26 August 2012

Apple Gets $1.05 Billion Verdict

Here's a good article. And here is Patently-O's report.

I won't comment since I haven't read the patents and the decisions. Too busy keeping track of things this side of the Pacific. Those two articles should put you in the picture.

At this stage, I'm not sure whether to feel guilty about having my Samsung (r) phone. As some of my closer friends know, I'm no fan of Apple (r). But that's because of their corporate personality rather than their products or Intellectual Property. I also really like the Android (r) operating system.

As for the judgement - I have been practising for 25 years and I still find aspects of the law difficult to grasp, particularly since it is constantly changing and is full of nuances and subtleties. Indeed, I often find US practice illogical and a bit baffling. So I am extremely skeptical of the effectiveness of a jury in cases like this. Could there be a bit of bias going on? A Korean upstart against an American darling? But that's unqualified, so I won't say more.

I do look forward to following this story. And no, I won't be switching to Apple (r). Perhaps Google (r) will release a phone soon with all that Motorola (r) IP that it purchased. That would be cool.

25 August 2012

Computerised Calendaring not Proper Subject Matter

We often get enquiries relating to software products that perform well-known functions.

Here's another case from the US in which such a product was found to lack subject matter. This is thanks to Dennis Crouch's Patently-O blog, and the link is here.

For those of you interested in the claim that was rejected:

A device for automatically delivering professional services to a client comprising:
a computer;
a database containing a plurality of client reminders, each of the client reminders comprising a date field having a value attributed thereto;
software executing on said computer for automatically querying said database by the values attributed to each client reminder date field to retrieve a client reminder;
software executing on said computer for automatically generating a client response form based on the retrieved client reminder;
a communication link between said computer and the Internet;
software executing on said computer for automatically transmitting the client response form to the client through said communication link; and,
software executing on said computer for automatically receiving a reply to the response form from the client through said communication link.

As you can see, it's no longer enough just to have a computer and the Internet involved. It is important that the computer/s actually does something significant, like execute code representing an algorithm that is essential to the invention and cannot be performed practically with a pen and paper.

22 August 2012

Patent First, Prototype Later

Here's a fascinating article - http://mobile.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-09/startups-new-creed-patent-first-prototype-later.

Indeed, if you have a good product, the patent application/s may very well end up bringing you more money than the product itself. Even if you use a patent attorney, it's a whole lot cheaper to file a patent application than it is to build a prototype that is ready for production.

Also, the longer you wait before filing, the more risk there is of information "leakage" prior to filing. That could be devastating to a patent filing program.

21 August 2012

Google Improves Patent Search Engine

I often encourage my clients to carry out some searching of their own. Not only can this help them to understand what a patent looks like, but it can be an empowering experience.

Of course, searching is a task best left to a professional, but there is no reason you can't have a dig around yourself. You can then approach your patent attorney with some understanding of what is happening in your field of endeavour. In some cases, you may even save yourself a significant sum of money, if your search has been thorough.

Google (r) has recently upgraded their search engine. You can read more about it here. When you open a page containing details of a patent, there is now a button labelled "Prior Art Finder" that allows you to search multiple sources for related content that existed at the time the application for the patent was filed.

One of the sources is the European patent office which stores the details of over 70 million patents. At this stage, the Google Patent Search is not a viable alternative to Espacenet, but it is becoming an excellent place to start your adventure. For more on searching read this post.

15 August 2012

High Court Rules Against Big Tobacco

Well, it looks as if the High Court has ruled in favour of the Government. Here's the decision. There are no reasons given at this stage.

It appears that the tobacco companies were relying on the argument that it was unconstitutional for the government to appropriate intellectual property. However, the High Court has found that there was no acquisition of intellectual property.

It is always difficult to find decent articles when it comes to controversial, high profile decisions. But here's one from the ABC website.

I will keep an eye out for the reasons.

11 August 2012

What is a Patent Anyway?

This is a surprisingly tricky question to answer. But in my view the best way of doing so is to go back to the reasoning behind the patent systems of the world.

An effective patent system is based on a quid pro quo. The governments of most countries agree to provide an inventor/s with a monopoly in the invention for a certain period of time. In return, the inventor/s agrees to provide enough information to the public to permit a skilled person to put a working embodiment of the invention into practice once the patent expires.

Some form of instrument is required to facilitate the quid pro quo. That instrument is a written document and is called a patent. Or, to use the jargon, a Letters Patent.

The government must carry out some form of investigation to assess whether or not it should enter into such an agreement with the inventor/s. A patent can effectively prevent the entire population of a country from exploiting the invention. It follows that the government, in the form of its patent office, carries out an examination, on behalf of its public, of the application for the patent to assess whether or not the public should be so burdened. This examination is an essential part of establishing the quid pro quo and should therefore be carried out diligently and professionally on behalf of the public and the inventor/s.  In Australia, the patent office is known as IP Australia.