initial order. Read the rest

John Oliver on patent trolls

Nailed it ♬ (via Techdirt) Read the rest

EFF: Here's how to fix patents in America

Two years in the making, Defend Innovation is a whitepaper by Electronic Frontier Foundation attorneys, setting out a program for fixing America's horribly busted patent system. Read the rest

Pfizer threatens pharmacists, doctors if they take its name in vain

Pfizer's patent on pregabalin -- an anti-epilepsy med -- expires this year, but there's another patent on using the public domain drug to treat neuropathic pain; in a shocking letter to UK doctors, the pharma giant warns of dire consequences should medical professionals dare to prescribe the generic for the patented use. Read the rest

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US Patent Office awards patent to herbal snakeoil that "kills cancer"

The USPTO awarded Patent 8,609,158 last December for a mix of "evening primrose oil, rice, sesame seeds, green beans, coffee, meat, cheese, milk, green tea extract, evening primrose seeds, and wine" that "rebukes cancer, cancer cells, and kills cancer" -- the accompanying extract states, "it works." Sounds legit. Read the rest

Law Comics: legal masterclass in webcomic form

With Law Comics, Cambridge law PhD candidate Julia Powles and illustrator Ilias Kyriazis are creating a masterclass in thorny issues of webcomic form! Read the rest

Supreme Court invalidates software patent because it's a software patent

In a stunning verdict, the Supreme Court has tossed out a patent because it is a software patent, ruling that "merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention" -- that is, adding "with a computer" doesn't make a new patentable invention. This is seismic, and not just because of what it says about whether software is patentable in America, but because of how it escalates the turf war between the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit, which is the nation's "patent court."

The Supremes have spent more than a year pumping out decisions that fly in the face of the Federal Circuit's longstanding precedents, but the Federal Circuit judges have refused to consider Supreme Court decisions when hearing new cases -- meaning that every time the Federal Circuit goes against a Supreme Court judgment, you have to apply to have the case retried in front of the Supremes to get justice. Normal practice is for Federal judges to treat the Supremes as having the last word on US legal interpretation, so when the Supremes rule, all the lower courts follow.

There have been rumors about the Federal Circuit being abolished -- or having jurisdiction over patents yanked -- as the turf war has heated up. Federal Circuit judges have a reputation for being ideologically biased towards patents as a matter of course, wanting to use patents to solve every problem. It's classic regulatory capture -- patent judges tend to start life as patent lawyers, and are improperly chummy with the white-shoe lawyers who appear before them. Read the rest

Top US patent judge resigns after ethics breach

Judge Randall Rader, the top US patent judge, has resigned from the bench after he sent a letter to a patent attorney praising his courtroom appearance, inviting him to share the letter publicly. Radar is one of the top ambassadors for the US patent system, touring the world giving speeches extolling its virtues. He's planning to spend the rest of his life teaching patent law in global universities. Read the rest

Museum of patent models

The Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum in Cazenovia, New York is the world's largest publicly-viewable private collection of models made as part of patent applications. The museum's new book, Inventing a Better Mousetrap, is due out later this year. Read the rest

What's the story with the Makerbot patent?

The 3D printing world is all a-seethe with the story that Makerbot supposedly filed a patent on a design from its Thingiverse community. As Cory Doctorow discovered, the reality is a little more complicated: if Makerbot has committed a sin, it is not the sin of which it stands accused.

Turn literary works into patent applications with patent-generator

Patent-generator is a Github-hosted python script that turns literary texts into patent applications, with descriptions of the accompanying diagrams (here's Kapital, AKA "A method and device for comprehending, theoretically, the historical movement"; and here's Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology, AKA "A device and system for belonging to bringing-forth"). Read the rest

Amazon patents taking pictures of stuff on a white background

The annals of stupid, sloppy patents have a new world-beating entry: Amazon has received a patent on taking pictures of stuff on a white background. The patent's particulars specify a well-known lighting arrangement that minimizes shadows and post-production cleanup. As DIY Photography points out, there's a huge corpus of prior art on this that Amazon didn't disclose in its filing, and the USPTo appeared to have done no due diligence before giving the company a 20-year monopoly on a common studio technique. Read the rest

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