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03.07.08

When (Patent) Push Comes to (Aggressive) Shove

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Patents at 5:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

or “When the USPTO takes its lessons from the MPAA and BSA”

A couple of shocking stories have just come from CeBit. It looks almost as though companies take the law into their own hands. Vainly enough they decide that software patents are applicable worldwide (universally) and that they can confiscate other people’s physical property based on this superficial assertion.

Here is the article from CNET.

The police didn’t name which people or companies were targeted, but they did say the alleged patent violations deal with devices that have MP3, MP4, or digital video broadcast functions; DVD players; and blank CDs and DVDs. They managed to fill 68 boxes with gadgets, documents, and advertising material and took down the identities of nine people, most of whom were reportedly cooperative.

The raid was a response to a rising number of “criminal complaints by the holders of patent rights in the run-up to CeBit,” and the patent holders had warned the accused companies in “good time” about their lack of licenses, police said, according to the AP.

DigiTimes (from Asia) wrote about it as well.

Italy-based Sisvel S.p.a., holder of a somewhat controversial MP3 patent, has had the CeBIT 2008 booths of several Windows Mobile smartphone and digital media player makers shut down over allegations that the devices of the makers infringe on its patents.

Judge for yourselves what can be concluded from this. Either way, despite legalisation of software patents in the UK, the BlackBerry seems safe here — for now.

Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind BlackBerry mobile devices, will not have to pay patent licence fees to a rival email software company after the High Court ruled that the rival’s UK patent was invalid.

Linux, as purely software, cannot be confiscated because of the way it gets distributed, but what if Microsoft decided to crack down on Linux devices based on its unsubstantiated claim that the Linux kernel, which Novell touches, infringes on its mythical patents?

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