08.13.08

Gemini version available ♊︎

Patent News: The Big Myth, Microsoft vs. Avistar, Trolls, and Urgent Reform

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 9:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents as a tool that protects the ‘small inventor’ may be a Big Myth. They only protect monopolies and feed patent trolls that are not the ‘small inventor’ but are rather the ‘vicious lawyer’. It’s about the investor, not the inventor, but that’s not what many people were led to believe. Investors further monetary agenda, whereas inventors create new work and thus further science.

Here is the Big Myth again, from the latest issue (August) of IEEE Spectrum.

Patent attorneys charge between US $7000 and $15 000 to prepare and file a ­patent application. If only there were a cheaper way, a kind of poor man’s patent. But it just doesn’t exist.

Some people think they can protect their ­invention by writing a ­patentlike description of it and ­mailing the ­document to ­themselves, but this is no substitute for patent ­pending. At best, the letter shows that you ­conceived an ­invention by a certain date, but you’ll ­probably be able to prove that with ­engineering notebooks, e‑mails, dated PowerPoint presentations, and the like. Moreover, ­evidence of an ­invention’s conception date is ­useful only in a limited set of ­circumstances, most of which involve actually ­filing for a patent at some point in time. So save yourself the paper and the postage stamp.

[...]

Patents are expensive, no doubt about it, and the requirements are fairly strict. But as my grandmother used to say, you get what you pay for.

This ending says a lot about insidious attitudes against Free software and pro patents. But there’s a perfect example right from the news to squash this tired myth.

Microsoft-Avistar

Avistar is a rather small business. Can its patents protect it from Microsoft? Haha, of course not. It’s just how Richard Stallman put in it his good talks on this subject. His prose aside, you can’t beat a Beast in ‘Mexican shootouts’.

Earlier this year, Avistar Communications Corp. was in talks to license some patents to Microsoft Corp. when Microsoft threw it a curveball. The software giant asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to re-examine all 29 of Avistar’s patents.

[...]

Indeed, about a month after it disclosed Microsoft’s challenge, Avistar, a San Mateo, Calif., maker of videoconferencing and collaboration software, cited the potential impact on its financial outlook as it announced plans to cut 25% of its work force, or 27 employees.

Needless to stress, this pretty much defeats the whole purpose of this system, which clearly does not protect the ‘little guy’. It’s just draining his/her money while making solicitors a helluva lot richer. Avistar, by the way, has just been awarded a couple of more stones US patents. They are junk, as usual, and they probably won’t serve it well in this David-versus-Goliath duel. Here’s the description:

The two new patents cover systems and methods for login-based routing of real-time communications (such as text instant messaging, VoIP and two-way video conferencing) between users employing a quick-dial panel (such as a buddy list) or a screen-displayed list or rolodex. Users can flexibly login at any number of devices or locations and can choose from a number of real-time communications options, including text-based real-time messaging.

Trolls

Trolls and small businesses are totally different creatures. The latter is developing, whereas the former is only ever litigating. Making money using infringements alone makes one a ‘toxic leech’ that’s clung onto the patent system. The patent trolls to the USPTO are like ECMA to ISO. They are self-serving parasites that suck out money using loopholes and room for manipulation that exists.

Here is a good example of a company that turned from a developer into a leech, just like SCO. It gets its way, too.

RIM Pays Off Wi-LAN To Get Rid Of Another Patent Suit

[...]

Wi-LAN is a Canadian company that did some early work in the wireless field, but was unable to actually make much of a business out of its work, so it took the loser’s route: it started suing lots of companies for patent infringement. It’s the same old story: winners innovate, losers litigate — and litigate seems to be about all that Wi-LAN does these days.

Guess where they are suing?

Wi-Lan filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division — a court that is favored by patent-license companies seeking big judgments.

Watch the description of this company.

Wi-LAN, founded in 1992, is a leading technology innovation and licensing company.

Hold on to that thought. “Innovation and licensing company.”

Time for Change

Digital Majority has found this good explanation of why it’s time to call it quits.

Patent Weakness #1: The patent office is filled with lawyers not scientists/engineers.

The patent office has, for the past decade or so, been giving out patents for genes and software like Amazon’s One Click.

Pharma companies didn’t invent DNA or genes. They simply discovered the gene for a disease and thereby a possible path to cure. Why should anyone have to pay royalties for studying said gene or discovering a cure independent of the pharma that identified the gene.

In my opinion Amazon’s One Click patent was the epitomy of the stupidity of the patent office. The patent clerks kept arguing for prior artwork deomonstrating that someone else had already developed a One Click feature. This is ludicrous. The point of software is automate mundane tasks with a minimal amount of information and work by the user. So what does One Click do fundamentally different than any other button on any other piece of software?

