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07.01.08

Microsoft Proxies and Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Europe

According to Digital Majority, CompTIA [1, 2] may be joining the push of other Microsoft pressure groups such as ACT. It’s part of a broad push for destruction of the European patent system though assimilation to a broken system — the USPTO. As the Los Angeles Times put it yesterday:

The U.S. patent system is not working. It stands accused on all sides of stifling innovation instead of nurturing it. Some critics say the system is fundamentally wrecked, others that it can be fixed.

In this new book, “Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovation at Risk,” economist James Bessen and law academic Michael Meurer show that the system no longer provides predictable property rights. They go on to offer solutions based on empirical evidence from history, law and economics.

[...]

While making these criticisms, however, the authors ignore that the fault may lie with the appointment of judges who are unfamiliar with patents to hear patent trials.

We previously saw strong criticism over inappropriate appointment of judges, which challenged this system’s integrity in the more severe of ways.

Moreover, Roberto Galoppini writes about the ever-spineless WIPO [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] that merely serves large corporations which sponsor it. And yes, it’s that notorious “harmonisation” effort (should be called "contamination" really).

After a hiatus of three years, the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) met for its 12th session on June 23, 2008 to June 27, 2008. Given the collapse of the talks to initiate a Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) to harmonize patent law with respect to prior art, novelty, inventive step and grace period, even the most prescient of WIPO watchers were at a loss in prognosticating the outcome of the WIPO SCP.

Why the mystery and the secrecy? ACTA comes to mind as an analogous and very recent case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. And speaking of which, mind yesterday’s news about BT becoming a copyrights cop:

BT to cut off file-sharing customers

[...]

This follows a similar move by Virgin, which earlier this year joined forces with the BPI on an ‘education campaign’ aimed at those sharing copyrighted files.

[...]

ISPs have been under pressure from the government to work with the music industry in targeting illegal file sharers this year. Ministers have even threatened to introduce anti-filesharing legislation if a solution is not reached.

What happens if people get disconnected after incorrect judgment? Would there be compensation? Who pays for BT’s additional burden? How can CC-licensed and Free art be set apart from copyrighted one?

Looking ahead, might this be the beginning of something more widespread? Will ISPs ever disconnect people for mistakenly watching copyrighted videos on YouTube? Bill Gates admitted doing so a couple of years ago.

Similar questions are being raised by various critics of the policy. See for example:

America

Acacia and Microsoft are no strangers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] and the extortion crusade surely continues. [via Digital Majority]

Acacia Research Corp. announced that its subsidiary, Credit Card Fraud Control Corp., has entered into a non-exclusive patent license and settlement agreement with SPG Solutions, covering a patent that applies to fraud protection technology.

Also of interest is the following nugget of information that cannot be repeated often enough.

Surveys regularly find that computer programmers are opposed to patents on software by a wide margin. In what other field is the class of inventors so opposed to patents?

Yesterday we wrote about the problem with giants banding together against software patents or patent trolls. It’s not a solution but a convenience that applies only to affluent few. This is clearly not the way to go.

You may remember a while back I wrote about Vocaltec selling some of its patents to what appears to be a firm that will become a patent troll.

[...]

The end result of these moves is likely going to be a bidding war for patents. On the one hand there will be VC money fighting to buy patents and on the other it will be Allied Security Trust.

If anything, this environment will make it more lucrative for companies with valuable patents to sell. This new battle will certainly be interesting to watch.

It seems as though intellectual monopolies are therefore elevated rather than buried, especially where they are not worthy of consideration in the first place.

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