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09.21.08

ZDNet: “Microsoft Has Turned Into the Biggest Patent Troll in the World”

Posted in DRM, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 6:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

In recent coverage [1, 2, 3] which was centerd on Intellectual Vultures [sic], a clear connection with Microsoft was shown. The company seems to be serving as a tool, inspired and conceived by Microsoft itself. Those who are watching ZDNet closely will find Microsoft being described as “the biggest patent troll in the world.” Legal harassment need not be direct if Microsoft accumulates industry partners and friends who do their ‘dirty laundry’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15].

Microsoft has turned into the biggest patent troll in the world. The only thing that makes any sense is that some attorney in their employ is considering that a defensive move to prevent other bottom feeders from suing Microsoft. I certainly hope that is the reason for that patent otherwise it makes no sense. If they try to enforce that patent I hope and it needs to get shut down by the courts.

In any case it puts a new light on the GPL for me.

Over in Europe, Digital Majority drew attention to this talk on the subject of software patents.

It matters which sort of legal protection you take. Felix van Kourten argues why patent law suits software so badly and why we are better off with copyright law. Oct 10 he will speak at the Kiel Linux and Open Source Days.

Software is by all means ‘protected’ (a word better off never used). Work is protected not at the level of simple pertinent concepts but at the level of actual implementation. That’s the way it should be, otherwise we might as well restrict people’s speech because it conveys ideas that may have been heard or expressed somewhere else (but phrased differently).

The recent protest in Europe seem to be making some more headlines right now and it can’t be positive publicity for EPO, which will come under increased pressure and scrutiny. Here is Expatica writing about the strike.

Patent examiners and other staff of the European Patent Office (EPO) demonstrated outside the European Commission offices Thursday, demanding a thorough re-examination of the EPO.

[...]

The staff union, SUEPO, say that lowering the quality of patents will have a disastrous effect on innovation which will affect every consumer. Their ‘Save The EPO’ campaign is not aimed at increasing wages but in reinforcing patent quality.

In the face of ‘treaty man’ McCreevy [1, 2], the EPO absolutely must learn from the sordid mess caused by the USPTO’s lenience. This is probably not related to the economic crisis directly, but it could be part of it. Excessively-lenient patentability guidelines drive research and development to other countries where manufacturing is cheaper, minds are freer, and there is a great deal of reuse.

Restriction of this kind is an artificial limitation, which causes great harm to competitiveness. Much like DRM shows, you cannot enable or spur creativity through disablement, imposition of heavy fines, and reduction of dissemination. You just lock yourself out of the universal market that way. You wake up when it’s only too late and regret is not a valid excuse.

Software patents protest against EPO

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