Mike Masnick has explained why there should not be such thing as “intellectual property” simply because abstract intellect is not a property. It’s ideas, which are not concrete, except for in the La-La land where monopolists desperately try to establish more monopolies that transcend implementation (already protected by copyrights) and brands (protected by trademark law). Masnick’s assertion is backed by others:

We’ve pointed out in the past why it doesn’t make much sense to treat “intellectual property” as “regular property,” since it ignores some very important differences between the two. James Bessen and Michael Meurer, who wrote the recent book Patent Failure have always taken a slightly different approach.

Over at the European patent system. Dr. Berthold Rutz argues that collaboration pretty much renders the notion of patents moot. But here are his exact words [PDF]:

The powerful paradigm of open and collaborative innovation is no longer limited to the area of software development but has found proponents in other technical fields such as consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and automotive. Are traditional forms of intellectual property protection such as patents, copyrights or design rights still appropriate in a world where knowledge is increasingly shared and innovation becomes a collaborative process? What role will IP rights play in the future and what challenges will they face?

Also worrisome is the ACTA, which is a great risk to Free software. Glyn Moody explains once again
why it must be shot down.

Basically, it is an attempt to bring in yet more punitive measures against alleged infringements of intellectual monopolies, with less judicial oversight and no pesky European privacy protection.

But the trouble with these kinds of crude instruments, cooked up in haste without much deep consideration of their knock-on effects, is that they can backfire.

Here, for example, is a letter to the US Trade Representative from a bunch of big names, including Amazon, eBay and Yahoo. They have noticed a few tiny probs with ACTA:

We appreciate your objective of protecting the intellectual property of American rightsholders from infringement overseas. However, in light of these European decisions, there is a very real possibility that an agreement that would require signatories to increase penalties for “counterfeiting” and “piracy” could be used to challenge American companies engaging in online practices that are entirely legal in the U.S., that bring enormous benefit to U.S. consumers, and that increase U.S. Exports.

Is this rich, or what? Here we have a trade agreement that is essentially trying to export the insanely aggressive US system for dealing with alleged infringements to the rest off the world, but when it works the other way – with European norms exported to the US – suddenly, that’s a problem.

The DHS, realising that people are unhappy with the idea of laptop confiscation or warrantless probes, has just issued this ‘damage control’ page [via Simon Phipps]. The comments are more interesting than this face-saving post.

For more information about the ACTA and its impact, consider reading the articles below.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

5 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    August 13, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Gravatar

    Richard Stallman has an excellent essay on the origins and use of the propaganda term “intellectual property”. It’s a phrase that was designed to confuse very different government granted exclusions with each other and with physical property. Stallman points out that it is better to talk about Trademark, Copyright and Patents on their own terms and never generally because they are so different. The only similarity they have is exclusivity, a violation of more important natural rights that must constantly be justified by specific social benefits. When the issues are confused you get laws which conflate the powers of these different laws into abominations like ACTA, DMCA, and perpetual copyright. Even judges can be tricked into creating business method patents, the only kind that software can have. When you understand the purpose and demand justification for each of these exclusive franchises, you quickly understand how flawed things like software patents and trade secret law are.

  2. goomboom said,

    August 13, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Gravatar

    Hey Roy , a

    A gplv3 program which uses a Gplv2 trapped framework

    http://smuxi.meebey.net

    Thanks

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 13, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Gravatar

    Well, that’s Mono. Miguel mentioned this program a few weeks ago, IIRC.

  4. goomboom said,

    August 13, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Gravatar

    I’m little worried about this

    http://lwn.net/Articles/290425/

    Icaza discuss about gnome.

    Mono hell in the way?

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 13, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Gravatar

    I don’t think it’s so much about Mono, but regardless of the version bump (2.3->3.0), Mono becomes more pervasive.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 8/12/2021: FreeBSD 12.3, EasyOS 3.1.13, and WordPress 5.9 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  2. [Meme] EU Assurances

    The EPO‘s staff cannot be blamed for losing patience as elected public representatives completely fail to do their job (with few exceptions)



  3. Clare Daly (GUE/NGL) Does What Every Public Official in Europe Should Have Done About EPO Shenanigans

    There’s another (new) push to hold the EPO accountable, seeing that the overseers clearly do not do their job and instead cover up the abuses



  4. Links 7/12/2021: Firefox 96 Beta and Fedora 37 Abandons ARMv7

    Links for the day



  5. Links 7/12/2021: Plasma Mobile Gear 21.12 and Tails 4.25

    Links for the day



  6. All IRC Logs Now Available as GemText Over Gemini Protocol

    Today we've completed the transition from plain text over gemini:// to GemText over gemini:// for IRC logs



  7. IRC Proceedings: Monday, December 06, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, December 06, 2021



  8. [Meme] Rowing to the Bottom of the Ocean

    The EPO‘s Steve Rowan (VP1) is failing EPO staff and sort of “firing” workers during times of crisis (not at all a crisis to the EPO’s coffers)



