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[News] Patents Raise Antitrust Questions

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Patent Thickets, Bad Patents, and Costly Patent Litigation:

,----[ Quote ]
| In my next (and final) post on the sewing machine patent thicket, I will 
| raise an issue that is not yet discussed in my paper — antitrust. The impact 
| of antitrust doctrine on how patent-owners contract with other patent-owners 
| may create significant variances between the nineteenth century and today on 
| how patent-owners may resolve patent thickets. I am still researching the 
| relationship between patent pools and antitrust, and so I am especially keen 
| on receiving feedback from the readers of this series.      


Don't tailor make patent act

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| Congress has spent the past five years in an ongoing effort to reform the 
| patent system. Reform proposals have come and gone; the debates between 
| proponents and opponents of various amendments have been fierce and 
| protracted.    
| [..]
| These disagreements demonstrate the conflicting needs of different industries 
| in the patent system. The incentives necessary to promote innovation in the 
| pharmaceutical industry are not necessarily those for software or to 
| semiconductors. The incentives necessary to innovation by small entities may 
| differ from those needed by large entities.     



FTC Asks Supreme Court to Review Rambus Antitrust Case

,----[ Quote ]
| The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to
| intervene in a case in which the agency accused memory-maker Rambus of
| anticompetitive behavior in deceiving a standards-setting body.
| The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in April threw
| out the FTC's case against Rambus, in which the agency accused the company of
| convincing industry groups to declare a standard for the memory used in PCs,
| servers, printers and cameras without admitting that it owned the patents to
| those technologies. The FTC Monday asked the Supreme Court to overturn that
| appellate decision.


An afternoon among the patent lawyers

,----[ Quote ]
| There was a brief discussion of the practice of not researching patents at
| all with the hope of avoiding triple damages for "willful infringement." The
| participants agreed that this was a dangerous approach which could backfire
| on its practitioners; convincing a judge of one's ignorance can be a
| challenge. But it was also acknowledged that there is no way to do a full
| search for patents which might be infringed by a given program in any case.
| All told, it was a more interesting afternoon than one might expect. The
| discussion of software patents in the free software community tends to follow
| familiar lines; the people at this event see the issue differently. For
| better or worse, their view likely has a lot of relevance to how things will
| go. There will be some tweaking of the system to try to avoid the worst
| abuses - at least as seen by some parts of the industry - but wholesale
| patent reform is not on the agenda. Software patents will be with us (in the
| US) for the foreseeable future, and they will continue to loom over the rest
| of the world. We would be well advised to have our defenses in place.


Innovation in the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of Intellectual Property
and Antitrust Law

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| Patents Blocking Antitrust Action: Carrier suggests that the existence of IP
| rights should not grant a company a free-pass to take otherwise
| anticompetitive actions.  In his post, Prof. Phil Weiser (Colorado)
| agrees “IPRs should not displace antitrust oversight.”  Weiser argues that
| this is especially true in the area of software patents: “Given that software
| patents are controversial to begin with, awarding the recipient of a patent
| on an application programming interface or communications protocol a
| get-out-jail free card is hard to justify.”


CSIRO takes HP to cleaners over Wi-Fi patent - next!

,----[ Quote ]
| The largest IT company in the world, Hewlett-Packard, has been humbled by
| Australia's national science agency CSIRO and agreed to settle for an
| undisclosed sum over a long running Wi-Fi patent infringement suit. The win
| against the Silicon Valley colossus has given CSIRO ammunition to continue
| pursuing 13 other technology giants for millions of dollars in licensing
| fees.


FFII and EPO announce "Binaries-As-Prior-Art"

,----[ Quote ]
| After years of confidential work, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the
| Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) today announce a
| radical way to improve software patent quality: Binaries-As-Prior-Art, or
| BAPA. BAPA combines a database of billions of compiled computer programs
| ("binaries") with a powerful Cloud search engine that can find any invention
| in microseconds.


Ciaran O'Riordan (LP09)


Ciaran O'Riordan: End Software Patents


Software Patents and Open-Source

,----[ Quote ]
| Does our current system of patents, especially software patents, "promote the
| progress of science and the useful arts?" The answer is obvious. It does not.
| Is it obvious enough for the Supreme Court to go against the wishes of
| the "intellectual property nomenklatura" of this country, with their
| fictitious billions of dollars on their balance sheets? Maybe. We'll see.
| Another interesting question is this. On the day after all those patents are
| invalidated, what will the stock market do? It will be interesting to see....

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