Why Microsoft Wants Patent Reform

Parker v. Microsoft (Fed. Cir. 2006).

Opinion in full [citations removed]:

Charles W. Parker (“Parker”) appeals a final judgment of the [DC District Court] dismissing his patent infringement action against Microsoft as frivolous. We review a district court’s frivolousness determination for an abuse of discretion. Parker’s allegations that he has patented the “elemental atom” and that Microsoft has infringed his rights by using and improperly claiming inventorship of such an invention are “fanciful,” “fantastic,” and “delusional” contentions supporting the district court’s determination. On appeal, Parker provides us with no persuasive basis to conclude that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing the action. We affirm.

13 thoughts on “Why Microsoft Wants Patent Reform

  1. 13

    Actually, I believe Mr. Riley makes some cogent points. It is extremely ironic that M$ would be urging any position with respect to patents considering Gates and Company originally took an “open source” position with respect to software patents pre-Diamond v. Diehr, then created and funded the BSA and became very pro-patent, pro-IP, and now has reversed course again. Even more so given their piratical, anti-competitive business behavior.

  2. 12

    If you look up Charles W. Parker in the patent database at the USPTO, two patents turn up with that name as an inventor, both assigned to Microsoft. Neither claim the “elemental atom.”

  3. 10

    For many decades patent pirating companies like Microsoft (one example being Eolas)pretty much took what they wanted.

    It is not this kind of case which bothers a patent pirate. It is the cases where there is merit and the companies are held accountable for appropriating other’s property.

    Piracy of intellectual property does not just occur in developing countries. It has long been the norm for many companies to pirate the property of anyone whom they thought would not be able to fight back.

    What has changed is that today inventors have better options to achieve justice and this is something no patent pirate likes, especially those who have the gall to call themselves a Coalition for Patent Fairness, a group who are better known as the Coalition for Patent Piracy. It is no surprise that Microsoft is a member.
    The Coalition has four pillars of support.

    1) Washed up tech companies who are well past their prime. While they started as innovative companies they are no longer able to produce significant inventions themselves, and arrogantly take others inventions. These are companies who were “high tech” two or three decades ago but today are just mercantile tech. These companies suffer the same problems as the auto industry, and while their ailment is not as advanced as the auto industry they will within a few decades suffer the same fate as the auto industry. They see patents as defensive tools and innovation as a threat to their market position. Those who see innovation and patents as an opportunity will always leave those who see them as a threat behind.

    2) Some of the members of the Coalition were never innovative, companies like Microsoft and Dell. Shrewd business people who are very good at profiting from other’s inventions but definitely not the brightest bulbs in the pack.

    3) The insurance industry, who are really put out that they have to pay innovators with business method patents. The insurance industry reminds me of protection rackets. They are really good at collecting premiums and even better at avoiding paying. Just look to Katrina victims for an example of the industry’s immorality.

    4) The banking industry, who is also put out that they have to pay innovators with business method patents. About the only thing the banking industry is good at inventing is ever larger and more outrageous fees. Americans who value job creation should shift their business to credit unions.

    PIAUSA.org received intelligence some time ago that the “Coalition of Patent Piracy” had organized and hired two firms to feed media propaganda. We were told that each of the members had contributed a quarter of a million dollars to the cause of painting those they have victimized as evil patent trolls. That’s over ten million dollars in propaganda. Media has been had by the Coalition’s public relations machine. We have seen the results of that coalition’s work over the past year. The Coalition knows no shame and as a result of their extreme and shrill positions on intellectual property they have become outcasts among most of corporate America.


    The Professional Inventors Alliance USA was created more than a decade ago to protect American invention and encourage innovation. American inventors saw a need to track congressional legislation and federal policy that impacts independent inventors, small and medium-sized businesses and colleges and universities. The Alliance is the premiere organization in the nation, providing independent inventors a united voice in order to improve public policy.

    The Alliance provides legislative counsel, congressional updates and strategy development to its members through a number of vehicles. Additionally, through its speaker’s bureau, Alliance members have an opportunity to provide expert opinion to many of the nation’s top-tier business, technology and mainstream media organizations. Over the years its members have testified before Congress, offered counsel to key Senate and House committee members, and successfully pushed legislation to protect America’s independent inventors.

