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Patents Roundup: Linux, India, Microsoft, the Trolls, and the USPTO

Posted in America, Asia, Dell, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents, Tivoization at 7:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s lots to catch up with and here is just a summary.

Is LiMo the OIN of Mobile Linux?

This interesting new article from The Register is little cynical (that’s just the publication’s style). It seems to suggest that LiMo members may benefit from somewhat of a patent pool, a patent shield, some would say an “umbrella”. There is also some legitimate criticism:

For all its talk of openness, just a quarter of the code in the LiMo Foundation’s mobile platform is open source, making it a minefield to navigate in terms of protected patents – 300,000 patents to be precise.

“300,000 patents,” eh? Can people finally understand why OpenMoko feels cornered? Such an industrial environment fosters no development whatsoever, unless you have already established yourself as a giant, a monopoly. And then there’s the patent-trolling…

Is Microsoft Breaking the Indian Law?

This week’s main story probably comes from India. Previously we looked at how software patents can harm Free software. Microsoft understands this and it’s prepared to exploit. Watch this update from India and read this comment:

Infosys was there and pushing for software patents. They are totally against the open source and free software.

Symantec was there and also pushed for software patents.

Microsoft was there.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was also pushing for software patents.

The situation in India was last alluded to here. It could be getting worse as the county gets looted by Microsoft and its ecosystem.

Software patents are not legal in India, but Microsoft may be ‘leading the way’ by breaking law there, just as it does in South Africa. Professor Derek Keats has already accused Microsoft of breaking the law in hope of setting precedence .

Here is what came up thorough a pointer from a reader:

[ILUG-BOM] Software Patents in India

and while we were asleep three patents have been granted to Microsoft
by the indian patent office.

Just reading the initial brief tells me it this a journalled fs
coupled with some seek n sort.

This one looks like DRM but could be SSH

And this one hashes of loaded modules in mem to check that there is no
trojan module. DRM? AV?

Here is another news article about software patents and India. [via Digital Majority]

According to Richard Stallman, the co-developer of the GNU-Linux operating system and proponent of Free Software says, “Software patents are patents which cover software ideas, ideas which you would use in developing software. [...]”


Indian Position

With respect to computer software, in Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002, the scope of non-patentable subject matter in the Act was amended to include the following: “a mathematical method or a business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms”.


India for its part seems to have adopted the more conservative approach of the European patenting norms for software. But the Ordinance definitely has its use and relevance in today’s India, particularly for our growing domestic semi- conductor industry. This, along with judicial tempering might definitely ensure a judicious use of patent protection while allowing the industry to grow through innovations and inventions, thereby, mitigating the risks of trivial patents chocking the life out of real innovations and inventions. This is the reason a patent should always be treated as a “double edged sword”, to be wielded with caution and sensitivity.

Now whether, in reality this will be implemented on a rigid basis or will become broad in scope through application (as in the U.S.), and, more importantly, whether the Ordinance would, in fact, result in increased innovation and inventions in the software industry, remains to be seen.

What will it be in India? Please send in some feedback shall you come across information of value.

Rick Frenkel, Trolls Buster

Remember the man who exposed Patent Trolls like Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]?

Well, well…

Niro’s harassment of an innocent blogger seems to have backfired. He turned the man’s hobby into a full-time job.

Former Patent Troll Tracker blogger Rick Frenkel has left Cisco Systems and moved to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a top Silicon Valley law firm, where he is of counsel. Today is his first day at the firm.

“We were impressed with his breadth and depth of experience,” said Michael Barclay, an IP litigation partner at Wilson Sonsini and a PTT reader, natch. “Rick has developed a lot of knowledge and insights about patent trolls that will be helpful to our clients who have to deal with them.”

This turn of events was also covered in an article from Law.com. Congrats to Rick. Now he can expose and depose the other Niros of the world and even get paid for it.

From patent trolls tracker to patent trolls buster.

The world need more ‘regulators’ like him.

Software Patents from Hell

Ugly, ugly, ugly.

It’s appalling to see just what’s perceived as patentable these days. The company that invented GPL circumvention (video, more about it in [1, 2]) continues to be part of the problem. It adopts intellectual monopolies as a business model. Here is the latest from this case:

Dish plans to sustain legal fight with TiVo


“You know, I know this case inside and out,” Ergen said in a conference call with analysts Monday. “We have changed that intellectual property in a way we don’t violate (TiVo’s patent) anymore. I’m just stubborn enough to say, ‘Why am I going to pay for something that we don’t violate?’ ”

Watch this one too.

