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

04.22.08

Software Patents Roundup: Ambush, Reform, and Lobby

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 10:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent Poison Inside Our Standards

One good (or very bad) example of software patents in a candidate for standardisation is Microsoft’s OOXML, which might receive the go-ahead in June despite extensively documented corruption. In order to understand the impact of patents in something everyone must use, look no further than Rambus, which has just returned to the headlines.

Rambus, the fast memory designer, has won its appeal to overturn a 2004 Federal Trade Commission anti-trust ruling.

The DC Court of Appeals today decided that the FTC had not established that Rambus had harmed the competition and “therefore that the Commission failed to demonstrate that Rambus’ conduct was exclusionary and thus to establish its claim that Rambus unlawfully monopolized the relevant markets”.

There is a similarly interesting story which is briefly covered by Digital Majority (most links from this point onwards were extracted from there). It speaks of litigation as a barrier to implementation of IEEE standards and it is summarised thusly:

Regrettably, the Court of Appeals has decided not to stay the injunction in the CSIRO v. Buffalo et al litigation during the appeal period. Although Buffalo is confident that the final decision in the appeal will be favorable and that the injunction will be lifted, Buffalo is presently unable to supply wireless LAN equipment compliant with IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g standards in the United States until that decision is issued.

Need for Change Negotiated

At IT World Canada, an article that refers to issues such as RAND's incompatibility with FOSS are debated further. An interesting concept analogous to “fair use” for patents is proposed and then raised as a possible way to resolve this.

Patent quality is very low in some subject matter, such as software, which creates a practical problem. Patent quality must be assured in each subject matter area., possibly with a rule saying that 50% must be good quality in order for patents to be granted and/or enforceable in that subject matter? It is competition and first mover advantage, not exclusive rights, that drive innovation in software

We need a “Fair Use” doctrine for patent law, possibly carving out interface patents, royalty-free FLOSS implementations, and the activities of private citizens in their home or as amateurs and tinkerers. Patents for producing hardware or other tangibles are often opened up to competitors using RAND (Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory) licensing terms where there is a low per-copy royalty which is offered to anyone. While RAND is appropriate for tangibles, it is inappropriate for software which has a natural marginal cost of zero. RAND excludes from implementation any businesses using peer production methodologies.

As mentioned earlier, however, a patent reform seems to have been given the elbow. The bill is on the ice, but as the article below points out, it’s mainly about stopping patent trolls, not monopoly abusers that defend their territory from friendly ‘intrusion’ and fair co-existence with FOSS.

Patent overhaul spurred by the technology industry is in jeopardy of dying, after facing stiff competition from the pharmaceutical industry.

[...]

The technology industry, which relies a large number of patents, says it wants to change the law to deter “patent trolls,” or firms that hoard patents with the sole intent of enforcing them against infringers – regardless of whether or not the firm has any R&D resources or even a product utilizing the patent.

Formally known as S.1145, the Patent Reform Act opened a rift in the business world: biotech companies, labor unions, inventors, and capital firms squared off against the high tech and financial services industry, with companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, and Bank of America fighting for the bill’s passage.

The ‘Troll Apologists’

Litigious leeches of science and technology still receive the sympathy of a few and the word “troll”, as mentioned above, still angers some people, who see nothing wrong with the practice.

In recent times, there have been concerns that the patent system been abused by opportunistic companies known by the phrase “patent trolls”. It has been alleged that such entities have stunted innovation and spurred unnecessary patent litigation.

[...]

Not everyone fears “patent trolls”. James McDonough of Emory University School of Law prefers to use the euphemism, “patent dealers in the ideas economy”. He has argued that, contrary to popular belief, “patent trolls” actually benefit society: “Patent trolls provide liquidity, market clearing, and increased efficiency to the patent markets – the same benefits securities dealers supply capital markets.” He maintains that “patent trolls” are a useful intermediary in the marketplace.

Others question the very existence of “patent trolls”, suggesting that they are little more than mythological creatures designed to frighten the executives of technology companies at night.

