Posts Tagged: "Software"

Implementing IP Management Software (Part II): Best Practices for an Improved Implementation

As discussed in Part I of this series, the process of implementing IP management software (IPMS) poses many complexities and dangers. To ensure as successful an IPMS implementation as possible, companies and law firms should apply best practices early on. The earlier they begin taking these steps, and the more deeply they dig into the issues, the greater their chances of avoiding the most common implementation pitfalls.

Implementing IP Management Software (Part I): Identifying Complexities and Dangers During Implementation

Imagine that your family has decided to build a new home. You’ve got the vision, but you need to call in the pros—a well-established, highly expert homebuilder with a cadre of architects, designers, contractors, and tradespeople. You’re relying upon the builder’s expertise to thoughtfully scope the project and prepare you for what lies ahead. This includes (a) helping you understand what financial and other commitments will be required of you; (b) educating you on challenges you’ll face along the way; and (c) highlighting available offerings that align with your vision….. Now imagine that your company or law firm has decided to implement intellectual property management software (IPMS) with a vendor. In a worst-case implementation scenario, you may feel like you’re reliving the above homebuilding saga. Indeed, IP teams often embark on the IPMS journey with great optimism. Once in the thick of implementation, however, they may experience a turbulent journey.

U.S. Patent Grants Fell 7% Last Year, but ‘Software-Related’ Grants Remained at 63%

As an update to my posts from 2017, 2019, 2020, March 2021, and August 2021, it has now been 93 months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision. Yet the debate still rages over when a software (or computer-implemented) claim is patentable versus being simply an abstract idea “free to all men and reserved exclusively to none” (as eloquently phrased over 73 years ago by then-Supreme Court Justice Douglas in Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co.). Further, it has been 11 years since famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote the influential and often-quoted op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Software Is Eating the World.” Today, the digital transformation where software is “eating the world” is undeniable. Let’s look at some facts and figures from the USA, Europe, and China.

Sorry, Your NFT Is Worthless: The Copyright and Generative Art Problem for NFT Collections

If you follow Reese Witherspoon on Twitter, you may notice she has been tweeting about non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, a lot. She currently features an NFT as her Twitter profile picture (abbreviated “pfp” for those in the know). In October 2021, Witherspoon became a partner in an NFT art collection called World of Women, or WoW, which was created and illustrated by the artist Yam Karkai. Through an auction-style bidding process, the WoW collection is currently available on OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces. As of publication, an individual WoW NFT auction starts at around 7 Ethereum (ETH), the cryptocurrency used to purchase on OpenSea, which currently equates to approximately USD 20,000.

The Federal Circuit Must Correct Texas Court’s Misapplication of Copyright Law in SAS Institute Appeal

SAS Institute is a software company in North Carolina. Founded in 1976, it employs thousands of people in the United States and thousands more around the world. World Programming, Ltd. (WPL) is a British company that decided to build a clone of SAS’s popular analytics software and, as several courts have found, broke the law to do it. After a decade of litigation across two continents and an unpaid multi-million-dollar judgment, the parties are once again in court. This time, however, WPL’s arguments pose grave dangers to all owners of other copyrighted works. WPL did not try to compete with SAS by building a different or better product. Instead, it ordered copies of SAS’s products under the guise of an educational license, but with the true intent to reverse-engineer and copy key elements, including the selection and arrangement of its outputs, and even the manuals licensed users receive from SAS. The result is that WPL produced a clone, taking the exact same input and producing the exact same output that SAS does. Avoiding the years of investment and fine-tuning that SAS undertook to create its market-leading software, WPL undercut SAS’s price in the market and lured away SAS’s customers.

Disclosure Requirements in Software Patents: Avoiding Indefiniteness

How much detail is needed in a patent application for a software-based invention? Software patents present some unique challenges that many other kinds of patent applications do not need to contend with, one of them being the level of disclosure and care in drafting needed to avoid indefiniteness issues. While source code is not required in most cases, a growing body of case law indicates that insufficient detail about the algorithms underpinning the invention could render the patent claims indefinite, meaning that the scope of the claimed invention is too ambiguous. If the patent examiner deems the disclosure to be inadequate during examination, indefiniteness could prevent a patent from issuing. In the case of an already-issued patent, indefiniteness could render the claims unenforceable.

The Upshot of Google v. Oracle: An Absurd Ruling Will Lead to Absurd Results

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, or so states Newton’s third law of motion. It is safe to say that Newton never met an intellectual property lawyer, and he never had to deal with the whims and fancy of an arbitrary and capricious Supreme Court. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Google v. Oracle, in which the Court ruled that Google’s intentional copying of 11,500 lines of computer code from Oracle was a fair use despite the fact that Google made many tens of billions of dollars in the process, and despite the fact that the record showed that Google consciously chose to copy, rather than independently create, because programmers were already familiar with the 11,500 lines of code they wanted to take.

License to Copy: Your Software Code Isn’t Safe After Google v. Oracle

In characteristic form, the Supreme Court has once again managed to blow it in another intellectual property case. This time, the Justices blessed Google’s copying of Oracle’s code and called it fair use despite the fact that Google copied that portion of the Sun Java API that allowed programmers to use the task-calling system that was most useful to programmers working on applications for mobile devices. In the infinite wisdom of the Supreme Court, the copying of this code was found transformative because Google only used it to circumvent the need to license Java from Oracle with respect to Android smartphones. Of course, that isn’t exactly how the Supreme Court characterized it, but make no mistake, that is what they decided.