The original complaint alleges defendants Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and Aruba Networks infringe the ’118 Patent by making, using or selling wireless Internet access systems which utilize captive portal techniques to block or redirect HTTP requests.

Virtually all networking/routing equipment rendered “guilty” in one fell swoop?

Google too has just been sued for one of those infamous advertising patents. Watch the simplicity of the patent and recall how this class of patents put the entire patentability of software in jeopardy, even in the United States.

It still seems rather amusing (if not twisted) that some patent system supporters are trying to convince the world Google would be harmed by an absence of software patents. Instead, it seems increasingly obvious that it would only serve to help Google, who is a regular target of questionable patent infringement lawsuits. Take the latest such case as an example. A company by the name of Web Tracking Solutions, which ironically enough, doesn’t appear to have much of a web presence (if any), has sued Google for patent infringement, claiming that its patent on third-party on-line accounting systems is being violated by Google’s AdSense offering.

Need for Reform

There is is truly a need for change. Academics continue to endorse this message.

Arti K. Rai (Duke University School of Law) has posted Building a Better Patent System: Facially Neutral Standards with Disparate Impact (Houston Law Review, Vol. 45, 2008) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Prompted by persistent complaints, particularly from the information and communication technology (ICT) industries, about the dangers allegedly posed by strong patents of poor quality, both the legislative and judicial branches have recently made attempts at patent reform.

Here is another new paper on the subject.

To increase the digital economy in different countries myriad firms engage in costly R & D activities to forth innovative software effort due to the fact that achievement of competitive help. This paper covers eight countries the most developed software industry in the in every respect US and than after Europe, UK, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, India, and Israel. These countries are having its own standard to grant software Patents, the laws followed not later than these countries are distinctly outlined one by one.

Trademark (In)Sanity in the USPTO

The problems of the USPTO run deeper than just patents. It’s more industry-oriented than logic-oriented or economy-oriented. It too easily obeys the requirements of individual companies and thus loses sight of its original goals. The Dell “Cloud Computing” debacle, which was mentioned here just very briefly, remains inconclusive — for now.

Dell had received near-final approval for its trademark application of the term “cloud computing,” but the US Patent and Trademark Office canceled its “Notice of Allowance” on Tuesday and changed the status to “returned to examination.”

This means that there are still some Clouds [pun] of uncertainty over the use of the term “cloud computing”. Watch this:

Dell’s filing described the term as “Custom manufacture of computer hardware for use in data centers and mega-scale computing environments for others.” Dell also owns the URL cloudcomputing.com.

We’ve done a quick Whois.Net lookup and here’s what it coughed out:

        Dell Inc.
        Dell Inc.
        One Dell Way MS 8033
         Round Rock TX 78682
        dnsadmin@dell.com +1.5127283500 Fax: +1.5122833369

    Domain Name: cloudcomputing.com

        Registrar Name: Markmonitor.com
        Registrar Whois: whois.markmonitor.com
        Registrar Homepage: http://www.markmonitor.com

    Administrative Contact:
        Dell Domain Administrative Contact
        Dell Inc.
        One Dell Way MS 8033
         Round Rock TX 78682
        dnsadmin@dell.com +1.5127283500 Fax: +1.5122833369
    Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
        Wade Sullivan
        Dell Inc.
        One Dell Way
         Round Rock TX 78682
        dnstech@dell.com +1.5127288565 Fax: +1.5127286024

    Created on..............: 2007-02-28.
    Expires on..............: 2010-02-28.
    Record last updated on..: 2008-02-21.

    Domain servers in listed order:


It’s hopefully clear to see that this domain was registered long after the term “cloud computing” had been in common use. Dana Blankenhorn asks: Has Dell lost its mind?

Dell did not succeed in the 1990s as an intellectual property company. It succeeded by delivering precisely what buyers wanted, with bulletproof quality, at the lowest possible price.

In an open source world these are still the keys to success. Not intellectual property. Precision, value, quality.

Dell seems to be following Microsoft’s footsteps. In difficult time, it strives to capitalise on imaginary property.

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