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

05.09.08

Software Patents, Microsoft Trolls and Intellectual Monopoly Miscellany

Posted in Asia, DRM, Microsoft, Patents at 11:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can’t compete? Buy new laws to ban the competition.

The intellectual insanity resumes. Let’s take a quick look at some highlights from the news.

Software Patents from the Back Door

The last time we complained about force-feeding of software patents we concentrated on an example from the Philippines. We cited other recent examples from Russia and China.

Watch what’s happening in India at the moment [via Groklaw] and recall this old talk about why Europe, for example, must never repeat America’s mistakes, for competitive and purely logical reasons.

Life is never easy for an open source evangelist. The OOXML drama came to a close on 2nd April 2008 and we were on to our next issue — software patents. The Draft Patent Manual might end up bringing software patents through the back door. this would be surprising because the Indian parliament explicitly rejected software patents in the Patent Amendment Act 2005. In this blog, I am including extracts from a letter that I sent to the Patent Office on 11th April 2008. The deadline for comments was 15th April 2008.

Microsoft’s principal patent troll was last mentioned yesterday, but here he is again showing that ideas are dime a dozen. [via Glyn Moody]

Gladwell uses this to talk up what Myhrvold is doing, suggesting that Intellectual Ventures is really about continuing that process, getting those ideas out there — but he misses the much bigger point: if these ideas are the natural progression, almost guaranteed to be discovered by someone sooner or later, why do we give a monopoly on these ideas to a single discoverer? Myhrvold’s whole business model is about monopolizing all of these ideas and charging others (who may have discovered them totally independently) to actually do something with them. Yet, if Gladwell’s premise is correct (and there’s plenty of evidence included in the article), then Myhrvold’s efforts shouldn’t be seen as a big deal. After all, if it wasn’t Myhrvold and his friends doing it, others would very likely come up with the same thing sooner or later.

This is especially highlighted in one anecdote in the article, of Myhrvold holding a dinner with a bunch of smart people… and an attorney. The group spent dinner talking about a bunch of different random ideas, with no real goal or purpose — just “chewing the rag” as one participant put it. But the next day the attorney approached them with a typewritten description of 36 different inventions that were potentially patentable out of the dinner. When a random “chewing the rag” conversation turns up 36 monopolies, something is wrong. Those aren’t inventions that deserve a monopoly.

You could kindly ask Microsoft what merits ‘innovation’ and then ask how it reached desktop dominance in absence of software patents. Was it not innovating? As a smaller company back in the days, was it not ‘protected’?

The Fox Watches the Patent Hen House

USPTOSeveral days ago we mentioned claims that appointment of patent appeal judges was probably unconstitutional. Here comes another report that suggests no less than 46 such appointments might come under fire. How about this report from the other day about the “Chief RIAA Litigator Named Colorado Judge”? The Pirate Party’s Andrew Norton said: “Being the lead counsel in a multi-year campaign of extortion, pretexting, and sham litigation should not be rewarded with a seat in any court, except perhaps as a defendant.” We’ll return to this later in this post, but in the mean time consider what happens in the patent system:

A US law professor has uncovered a constitutional flaw in appointing judges who decide patent appeals and disputes, which could undo thousands of patent decisions concerning claims worth billions of dollars.

The basic point John F. Duffy, who teaches at the George Washington University Law School, has raised does not appear to be in dispute. Since 2000, patent judges have been appointed by a government official without the constitutional power to do so.

“I actually ran it by a number of colleagues who teach administrative law and constitutional law,” Duffy said, recalling his own surprise at finding such a fundamental and important flaw. He thought he must be missing something. “No one thought it was a close question.”

Speaking of Microsoft again, the court is now split on the Alcatel-Lucent/Microsoft decision, despite the fact that Microsoft lost the case the first time around [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

A federal appeals court reinstated one of two patent cases tossed out last year in the ongoing patent dispute on user-interface technology that pits Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) against Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Dell Inc. (DELL).

