EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.25.08

Software Patents and FOSS Revisited

Posted in Bill Gates, Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OSI, Patents, SUN at 11:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ERROR #000000F6: incompatible with freedom

Michael TiemannThe cost of Free software may still depend on the ability to keep software patents away. But companies such as Sun Microsystems cannot resist talking about software patents, having been granted quite a few of them. It’s a case of obligation to their investors. or so they would openly argue and have you believe.

We recently mentioned Simon Phipps’ powwow with Michael Tiemann about software patents and Open Source. Don Marti summarises:

Simon Phipps proposes a hard problem: expanding the definition of ‘open source’ to include patents.

The easy part is dealing with any patents that are actually licensable by the person or company who is licensing the code. To get to a new “definition” you could say that copyright licenses that don’t also grant a patent license must be accompanied by a patent license grant.

The correspondence there mentioned the term “patents” very loosely. A couple of days ago we were reminded by a reader that it is crucial to make the clear distinction between patents and software patents. To quote:


“…could you correct the reference to ‘patents’ to say instead ‘software patents’ in the cases where it fits?

That is of utmost importance and I wish we could get Slashdot to tag its articles accordingly as well.

People have been trained for decades to get the warm and fuzzies for ‘patents’ which are touted as the ultimate metric for productivity in the private sector. Going against ‘patents’ has that barrier to overcome.

However, as we all know everything, even the rules of economy and physics, are completely different ;) for software.

So headway can be made iff (if and only if) the debate is properly framed. That requires that new concepts be given new names.”


To get an idea of how software patents are treated around the world, consider this new comprehensive text. To get an idea of the harms, just watch the news. On the face of it, a new AJAX patent threat is looming and it could affect the entire Web, regardless of whether you’re a programmer of not. We gave recent examples of this, showing that everyone would suffer from software patents and be sensitive to lawsuits.

In supporting documentation it is claimed that pretty much the whole of the web uses this method to operate AJAX-based applications. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and eBay are identified as among those whose products “potentially” infringe on the patent.

The software patent problem is further complicated by scale, as demonstrated in this short article from CNET.

Under the law, the public is deemed to have constructive notice that something is patented if that something has a patent number on it. The idea behind the law apparently is that if one sees a patent number, one has the ability to look that patent up, read it, and maybe even understand what it says. For the corrugated sleeve, it was simple enough for me–albeit a little geeky–to take a look at the ’473 patent and understand how the sleeve works to make the heat from my latte more bearable.

But many times, the patents behind products marked with patent numbers are not as easily understandable. For example, the notice on Adobe Reader v. 8.1.2 lists over 60 different patents. I’m pretty sure that most of those patents are far more complex than the ’473 patent. But, assuming the numbers are properly listed, the law says that I and the rest of the public are on notice of whatever it is those patents cover.

Breadth and scale aside, trolling is probably the most severe problem. Remember the patent troll Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]? It’s keeping very busy, having just made some more money yesterday (probably after threats of litigation).

Diagnostic Systems Corp., a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corp. (NASDAQ: ACTG), has entered into a license agreement with SAS Institute Inc. covering a portfolio of patents that apply to rule-based monitoring.

The subsidiary has also entered into a license agreement with BMC Software Inc. (NYSE: BMC), covering a portfolio of patents that apply to rule-based monitoring. This resolves a dispute that was pending in the District Court for the Central District of California.

GNOME WMVThe patent number is not listed, but go ahead and figure what “rule-based monitoring” actually means. Watch what Bill Gates said before Microsoft became a monopolist (and claimed that Linux, its #1 threat, infringes on its software patents):

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today… some large company will patent some obvious thing… take as much of our profits as they want.”

Bill Gates

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 7/12/2016: ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5, Ubuntu Touch OTA-14

    Links for the day



  2. The UPC Scam Part VII: A Fine Mess in the Making, as Nothing Can be Made of It Amid/After Brexit

    The final part in this multi-part series about UPC, which cannot be implemented in the UK as long as Brexit is on the agenda



  3. The UPC Scam Part VI: The Real Story Which People Missed Due to Puff Pieces Seeded by Battistelli-Bribed Media is That UPC Technically Cannot Come to the UK

    Another long installment in a multi-part series about UPC at times of post-truth Battistelli-led EPO, which pays the media to repeat the lies and pretend that the UPC is inevitable so as to compel politicians to welcome it regardless of desirability and practicability



  4. EPO Spiraling Down the Drain as Experienced Examiners and Judges Are Seemingly Being Replaced by Interns

    Implementing yet more of his terrible ideas and so-called 'reforms', Battistelli seems to be racing to the bottom of everything (patent quality, staff experience, labour rights, working conditions, access to justice etc.)



