10.14.08

Nokia, Apple, Microsoft, and Other Software Patent Brats

Posted in Apple, Asia, Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 6:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest against EPO

Latest Damage Assessment

A few days ago we wrote about the derailing of the Indian and English patent systems, partly due to Nokia (Symbian). The monopolists want software patents even where the law explicitly forbids it. Microsoft does this too, e.g. in South Africa and in India.

To change laws by breaking them — thus potentially setting a precedence — is still a felony; it’s not a victory and people should be furious. As ORG puts it, in relation to the latest debacle in the UK:

“Unlike copyright, patents can block independent creations,” said ORG. “Software patents can render software copyright useless. One copyrighted work can be covered by hundreds of patents of which the author doesn’t even know but for whose infringement he and his users can be sued.”

Companies that are in favour of software patents include Microsoft, which encourages companies to licence software from patent owners.

Ciaran from the Free Software Foundation Europe wrote: [via Digital Majority]

[I]f the drafters intended the exclusion to be meaningless, why did they bother adding it? Of course, the EPO’s interpretation isn’t at all what was intended.

A second obvious problem with the EPO’s interpretation is that it doesn’t just render meaningless the exclusion of computer programs. It renders all the exclusions meaningless, so games, doing business, scientific theories, “rules and methods for performing mental acts” (yes, ways of using your brain), and all the other things listed in Paragraph 2 of Article 52 should be patentable. Which is completely absurd.

Unfortunately, a UK appeal court has recently upheld this bizarre twisting of patents – and that article mis-reports the patent dangers as “protection” for software developers.

Developers want copyrights. They don’t want to work inside an unfamiliar minefield (patents). Polls consistently suggest so.

Nokia

Let us look a little more closely at what Nokia, the sole owner of Symbian, is now doing. Over in India, where the situation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] is already turning complex due to Microsoft, BT, and some other companies like Symantec (mostly dependent on Microsoft), there is this attempt by Nokia is trying to sneak in some software patents too.

New Delhi, Oct 12: World’s largest mobile phone maker Nokia has filed a patent application in India for its networking solution which allows a user group to share multimedia contents during a group communication.

And this is the owner of Qt?

Glyn Moody has just published an article to explain this catastrophic landmark ruling, attributed to Symbian (Nokia).

Although I’ve written elsewhere about the recent court case of Symbian v Comptroller General of Patents, noting that it was bad news, I hadn’t realised quite how bad the news was until I went through the complete judgment.

It’s plain that the judges in question, who to their credit tried their level best to understand this mysterious stuff called software, failed to grasp the central issue of what software is. As a result, they have passed down a judgement that is so seriously wrong it will cause a huge amount of damage in the future unless it is revoked by a higher court.

[...]

Basically, the UK patent office appealed against an earlier appeal against its own refusal to grant a patent to Symbian for a programming technique. Yes, you read that correctly: the Patent Office was trying to get an appeal against its refusal to grant a patent struck down, because it didn’t believe that the original patent application should be allowed. Through its own appeal, the UK Patent Office was trying to establish what could and could not be patented in the world of code.

There are so many more articles about this subject, including ones that propose an overhaul due to economic reasons.

No matter what the degree of adequacy or inadequacy of the system to today’s technology markets, a situation that is based on deliberate abuse of the law cannot be desirable. Therefore, either the law as it is should be more strictly enforced, or it should be adapted to better fulfil its economic purpose.

On the other side of things, Nokia has just been sued by a patent troll called Azure Networks. The case was filed in Texas, as usual.

A patent-holding company has sued Nokia Inc. for allegedly infringing two patents related to computer network security appliances, according to a new lawsuit.

Nokia may attempt to argue that its software patents are intended to defend it under such circumstances. Well, too bad that according to Azure Networks’ Web site, the company has no products. The renders such an argument for software patents totally moot.

Apple

Apple may be recognised an easy target to pick on, but the matter of fact is that its patents are hurting GNU/Linux desktops. Here is Apple’s latest (among very many) patent.

As per the patent, one of key components is a hardware component called “voice-to-command analyzer” which would determine whether the audio is meaningless or represents an action request. This would save other processors the burden of deciphering speech.

How can Apple be labeled a friend of open source when a lot of what it does is obtain intellectual monopolies which act as fences against programmers?

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today… some large company will patent some obvious thing… take as much of our profits as they want.”

Bill Gates

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

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

9 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 14, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Gravatar

    Patents hurt all desktops, not just GNU/Linux. This case has been made again and again. It’s not an open source issue, it’s not a developer issue, it’s a home-user and business user issue.

  2. pcole said,

    October 14, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Gravatar

    Granted it that this sounds simple;

    If it’s illegal, by law, to submit a patent, where software patents is not legal, shouldn’t the submitter be fined by the judge for filing the patent in the first place?

