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06.01.08

Summary of Latest Intellectual Waste

Posted in America, DRM, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 8:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Europe and Software Patents

Harmonisation… like the merging of portions of slime

Harmonisation, unlike “contamination” or “pollution”, has a positive connotation. But there is nothing too positive about bringing a system that everyone admits is already broken beyond repair (USPTO) and merging it with one that is still more functional (EPO, among others).

Nevertheless, it is in the monopolists’ interest to force and impose dysfunctional aspects of their own system upon all others. This way, others who live across the Atlantic are equally disadvantaged (“disadvantaged” as in Microsoft ‘Genuine’ ‘Advantage’). And that’s just what McCreevy (also see [1, 2, 3, 4]) appears to be striving to achieve. [via Digital Majority]

The May agenda takes up a number of problems. For starters, the E.U. wants to draw a road map for harmonizing patent law. Progress could be slow, however, because U.S. reform has bogged down in Congress and the European Commission may not have the legal right to amend the European Patent Convention.

Later on, the same folks could travel across the pacific to achieve similar things. Australia and Japan have already been defeated as far as software patents are concerned.

Community Patent… against the free software community

Nicolas Sarkozy’s strong sympathy towards intellectual monopolies [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] has not been noted for a while, but have a quick look at this new article. [via Digital Majority]

EU hopes for Community patent under French Presidency

[...]

“If there is enough political will, I am confident of having a solution soon, maybe even under the French Presidency,” Vijzak stated.

Much like “harmonisation”, “community” sounds as though it’s a positive thing. This is seemingly about togetherness and happiness, but in reality it’s something altogether different. “Open XML” is a recent case of naming something for better reception (or blind acceptance). There are many more such examples.

“”Open XML” is a recent case of naming something for better reception (or blind acceptance).”Remember, for instance, that Microsoft ‘advertises’ the DRM features in Windows Vista as ones that apply only to “premium content”, but this hides the fact that all content is intended to fall under this category one day. The misuse of words like “advantage”, “premium”, “trusted”, “secure” and “open” are nothing new and they mustn’t lead to the deception that their repetitive use is supposed to achieve. Conversely, there are words like “criminals”, “thieves”, “pirates”, “terrorists”, “hackers” (meaning already deformed), etc. which are merely serving an agenda of daemonisation; expect them to be foolishly echoed in conferences and the media.

Prior art… when there’s no real ‘art’ at all

The sad news from the UK, regarding software patents to be specific, continues to be followed by reports that demonstrate a degree of sanity. Here is one such example that is new.

UK business method patent struck out

[...]

The patent (number 2,171,877) relates to a method of making pre-paid telephone calls that is available for use from any telephone, and t[he] hardware for doing so.

In a ruling dated May 23, His Honour Judge Fysh (sitting as a High Court judge) found the patent invalid on the grounds of obviousness – based on a study of the prior art – and excluded matter under Article 52 of the European Patent Convention.

Overall, it means that the juridical (legal system) is more rational than the lenient patent office (imaginary property system), which probably accepts applications because it is more profitable. The cost is later paid by those who are hit by frivolous lawsuits. The burden is passed to victims and revenue sunk in lawyers’ bank accounts. It’s quite a funny mechanism.

DRM Everywhere, Possession of Universally-accessible Media a Crime

That ugly thing called ACTA [1, 2] is the antithesis of the Declaration of Independence. The following pattern of criticism possibly explains just why.

Criticism from NGOs

Canadian law expert David Fewer, staff counsel at the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, told the Ottawa Citizen that the discussion paper was very close to a potential Christmas wish-list by Hollywood companies.

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), in an earlier statement filed to USTR, warned against a lack in differentiation and clearness of core terms, like counterfeiting, infringement or piracy. “Is Microsoft a “pirate” for insisting on the right to continue to infringe the z4 patents in order to use an infringing DRM technology to protect Microsoft software itself from infringement by unauthorised uses?” KEI asked in its statement.

In this particular context, consider again the old sins of the British Library, which seems like a hostage of Microsoft nowadays, if not just its cheerleader [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This article is not new, but it is timely and it is excellent.

The British Library – ‘The world’s knowledge’ DRM’d and for a price

[...]

DRM is part of the plan, and I encourage you to read the entire Microsoft document. It would make my grandmother roll over in her grave. Some of the librarians at the British Library are deeply troubled too about what DRM is doing to libraries. How will we access the materials if the DRM company goes out of business someday?

If they duplicate what they have done at the British Library, I think it’s fair to say that it is the death of public libraries as we have known them, and the world’s knowledge will be available only DRM’d and for a price.

P.S. DRM doesn’t work.
It won’t block any serious criminals.
All it does is annoy and degrade the honest
… and give monopolies a way to stay that way.

Troll-Eat-Troll World

The verdict on Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft is already in. These long legal battles between the two companies [1, 2, 3, 4] have the latest infringement claims detailed.

Microsoft Corp. violated an Alcatel-Lucent patent to produce its Xbox video-game player, a lawyer for Alcatel-Lucent told jurors who are considering a demand for $419 million in damages.

“They’ve taken” the patent “and made millions and millions of dollars,” John Desmarais, a lawyer for Alcatel- Lucent, said to the jury.

[...]

A jury in the same court decided last year that Microsoft’s Windows Media Player infringed patents for the MP3 digital-audio standard and awarded Alcatel-Lucent a record $1.52 billion in damages. Senior U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster vacated that verdict, now under appeal.

In the second trial, another jury concluded April 4 that Microsoft should pay $368 million to Alcatel-Lucent for infringing two patents.

There is meanwhile a warning that patent trolls may be set to attack PaaS.

If the advent of PaaS stirs up a plague of patent trolls to resurrect long-dead patents and bring suits against providers or users it could become a nightmare for the nascent industry. The providers who suffer most will be those based in countries that enforce business methods patents most rigorously: the United States, Australia, Japan and Singapore, according to Wikipedia’s article on the topic. In contrast, “patent protection for business method patents in Israel, China, India, Mexico, and most of Europe is difficult.”

Deep inside, Microsoft has always known this was a recipe for trouble. That realisation had emerged even before it became a monopoly. What an iintellectual waste.

“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.”

Bill Gates

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A Single Comment

  1. freanix said,

    June 9, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Gravatar

    “The cost is later paid by those who are hit by frivolous lawsuits. The burden is passed to victims and revenue sunk in lawyers’ bank accounts. It’s quite a funny mechanism.”

    I wouldn’t call it “funny.” I’d call it perverse.

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