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Obama Taps IBM Open Source Advocate For USPTO 88

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the baby-steps dept.
langelgjm writes "President Obama has announced his intent to nominate David Kappos, a VP and general counsel at IBM, to head the US Patent and Trademark Office. This move is particularly notable not only because of IBM's much friendlier attitudes towards open source compared with some of their rivals, but also because Kappos himself is open source-friendly: 'We are now the biggest supporters of the open source development project,' explains David. 'Admittedly this policy is not easily reconcilable with our traditional IP strategy, but we are convinced that it is the way to go for the future.' Not just a lawyer, Kappos earned an engineering degree before working in the legal field. Kappos has been described as 'critical of the American approach to patent policy.' Given his background, could this mean a new era for US patent policy?"
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Obama Taps IBM Open Source Advocate For USPTO

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  • Some other points... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:29PM (#28396807) Journal

    Really, my summary is hyped up a bit. I doubt that Kappos will usher in a new era on his own; so much of patent law depends on Congress and the courts anyway. However, given the views of his predecessor (Dudas is on record [doc.gov] as saying that "we must also actively educate the world that it [our patent system] is fundamentally the best system"), Kappos is on record [cpaglobal.com] as saying that in the U.S., "Trivial patents are being granted. By contrast, the system is better in Europe."

    I think Kappos' background is also notable. He's really the first director of the computer generation: got an engineering degree, began working at IBM as an engineer, and then went over to law as a patent lawyer. By contrast, previous directors have either not had technical backgrounds, or have jumped around in the IP fields (Q. Todd Dickinson [wikipedia.org] began work at Baxter, a healthcare company). I think Kappos having been brought up in IBM will make him more open to (or at least less skeptical of) open source-type ideas than any of the other former directors, and his computer/engineering background will also make him more critical of our patent system, and not as focused on ratcheting protections up as far as they can go. Imagine, on the other hand, if the appointee had been someone from PhRMA.

    It is not unusual that a patent lawyer would hold an engineering degree; in fact, to sit for the patent bar, one needs typically needs an engineering or science degree, and some patent lawyers have advanced degrees in their areas of specialty. However, I thought it worth mentioning given that the former director of the USPTO, Jon Dudas, did not have any engineering or science background, but rather a degree in finance. [archive.org]

    • by sribe (304414) on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:58PM (#28397131)

      Really, my summary is hyped up a bit. I doubt that Kappos will usher in a new era on his own; so much of patent law depends on Congress and the courts anyway.

      A lot of what we think of as the really bad stuff, was undertaken by the patent office on its own with neither authorization from Congress nor truly applicable court ruling, but at the direction of an ambitiously expansive director.

      • by Dachannien (617929) on Friday June 19, 2009 @08:12PM (#28397679)

        A lot of what we think of as the really bad stuff, was undertaken by the patent office on its own with neither authorization from Congress nor truly applicable court ruling, but at the direction of an ambitiously expansive director.

        Hey, who woulda thunk that Triantyfyllos Tafas was a Slashdotter?

        • by Bobb9000 (796960) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:13PM (#28398173)

          A lot of what we think of as the really bad stuff, was undertaken by the patent office on its own with neither authorization from Congress nor truly applicable court ruling, but at the direction of an ambitiously expansive director.

          Hey, who woulda thunk that Triantyfyllos Tafas was a Slashdotter?

          My kingdom for some mod points, for someone who keeps up with patent law. For those who don't, Tafas is suing the USPTO because they tried to implement some policies that would have made it harder to get patents. While many of the problems of the current patent system can be traced to earlier policies implemented unilaterally by the USPTO, the office has been swinging quite the other way currently, and while not all of it is traceable to Congress and the courts, they (except for the courts, recently) have only made things worse.

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday June 19, 2009 @07:41PM (#28397461) Homepage Journal

      Kappos is on record as saying that in the U.S., "Trivial patents are being granted. By contrast, the system is better in Europe."

      He's saying something in Europe is better than in the US? My God, what kind of monster is this guy? He must be a socialist atheist gay-marrying cheese-eating surrender monkey terrorist lover! The Senate should not only deny his confirmation, they should kick him out of the country!

