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02.29.08

FSFE to Microsoft: Give the Protocols, Without the Patents

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, Interoperability, Microsoft, Patents, Protocol, Windows at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…and other bits of news about the utter failure of software patents

The Free Software Foundation Europe has issued a statement asking Microsoft to retract its self-serving trap and provide something which is actually compatible with the GNU GPL.

Microsoft is the last company that actively promotes the use of software patents to restrict interoperability. This kind of behaviour has no place in an Internet society where all components should connect seamlessly regardless of their origin,” says Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

It was recently shown and explained in more detail just why Microsoft's 'gift' is akin to that which is found in letters and parcels from Unabomber. Microsoft wants companies to devour patent bombs that later make them liable, sensitive, and rather defenseless. Mono comes to mind again and, speaking of which, a proposal was made in Ubuntu’s new site that Mono should be removed by default (from Ubuntu GNU/Linux).

Yesterday we mentioned a large industrial coalition that fights against software patents and you can now find their homepage. It’s right here. To give you an idea of the sort of abuse being combatted here, consider this new story about eBay.

eBay and MercExchange had been involved in litigation over MercExchange’s patents and eBay’s online auctions and fixed price related ecommerce operations.

[...]

In 2003 a jury found eBay’s “Buy It Now” feature infringed MercExchange’s patents for an online marketplace. A jury sided with MerExchange and awarded the company $30 million for infringement, which was later reduced to $25 million on appeal.

If you believe this is bad, then watch this press release:

Software patent infringement lawsuits are increasingly targeted against non-software companies in the general business sector. For example, a company named Global Patent Holdings, LLC is currently seeking settlements between $7 and $15 million from companies such as the Green Bay Packers, OfficeMax, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, ADT Security Services, AutoNation, Tire Kingdom, and Boca Raton Resort and Club. In each case, the dispute is over the design of the company’s website.

When you cannot patent everything under the sun, why not patent every possible thing under the World Wide Web as well as every manipulation, transfer and structure of data? This truly seems to be the direction which is taken here and under current laws it proves to be effective only for patent trolls, not inventors. The system has lost touch with its original goals.

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