The appeals court said the San Diego district court erred in its determination of a “terminal device” and remanded the case, which was dismissed, back to the court for further proceedings. The technology covered by the patent in that matter is a communications protocol that aids information exchange between a host processor computer and a terminal device, like a portable computer or smart phone.

The seemingly-endless Alcatel saga was also covered (or at least alluded to) previously in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Always mind the choice of judges and jury, bearing the OOXML scandal in mind, as well as the following quote from Microsoft:

“I have mentioned before the “stacked panel.” Panel discussions naturally favor alliances of relatively weak partners — our usual opposition. For example, an “unbiased” panel on OLE vs. OpenDoc would contain representatives of the backers of OLE (Microsoft) and the Backers of OpenDoc (Apple, IBM, Novell, WordPerfect, OMG, etc.). Thus, we find ourselves outnumbered in almost every “naturally occurring” panel debate.

“A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. “

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

The Latest on Bilski

We wrote about Bilski yesterday and many times before that too [1, 2, 3, 4]. Here is an update from CNN.

A U.S. federal appeals court Thursday considered making it harder for companies to obtain business-method patents that, among other things, protect novel tax strategies, financial-services processes and one-stop online shopping.

In a rare 12-judge session, the Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it was using the Bilski case, which involves a process for reducing weather-based risk in commodities trading, to consider stemming a tide of business-process patents that has followed the panel’s 1998 ruling in State Street Bank & Trust. The State Street case involved a process for handling mutual-fund assets and said processes could be awarded if they achieve a “useful, concrete and tangible” result.

Groklaw has some comprehensive coverage, courtesy of people who were there, physically.

Even Microsoft filed a brief [PDF], along with Dell and Symantec, and they too are worried at the thought of such a patent as Bilski is trying to get…

[...]

By affirmed, he means that the USPTO refused to grant a business method patent (the Board of Patents and Interferences’ decision {PDF]), and he believes the appeals court will affirm that refusal. But Red Hat raised the issue of software patents hindering innovation, particularly for Free and Open Source software creators. Here’s another account of how the arguments went, by Gene Quinn on the Practising Law Institute’s website.

This case could have a serious impact on software patents, especially their scope or validity in the United States.

“All Your Copyrights Are Our Own Rights”

There are some news items about copyrights that are outrageous enough to be worth bringing up. Watch how Blizzard tries to redefine copyrights. Shades of Microsoft and SCO.

Cheating is bad, but does cheating infringe on a video game publisher’s copyright? World of Warcraft-maker Blizzard, a subsidiary of Vivendi, is trying to argue in court that it does. If this argument succeeds, it could change the way all software copyrights operate in the eyes of the law.

More outrageous, however, is what Hollywood’s greedy moguls try to do to the Internet at the moment — essentially treating all traffic as though it’s theirs. There’s an attempt to shut down not only sharing as a whole (blindly killing the medium), but also things like the Internet Archive, which is all about information and rarely about entertainment.

After one big blow that was served to a BitTorrent finder (there will be an appeal) comes yet another one:

Hollywood wants SEK93 million (US$15.4 million) in damages for copyright infringement from the people behind The Pirate Bay, according to a claim filed by industry organization the Motion Picture Association this week.

To clarify, I have no interest in copyrighted content, but apart from the gross use of propaganda terms (the conceited Dan Glickman calls them “pirate sites” and he sometimes talks about “criminals”), the main concern here is the targeting of the medium.

“They just kill the whole media, suffocating creativity (and code) in the process.”What about independent film producers and GNU/Linux distributions, among other things? They rely on torrents. They haven’t the money or resources for dedicated servers or Akamai. These can be shared legally and legally steal the thunder from proprietary software vendors and Big Media. What better excuse for Big Media to end it all? They can just poison the well (they did, as a matter of fact, resort to baiting before) and then call it a day.