    Monopolies, like microsoft, apple, etc; want developers. They have plenty in their own “backyard” yet they do not want to pay the developer properly, that is, they want the developer to work practically for free. Maybe that’s ms definition of free open source software. Seems they want to corral the developers, herd them into a box, and just take developer ip as if they’re picking apples from an orchard.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Gravatar

    It’s an interesting question. They appear to be using loopholes where they are available.

    http://www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?id=1331

    ““Does Microsoft intend to continue to break the law by filing software patents in South Africa?” This was the question Derek Keats of the University of the Western Cape asked Microsoft national technical officer, Potlaki Maine, in an open debate held at Freedom to Innovate South Africa’s workshop on software and business method patents last Friday.

    “Maine’s responded that all Microsoft’s patents had been filed through government channels and were completely legal. Keats retorted that although Microsoft had found a gap in the process of filling patents, they were still guilty of breaking the law.

    “This issue summed up the the problem FTISA wants to address: although software patents are not allowed in South Africa, this is not being enforced and software patents are still being filed.

    “South African law does not allow for patents on computer programs (section 25 (2) of the Patents Act No. 57 of 1978). Yet the problem is that, as a non-examining country, the patent office does not check the validity of the patent. The patent office only checks that payment has been made and that the correct forms are filled out. For this reason, software patents slip through the process illegally.

  4. AlexH said,

    October 14, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Gravatar

    @pcole: in Europe, they’re not “illegal” per se, but they are supposed to be invalid if they are software “as such”.

    That “as such” clause is the root of the problem, because it’s a matter of interpretation. The current judiciary has the interpretation that if there is some kind of technical contribution – a computer runs faster, for example – then it’s patentable. In general, though, it’s relatively tough to get a “pure” software patent (but obviously possible, as many companies demonstrate).

  5. pcole said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Gravatar

    I’m still trying to get an understanding of this. Patents are for something which is tangible, i.e. hairbrush, comb, etc; Copyrights for arts, ideas, publication, etc.

    How does intangible, mathematical expressions figure into patents?

    If the system resorts to a non dedicated appliance, that is, when you turn off all power to a computer (forgetting RAM traces and semi volatile memory), doesn’t the algorithm become moot at this point?

    Doesn’t it then becomes a publication if it must be read from storage for the system to get back to a known state?

  6. AlexH said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Gravatar

    @pcole: actually, they’re not “for” tangible things. What they’re used for, and what their history was, varies from country to country.

    So, for example, in Germany there was this concept of “natural forces” – anything which revealed new insight into the physical world was patentable, which is close to what you’re saying.

    But these aren’t bright lines. One early patent was that of a rubber curing process (turning the liquid into a solid, basically). There is a way you can cure rubber which is better than older methods, but which requires precise (= computer) temperature control. So, the computer-controlled rubber curing process became patentable.

    Now, in theory, the abstract stuff isn’t patentable in most places – methods, games, algorithms, etc. were all traditionally non-patentable. But those things are rarely useful in abstract, and it’s the context of those things – their actual uses – which makes them arguably patentable.

    To put it succinctly, it’s not what the thing is made out of, but what the result is which makes something patentable. There’s an extremely philosophical argument in there, but that’s basically the problem.

  7. pcole said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks, Alex, really appreciate the response. I’m 2nd generation brazilian american, not so well versed in the intricacies of laws, trying to put this into the lowest common denominator for understanding and be able to explain it for my boys. They are abstracts in themselves but I got the copyright.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Gravatar

    Bilski is to be concluded later this month. Might be interesting.

    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2007/02/microsoft_v_att_2.html

    “MR. OLSON [For Microsoft]: The ‘580 patent is a program, as I understand it, that’s married to a computer, has to be married to a computer in order to be patented.
    JUSTICE SCALIA: You can’t patent, you know, on-off, on-off code in the abstract, can you?
    MR. OLSON: That’s correct, Justice Scalia.
    JUSTICE SCALIA: There needs to be a device.
    MR. OLSON: An idea or a principle, two plus two equals four can’t be patented. It has to be put together with a machine and made into a usable device.”

  9. pcole said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Gravatar

    @Roy: Then the law in S.A. (section 25 (2) of the Patents Act No. 57 of 1978) is clear, but bureaucracy muddies the water in it’s search for revenue.

What Else is New


  1. Links 28/1/2021: Stable Kernels and Sudo Bugfixes

    Links for the day



  2. Showing Solidarity With FSFE Survivors

    What does justice look like?



  3. IBM is Throwing Away Red Hat's 'de Facto Standard' Status in Servers, Wrongly Assuming People Can't (or Won't) Go Elsewhere

    This new video is over half an hour long and it’s a discussion of IBM’s self-harming (shot-in-the-foot) move, which it already seems to regret



  4. Why 6 Screens and 6 Virtual Desktops

    An explanation of how I use computers and how I distribute tasks (across screens and across virtual desktops)



  5. Red Hat Developer Network Promoting Microsoft's Proprietary Software, Sometimes by Mass-Mailing People

    Red Hat is doing a disservice to people who subscribe to E-mail newsletters; those people are almost never into Microsoft's proprietary software, which they want to get away from



  6. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, January 26, 2021



  7. Links 26/1/2021: Mozilla Firefox 85.0, Tails 4.15, Zentyal Server 7.0, GNOME 40 Alpha

    Links for the day



  8. Instead of Making Access to COVID-19 Solutions Easier Bill Gates Has Made It Harder (Patent Profits)

    Counterproductively — and at a great cost to human civilisation — Bill Gates has once again put profits and monopoly ahead of global goals such as collective health



