Patent Trolls Are Starting To Get Trampled

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | ZDNet | September 24, 2014

The Open Invention Network now has over a thousand licensees and the court cases are starting to go against the patent trolls.

Patent trolls, which has helped to keep the United States in the economic doldrums, are finally being brought to heel by anti-patent groups and court cases.  First, the Open Invention Network (OIN), whose members include Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony, now has more than a thousand licensees in its Linux and open-source, defensive patent pool. In an e-mail , Keith Bergelt, OIN's CEO said, "The OIN license is becoming part of a broader set of community norms and is increasingly being integrated into the culture of open source/Linux-centric companies. It is for many the foundation around which their IP [intellectual property] strategy is built and a critical enabler of patent non-aggression and freedom to operate."

Under the OIN license, community members cross-license Linux patents to one another on a royalty-free basis. OIN-owned patents are similarly licensed royalty-free to any organization that agrees not to assert its patents against Linux.  While the OIN licensee community becoming the largest patent non-aggression community in the history of technology helps Linux, it doesn't help those outside the open-source world. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has finally started ruling against bad patents.

In Nautilus v. Biosig, the Court ruled that for a patent to be valid, an expert in in the field had to be able to understand it with "reasonable certainty." In Limelight v. Akamai, the Court ruled that a patent that covered a series of steps was not infringed if more than one person or business carried out the various steps. And, last but most important of all, in Alice v. CLS Bank, the Court ruled that an abstract idea is not patentable just because it's now being done on a computer...