      America, love it or leave it! God's country! U-S-A! U-S-A!

      • by selven (1556643) on Friday June 19, 2009 @08:42PM (#28397919)

        America, love it or leave it

        If we're discussing de facto jurisdiction, the latter is currently pretty much impossible.

        • And for that reason (speaking as a non-american citizen) the first is somewhat difficult as well.

          (goodbye karma?)

      • He must be a socialist atheist gay-marrying cheese-eating surrender monkey terrorist lover!

        Dude, Wisconsin is gonna be so pissed off at you for this.

        • I think they'd be cheesed, even.

    • One day maybe they'll get it right and appoint someone with a working compass but it seems to me (from reading the article you linked) that Kappos' thinking is just as devoid of the empirically informed economic theory necessary to navigate patent system issues rationally and ethically as any of his predecessors'. Ironically, Dudas was probably slightly better placed background-wise to grasp why it's so extremely dubious that software should be patent eligible subject matter at all. A further irony is that

    • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:48PM (#28399015) Homepage

      I think Kappos having been brought up in IBM will make him more open to (or at least less skeptical of) open source-type ideas than any of the other former directors, and his computer/engineering background will also make him more critical of our patent system, and not as focused on ratcheting protections up as far as they can go.

      I don't know what being "more open to open source-type ideas" means. Nor would I use the term "IP" as you did. Software patents hurt all developers except those at IBM because IBM holds the most patents. Holding the most patents means IBM can cross-license far more easily than any other patent holder. In fact, we know how valuable cross-licensing is to IBM because IBM has told us. IBM has told us cross-licensing outweighs the value of collecting patent license fees by an order of magnitude [progfree.org]. IBM got ten times the value of using patents held by others than licensing its own patents. This means IBM alone can skirt the trouble the patent system causes everyone else. IBM can completely undo the alleged advantage the patent system is supposed to give smaller organizations trying to commercially launch their work. You really should read Richard Stallman's examination of the US patent system as it applies to software development [gnu.org] for a fuller description of the details on how IBM's statement in 1990 reveals the harm done to all software developers under the USPTO's thumb.

      The solution is to completely deny anyone software patents [swpat.org] so software developers can go back to relying on trademark and copyright law which is sufficient to avoid defrauding consumers and enforcing licenses, respectively. But I doubt the world's largest patent holder is in favor of disempowerment, and now that they have a man running the USPTO I doubt we'll see that office seeking to make software algorithms unpatentable.

      I think what we're seeing here is just another instance of how corporate-friendly President Obama is. The more I read self-identified "open source" adherents saying how good this move is, the more I think that the open source movement is too corporate-friendly as well. Mere affiliation with a movement that isn't fighting for software freedom isn't doing you any favors; raise your critical standards and keep on fighting for the end of software patents.

    • Interesting points and very informative. Thanks.

  • By Neruos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:31PM (#28396833)

    The fact that IBM has applied for about every known patent over the past 9 years never came up either.

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      That's true but I'm unsure if it was done as an act of self preservation (if I don't do it someone else will) or with the intent to use them to sue everyone and make the legal department a profit center. According to their track record (I didn't check it but I've not heard of them in the news much as patent predators), I would tend to believe it is likely for self preservation.

  • by dernjg (1580879)
    what will become of my patented karate chop to the face?
  • Obama's decisions never hurt a fly.
    • by GaryOlson (737642)
      Of course, because flies feed on the refuse left behind after the destruction, death, and resultant decay.
      • by dimeglio (456244)

        Of course, because flies feed on the refuse left behind after the destruction, death, and resultant decay.

        Yeah but Gary, if there is total and complete destruction as you seem to imply, flies will die soon after as flies need loads and loads of crap to survive. No life, no crap. Which logically means that Obama's decisions will generate at least sufficient crap for flies to maintain their place in the circle of life.

        I bet you thought he'd care only about the big issues.

      • Of course, because flies feed on the refuse left behind after the Bush administration.

        FTFY

  • Isn't that required? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:31PM (#28396845) Journal

    Not just a lawyer, Kappos earned an engineering degree before working in the legal field.

