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
The USPTO granted a notorious patent troll a patent on allowing customers to change quantities after they place their initial order. Read the rest
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
The Judicial Conference of the US has approved the elimination of Rule 84, a court procedure designed to help small patent-holders streamline their lawsuits, but which has been weaponized by patent trolls, who use it to indiscriminately file lawsuits on a mass scale in the hopes of bullying quick settlements out of their victims. Read the rest
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
With Law Comics, Cambridge law PhD candidate Julia Powles and illustrator Ilias Kyriazis are creating a masterclass in thorny issues of law...in webcomic form! Read the rest
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
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
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
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
Adi from EFF writes, "Engine Advocacy worked with artist Kirby Ferguson (of Everything is a Remix fame) to create this great primer on patent trolls. It beautifully and succinctly lays out the patent problem, which is one of the hottest topics on the Hill right now. EFF, Public Knowledge, and Engine are pushing for people to call their senators to demand strong patent reform, and we have a handy tool at fixpatents.org for all you to do so!" Read the rest
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge and Engine have submitted comments [PDF] to the US Patent and Trademark Office explaining how examiners could improve the quality of patents that the USPTO issues by expanding their search for "prior art" (that is, evidence that the thing under discussion has already been invented) by building searchable databases, and by seeing through the common, misleading practices of using synonyms for common words to make obvious things sound new.
As EFF points out in its post on the filing, the real answer for this is action from Congress to reform patents and end patent-trolling, but these are all useful steps for the USPTO to take in the meantime. Read the rest