FREE SOFTWARE USERS GROUP (FSUG), BANGALORE
23rd August 2008
For Immediate Release
A Candle-light Vigil to Protest Patenting Software
Concerned citizens from all walks of life gathered today in front of the Town Hall for a candle-light vigil to send a message saying no to software patents. This vigil was held in anticipation of the Bangalore Consultation on Draft Patent Manual being prepared by the India Patent Office on the 27th of this month. The protesters main concern is the use of this manual to allow patenting of software through the back door. As of now, software can only be copyrighted and not patented. The protesters believe that Patenting of software would be detrimental to the growth of the software industry in general.
According to Praveen,, a Free Software Consultant and one of the organizers of this protest; “Patenting software would be as absurd as patenting a mathematical equation or an algorithm”. Attempts were made to bring software under the patent regime in 2004 through an ordinance, which was rejected outright by the Indian Parliament. This manual is an effort to legitimise what has been rejected by the Parliament.
This vigil is also a call to rally for software innovations and block potentially harmful patent regime that would act as an obstacle to software development. Renuka Prasad,, a Professor at RV College of Engineering feels that pushing a patent regime in software would tantamount to criminalizing genuine and innocent software programmers.
According to Richard Stallman, “Software patents are the software project equivalent of land mines: each design decision carries a risk of stepping on a patent, which can destroy your project”
In this context, patenting software is violative of the freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed under Art 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India particularly in the context of software programmers and developers.
For further information contact
Anivar Aravind Ph: +91- 9449009908
Vikram Vincent Ph: +91 9448810822
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key factor which differentiates Microsoft (and its patents) from the rest of the industry is its insidious plan to attack Free software (c/f Halloween Documents. No other company is under a risk as great as Microsoft’s and companies like IBM and Oracle seem to have chosen more harmony than aggression (albeit Oracle uses GNU/Linux, so its real problem is MySQL, which is fights stealthily in other ways).
Microsoft’s uniqueness in this regard is worth stressing over and over again because some people forget why Mono is a problem. It’s the holder of the patent one must pay attention to, not the many software patents which are already out there.
Referring to Microsoft’s PgDn/PgUp patent, which was mentioned a couple of days, Matt Asay writes:
I used to believe that patents had to be non-obvious to make the cut, but Microsoft here demonstrates that the only obvious thing about patents is that the more they encumber the industry with both silly and even useful “inventions,” innovation will be stifled. Indeed, it already has been.
We’re veering toward a tragedy of the anti-commons, indeed.
O’Reilly Radar took the time to complain about it also.
Patent 7,415,666 was submitted in March 2005 so it took three years for the patent office to take in all this mumbo-jumbo and decide to give its approval. So if the USPTO is going to approve nearly every patent — and I’d love to see a list of rejected ones — why does it take three years to do so?
This is not innovation. It takes quite some nerve and greed from Microsoft to even apply for such a patent. Fortunately, punishment now arrives from the Eastern District of Texas where Microsoft is sued over patents.
Gary announced yesterday on his patent blog site Patent Prospector, that he has filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Texas, accusing Microsoft of infringing U.S. Patent 7,363,592, titled “Tool Group Manipulations.”
Be careful what you wish for, Microsoft.
Software Patents Debate
Watch this August cover page of DACS:
“Intellectual Property and Software,” it says in a large font.
It evokes disgust not just because those two terms are joined, but also because by “Intellectual Property” they don’t mean trademarks or copyrights. “Intellectual Property” is just a sound bite and it’s used to deceive or empower patents. Here is a new blog item [via Digital Majority], which explains why software patents have no place in this world.
Why are software patents so odious? It has nothing to do with the patent system itself. The patent system is a generally good system whose benefits typically outweigh any problems that it creates. The problem with software patents comes from a failure on the part of people who are outside of the realm of software development to realize that software design and sales do not operate according to the same rules as other products. Software, if anything, is the quintessential exception to the patent system for products because the relationship that software has to hardware and between buyer and seller does not exist in pharmaceuticals and other patent-dependent industries.
Software development rarely sees the labor and capital-intensive research that is done in industries like the pharmaceutical industry
Coming from health care (where patents are sometimes admired) is the following long post about Free software and patents.
Over the past three months, I’ve been communicating at length with several leaders in the Open Source Software (OSS) community about how best to license software patents in a way that supports the goal of OSS developers, users, and distributors. I’ve learned a great deal along the way about the uneasy relationship between OSS and software patents.
I believe that by being open, honest and fair with the people in the OS communities, there will be no need for patent infringement litigation since developers and distributors will appreciate my position, realize that we’re not “gangs of bandits,” and act with integrity for a win-win relationship.
Once again, it’s worth stressing that this view comes from a health care-oriented figure, belonging to an industry where patents are most commonly (but wrongly) seen as a necessity.
Commissioner Charlie Mccreevy [1, 2] and others who play ball for intellectual monopolies shall receive the following critical letter.
As you are certainly aware, one of the aims of the `Better Regulation’ policy that is part of the Lisbon agenda is to increase the transparency of the EU legislative process. By wilfully ignoring scientific analysis and evidence that was made available to the Commission upon its own initiative, the Commission’s recent Intellectual Property package does not live up to this ambition. Indeed, the Commission’s obscuration of the IViR studies and its failure to confront the critical arguments made therein seem to reveal an intention to mislead the Council and the Parliament, as well as the citizens of the European Union.
