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04.27.08

Open Invention Network (OIN) Gets New Leadership, Other Software Patents News

Posted in Asia, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, OIN, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 12:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One particularly quiet head-change has gone almost unnoticed. As it turns out, Jerry Rosenthal stepped out of OIN and got replaced by Keith Bergelt.

Keith Bergelt, who made his name first with Motorola and subsequently as a pioneer in the world of IP finance at IP Innovations and then at Paradox Capital, has become the CEO of the Open Innovation Network (OIN). This is the company founded by IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Philips and Sony, that acquires intellectual property rights and then licenses them out royalty free to organisations that agree not to assert their own patents against either Linux or Linux-based applications. While at Paradox, Bergelt helped arrange several significant transactions, including deals around the purchase of Betsey Johnson by Castanea Partners.
The last I heard was that Jerry Rosenthal, the former VP of IP and licensing at IBM, was CEO of OIN, so presumably he has either left the organisation or moved to another post. As yet there is no official announcement from the organisation on its website announcing Bergelt’s arrival or what Rosenthal will now be doing.

Bergelt himself has already responded to this piece, which is appended as a clarifying update that shed more light:

So, my assuming the role of CEO of OIN (as I have recast it – the guardian of Linux responsible for enabling, influencing and defending the integrity of the Linux ecosystem) ties in all of my past experience and gives me a platform to continue to be an innovator but have a far more profound positive impact on the IP world and, more importantly, on the global macro-economy. I essentially manage a fund for some of the largest and most influential players in global technology – IBM, NEC, Sony, RedHat, Novell, & Philips – whose purpose is to enable the Linux ecosystem and shield it from patent attacks by patent trolls and others whose business models might be antithetical to true innovation and, by their nature, are opposed to truly facilitating work through rapid advancements in IT and communications technologies and applications.

Other giants in OIN include Oracle and Google, both being relatively recent additions. Sun’s CEO promised to protect Linux as well, but in a separate context. Novell’s role and membership there is a little strange because its deal with Microsoft beats the purpose of defense from Microsoft, a self-confessed hater of Linux and the GPL. It’s important to add that Microsoft’s little ‘spinoffs’ — which may or many not include Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], along with its software patent assault on Novell — come to mind as proof of the weaknesses of OIN. These shortcomings are not going away.

“It makes Novell a black sheep inside OIN and it’s a similar position to that of Novell in the FSF, ODF, the Linux Foundation and maybe even the EFF.”Moreover, some people reckon Microsoft will get closer to Novell over the years and maybe even devour it (along with SUSE). OpenSUSE already helps Novell in the development of a distro whose purpose is to replace all those ‘naughty’ Linux distributions such as Red Flag, Ubuntu and Fedora [1, 2, 3, 4], which ‘dare’ to refuse Microsoft’s ‘intellectual’ ownership of them. It makes Novell a black sheep inside OIN and it’s a similar position to that of Novell in the FSF, ODF, the Linux Foundation and maybe even the EFF. Why do they entertain a Microsoft partner?

Renewed Attempts to Squeeze Software Patents Into the EU

The American administration has been largely apathetic when it come to a needed patent reform. It recently put it on the ice. It just let industry giants essentially take the law into their own hands and abolish a ‘rebellion’ against intellectual monopolies. The US Government is suppressive to change, to correction through necessary readjustment. More worrying, however, is this unconfirmed report about a big industry lobby which is trying to force an unhealthy unification. It brings with it a broken system and blends it with a healthier one. Monopolisation through contamination, anyone?

The big industry, gathered inside a club named Trans Antlantic Business Dialogue, is lobbying the European Commission (McCreevy and Verheugen) and the American Department of Commerce (Carlos M. Gutierrez) to sign a bilateral treaty on harmonisation of patent law between the developed countries, which will probably not include the european exclusion of computer programs, thus provide a legal base to overhide the failure of the software patent directive in 2005.

Crêpe du Jour, Served by USPTO

Just watch what type of patent applications the USPTO accepts and approves.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued patent number 7,355,990 for “Mobile-Originated to HTTP Internet Communications.” The patent describes a means for triggering an Internet informational query or search using a simple text message originated from a cell phone or mobile device, and is widely used today for two-way premium messaging services.

Worth noticing are the words “widely used today.” Not “to be innovative tomorrow” or “promising to be valuable.” Abusers of this dysfunctional system strive to get hold of an ownership certificate of something which already exists. It makes it a good weapon, or a candidate for extortion extraction.

China’s Nuclear Threat is a Patent Cold War, Armageddon

The Economist has this new article which warns about almost one million lawsuits in China.

WESTERN firms are always complaining about the theft of intellectual property in China. From knock-off designs to copycat brand names, pirated music and fake drugs, China has a well-earned reputation as a free-for-all when it comes to patents and copyrights. Worse, there often seems little hope of redress: the courts are too distant and too incompetent; the laws are too weak or too vague; the culture is too resistant to the very idea of intellectual property. Yet help is at hand, in the form of Chinese firms with patents to defend.

Since 2003 the number of trademark applications has grown by 60%; the number of patents has nearly doubled (850,000 are now active) and the number of lawsuits about intellectual property has more than doubled (see chart). The government is encouraging the trend in many ways, including signalling to the press to cheer it on.

[...]

Unsurprisingly, the main beneficiaries of the sudden interest in intellectual property are Chinese lawyers. Some reportedly earn more than $5m a year. Non-Chinese law firms sometimes provide advice on thorny cases. But they are not allowed to file patents or appear in court on behalf of a client—a proprietary process that Chinese lawyers are keen to defend.

It has always been about the lawyers, but marketed in a way which obscures this, using words like “invention”, “innovation”, “inventor” (turning negatives to positives), “protection” and “risk” (selling using fear).

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