European Lobbying

Over in Europe, we previously saw how Microsoft lobbyists try to phase in software patents by lowering barriers (and potentially quality too). This latest push for the Small Business Act might not actually help small businesses. In fact, it will add further restriction and increase legal activity.

Speaking at the Informal Meeting of ministers for Competitiveness in Brdo (Slovenia) today, Arnaldo Abruzzini, Secretary General of EUROCHAMBRES, reiterated the need for a political commitment at all levels in favour of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), in particular in relation to the forthcoming Small Business Act.

Further complication of the system would hardly help small businesses, let alone established vendors of low-cost (or free) products. Another danger is unification of the systems, which can have software patents pentrate countries where they are currently not legal.

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

2 Comments

  1. Logan said,

    April 22, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Gravatar

    I can’t resist! One more time: “Because Linux software is available free of charge, many Chinese businesses use it without paying.”

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 22, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Gravatar

    Without paying //who//?

    Paying Red Hat?

    Paying Novell?

    No.

    Paying ->Microsoft-<. Yes. For Linux and GNU.

What Else is New


  1. Links 2/6/2020: New Firefox Release (77), Debian-based MX Linux 19.2, KDevelop 5.5.2, GNU/Linux Growth on Desktops/Laptops

    Links for the day



  2. Techrights Can Figure Out Source Protection/Anonymisation Whilst Operating Very Transparently

    We're still quite radically transparent whilst at the same time enjoying 100% source protection record; we're also improving the software we use to publish more quickly and efficiently



  3. IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 01, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, June 01, 2020



  4. This is How GNU Finally Dies

    "Brace for when GNU falls the way that OSI, FSF, FSFE, Mozilla, and the Linux Foundation did."



  5. Latest Microsoft Layoffs Spun as 'Innovation' (There's Always a Positive PR Angle)

    The public is expected to simply ignore the fact that Microsoft is laying off employees (again); instead we're expected to think it's all about Microsoft being very brilliant and innovative



  6. Microsoft Playing the Victim, Irrationally 'Hated' by Victims of Its Abuse

    We're meant to believe that those whom Microsoft bribes against are the opinionated 'haters' and Microsoft is a victim of 'hate'



  7. Links 1/6/2020: Linux 5.7, FOSSlife Born, LibreOffice 7.0 Beta1, Linux Mint 20 Making Early Promises

    Links for the day



  8. Linux Without Linus

    The Linux Foundation seems to be acting like Linus (Linux founder) is somewhat of a liability (forcing him to take a ‘break’ from his own project) while taking even the most notorious proposals from corporations, including those that called Linux a “cancer”



  9. What It Would Take for Linus Torvalds to Leave Linux Foundation Without the Linux Trademark and Without Linux

    It's nice to think that the founder of Linux can just take his project and walk away, moving elsewhere, i.e. away from the Microsoft-employed executives who now "boss" him; but it's not that simple anymore



  10. The Past Does Not Go Away, Except From Short-Term Memories

    People who are drunk on power and money (sometimes not even their own money) like to portray themselves as the very opposite of what they are; but in the age of the Internet it's difficult to make the general public simply forget the past and "move on..."



  11. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, May 31, 2020

    IRC logs for Sunday, May 31, 2020



  12. Links 1/6/2020: OpenMandriva Lx 4.1 2020.05, Linux Lite 5.0 Release, FreeBSD 11.4 RC2

    Links for the day



  13. It's a Common Mistake and Common Misconception/Error to Treat Microsoft as Just Another 'Large Company' (or 'Big Tech')

    What's wrong about Microsoft isn't its size; what's wrong with Microsoft is its behaviour, which isn't just illegal (crimes are the norm) but also hugely unethical



  14. Lessons of Michael Arrington (About Microsoft)

    Microsoft and Bill Gates have a long history bullying their critics; the quote above (or below) shows how even people who advertise with Microsoft are becoming the target of abuse



  15. 'Best' of Both Worlds: GNU/Linux Freedom + Malware With Keyloggers and DRM

    Running a Microsoft-controlled GNU/Linux instance under Vista 10 ("Windows Subsystem for Linux") in the age of virtual machines, dual boot and containers makes as much sense as chopping some carrots to go with the veal meal to appease vegetarian diners



