The web generally is a highly effective software for speaking, collaborating, and discovering group. However lawsuits and threats from patent trolls have been an impediment to the dream of a free and open web. That’s why EFF has been combating again in opposition to them for greater than 15 years.
Patent trolls are firms which might be targeted on suing and threatening over patents, not on providing precise items or providers. Fairly often, they use software program patents to sue over fundamental enterprise processes, like making picture menus or taking event photographs. It’s all too straightforward to get patents on issues like this as a result of the patent system is simply a bad fit for software.
Within the first 3 quarters of 2022, 64% of all patent lawsuits were filed by patent trolls—firms whose major focus is being profitable from patents, not offering providers or items. Within the high-tech house, patent trolls filed 88% of all lawsuits.
Defending Our Progress
Since EFF has began working to enhance the patent system, we’ve seen just a few large steps ahead, just like the introduction of inter partes evaluate (IPR), and the 2014 Alice v. CLS Bank Supreme Court ruling.
The Alice precedent, which is greater than 8 years outdated now, has finished a good job of knocking out many software program patents that by no means ought to have been issued within the first place.
EFF’s “Saved by Alice” project has highlighted a number of the small companies and people who’ve benefited from the extra balanced method courts have taken for the reason that Alice ruling.
Nonetheless, patent trolls and corporations that extensively license patents have lengthy been lobbying in opposition to Alice. This 12 months, we noticed an assault on the regulation that we knew would come ultimately. An excessive invoice, the “Patent Eligibility Restoration Act,” would have eviscerated Alice completely and allowed for a number of the worst software program patents to make a comeback. It might have even legalized the patenting of human genes, a observe that’s dominated out below present Supreme Courtroom precedent.
This invoice didn’t advance within the present Congress, partly as a result of many EFF supporters spoke out about it and contacted their Senators. However as a result of patent trolls and different pro-patent extremists have a lot to realize by chipping away at Alice, we don’t count on it will likely be the final try to show again a number of the progress we’ve made.
Two Huge Steps Ahead for Sunshine within the Patent System
In September, EFF bought a giant win in our long-running case seeking to unseal records related to Uniloc’s patent trolling. This case started in 2018 as an effort to understand heavily redacted filings in a patent infringement case between Uniloc, a patent troll, and Apple.
Due to our litigation, the good majority of Uniloc’s beforehand secret courtroom information at the moment are public. That features most of a desk of licensing agreements that Uniloc used to persuade a personal fairness agency known as Fortress to fund its patent-trolling actions.
In November, EFF bought concerned in a case the place several patent troll companies were under scrutiny by a Delaware federal judge, who was involved that the true house owners of the patent trolls had “perpetrated a fraud on the courtroom.” The trolls’ legal professionals sought to have an appeals courtroom shut down the investigation. EFF filed a short in that case to clarify why it’s important that judges be allowed to demand extra details about the patent troll firms which might be using our public courts for his or her enterprise. The U.S. Courtroom of Appeals for the Federal Circuit accepted EFF’s temporary, denied the petition introduced by patent troll Nimitz Applied sciences, and allowed the investigation to proceed.
Due to circumstances like those EFF bought concerned in, federal courts are more and more demanding extra disclosure in patent circumstances, together with disclosures about litigation funding. That’s a constructive development. Patent trolls depend on secrecy to perpetuate their enterprise. When the general public and elected officers study extra about how they function, it turns into clear that our patent system wants big changes with a view to be an actual public profit.