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08.19.08

Patents Roundup: Open Invention Network, Subpixel Hinting, and Patent Trolls

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 6:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keith Bergelt joined OIN a few months ago and there’s finally a video interview that serves as an introduction.

Ogg Theora

From Linux.com:

Linux.com correspondent R. Scott Belford caught up with Open Invention Network CEO Keith Bergelt at the 2008 LinuxWorld Expo and had a pleasant (on-camera) conversation with him.

OIN has been a rather low-profile establishment, whose function is unknown to many people. it was symbolised by Jerry Rosenthal, who is a former IBMer that decided to leave and there are changes coming up.

“OIN has been a rather low-profile establishment, whose function is unknown to many people.”They seem to have adopted a disappointing approach, whereby people just accept software patents and end up playing the same game in a way which does not neutralise patent trolls (unlike ESP). On the other hand, it serves as an effective deterrent that may suppress aggression from Microsoft, assuming it does not summon proxies [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. LiMo has a similar effect which — if maximised — renders the patent system moot.

With or without OIN, the Free Desktop continues to be crippled and encumbered by the artificial limitations of intellectual monopolies. Here’s just one new example:

Also note that, while I hate the subpixel (RGB) hinting, there is no official statement that the subpixel algorithm is covered by patents (except for a developer’s comment in a source file). Officially, i.e. here, only Apple’s patents on the BCI are mentioned. So what is all the subpixel fuss about? Stupid lawyers?

This is neither the first time nor an isolated case where Apple's patents stifle Free software development. TrueType was also discussed in the past, the context being Novell and SUSE. Neither Novell nor Apple are friends of Free software and both are obliged to support Microsoft's OOXML. Yesterday from the news in India:

There has never been a more intense global industry debate over open standards. On the one hand is Microsoft’s OOXML file format backed by Apple, Novell, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, and Nasscom.

Isn’t it just beautiful to see Novell and Apple listed among Microsoft’s very close partners [1, 2, 3, 4]? They are on a similar boat.

Novell shares its patent pool with Microsoft, not just with OIN. Whose side is it on?

Monopolies or shared monopolies are ‘trusts’ and anti-trust laws were created to combat them. A free market gravitates towards predatory capitalism and it will further deteriorate without intervention. Regulation is often intercepted using political corruption. Why are no regulators stepping in? Why is it that the Asian authorities need to pressure the US Government to do something?

Patents harm developers while making solicitors rich. Watch the effect of intellectual monopolies on Qualcomm’s financial situation.

CEO Paul Jacobs, in his opening address to the collected mass ranks of US and European analysts, turned this image on its head – expressing his “palpable relief” that the Nokia patents dispute had been resolved – and on terms that will not wreck the greater part of Qualcomm’s profits – those through royalty payments, and talked about having been smashed around for the past three years, and that now that it was over, the settlement driving huge positive momentum for his company.

[...]

Jacobs added: “We are not quite so worried about that action since we have workarounds for the Broadcom patents which are already in chips, and that give us negotiating leverage. We have worked through multiple decision trees on the outcomes of that legal action and although we’d like to see it resolved, whichever way its goes it will not have as great an effect as the Nokia action.”

More on Qualcomm and Nokia in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]. While on the subject of patent trolls and legal harassment, Google has been attacked again. As always, unsurprisingly, it takes place in the Eastern District of Texas.

Software maker GraphOn has filed suit against search giant Google, alleging that Google’s Base, AdWords, Blogger, Sites, and YouTube services violate GraphOn’s patents

GraphOn, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., acquired the patents through its acquisition of Network Engineering Software, a privately held network software company, in 2005. The suit was filed in United States District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

In other news, Dell’s ridiculous attempt to obtains an intellectual monopoly on “cloud computing” has just been shot down.

Dell has lost its bid to trademark the widely-used term “cloud computing”.

The computer giant had filed an application to trademark the phrase with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in March 2007.

However, according to blogger Sam Johnston, Dell’s application was officially rejected by the USPTO late last week.

Can the USPTO restore patent sanity too? Ownership pertaining to thought, not just art (copyright) and objects, does not belong in civilization. Business method and software patents must end. The sooner, the better.

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2 Comments

  1. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 19, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Gravatar

    Novell shares its patent pool with Microsoft, not just with OIN. Whose side is it on?

    You could spin it that way, but you could also look at it at face value and notice that what it really means is that Novell doesn’t try to enforce their patents on anyone.

    I know you hate Novell, Roy, but seriously how about some objectivity?

    You’re trying to push the idea of “you’re either with us or against us”.

    As Obi-wan Kenobi replied in Episode III, only the Sith deal in absolutes.

    You, sir, are a Sith.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 19, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Gravatar

    You’re trying to push the idea of “you’re either with us or against us”.

    Talking about absolutes…

    Jim Allchin on Novell

    “Pearly Gates and Em-Ballmer
    One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave.”

    Ray Noorda, Novell

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