  16. First They Bribe the Employer, Media Lynch Mobs May Follow

    The 'cancel culture' lynch mobs, which leverage social causes (or marginalised groups), remain a convenient means by which to oust one's political/business opposition; but money too is a massive contributing factor and the more one has of it, the easier it is to control media narrative and subversive focus



  17. Upcoming Series Teaser: The Bribery Operation of William Henry Gates III

    Bribery goes a very long way when it comes to the megalomaniac who pays the media to portray him as the world's most generous person



  18. Windows Ransomware Must Not be Unspeakable When People Die in Large Numbers Due to That (and Windows Has Intentional Back Doors)

    Loss of electronic patient records, ransom and downtime among the severe consequences of deploying Microsoft inside hospitals; yet the media rarely names the real culprit (manslaughter charges theoretically possible) and nobody gets punished except those who offer real solutions



  19. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, May 30, 2020

    IRC logs for Saturday, May 30, 2020



  20. Burning the House That Richard Stallman (RMS) Built: An Open Letter to GNU Maintainers Who Opposed RMS

    An open letter to people who petitioned RMS to step down and who outsource GNU projects to Microsoft (GitHub)



  21. Links 30/5/2020: Godot Editor Under Web Browsers, Alpine Linux 3.12.0 and EasyOS 2.3

    Links for the day



  22. EPO's Illegal Patents and Massive Corruption Go Unnoticed by Corporate Media and Sites That Cover Patent News

    Very major corruption scandals still emerge in Europe's second-largest institution and illegal patents get granted as well as promoted; somehow, perhaps miraculously, this no longer seems to bother anybody in the media (corruption and radical policies have been gradually 'normalised')



  23. Never Mind If GNU/Linux Works Better Inside Hospitals and Free Software Not Only Safer But Vastly More Efficient...

    With lives on the line one might expect hospitals to choose what's most secure and generally works best; but in practice there seems to be a leaning towards what bribes best



  24. Sick Alexander Ramsey is Using a Public Health Crisis to Lie About the Unitary Patent, Whose Fall Made Him Redundant and/or Obsolete

    Weaponised media continues to manufacture utterly ridiculous puff pieces for Team UPC, containing intentional lies from beginning to end



  25. IRC Proceedings: Friday, May 29, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, May 29, 2020



  26. They Came, They Saw, He Died

    Microsoft is an inherently sociopathic company; today's story of AppGet is an important reminder that Microsoft has not changed and isn't changing (Maui is another week-old example of trademark-hijacking tactics by Microsoft)



  27. Microsoft-Connected CloudGuru Doesn't Care About GNU/Linux and Now It's Gradually Killing the BSD/Linux-Centric Jupiter Broadcasting (Bought by Linux Academy)

    Assuming Docker is being 'killed' by Microsoft (or at least hijacked to push Windows, Azure and so on) while the GitHub-hosted (Microsoft) CloudGuru, whose co-founder comes from Microsoft, ‘finishes the job’ with Linux Academy and its assets, it’s time to take stock of a pattern/trend that ruins the media too



  28. What Happened to Docker is a Cautionary Tale About the Not-So-New Microsoft

    It’s hardly shocking that Docker collapsed (mass-scale layoffs) after the company had gotten close to Microsoft and got rid of its very own founder (a Red Hat veteran) while the software is being killed off/co-opted by Microsoft (all over the news this week; we’ve omitted links by intention as it’s only puff pieces, no investigative journalism anywhere); we only ask one thing: is anyone paying attention and, if so, what are the lessons learned?



  29. If You Want to Support and Follow Us 'Properly', Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is Most Reliable and Robust to Censorship

    Our longstanding position on social control media (we reject it and don't participate in it) is only proven ever more justified now that the mere idea of fact-checking is seen as controversial if not illegal



  30. Links 29/5/2020: Genode OS 20.05 and FSF Video Conferencing Service

    Links for the day


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

Recent Posts