It’s worth emphasising this again because it parallels the fight against Free software: Filtering the media isn’t what the media moguls want. They just kill the whole media, suffocating creativity (and code) in the process. They wish to ‘own’ communication as a whole (or have a monopoly on production of software). It’s about limiting choice. Mind Microsoft’s active role in the fight against YouTube [1, 2].

Here is an update on the fight against the Internet Archive. Is there any free source of data that won’t be attacked nowadays?

The FBI has withdrawn an unconstitutional national security letter (NSL) issued to the Internet Archive after a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). As the result of a settlement agreement, the FBI withdrew the NSL and agreed to the unsealing of the case, finally allowing the Archive’s founder to speak out for the first time about his battle against the record demand.

Starting with more recent examples, here are some other related stories to consider:

If we don’t fight for our rights, we soon lose them.

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 19/2/2017: GParted 0.28.1, LibreOffice Donations Record

    Links for the day



  2. The EPO is Becoming an Embarrassment to Europe and a Growing Threat to the European Union

    The increasingly pathetic moves by Battistelli and the ever-declining image/status of the EPO (only 0% of polled stakeholders approve Battistelli's management) is causing damage to the reputation of the European Union, even if the EPO is not a European Union organ but an international one



  3. Patent Misconceptions Promoted by the Patent Meta-Industry

    Cherry-picking one's way into the perception of patent eligibility for software and the misguided belief that without patents there will be no innovation



  4. As the United States Shuts Its Door on Low-Quality Patents the Patent Trolls Move to Asia

    Disintegration of Intellectual Ventures (further shrinkage after losing software patents at CAFC), China's massive patent bubble, and Singapore's implicit invitation/facilitation of patent trolls (bubble economy)



  5. Links 17/2/2017: Wine 2.2, New Ubuntu LTS

    Links for the day



  6. Bad Advice From Mintz Levin and Bejin Bieneman PLC Would Have People Believe That Software Patents Are Still Worth Pursuing

    The latest examples of misleading articles which, in spite of the avalanche of software patents in the United States, continue to promote these



  7. Patents Are Not Property, They Are a Monopoly, and They Are Not Owned But Temporarily Granted

    Patent maximalism and distortion of concepts associated with patents tackled again, for terminology is being hijacked by those who turned patents into their "milking cows"



  8. SoftBank Group, New Owner of ARM, Could Potentially Become (in Part) a Patent Troll or an Aggressor Like Qualcomm

    SoftBank grabbed headlines (in the West at least) when it bought ARM, but will it soon grab headlines for going after practicing companies using a bunch of patents that it got from Inventergy, ARM, and beyond?



  9. Technicolor, Having Turned Into a Patent Troll, Attacks Android/Tizen/Linux With Patents in Europe

    Technicolor, which a lot of the media portrayed as a patent troll in previous years (especially after it had sued Apple, HTC and Samsung), is now taking action against Samsung in Europe (Paris, Dusseldorf and Mannheim)



  10. Michelle Lee is Still “in Charge” of the US Patent System

    Contrary to a malicious whispering campaign against Lee (a coup attempt, courtesy of patent maximalists who make a living from mass litigation), she is still in charge of the USPTO



  11. Our Assessment: EPO Wants a Lot of Low-Quality Patents and Low-Paid Staff With UPC (Prosecution Galore)

    The European Patent Office seems to be less interested in examination and more interested in facilitating overzealous prosecution all across Europe and beyond; The Administrative Council has shown no signs that it is interested in profound changes, except those proposed by Battistelli in the face of growing resistance from staff and from ordinary stakeholders



  12. Links 16/2/2017: HITMAN for GNU/Linux, Go 1.8

    Links for the day



  13. Yet More Complaints About the European Patent Office in the Bavarian Regional Government

    Some German politicians do care about the welfare of EPO staff, a lot more so than the EPO's management that is actively crushing this staff



  14. EPO Staff Representatives to Escalate Complaint About Severe Injustices to the EPO's Secretive Board 28

    In a new letter to President Benoît Battistelli it is made abundantly apparent -- however politely -- that Battistelli's gross abuses could further complicate things for Battistelli, who is already embroiled in a fight with his predecessor, Roland Grossenbacher



