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Happy Birthday to the Patent System, A Dream of Our Forefathers

Posted: Monday, Apr 14, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Raymond Van Dyke | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents

Eleven score and four years ago, on April 10, 1790, our Founders brought forth our patent system, an institution designed to promote progress in the fledgling nation called America. See First U.S. Patent Laws. Despite its value to our country, 224 years later, that system is under attack.

Until the late 18th Century, innovative colonists in the Americas relied on British-based patent laws to obtain Colonial patents. In 1790, however, American citizens could obtain a patent under the new U.S. patent system.  George Washington, in his first Message to Congress on the State of the Union, stressed the importance of a patent system, in which he promoted “the expediency of giving effectual encouragement as well to the introduction of new and useful inventions from abroad, as to the exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home.”

A successful country needs new ideas and businesses.  Our patent system provides the carrot to attract innovation by granting a 20-year period of exclusivity.  But the inventor must pay a price for this right: full disclosure.  He or she must reveal every detail about the invention, and, after 20 years of development, promotion and profit, the scientific and technological knowledge in that innovation enters the public realm for all to use.  Our Founders recognized that patent rights, although very strong, are also short-lived and serve a greater public purpose.



The “Useful Arts” in the Modern Era: For SCOTUS on CLS Bank

Posted: Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 @ 10:30 am | Written by John White | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Government, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, John White, Patents, Software, Technology & Innovation, US Supreme Court

This is my third article, in a series, written to provide some useful aid for the Supreme Court and clerks in the wrapping of their minds and writing around the issues surrounding computers and software. I have already written two installments:  Help for the Supreme Court in CLS Bank; and, What is a Computer?  As predicted when I started, almost every patent person with a “dog” in the fight re software has written articles (or Amici) to be helpful. I only hope that what emerges from beneath the avalanche of writing is something that can get the patent system, and its relationship to computers/software, back to where it needs to be for the system to be an incentive and reward based enterprise as it was intended.

The object of this installment is not scholarly, in the sense that case citations are going to show up, but rather is another effort to give the lay person a chance to “get” what it is we in the patent community continue to babble about, in patent attorney code, when it comes to software. Of course, because, I am doing the writing, car analogies will be present because that is the only technology that I can readily relate to when characterizing computers/software/machines.

The story that begins the tale is me attending a small car show in Williamsburg, Virginia last summer. The selection of cars ranged from brass era to modern sports cars. As a part of the show, and to keep folks around, they had a schedule of “car starts” where a specific car would be fired up and the crowd would be given a short demo on the particular car. The one I waited for, specifically, was the Ford Model-T. It was the car that made modern America. It put thousands on the road and thousands to work. That “device” changed the course of our collective history. But, it was, none-the-less, a cantankerous beast. Henry Ford was quoted as saying, “I will give you the car for free if I can sell you the parts to keep it running!” (Hey, the first “freeware” sales model!) It was solid and, for its day, very reliable and capable. But the owner /operator had to be mechanically quite adept.



AT&T Patents Personalized Information Services System

Posted: Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: AT&T, Companies We Follow, Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

The Whitacre Tower in downtown Dallas, TX, is home to the main headquarters for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), a major multinational corporation in the field of telecommunications and our latest featured corporation for IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. A recent increase in demand for AT&T products and services nationwide has led to the company’s recent announcement that it would hire 3,000 more retail workers in the U.S. over the coming months. Stronger AT&T stock prices may also enable the company to be a bigger player in mergers & acquisitions markets, as this online article published by The Wall Street Journal suggests.

Whenever we check in with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a closer look at AT&T’s recent inventions, we find an intriguing selection of technologies for enhancing the user experience for mobile electronic devices. Today, we’re sharing our favorite patent applications and issued patents from this major developer of telecommunications products and services. As you can see, AT&T is heavily invested in a variety of software related innovations. In this article we particularly focus our selections on a variety of personalized services enabling many real-life benefits to an AT&T device owner.

The featured application is a continuation of a patent application that matured into a patent for AT&T in December 2013, some 9 years after it was first filed. The file history shows that after being unable to convince the patent examiner after several final rejections AT&T appealed to the Board, which in May 2013, reversed the examiners rejections. Obviously, given that AT&T has fought so long and all the way to the Board they must believe this innovation to be of some importance. Indeed, this AT&T innovation offers a very practical service that can be applied to a variety of emergency situations. This technology involves a time-sensitive encoded artifact that is affixed to a person or object which can be scanned to communication important information in response to an emergency event.



Are Software Patents Stifling Innovation?

Posted: Friday, Apr 11, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by David Kline & Bernard J. Cassidy | 12 comments
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Posted in: David Kline, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Reform, Patents, Software, Technology & Innovation

What if (Almost) Everything You Thought You Knew About America’s “Broken” Patent System Was Wrong?

What follows is the fourth and final installment in the “Myths of the Patent Wars” series.

The necessary legislative effort to curb bad actors in the patent industry has been “hijacked” by a small handful of very powerful global technology companies intent on forcing broader changes in the patent system to make it better serve their business interests.