Four Out of Eight Doesn’t Cut It: The IP Safeguards that Most Lawyers Miss When Protecting Software

Software is an extremely valuable good for those who produce it because it provides value to the software’s end users. That value, however, also makes it a target for those who would prefer to obtain the value without compensating the software producer. As a result, like with any valuable asset, software suppliers and Internet of Things (IoT) companies must implement safeguards to protect it. Since software is intellectual property, attorneys who work for or advise software producers (which, let’s be honest, is just about every technology company these days, given the addition of hardware manufacturers via the ubiquity of their “smart” devices to the existing desktop, mobile, and SaaS applications that we all use in both our personal and business lives), are frequently asked to advise on how to best protect this valuable asset. Unfortunately, as discussed below, most lawyers only deliver half of what they should.

Protecting COVID-19-Related Software Innovations

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced the COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program, under which the USPTO will advance certain patent applications related to COVID-19 “out of turn,” resulting in prioritized examination for qualifying applications. Under this program, the USPTO reportedly aims to provide final disposition of qualifying applications within one year of the filing date, meaning that a final office action or notice of allowance will be mailed (or a notice of appeal will be filed) during this shortened one year timeframe. For comparison, it typically takes the USPTO roughly 16 months from the filing of an application to mail a first office action.

Oracle Files Opening Brief at U.S. Supreme Court in Copyright Fight with Google

In the latest stage of the Supreme Court battle between Oracle America, Inc. (Oracle) and Google, Oracle filed its opening brief with the Court on February 12. Google’s petition for a writ of certiorari was granted in November 2019 and asks the Court to consider: “1. Whether copyright protection extends to a software interface” and “2. Whether, as the jury found, petitioner’s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitutes fair use.” The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) previously unanimously reversed a district court decision that held Oracle’s code as uncopyrightable, finding it well established that copyright protection for software programs can extend to both code and their structure or organization. Oracle is suing Google for $8.8 billion in lost revenue.

Three Key Strategies for Adapting Patent Departments to Agile Innovation Settings

As companies grow their digital business, many R&D organizations transition to Agile innovation practices*, both in software and hardware development. Any implementation of Agile leads to key changes in how firms innovate. Changes include how R&D objectives are set, how resource prioritizations are made, and how fast development cycles are run. Instead of the traditional approach of setting goals early on and seeing changes as unwanted deviations from plan, Agile brings a state of constant evolution, as Agile teams find, solve and reformulate problems to create as much customer value as possible. Resource prioritization is more active and selective as Agile empowers and requires teams to direct resources to the features and unsolved problems with highest priority. Development cycles shorten as Agile emphasizes quick sprints with autonomous teams having end-to-end skills.

Presumption of Guilt: How Microsoft Won a Protracted Battle on Unlicensed Software in Ukraine

In June 2019, five-years of legal proceedings between Microsoft and Zhytomyrgas PJSC in the Ukrainian courts came to an end. The parties began their battle in the context of criminal proceedings and ended the dispute in the economic court. Microsoft ultimately was successful. Ukraine has been among the countries on the U.S. Special 301 Report, prepared by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, for years due to its high rate of copyright violations. Ukrainian citizens, government agencies and enterprises are no exceptions. At the same time, Ukraine ranks second in Eastern Europe in the number of software developers and number one in the world in the number of developers per 1,000 inhabitants.

Five Tips for Keeping Safe with Your Head in the Cloud

Management of trade secrets is fraught with competing interests. There is the tradeoff between security and inconvenience—for example, the annoying wait for a special code to allow “two-factor identification” when you already have your password handy. There is trusting your employees while knowing they might leave to join a competitor. And there is the tension between corporate secrecy and the public interest, such as when the fire department insists on knowing what toxic chemicals are used in your facility. And now we have the cloud (like “internet,” its ubiquity merits lower case), which offers unparalleled convenience and flexibility to outsource corporate data management to others. But moving IT functions outside the enterprise creates new vulnerabilities for that data, which happens to be the fastest growing and most valuable category of commercial assets. So understanding this environment has to be a high priority for business managers.

Bioinformatics Innovations Thrive Despite 101 Chaos

Bioinformatics is a growing interdisciplinary technological field in which computing and software resources are applied to biological data and solve biological problems. For example, bioinformatics can be used to predict protein sequences through analysis of large databases of biological data to enable the development of new drug therapies. Advances in computing and software, like artificial intelligence (AI), open increasing possibilities in bioinformatics. Bioinformatics is growing rapidly—the market is predicted to exceed $16 billion by 2022. As with most growing industries, mechanisms that protect and promote innovations are key to supporting that growth. Thus, it is no surprise that the number of patent applications filed and assigned to the designated bioinformatics art unit was 40% higher in 2017 than it was in 2010. Despite this significant increase in applications, for the last five years, the subject-matter-eligibility requirement (codified as 35 U.S.C. § 101) of the U.S. patent law has been particularly vexing to applicants of computer-related inventions like bioinformatics.


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