Monday, June 24, 2013

"Abstract patents" could invite dangerous trolls, endanger Internet ad business

Some Appeals circuits – particularly the Federal circuit in Washington DC, have upheld the concept of “abstract patents” up to a point.  These are patents of “concepts”, like clearing checks electronically or scanning documents into email content.
The Federal circuit, even after review requested by the Supreme Court, has stuck to a decision that a patent claimed by Ultramerical, which shows an online user the contents of an ad without actually linking to it, after it chased Wild Tangent.  It would sound off hand that this case could be very important to the whole Internet ad-based “free entry” business, just as the “do not track” issue is.

Timothy B. Lee has a story in the Washington Post WonkBlog, today, link here

Could this important matter wind up before the Supreme Court next term?  Hope so.  It seems like an invitation to patent trolls.   

Thursday, June 13, 2013

DNA from natural human genome cannot be patented, but a transformative process can (SCOTUS)

The Supreme Court has unanimously  that a human gene, or any natural DNA sequence from the human genome, cannot be patented.  A process to convert an RNA transcript to a complementary DNA can be patented, given Myraid Genetics a practical “monopoly”.  There are critics on Twitter today of that “exception”.
ARS Technica has the story by John Turner, here
The case would affect the ability of people born with cancer susceptibility genes (especially breast cancer, and this include men) to be screened (to be able to afford it) -- the "Angelina Jolie" situation.  

The case is Association of Molecular Patholgy v. Human Genetics, and the Supreme Court slip opinion is here.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Lodsys seems to take advantage of big-business-friendly patent law, USPTO policies, and court forum shopping

Electronic Frontier Foundation has a an FAQ link for app developers who receive demand letters from Lodsys, link here.

It  makes several points.  A demand letter is not a lawsuit.  Another point is that receiving a technology feature from Apple of Google doesn’t necessarily mean that the app developer may not be separately responsible for getting a license.  Apparently that issue is before a federal court in East Texas (apparently popular with plaintiff “forum-shopping”).  It may take months or years to settle, and is likely to go through an appeals cycle.  Supreme Court involvement would probably occur only after competing rulings among different circuits.  It sounds like an issue the Court should decide, unless Congress acts instead.

Apple and Google have made some moves, including an attempt by Google to shorten the process to “reexamination”. 

Update: Later June 4:

I hadn't even seen Timothy B. Lee's Wonkblog article on patent troll in the Washington Post until I got a tweet today about it from him;  He calls the trolls ambulance chasers and says their activity was facilitated by relaxing of rules for patent acquisition in the Reagan 1980s; Obama's proposed reforms are not enough; here's the article.