In doing so the Commission reinforces the suspicion, already widely held by the public at large, that its policies are less the product of a rational decision-making process than of lobbying by stakeholders. This is troublesome not only in the light of the current crisis of faith as regards the European lawmaking institutions, but also – and particularly so – in view of European citizens’ increasingly critical attitudes towards intellectual property law.
I hereby urge the Commission to fully inform the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of the findings of our studies in connection with the above-mentioned proposals and to duly and properly reference our work in future policy initiatives.
Copies of this letter will be sent to Mr. C. McCreevy (Commissioner DG Market and Services), the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
It’s not to late to save Europe.
Patent Troll Tracker has called for change in the system and he protested in his blog (he was last mentioned in [1, 2]). Although the following post is not about patents, it is a good reminder of why we should not rely on Web-based software, especially if that software and/or server is not under our control. It is also another reason to vigourously promote AGPLv3.
Albritton v. Patent Troll Tracker
The subpoena demands, inter alia, that Google turn over ‘all documents referring or relating to communications to or from (1) Richard Frenkel a/k/a/ “The TrollTraker,” (2) Dennis Crouch, individually and sub.nom. “Patently O,” … (7) the blogs [defined as Patently-O and PatentTrollTracker blogs]” regarding Albritton, the filing of the ESN lawsuit, or related TrollTracker postings.’ The subpoena also requests related Google search records (“all documents referring or relating to user searches of the internet and/or the blogs regarding (1) Eric M. Albritton…”) and other records (“all documents referring or relating to the establishment, creation, maintenance, and financial support for the blogs”).
We happen to be among those who sent tips to Troll Tracker’s GMail box. He happens to have cited Boycott Novell as well. █
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There is already one index of Microsoft AstroTurfers (“MicroTurfs”), but it’s far from complete and it no longer seems to be maintained.
Throughout the past month or so, we have accumulated new examples (with proof) of Microsoft AstroTurfers and/or disguised PR agents. Recent posts on this subject include:
Over at Slashdot, Über-user Twitter has amassed his own list of Microsoft “Poisons Pens”. Readers may wish to see it in order to properly judge their sources of information.
This is going to be a list of big publisher shills. Those are people who take their marching orders from big companies but pretend to be independent experts.
We mentioned ACT several times in the past and yesterday in the IRC channel it emerged that the group is not only a front for Microsoft. It actually came into existence/inception because of Microsoft (at least on the face of it) in order to represent “small businesses” in the same way that Microsoft wants to represent (by hijacking) "open source software". It wants to control and master both sides of the coin and control a pseudo-two-sided debate. Remember Black Duck (with Microsoft roots) moderating panels on the GPL?
Anyway, here’s Source Watch’s analysis of ACT, which claims to work for small businesses while actually represented and funded by none:
The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) was a group that was founded in 1998 in response to the anti-trust action against Microsoft then taking place in the United States…
The initial version of the groups website, which was first indexed in October 1999, stated that “as a grassroots information technology trade association, ACT is working to preserve the freedom to achieve, compete and innovate.” (The group’s orignial office address was 1225 Eye St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC, 20005.
* Jonathan Zuck, Founder President 1999-2007
* Steve DelBianco, Vice President for Public Policy 1999-2007
* Morgan W. Reed, Vice President for Public Affairs 1999-2007
* Mark Blafkin, Vice President for Public Affairs -2007
* Braden Cox, Research and Policy Counsel – 2007
* Melissa Moskal, Director of Membership -2007
* Allison May Rosen 1999-
We must have hit a sensitive spot there because ACT has already taken the time to publicly attack Boycott Novell for saying the truth.
Another Washington-based group, which was discussed in IRC last night, is the Carlyle Group. Wikipedia describes it as “a global private equity investment firm, based in Washington, D.C., with more than $81.1 billion of equity capital under management.” Mind the part which says: “Carlyle was founded in 1987 by Stephen L. Norris, and David M. Rubenstein.”
“The Carlyle Group recently came under fire for a fiasco, possibly one among many.”Stephen L. Norris, eh? Remember who had plans to invest in SCO (maybe still has)? Stephen L. Norris [1, 2, 3, 4]. The Carlyle Group recently came under fire for a fiasco, possibly one among many. If The Carlyle Group has “$81.1 billion of equity capital under management,” then why did Norris approach people in the middle east for funds to invest in SCO? It’s important to stress that those people from the middle east are friends of Bill Gates. As we all know, legal fights by proxy are not rare where Microsoft is involved. For this particular example, it’s worth adding that it recently used its talking point Jeff Gould to attack IBM’s mainframes as well. We wrote about this before [1, 2].
Our plan is to set up an easily-navigable page (or set of pages) for people to easily explore the relationships between Microsoft and those whom it pays to stealthfully do some legwork in the press and on the ground (e.g. lobbying in Brussels and Washington). If you are aware of connections we have not covered yet, please share them in the comments or in the IRC channel so that they can be studied and documented. We wish to piece this puzzle of corruption together. █
“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”
–Microsoft, internal document
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