  15. New Survey Reveals That High Patent Quality, or Elimination of Bad Patents, is Desirable to Patent Holders

    A new survey from Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA reveals that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which still grows in prominence, is supported by people who have themselves gotten patents (not those who are in the bureaucracy of patents and self-serving politics)



  16. Open Patent Office is Not the Solution; Ending Software Patents is the Solution

    Our remarks about the goals and methods of the newly-established Open Patent Office and what is instead needed in order to combat the menace that threatens software development



  17. New Scholarly Paper Says “UK’s Withdrawal From the EU Could Mean That the Entire (Unitary Patent) System Will Not Go Into Effect”

    A paper from academics -- not from the patent microcosm (for a change) -- provides a more sobering interpretation, suggesting quite rightly that the UPC can't happen in the UK (or in Europe), or simply not endure if some front groups such as CIPA somehow managed to bamboozle politicians into it (ratification in haste, before the facts are known)



  18. Patent Trolls Update: Rodney Gilstrap Maintains His Support for Trolls, MPEG-LA Goes Hunting in China, and Blackberry Hits Nokia

    A roundup of the latest news about patent trolls and what they are up to in the United States, Europe, and Asia



  19. Guest Post: EPO, an Idyllic Place to Work

    The true face of the EPO as explained by an insider, recalling the history that led to the negative image and toxic work atmosphere



  20. Links 15/2/2017: Linux 4.9.10 and Linux 4.4.49

    Links for the day



  21. Claude Rouiller (ILOAT) and ILO Rulings Effectively Disregarded by the European Patent Office

    The compositions of kangaroo courts at the EPO continue to be absurd, in spite of a ruling from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which insisted that change must be made following a lot of mistrials



  22. National Law Journal Believes That Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice Would be Opponent of Patent Reform

    Whispering campaign surrounds Neil Gorsuch's alleged or perceived views on patents, and in particular the America Invents Act (AIA) which brought the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a serial invalidator of software patents, owing to Alice (a Supreme Court decision)



  23. Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) is a Lobby Group for Software Patents and Patent Maximalism

    An introduction to what the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding really is, what it is for, and who is behind it



  24. The European Patent Office Looks More and More Like the Sicilian Mafia Every Day

    Battistelli has constructed or pulled together a Mafia-like family inside the EPO, where all those who protect the 'King' (or Don) are rewarded and the rest are removed with prejudice



  25. EPO-Connected Writers Are Using Alternative Facts or Fake News to Promote the Unitary Patent in British Media

    The misuse of publications for the purpose of lobbying by Battistelli and Team UPC (a small group of opportunists looking to exploit change that they themselves introduce) is worth noting, for its frequency is on the rise again



  26. Microsoft Has Not Managed to Blackmail Huawei Over Android and GNU/Linux, But Its Trolls/Satellites Are Trying

    The story of Huawei gets more complicated, even though software patents are losing their teeth and notorious patent trolls are altogether losing their patents



  27. IBM Has Become an Enemy of GNU/Linux and a Loud Proponent of Software Patents

    IBM's poisonous policy on patents, which has long been incompatible with Free/Libre software, has gotten even worse and the company now takes the lead in lobbying for patenting of software



  28. Leaked: European Patent Office a Fire Hazard Waiting to Cause Tragedy (Possible Deaths)

    The EPO has known for a while that is was not in compliance with regulations, but as usual -- flaunting immunity and impunity -- nothing happened



  29. For Valentine's Day, Battistelli Learns to Stop Worrying and Love to Lie

    Battistelli lies about patent quality once again, incidentally on the very same day that serious leaks regarding patent quality got published (and need distracting from)



  30. India Cites Public Interest in Patent Case Where Embargo Attempted Against Local Drugmaker

    India turns away a foreign corporation that attempts to use patents to shut down (or destroy the business model of) an Indian company


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