    I thought an engineering degree, as well as passing the bar, was a requirement to practice patent law (at least in engineering-related branches if not in general).

    So, given that he was a patent lawyer, that double degree is neither surprising nor unique.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:32PM (#28396847) Homepage

    Maybe. The USPTO must operate within the constraints set by Congress and the courts. Software patents were forced on them by the First Circuit: they opposed them initially.

  • Now I KNOW I'm not the only one who read it as "Omaha".

  • it will be a new era for i.t. globally.

  • Tapped? What's with the Mainstream Media's latest buzzword?

    "I was at the supermarket and I tapped the bottle of flavored milk. Then I decided to tap Checkout #6."

    Last years MSM buzzword was "Lockdown."

    "When I go to bed, I lockdown the house."

    If the MSM wants to lift its flagging fortunes, it should work on the news rather than focusing on stupid buzzwords.

    • by Spatial (1235392)
      I was just wondering the same. Is there a liquid body of knowledge in the guy or something? Gonna put a well on his head?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      They have been using tapped in this context for at least 40 years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GaryOlson (737642)
      Tapped is a mechanical term relating to the creation of screw threads in a [solid] material. In order to be properly tapped, material must be removed to create a cavity, the hole gets chamfered to provide a proper thread lead-in, and the threads created by forming or cutting.

      So David Kappos has been properly drilled, edged, and rolled with precision.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fm6 (162816)

      Tapped? What's with the Mainstream Media's latest buzzword?

      Sigh. I guess anybody that reports actual news (as opposed to bloviating idiots) is "mainstream media." I've heard this use of "tap" for as long as I can remember. The OED says it goes back to the middle of the last century (that they can document):

      1952 E. O'NEILL Moon for Misbegotten I. 55 He was tapped for an exclusive Senior Society at the Ivy university to which his father had given millions. 1972 J. MOSEDALE Football ii. 13 Sports Illustrate

    • The question is, why didn't they summon a creature with vigilance, to avoid having to tap him in the first place.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday June 19, 2009 @07:31PM (#28397389) Homepage

    From the linked article:

    IBM has a worldwide portfolio of 40,000 patents. About half are lodged in the USA and the remainder split between Europe and Asia (where, of course, China is increasingly featuring). So far this year, IBM has filed 3,000 patents and is on target, says David, to maintain its record for the past 14 years of consistently filing more patents than anyone else.

    So, if the definition of "new era for patent policy" is "more software patents", then yes (though I fail to see how that is "new" except that it is pressing harder on the accelerator down this destructive road). Granted, IBM is opposed to business method patents, but that is no surprise since their ability to innovate in business models is legendarily lackluster.

    Nothing to see here. Same old moneyed interests using their monopoly-built position to buy more government access so they can create more monopoly rent opportunities for themselves.

  • Change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@justconnected . n et> on Friday June 19, 2009 @07:34PM (#28397413)

    I sympathize for (but don't agree with) people who call out Obama's (admittedly many) poor decisions and shout "Is this the change you voted for? That was one hell of a marketing scheme"

    Well I'm proud to say that, yes, this is the change I voted for. This is exactly the type of decision that makes me happy of my choice. Go Obama! I'm not thrilled about all of your decisions, but it's things like this that make me guardedly optimistic that the future of our country is in careful and intelligent

    (Though I can't see at the moment how this will be spun as a negative, I'm sure it will be).

    • Spare Change? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:47PM (#28398373) Homepage Journal

      Since you're the rare Obama critic who doesn't see Pure Evil in his every move (such as his choice of condiments [theweek.com]!) perhaps you could share some of your list of O's "many mistakes". I think he's actually done surprisingly well.

      But more to the point, I crave an intelligent argument with a right-winger whose rhetoric goes beyond infantile insults and weird conspiracy mongering. When the conservatives were in charge, their abuse of logic and rhetoric would drive me up the wall. But now that they're out of power, their arguments are just a depressing sign of intellectual sloth. I guess they've had it too easy for too long.

      People, get it together! It's your job as the opposition to keep us liberals honest! And it's a job you're not doing! Come one! Start pulling your weight! Isn't Personal Responsibility one of those Bennettish Virtues you keep harping on?

