08.07.08

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Bad Software Patents, System, Microsoft — A Roundup

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patent on rise

Here’s just a quick tour through some patent news of interest.

Bad Patents

Targeting ads based on user behaviour? No, sir. That’s a patent. Pay up, says ValueClick.

Another test of patent reform, perhaps

A technology slap-fight headed to the California court rooms in Los Angeles as ValueClick accused Tacoda of infringing on its patents.

The issues of behavioral targeting go beyond the usual concerns about privacy and consumer tracking. At the core of the approach to presenting advertising to people based on their online habits comes the practice of behavioral targeting.

IBM is quite the patent felon too (we’ve been through this before). It wants to deny guilt because of the special relationship with Linux, but watch this one found by The Register.

Patent 7,407,089 (available here) is a method and system for identifying a customer and displaying whether they like paper or plastic bags without the need for uncomfortable questioning.

From the patent’s description:

“However, at conventional retail locations, the customer is likely to be asked for their packaging preference each time the customer passes through a cashier station, resulting in unnecessary inconvenience for both the customer and the cashier.

What is needed is a more flexible system and method for determining packaging preference that overcomes some of these limitations. ”

Bad System

A lot of these problems can be attributed a lenient process that permits applications to pass through easily, not realising or caring about the consequences. Reexaminations are rare and expensive.

Lisa Hoover has just published this post which briefly touches on the issue.

Wanted: Political Candidates, Must Hate Software Patents

If you live in the U.S., it’s hard to escape news about the upcoming presidential elections, but that isn’t the only thing happening on the political front. There’s a movement afoot to locate congressional candidates in the U.S. House and Senate who support copyright reform and other technology issues, and mobilize the open source community to get them re-elected.

GeekPAC, originally known as BytesFree.org, is a grassroots campaign designed to build political support and effect change in legislation surrounding net neutrality, copyright and DCMA reform, patent reform, and other issues near and dear to the open source and tech communities at large

Another element to add to this list should be ACTA. It was last covered here and below are some relevant links, some of which explain how ACTA harms Free software:

Glyn Moody has just posted a little update on the ACTA. It has “political mischief/corruption” written all over it.

Since neither the EU nor the UK government has deigned to let us peasants know anything about the current ACTA negotations, I was interested to see New Zealand’s government releasing a statement…

Bad Microsoft

Microsoft’s escapades with Intellectual monopolies are a love/hate relationship. Here, for instance, is a short report about the lawsuit over .NET.

So far, neither company has revealed any more details about the settlement. I’d be shocked if Microsoft dropped the tens of millions or more that some VCSY shareholders are speculating, or that this tiny Texas company will suddenly take on everyone who generates Web sites in a similar way. But maybe I’m wrong.

Nomo

If Microsoft loses so much money from .NET’s infringement of patents, what prevents the same patent trolls from proceeding to Mono and those who distribute it? What prevents Microsoft from ‘getting even’ by extracting money from Mono users, as it already does with Novell? Here is another report of interest:

Microsoft Is Again in the Crosshairs of a University-Based Patent Suit

[...]

Research Corporation Technologies, based in Tucson, Ariz., first sued Microsoft in 2001.

Apparently, Microsoft’s notion of intellectual monopolies is so sickening that Nikon has just dumped Microsoft.

Nikon has withdrawn its support for a photography contest hosted by computer giant Microsoft after a row over potential copyright infringement.

[...]

In a statement issued to Pro Imaging, Microsoft said: ‘We have since taken steps to obtain the rights to use every image to be featured in the subsequent stages of the Iconic Britain competition.’

Ah, that’s nice! All your intellectual assets are [sic] belong to Microsoft. God bless the king!

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