04.21.08

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Software Patents Roundup: Why PCT and Not IPR; Why Patents Kill Standards; Why Software Patents Are Insane

Posted in Courtroom, Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents, RAND at 5:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patent on rise

The Cathedral is bizarre. It tries to tame the legal system to essentially illegalise the Bazaar, which produces excellent products very efficiently and at a very low cost. In the case of software, no physical products need even be produced.

“It cannot be stressed often enough, but companies like Novell and Microsoft will continue to deceive the public for their own selfish interests…”Whether you find this sad or amusing probably depends on which side you are on. What we discover here is nothing but intellectual fences being set up by those who are in the inner circles enjoying a flow of money from those who have no opportunity to compete. The laws were adjusted to make it so.

Doug Mentohl has found a few bits of news that illustrate some of this, adding colour to the problem at hand.

Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks Are Not the Same Thing

It cannot be stressed often enough, but companies like Novell and Microsoft will continue to deceive the public for their own selfish interests where the status of patents should be perceptually elevated and made ‘harder’.

I am not a fan of the term “Intellectual Property” for many reasons. One is that it is confusing as it makes an analogy to tangible property which confuses non-lawyers, and lumps together very different areas of law. This is why many people in policy circles use the acronym PCT which stands for “Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks and other related rights”.

[...]

Historically software was not patentable, and it is only recent that this changed.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fought software patents prior to 1981. This changed after a 1981 US Supreme Court Case (Diamond v. Diehr) which involved an industrial process for the molding of rubber products, which included software. While this was not really a software patent, but an industrial process that happened to include software, this was seen as opening the doors to pure software patents and then later to business model patents. Many of these decisions were made by the US Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit which specializes on patents, and is seen by many to be a biased interest group in the debate about what should be patentable.

Interestingly, the the anti-spam (CAPTCHA) word at the bottom of the article came up as “windows”. Coincidence? Refreshing the page (viewing it for the second time) brought up the word “cheese”. In any event, slides of the presentation are included in this page.

Patents in a Standard Make Patent Ambush, Legal Assault

This was pointed out before and also shown using an example from the news, the context being Microsoft’s OOXML. Just because something becomes widespread or standardised does not mean that associated software patents are rendered moot. Here you have a new example of this.

MPEG-2 Patent Owners Sue Target Corporation for MPEG-2 Patent Infringement

PEG LA, LLC, world leader in alternative one-stop patent licenses, today announced that several MPEG-2 patent owners have filed an enforcement action in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York against Target Corporation (“Target”) and Doe Corporations 1-10, fictitious names for corporations currently unknown to the plaintiffs, for infringing patents essential to the MPEG-2 digital video compression standard used worldwide in digital television broadcasting and DVD.

Let this remind you not to touch OOXML.

flickr:2400034217

Program Guides Patented Because They Are Electronic

How would you respond to lawsuit threats and extortion extraction of money for “onscreen electronic program guides”? Many things, once they become electronic and have an implemented equivalent, are suddenly finding themselves ‘owned’ by individuals and used for profit.

Gemstar-TV Guide International, which holds numerous patents to onscreen electronic program guides (EPGs), said Monday it has reached a patent license deal with cable TV set-top manufacturer Digeo, which effectively ends patent lawsuits between the two companies.

[...]

Gemstar-TV Guide filed the patent infringement lawsuit against Digeo in October 2006, alleging the company’s Moxi interactive television program guide infringed upon patents it owned. Digeo later filed a countersuit against Gemstar-TV Guide alleging it had infringed some of Digeo’s EPG technology patents.

One favourite example of digitising ideas to have them patented is Amazon’s recommendations system which is based on history of purchases. It’s the equivalent of book recommendations by a librarian who is familiar with the literature. When computerised it can be claimed a 20th- or 21st-century ‘invention’ worthy of a patent.

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