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. Why Authorities in the Netherlands Need to Strip the EPO of Immunity and Investigate Fire Safety Violations

    How intimidation and crackdown on the staff representatives at the EPO may have led to lack of awareness (and action) about lack of compliance with fire safety standards



  2. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part IX: Testament to the Fear of an Autocratic Regime

    A return to the crucial observation and a reminder of the fact that at the EPO it takes great courage to say the truth nowadays



  3. For the Fordham Echo Chamber (Patent Maximalism), Judges From the EPO Boards of Appeal Are Not Worth Entertaining

    In an event steered if not stuffed by patent radicals such as Bristows and Microsoft (abusive, serial litigators) there are no balanced panels or even reasonable discussions



  4. EPO Staff Representatives Fired Using “Disciplinary Committee That Was Improperly Composed” as Per ILO's Decision

    The Board of the Administrative Council at European Patent Organisation is being informed of the union-busting activities of Battistelli -- activities that are both illegal (as per national and international standards) and are detrimental to the Organisation



  5. Links 23/4/2017: End of arkOS, Collabora Office 5.3 Released

    Links for the day



  6. Intellectual Discovery and Microsoft Feed Patent Trolls Like Intellectual Ventures Which Then Strategically Attack Rivals

    Like a swarm of blood-sucking bats, patent trolls prey on affluent companies that derive their wealth from GNU/Linux and freedom-respecting software (Free/libre software)



  7. The European Patent Office Has Just Killed a Cat (or Skinned a 'Kat')

    The EPO’s attack on the media, including us, resulted in a stream of misinformation and puff pieces about the EPO and UPC, putting at risk not just European democracy but also corrupting the European press



  8. Yann Ménière Resorts to Buzzwords to Recklessly Promote Floods of Patents, Dooming the EPO Amid Decline in Patent Applications

    Battistelli's French Chief Economist is not much of an economist but a patent maximalist toeing the party line of Monsieur Battistelli (lots of easy grants and litigation galore, for UPC hopefuls)



  9. Even Patent Bullies Like Microsoft and Facebook Find the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Useful

    Not just companies accused of patent infringement need the PTAB but also frequent accusers with deep pockets need the PTAB, based on some new figures and new developments



  10. Links 21/4/2017: Qt Creator 4.2.2, ROSA Desktop Fresh R9

    Links for the day



  11. At the EPO, Seeding of Puff Piece in the Press/Academia Sometimes Transparent Enough to View

    The EPO‘s PR team likes to 'spam' journalists and others (for PR) and sometimes does this publicly, as the tweets below show — a desperate recruitment and reputation laundering drive



  12. Affordable and Sophisticated Mobile Devices Are Kept Away by Patent Trolls and Aggressors That Tax Everything

    The war against commoditisation of mobile computing has turned a potentially thriving market with fast innovation rates into a war zone full of patent trolls (sometimes suing at the behest of large companies that hand them patents for this purpose)



  13. In Spite of Lobbying and Endless Attempts by the Patent Microcosm, US Supreme Court Won't Consider Any Software Patent Cases Anymore (in the Foreseeable Future)

    Lobbyists of software patents, i.e. proponents of endless litigation and patent trolls, are attempting to convince the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to have another look at abstract patents and reconsider its position on cases like Alice Corp. v CLS Bank International



  14. Expect Team UPC to Remain in Deep Denial About the Unitary Patent/Unified Court (UPC) Having No Prospects

    The prevailing denial that the UPC is effectively dead, courtesy of sites and blogs whose writers stood to profit from the UPC



  15. EPO in 2017: Erroneously Grant a Lot of Patents in Bulk or Get Sacked

    Quality of patent examination is being abandoned at the EPO and those who disobey or refuse to play along are being fired (or asked to resign to avoid forced resignations which would stain their record)



  16. Links 21/4/2017: System76 Entering Phase Three, KDE Applications 17.04, Elive 2.9.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  17. Bristows-Run IP Kat Continues to Spread Lies to Promote the Unitary Patent (UPC) and Advance the EPO Management's Agenda

    An eclectic response to some of the misleading if not villainous responses to the UPC's death knell in the UK, as well as other noteworthy observations about think tanks and misinformation whose purpose is to warp the patent system so that it serves law firms, for the most part at the expense of science and technology



  18. Links 20/4/2017: Tor Browser 6.5.2, PacketFence 7.0, New Firefox and Chrome

    Links for the day



  19. Patents on Business Methods and Software Are Collapsing, But the Patent Microcosm is Working Hard to Change That

    The never-ending battle over patent law, where those who are in the business of patents push for endless patenting, is still ongoing and resistance/opposition is needed from those who actually produce things (other than litigation) or else they will be perpetually taxed by parasites



  20. IAM, the Patent Trolls' Voice, is Trying to Deny There is a Growing Trolling Problem in Europe

    IAM Media (the EPO's and trolls' mouthpiece) continues a rather disturbing pattern of propaganda dressed up as "news", promoting the agenda of parasites who drain the economy by extortion of legitimate (producing) companies



  21. The Patent Microcosm Keeps Attacking Every Patent Office/System That is Doing the Right Thing

    Patent 'radicals' and 'extremists' -- those to whom patents are needed solely for the purpose of profit from bureaucracy -- fight hard against patent quality and in the process they harm everyone, including individual customers



  22. Another Final Nail in the UPC Coffin: UK General Election

    Ratification of the UPC in the UK can drag on for several more years and never be done thereafter, throwing into uncertainty the whole UPC (EU-wide) as we know it



  23. Links 19/4/2017: DockerCon Coverage, Ubuntu Switching to Wayland

    Links for the day



  24. Links 18/4/2017: Mesa 17.0.4, FFmpeg 3.3

    Links for the day



  25. Patents Roundup: Microsoft, Embargo, Tax Evasion, Surveillance, and Censorship

    An excess of patents and their overutilisation for purposes other than innovation (or dissemination of knowledge) means that society has much to lose, sometimes more than there is to gain



  26. How I Learned that Skype is a Spy Campaign (My Personal Story) -- by Yuval Levental

    Skype is now tracking serial numbers, too



  27. Links 17/4/2017: Devil Linux 1.8.0, GNU IceCat 52.0.2

    Links for the day



  28. EPO Patent Quality and Quality of Service Have Become a Disaster, Say EPO Stakeholders

    Stakeholders of the EPO, in various sites that attract them, are complaining about the service of the EPO, the declining quality of patents (and the rushed processes), including the fact that Battistelli's blind obsession with so-called 'production' dooms the already-up-in-flames EPO and makes it uncompetitive



  29. IAM is a Think Tank for Patent Trolls, Software Patents, the EPO, Microsoft, and Whoever Else is Willing to Pay

    The site where you get what you pay for continues to promote highly damaging agenda, which threatens to disrupt operations at a lot of legitimate companies that employ technical people



  30. An Australian Patent Troll, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA), is a Bully Not Just in the Patent Sense, Explains the EFF

    The mischievous troll GEMSA, which doesn't seem to get enough out of bullying real companies, is now attacking a civil rights group's free speech rights


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