Under the banner of “patent reform,” these giant firms have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbyists and media relations to promulgate a series of dramatic but false claims about America’s supposedly-“broken” patent system — claims that are now almost universally accepted as true by the media, Congress, and the public at large.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we examined the false claim that there is an “explosion of patent litigation greater than any in history” as well as the myth that non-practicing entities are a new breed of parasitic patent holder who contributes nothing to society. In Part 3, we debunked the myth that NPEs are stampeding the International Trade Commission with spurious infringement claims, as well as the myth that excessive damages are being won in litigation.



USPTO Renews Patents for Humanity Program

Posted: Friday, Apr 11, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments
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Posted in: Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, USPTO

Washington – The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced that Patents for Humanity is being renewed as an annual program. Started as a one-year pilot in 2012, the program recognizes businesses, inventors, non-profits, and universities who leverage their intellectual property portfolio to tackle global humanitarian challenges. The renewal was first announced on February 20 as part of the Obama administration’s ongoing commitment to strengthen the U.S. patent system.

“America’s businesses are defined by our compassion as much as our entrepreneurial spirit,” said Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy and Development, National Security Staff. “Those who look not just to how to grow their businesses, but also to the good their innovations can do for the global community, should be applauded.  That’s why Patents for Humanity is so significant: a highly successful program that uses business incentives to help reward firms that put cutting-edge, life-saving technologies into the hands of those who need them most — faster than ever before.”



The ITC and Excessive Patent Damages Myths

Posted: Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by David Kline & Bernard J. Cassidy | No Comments »
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Posted in: David Kline, Government, Guest Contributors, International Trade Commission, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Litigation, Patents

What if (Almost) Everything You Thought You Knew About America’s “Broken” Patent System Was Wrong?

What follows is the third installment in the four-part “Myths of the Patent Wars” series.

The necessary legislative effort to curb bad actors in the patent industry has been “hijacked” by a small handful of very powerful global technology companies intent on forcing broader changes in the patent system to make it better serve their business interests.

Under the banner of “patent reform,” these giant firms have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbyists and media relations to promulgate a series of dramatic but false claims about America’s supposedly-“broken” patent system — claims that are now almost universally accepted as true by the media, Congress, and the public at large.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we examined the false claim that there is an “explosion of patent litigation greater than any in history” as well as the myth that non-practicing entities are a new breed of parasitic patent holder who contributes nothing to society. In fact, we showed that NPEs were consciously created by the U.S. Founding Fathers as a way to kick-start the fledgling American economy by involving as many people as possible — even those without the wealth or resources to commercialize their own inventions — to participate in innovation.



Fortune Magazine’s Unusual Position on Non-Practicing Entities

Posted: Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Written by Bob Zeidman | No Comments »
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Posted in: Bob Zeidman, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Trolls, Patents

The March 17, 2014 issue of Fortune magazine contained an unusual article, RPX: Taking on the Trolls. This biased PR piece with few actual facts was written by Mr. Roger Parloff, Senior Editor  for Legal Affairs who fell hook, line, and sinker for the spin that RPX is putting out, aided by large corporations and those in academia who wish to weaken if not eliminate the U.S. patent system. He is not to be completely blamed for being duped by the same stories that large corporations have been promoting to politicians, reporters, and the public about the terrible “patent trolls” as these corporations attempt to dominate markets, put individual inventors and small companies out of business, and sue each other into oblivion while crying into their bank accounts.

First, what is a “patent troll”? No one really knows, and the anti-patent people do not want it defined too precisely because if it were defined, it would include not only the companies that send demand letters for $1,000 to mom-and-pop coffee shops and hardware stores for using “patented” fax machines and copiers, but it would also include all major U.S. universities (that manufacture no products), most individual inventors (who have not yet gotten their inventions funded), most startup companies (that have not yet gone to market), and most bankrupt companies (that are trying to find value for their shareholders). In fact, it also includes companies that create a great invention but have trouble competing for shelf space at Walmart or Target against larger, infringing competitors. These companies do produce products, but when they sue their huge competitors, the press is encouraged to call them trolls.



Are Non-Practicing Entities The Problem?

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by David Kline & Bernard J. Cassidy | 24 comments
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Posted in: David Kline, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Litigation, Patent Trolls, Patents

What if (Almost) Everything You Thought You Knew About America’s “Broken” Patent System Was Wrong?

What follows is the second installment in the four-part “Myths of the Patent Wars” series.

The necessary legislative effort to curb bad actors in the patent industry has been “hijacked” by a small handful of very powerful global technology companies intent on forcing broader changes in the patent system to make it better serve their business interests.

Under the banner of “patent reform,” these giant firms have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbyists and media relations to promulgate a series of dramatic but false claims about America’s supposedly-“broken” patent system — claims that are now almost universally accepted as true by the media, Congress, and the public at large.

In Part 1 of this series, we examined the false claim that an “explosion of patent litigation greater than any in history” is imposing an unwarranted burden on industry and diverting resources better spent on innovation. In fact, today’s patent litigation rate is less than half what it was during the golden age of American innovation in the 19th century Industrial Revolution — a revolution which thrust the U.S. into the top ranks of industrial nations.