  9. EPO Gradually Reduced to 'Fee Collection Agency' Which Eliminates Its Very Own Staff

    Mr. Redundancies and Mr. Cloud are outsourcing EPO jobs to Microsoft and Serco as if the EPO is an American corporation, providing no comfort to long-serving EPO staff



  10. Linux Foundation 2021 Annual Report Made on an Apple Mac Using Proprietary Software

    Yes, you’re reading this correctly. They still reject both “Linux” and “Open Source” (no dogfooding). This annual report is badly compressed; each page of the PDF is, on average, almost a megabyte in size (58.8 MB for a report of this scale is unreasonable and discriminates against people in countries with slow Internet connections); notice how they’re milking the brand in the first page (straight after the cover page, the 1991 ‘creation myth’, ignoring GNU); remember that this foundation is named after a trademark which is not even its own!



  11. Links 7/12/2021: OpenIndiana Hipster 2021.10 and AppStream 0.15

    Links for the day



  12. Microsoft “Defender” Pretender Attacks Random Software That Uses NSIS for installation; “Super Duper Secure Mode” for Edge is a Laugh

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  13. Links 6/12/2021: LibreOffice Maintenance Releases, Firefox 95 Finalised

    Links for the day



  14. “Wintel” “Secure” uEFI Firmware Used to Store Persistent Malware, and Security Theater Boot is Worthless

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  15. No Linux Foundation IRS Disclosures Since 2018

    The publicly-available records or IRS information about the Linux Foundation is suspiciously behind; compared to other organisations with a "tax-exempt" status the Linux Foundation is one year behind already



  16. Jim Zemlin Has Deleted All of His Tweets

    The Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin seems to have become rather publicity-shy (screenshots above are self-explanatory; latest snapshot), but years ago he could not contain his excitement about Microsoft, which he said was "loved" by what it was attacking. Days ago it became apparent that Microsoft’s patent troll is still attacking Linux with patents and Zemlin’s decision to appoint Microsoft as the At-Large Director (in effect bossing Linus Torvalds) at the ‘Linux’ Foundation’s Board of Directors is already backfiring. She not only gets her whole salary from Microsoft but also allegedly protects sexual predators who assault women… by hiring them despite repeated warnings; if the leadership of the ‘Linux’ Foundation protects sexual predators who strangle women (even paying them a salary and giving them management positions), how can the ‘Linux’ Foundation ever claim to represent inclusion and diversity?



  17. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft's Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley has warrant for his arrest, albeit only after a lot of harm and damage had already been done (to multiple people) and Microsoft started paying him



  18. The Committee on Patent Law (PLC) Informed About Overlooked Issues “Which Might Have a Bearing on the Validity of EPO Patents.”

    In a publication circulated or prepared last week the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO explains a situation never explored in so-called 'media' (the very little that's left of it)



  19. Links 6/12/2021: HowTos and Patents

    Links for the day



  20. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 05, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 05, 2021



  21. Gemini Space/Protocol: Taking IRC Logs to the Next Level

    Tonight we begin the migration to GemText for our daily IRC logs, having already made them available over gemini://



  22. Links 6/12/2021: Gnuastro 0.16 and Linux 5.16 RC4

    Links for the day



  23. Links 5/12/2021: Touchpad Gestures in XWayland

    Links for the day



  24. Society Needs to Take Back Computing, Data, and Networks

    Why GemText needs to become 'the new HTML' (but remain very simple) in order for cyberspace to be taken away from state-connected and military-funded corporations that spy on people and abuse society at large



  25. [Meme] Meanwhile in Austria...

    With lobbyists-led leadership one might be led to believe that a treaty strictly requiring ratification by the UK is somehow feasible (even if technically and legally it's moot already)



  26. The EPO's Web Site is a Parade of Endless Lies and Celebration of Gross Violations of the Law

    The EPO's noise site (formerly it had a "news" section, but it has not been honest for about a decade) is a torrent of lies, cover-up, and promotion of crimes; maybe the lies are obvious for everybody to see (at least EPO insiders), but nevertheless a rebuttal seems necessary



  27. The Letter EPO Management Does Not Want Applicants to See (or Respond to)

    A letter from the Munich Staff Committee at the EPO highlights the worrying extent of neglect of patent quality under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; the management of the EPO did not even bother replying to that letter (instead it was busy outsourcing the EPO to Microsoft)



  28. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 04, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, December 04, 2021



  29. EPO-Bribed IAM 'Media' Has Praised Quality, Which Even EPO Staff (Examiners) Does Not Praise

    It's easy to see something is terribly wrong when the people who do the actual work do not agree with the media's praise of their work (a praise motivated by a nefarious, alternate agenda)



  30. Tux Machines is 17.5 Years Old Today

    Tux Machines -- our 'sister site' for GNU/Linux news -- started in 2004. We're soon entering 2022.


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

Recent Posts