  • by Mr_eX9 (800448)
    Now IBM is going to patent the USPTO itself!
  • He's vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property at the company that patents more than anybody else. And they've been patenting more than anybody else for a long time (20 years? 30 years?). Companies like Microsoft wish they were patenting as much stuff as IBM does and I firmly believe the drive to patent everything in sight that we see in so many companies is spurred on by the fact that they are all trying to catch up with IBM.

    I don't automatically believe this will be bad,
  • Given his background, could this mean a new era for US patent policy?

    VERY SHORT ANSWER: No.
    But it sounds like a nice development.

  • Imagine the comments if he had been from Microsoft, unless he was this guy.

    http://www.techflash.com/How_a_Microsoft_veteran_learned_to_love_Linux_and_why_it_matters_48542167.html [techflash.com]

  • MADOFF + STANFORD + DREIER + SATYAM + FISERV + ALBERT HU + The 1031 Tax Group LLC - Edward H. Okun = PROSKAUER ROSE, FOLEY & LARDNER, IBM, INTEL, SGI and others. Can all these crimes be related to the theft of Intellectual Property by former IBM patent counsel and employees, could this be the reason Obama is tapping IBM executives and Foley & Lardner attorneys to key commerce positions, in effect to continue the cover up of the crimes against the United States Patent & Trademark Offices and inve
    • MADOFF + STANFORD + DREIER + SATYAM + FISERV + ALBERT HU + The 1031 Tax Group LLC - Edward H. Okun = PROSKAUER ROSE, FOLEY & LARDNER, IBM, INTEL, SGI and others.

      Can all these crimes be related to the theft of Intellectual Property by former IBM patent counsel and employees, could this be the reason Obama is tapping IBM executives and Foley & Lardner attorneys to key commerce positions, in effect to continue the cover up of the crimes against the United States Patent & Trademark Offices and inventors? At the heart of the matter are technologies that revolutionized the digital imaging and video content creation and distribution channels in almost every product that utilizes such technologies.
      The technologies opened the door for things like Internet and Cell Phone full screen, full frame rate video over low bandwidths. They solved for image pixel distortion on zoom of low resolution images and now are commonly found on all Digital Cameras, the Hubble, Space Simulators, Medical Imaging Devices, Televisions, Graphic Chips, Internet Video Players (i.e. Microsoft Media Player, Apple Quicktime, Real Player, etc.), Satellite and Military Imaging Applications. Coined the âoeHoly Grailâ of digital imaging and video by leading experts and engineers, from Intel, SGI and Lockheed, including Hassan Miah, the technologies were then alleged stolen by the very patent attorneys that were supposed to be patenting them, read on.
      I personally have been trying to notify regulators and authorities of a ONE TRILLION DOLLAR patent theft that is putting investors in certain tech companies at huge risk. Companies involved in the alleged crimes and now in a TRILLION dollar federal lawsuit include Intel, Lockheed, SGI and IBM. The companies involved in the fraud fail to acknowledge the risk exposing shareholders and citizens to impending liabilities as required by FASB accounting Rule 5, hiding the impending liabilities. A SEC complaint has been filed against Intel and Lockheed for failure to notify shareholders of liability @ http://www.iviewit.tv/CompanyDocs/20090325%20FINAL%20Intel%20SEC%20Complaint%20SIGNED2073.pdf [iviewit.tv]
      Investigators, courts and federal agents have been notified of the crimes and evidence, including a car-bombing attempt on my life and the US Patent Office has now suspended the Iviewit Intellectual Properties pending investigations by the USPTO, the attorney disciplinary of the USPTO the Office of Enrollment and Discipline and Federal Authorities. I know how Harry Markopolos felt trying to expose Madoff in a world without regulation and where government agencies have been infiltrated to subterfuge the crimes by the law firms involved.
      Many of todayâ(TM)s biggest crimes like Madoff, Allen Stanford and Marc Drier are alleged tied to the thefts, as money laundering vehicles for the stolen inventor royalties. Did I hear Proskauer Rose is involved in Madoff (involved many clients too) and acted as Allen Stanford's attorney. Investors who lost money in these scams should start looking at the law firms, like Proskauer's assets for recovery. First, Proskauer partner Gregg Mashberg claims Madoff is a financial 9/11 for their clients, if they directed you to Madoff sue them. Then, Proskauer partner Thomas Sjoblom former enforcement dude for SEC and Allen Stanford attorney, declares PARTY IS OVER to Stanford employees and advises them to PRAY, this two days before SEC hearings. Then at the SEC hearings, he lies with Holt to SEC saying she only prepared with him but fails to mention Miami meeting at airport hanger which witnesses state was held to mislead SEC investigators. Then Sjoblom resigns as Stanford counsel and sends an email to the SEC disaffirming all statements made by him and Proskauer, his butt on fire. If you were burned in Stanford sue Proskauer. The FBI has arrested Stanford and the indictment clearly points to Sjoblom and Proskauer as the legal counsel involved in committing Fraud on the SEC to derail their investigation.
      Proskauer Rose and Foley & Lardner are also in a TRILLION dollar FEDERAL LAWSUIT legally related to a WHISTLEBLOWER CASE, an insider of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division First Department Departmental Disciplinary Committee, who claims Obstruction of attorney complaints, threats, physical assaults by her superiors and coercion in her case in FEDERAL COURT. That case now has been marked legally "related" to the Iviewit TRILLION dollar suit. Marc S. Dreier, another attorney Defendant in the Iviewit suit, was involved in Iviewit through patent attorney Raymond A. Joao of Meltzer Lippe who put 90+ patents in his own name! Proskauer Partner Kenneth Rubenstein brought in Joao.
      Rubenstein is the sole patent evaluator for the MPEGLA LLC patent pools and former Iviewit Patent Counsel. MPEG is now the largest infringer of the stolen Iviewit technology, Rubenstein in fact stealing the technologies for his client MPEGLA, that he helped form, perhaps to steal inventorsâ(TM) inventions, as patent pools in the past have done and why the DOJ has historically broken them up as anticompetitive monopolistic schemes. Of course, as the case with the SEC and other government agencies under Bush, the Antitrust Department regulatory body evaporated.
      Of special note, former IBM patent counsel William J. Dick, yes, Dick Dick, and IBM plant manager Brian G. Utley were intimately involved in the theft of the IP and were brought to Iviewit by Proskauer Rose. Dick was far eastern patent counsel for IBM and together with Utley and Christopher C. Wheeler of Proskauer were all involved in a previous patent theft attempt of a Florida Billionaire, Monte Friedkin. Perhaps the reason IBM is now infiltrating the US Patent Office, Obama and Holder have been notified about the crimes, making recent decisions to have members of Foley & Lardner and IBM assigned to key Commerce Departments hard to imagine, since they are involved with this case under state, federal and international investigations.
      The Trillion Dollar suit according to Judge Shira Scheindlin is one of PATENT THEFT, MURDER & A CAR BOMBING. For graphics on the car bombing of the main inventor of the technologies, Eliot I. Bernstein, please visit www.iviewit.tv. The Federal Court cases

      • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Docket 08-4873-cv - Bernstein, et al. v Appellate Division First Department Disciplinary Committee, et al. - TRILLION DOLLAR LAWSUIT
      • Cases @ US District Court - Southern District NY (07cv09599) Anderson v The State of New York, et al. - WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT
      • (07cv11196) Bernstein, et al. v Appellate Division First Department Disciplinary Committee, et al.
      • (07cv11612) Esposito v The State of New York, et al.,
      • (08cv00526) Capogrosso v New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, et al.,
      • (08cv02391) McKeown v The State of New York, et al.,
      • (08cv02852) Galison v The State of New York, et al.,
      • (08cv03305) Carvel v The State of New York, et al., and,
      • (08cv4053) Gizella Weisshaus v The State of New York, et al.
      • (08cv4438) Suzanne McCormick v The State of New York, et al.
      • ( ) John L. Petrec-Tolino v. The State of New York

      Eliot I. Bernstein
      Mad Inventor
      Iviewit Technologies, Inc,
      iviewit@iviewit.tv

      FTFY

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