    Since its inception, the Alliance has grown into one of the most vocal advocates for America’s patent system.

    Examples of areas of our expertise include David Vs. Goliath patent litigation, patent reform, and we have a unique view of the companies comprising the “Coalition for Patent Piracy”.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  4. 9

    Frivolous suits against large companies always remind me of the answer the infamous bank robber, Willie Sutton, gave when asked, “Why do you rob banks?” His answer: “Because that’s where the money is.” It sure didn’t make it right, but it explains its inevitability.

  5. 8

    I looked up the Parker case in the District Court. Microsoft didn’t even answer the complaint. In fact the complaint was even’t served. A judge wasn’t even assigned. The complaint was simply dismissed by the clerk.

  6. 7

    Mr. Perdue, you’re right to suggest that the general problem of frivolous litigation is to some extent separate from the design of the patent sytem, but I otherwise disagree with your comment.

    The case referred to in the post probably did not cost Microsoft much money. Parker sues Microsoft, and Microsoft pays the cost of (1) filing fees, and (2) a lawyer’s time to research the legal standard for filing a motion to dismiss a frivolous lawsuit. The case is transparently bad, and goes away quickly. This is not what the “reformers” are upset about.

    What they are upset about is when the patent system gives litigants who don’t have much more of a claim than Mr. Weaver’s enough of a legal leg to stand on that they can either drag Microsoft through the courts for years or coerce a settlement out of them. If Weaver had a design patent with a computer screen with a bunch of boxes displayed on the monitor, Microsoft might have to spend a bit more time on the case.

    The challenge is to design the rules so that meritorious claims get into court, and nonmeritorious claims fizzle sooner rather than later.

  7. 6

    Really, this whole “patent reform” debate should not be directed at patents, the PTO, or standards of patentability, but at our legal system at large. What has plagued manufacturing, aviation, medicine and insurance is now plaguing technology-oriented businesses. In Texas, it is a direct by-product of tort reform: PI lawyers don’t have anything better to do than troll and the suits will settle for a tasty cost of defense.

  8. 5

    I agree, Chris, and the system already does about as well as it can with a Mr. Parker. If he does this one or two more times, he’ll likely get “vexatious litigant” status and be practically barred from the courts. It’s unfortunate that anyone should have to respond to his complaints, but I don’t see what else the courts can do with such an individual.

  9. 4

    Those who have commented on the inevitability of this sort of thing, whatever the nature of the allegations, are correct. And so we should be cautious in holding up such examples as evidence of the need for sweeping patent reform. All who advocate and resist reform have varied and numerous reasons for doing so, and will use egregious examples such as this case to advance their agendas.

  10. 3

    I looked up the PACER info. Anon’s guess, above, is correct — Microsoft did not appear at the CAFC. By the way, Mr. Parker intially appealled to the D.C. Circuit, which transferred (gladly, I’m sure) to the CAFC.

    A friend of mine who used to clerk for a federal court observed that nutjobs will always be drawn to the courts. The rest of society does everything possible to ignore and avoid them, but courts must acknowledge their filings and respond to them.

  11. 2

    Is that really a fair slap at the patent system? Lots of frivilous junk is filed by prisoners that clogs the Federal Court docket and we regualrly get assigned by the court to handle these pro bono. Pro se folks can, and will, file junk suits but that is not a patent issue – it is the American right to free access to the courts.

    By “elemental atom” could a person pro se just be misunderstanding what is patentable, and Microsoft really did take something of value that was described, but not claimed, in the original filed application. Just a thought.

  12. 1

    I wonder how much this suit cost Microsoft. From the CAFC opinion, it isn’t clear whether Mr. Parker even referred to a patent when he sued Microsoft. Also, in the listing of counsel, there is only Mr. Parker. It wouldn’t surprise me if Microsoft waived filing a reply brief.

    Also, if you search for “Parker; Charles W.” in the “inventor” field on the PTO site, it turns up 2 patents, each with Charles W. Parker listed as an inventor, and Microsoft as the assignee. Unsurprisingly, neither hints at the discovery of “the elemental atom.”

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