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 18/9/2014: Windows Copying GNU/Linux, Germany Moves to Security

    Links for the day



  2. Web Site 'Patent Progress' Now Officially 'Powered by CCIA' (FRAND Proponent, Microsoft Front)

    After talking a job at CCIA, "Patent Progress" and its chief author should be treated as dubious on real patent progress



  3. Articles About the Death of Software Patents in the United States

    Recent coverage of software patents and their demise in their country of origin, where even proponents of software patents are giving up



  4. The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

    VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States



  5. More Microsoft Layoffs

    More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete



  6. ODF on the Rise

    Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments



  7. Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

    Links for the day



  8. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  9. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  10. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  11. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism



  12. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  13. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  14. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  15. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  16. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  17. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  18. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  19. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  20. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  21. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  22. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  23. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  24. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  25. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    Links for the day



  26. Software Patents 'Quality' Debated in Courts, Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll Still a Chronic Liar

    Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' largest patent proxy, continues to spread lies about its motivations, claiming that patent assessment is among the goals when in fact only the courts and patent offices do this



  27. New Article Explains How Bill Gates Prevents Schools From Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

    A new article from Al Jazeera provides details about the role of so-called 'charities' of billionaires inside school systems



  28. Microsoft Sued for Large-scale Copyright Abuses

    Microsoft reveals its disregard for copyright law which it loves so much to wield as a weapon against its competition and clients



  29. Links 5/9/2014: New WordPress, Systemd Debate Continues

    Links for the day



  30. 'Embrace and Extend' at Microsoft: The New Generation

    Some of the latest examples of Microsoft's predatory acts against Free software and against competition in general, disguised as acts of friendliness


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