  5. A Lot of News From the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Today, With Some Important Decisions on Patents Coming Soon

    A roundup of today's outcomes from the US Supreme Court, which intends to review and decide on important patent cases



  6. In Historic Blow to Design Patents, Apple Loses to Samsung at the Supreme Court

    A $399 million judgment against Android devices from Samsung, with potential implications for other Android OEMs, is rejected by SCOTUS



  7. Good Riddance. Ray Niro is Dead.

    The infamous father of patent trolling is dead, so we need to remember his real legacy rather than rewrite his history to appease his rich relatives (enriched by destroying real companies)



  8. EPO Suicides Greater in Number Than is Widely Reported, Unjust System a Contributor to These

    The horrible regime of Benoît Battistelli has an enormous human toll (fatalities), far greater than the Office is willing to publicly acknowledge



  9. Lobbying Disguised as 'Reporting' by the Patent Microcosm, Which Wants More Patents and More Lawsuits (Lawyers Needed)

    A rebuttal to some new articles about patents, especially those that strive to increase patent-related activities (usually for personal gain)



  10. USPTO Echo Chamber That Lacks Actual Software Professionals Deciding on Patentability of Software

    A look at yesterday's "Roundtable on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility," which lacked involvement from those actually affected by patents rather than those who sell, trade, and exploit these



  11. More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft 'Joined' (Paid) the Linux Foundation

    A quick look at the past week's news and clues about Microsoft's (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)



  12. Heiko Maas, the SPD “Cash for Access” Affair, and Suspicions of Unwarranted Censorship at IP Kat (Again)

    Unsayable views or just a glitch? Readers of IP Kat express concern about a culture of censorship at IP Kat



  13. Endgame for Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Battistelli turns bad into worse by spitting on the very notion of accepting justice (from the highest court in The Hague or even the UN in this case)



  14. Les Échos Chamber: Having Corrupted the Media (With EPO Money), Battistelli Now Uses It for More UPC Propaganda

    The lies about the Unitary Patent are now being broadcast (Battistelli given the platform) by the publication that Battistelli pays



  15. Rumour: EPO in Berlin the Next Casualty of Battistelli's 'Reform' (Organisational Suicide Plan)

    Months after we learned that a former staff representative in Berlin had been dismissed we come across an anonymous claim that Berlin's 'branch' of the EPO will be folded onto Munich's



  16. Caricature: the Maas App

    The failure of Maas to even bother with regulation of Battistelli (among others) earns him this cartoon



  17. Links 5/12/2016: Linux 4.9 RC 8, DeepMind as FOSS

    Links for the day



  18. Leaked: Battistelli Acknowledges Bunk 'Justice' in About 100 Cases at the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO

    A look at Battistelli's response to the latest from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), exceptionally delivering two decisions at the very end of last month



  19. The UPC Scam Part V: Unitary Patent Regime a Fantasy of Patent Trolls

    "Good for trolls" is a good way to sum up the Unitary Patent, which would give litigators plenty of business (defendants and plaintiffs, plus commissions on high claims of damages) if it ever became a reality



  20. EPO at a Tipping Point: Battistelli Quarrelling With French Politicians, Administrative Council Urged to Act, Staff Unrest Peaking

    The latest messages about Battistelli's regime at the EPO, which faces growing opposition from more directions than ever before



  21. Quality of Patents at the EPO Dependent on the Appeal Boards When Battistelli Assesses Performance Using the Wrong 'Production' Yardstick

    A look at some recent articles regarding patent quality in the US and in Europe, in particular because of growing trouble at today's EPO, which marginalises the appeal boards



  22. Microsoft's Push for Software Patents Another Reminder That There is No 'New' Microsoft

    Microsoft's continued fascination with and participation in the effort to undermine Alice so as to make software patents, which the company uses to blackmail GNU/Linux vendors, widely acceptable and applicable again



  23. Links 5/12/2016: SparkyLinux 4.5 Released, Kondik Exits Cyanogen (Destroyed After Microsoft Deal)

    Links for the day



  24. Software Patents Continue Their Invalidation Process, But Patent Law Firms Try to Deny This in Order to Attract Misinformed (or Poorly-Informed) Clients

    A roundup of news about software patents and demonstration of the sheer bias in the media, which is mostly controlled or steered by the patent microcosm rather than actual inventors



  25. Patent Trolls of Microsoft and Ericsson Are Trying to Tax Everything, Especially Linux Devices

    An update on Intellectual Ventures and Unwired Planet, whose operations pose a growing problem for Free software and Linux-based products (e.g. Android)



  26. Asia's Patent Litigation Chaos Getting Worse, Reaching Countries in the West, and Sites Like IAM Actively Promote This

    The race to the bottom (of patent quality) in China, the growth of patent trolls in the region, and the ruinous litigation strategy which now spills over even to the US -- through the Eastern District of Texas -- and may inevitably come to Europe (especially if the UPC ever becomes a reality)



  27. More French Politicians Are Complaining That Benoît Battistelli is a Disgrace to France and Urge for Action

    The backlash against Battistelli spills well outside the EPO and is now apparent even at the French National Assembly



  28. Links 3/12/2016: Mageia 5.1 Released, Mozilla Revenue at $421.3M

    Links for the day



  29. Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) Sees Decline in Patent Applications and It May Actually be a Good Thing

    Challenging the false belief that the more patents society has the better off it will be, citing examples and news from north America



  30. Blockchain Domain Infested With Software Patents, MasterCard Among the Culprits

    Worrying signs that an area of Free/Open Source software innovation is getting impacted by the plague of software patents


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts