Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The "do it on a computer" process pieces -- supposedly not patentable, but defendants are still struggling with discovery expenses


Electronic Frontier Foundation has an essay in its “stupid patent of the month” series, on the Alice v. CLS  Bank case, decided in June 2014, when the Supreme Court ruled that you can’t patent an abstract “do it on a computer” process.  (Or maybe, do it on a mobile phone?)   
  
Is this the “Alice the Toothpick” case for plumbers?  It had to do with trolls attacking electronic tokens (the “838 patent”)  or e-money circulating in e-commerce (not to be confused with true digital currencies). 
  
   
But Joe Mullin points out that a new case “Berkheimer v. HP” may slow down the easy defense claimed by defendants in these cases and require more money spent on discovery, in cases which the defendants will eventually win.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Why my own news "brand" is important to me



Although maybe not a legal question regarding trademark strictly speaking, my own insistence on maintaining my own personal “brand” of news reporting and commentary in my books and blogs can raise troubling questions.

My “brand” has consisted of using the “doaskdotell.com” site name and workmark for the books, as well as my own legal name (John W. Boushka) and parental-given nickname (Bill Boushka).  I suppose the nickname could complicate things further, but I have never heard a complaint from extended family members.

There is some controversy because my operations don’t pay their own way or make much money, so they seem gratuitous, attention-getting, and intended to distract readers from more conventional group-centered (even “intersectional”) activism.  That can raise a variety of crisscrossing questions on matters like business licenses and home-based businesses, all the way to election law (the 2005 controversy about free political “blogging” presented on these pages before).
  
What I want to reinforce today is the importance to me of my own “brand”, and that I not be a conduit for somebody else’s speech.  It may sound problematical to say that shouting in a demonstration is “beneath me”;  but in any sense doing so is not my own “game”. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Trademarked franchise brands get protected aggressively, and this affects decisions of a lot of small business owners



Will businesses that use names similar to those of established franchises (like the same first word or number) face trademark infringement suits?
  
It’s interesting that so many of the major retail marks are indeed franchises owned by public companies, which have a fiduciary responsibility toward shareholders.  So they must protect their marks even in situations that may sound silly. 
    
The use of franchise brands has a major impact on decisions that small business owners make.  Often they feel pressured to work with a major brand franchise than work on their own.  It strikes me that immigrants are often very good at managing franchises as they have learned these skills in their home countries through their families.

The brands can even matter in the media, with televisions shows (which are usually "series" and qualify as franchises) and movie sequels. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Blackberry sues Facebook over patents underlying Messenger



BlackBerry, which we haven’t heard as much about (Research in Motion) recently, since Obama gave up his in 2009 (I switched over to Droid in 2010 and eventually iPhone), is suing Facebook for patent infringement over several features in Facebook messenger.  Timothy B. Lee explains the cross litigation in Ars Technica.  Lee describes this as “weaponizing instant messaging patents”.


These patents sound more "valid" than some others that get trolled. but some of them still sound largely conceptual, like the "icons with numeric badges". 
  
My own iPhone has a button for Messages and for Facebook Messenger, two separate apps.


Friday, February 02, 2018

I propose my own "stupid patent of the month" for EFF


I propose a stupid patent of the month, before Electronic Frontier Foundation finds out.  

I’ve developed a way of keeping track of all the elements of a plot of a novel on a Microsoft Access database.  Then I sort them by presentation (chapter, subchapter) sequence and tie characters to various events, with comments to help tie loose ends.

I then copy them into a simple HTML table for a blog posting.
  
An example is here

I shared it with a friend, a much younger gay man, also writing a novel yesterday.
  
It struck me, people try to sell these ideas to patent troll companies.  I “give it away” free.  

Monday, January 01, 2018

Does USPTO's own fee set-up unintentionally encourage patent trolling?


Timothy B. Lee has an important article on Ars Technica, referring to a Brookings study, on how the current fee system at USPTO may unintentionally incentivize the USPTO to keep issuing low quality patents, to “trolls”. Lee mentions EFF’s series “Stupid Patent of the Month”.

The basic idea is to collect an application fee (and renewal fee) but not an issuance fee.

  

A Twitter response called USPTO’s current system “penny wise and pound foolish”.