  9. We Need More Documents Leaked to Know Intel (From the) Inside

    We invite more leaks from the belly of the beast "chipzilla", seeing that it is becoming a drone of Microsoft again, yearning for the "Wintel" days instead of moving on to a world dominated by GNU/Linux and Free/libre software



  10. Why GNU/Linux Users (and the Public at Large) Should Support Leaking/Whistleblowing Sites (Including Wikileaks)

    To demonstrate the value of "scientific journalism" (a term apparently coined by Wikileaks) we take a look at Red Hat's response to embarrassing leaks (demonstrating what a scam their certification and examination programmes really are)



  11. EPO President António Campinos is Still Not Listening, According to Internal EPO Documents

    Increasingly arrogant and unaccountable management of Europe's second-largest institution (EPO) has left staff disillusioned but still defiant; there's clearly unsuitable or unfit-for-purpose management at the EPO, self-selecting based on nepotism/loyalty so as to cover up abuses



  12. Why You Should Give Falkon (the Web Browser) a Chance on GNU/Linux, BSD, or Windows

    In this crazy new world where advertisers are the real customers and Web users ("audiences") have been reduced to mere products we need a browser that isn't controlled by a company; try Falkon



  13. Kluwer Patent Spin and Distortion of Facts (Regarding UPC and More)

    Kluwer Patent Blog disgraces the firm that puts its name on it; instead of sticking to facts they're distorting the facts and the sole/principal goal is to manipulate/mislead the public and public servants



  14. Links 26/1/2021: 4MLinux 35.1, GParted 1.2, Gnuastro 0.14

    Links for the day



  15. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, January 25, 2021



  16. It's Wrong to Assume Red Hat Competes With Microsoft

    The community ought to stop pretending that one monopoly seeks to replace another despite close partnerships (some would say "collusion") between the two



  17. EPO Staff Representation Complains That EPO Management Exploits Pandemic and 'House Arrests' to Overwork Staff, Lower Quality

    The EPO keeps breaking its promises to workers; not only are key employees seeing their net salary cut (inflation factored in) but pensioners too are being robbed and in the meantime the total time spent on work is increasing



  18. Fake News is Not a 'Wing' Thing

    The two-party corporate-led system (and media) would have us obsess/bicker about accuracy of news based on some binary/dual system of blind loyalty rather than underlying facts and priorities



  19. Links 25/1/2021: Huawei on GNU/Linux, NuTyX 20.12.1, Whisker Menu 2.5.3, Lutris 0.5.8.3, Linux 5.11 RC5

    Links for the day



  20. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) in ZDNet is the Norm

    ZDNet continues to emit lots of garbage 'journalism', in effect Microsoft PR and what's known as "black PR" for Linux; just like Bleeping Computer, which ZDNet hired this writer from, there's no adherence to facts, just smears and innuendo



  21. Truth Tellers Aren't an Enemy of Free Software

    There's a perpetual attack on people who speak out against actors and corporations in positions of great power, however subtle and indirect those attacks may seem on the surface (they don't wish to be held accountable for defaming activists)



  22. The Linux Foundation, With Over 124 Million Dollars in Annual Revenue, is in Trouble Because of the Pandemic, So It's Trying to Reinvent Itself as Training and Certifications Outfit

    With mountains of cash and a Public Relations (PR) or marketing business model the so-called 'Linux' Foundation became reliant on travel, lodging, booths and speeches on sale; COVID-19 is a great risk to that business model



  23. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 24, 2021



  24. Our Move Further Away From the World Wide Web, the Browser Monopolies, HTTP, and HTML

    The World Wide Web (WWW) is going down a bad path and a clearly regressive direction; the solution isn't going 'retro' but exploring more sophisticated systems which are robust to censorship (localised or globalised) and downtime (related to censorship) while reducing surveillance by leveraging encryption at the endpoints



  25. Important Issues Not Entertained in the Community, Especially Critics of the Status Quo

    here's corporate infiltration inside communities (for oligarchy hunts volunteer, unpaid labour) and those who speak about that as a threat to our cause and objectives are painted as misguided outcasts who must be ignored



  26. Internet Origins of the Mob

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  27. When Proprietary Software Users Dictate the Freedom-Leaning Communities

    Fedora doesn't care about software freedom and its steward (or parent company) is sometimes imposing proprietary software on staff; they've quit caring



  28. In 2020 Onwards 'Open Source' is Just a Marketing Ploy of Monopolies, Unlike Free Software

    More people are nowadays seeing or witnessing 'Open Source' for what it truly is; the term has become a misleading marketing term of proprietary software firms looking to rebrand as "ethical" (e.g. by sharing some code with other proprietary software firms, over proprietary platforms such as GitHub)



  29. Microsoft: The Year After We Bought GitHub There Was a Significant Decline in Number of New Projects on GitHub

    Microsoft has just admitted that in 2019 GitHub saw a very significant decline in number of new projects (and users, which it is conveniently miscounting by adding 'phantom' ones) on the site. Just what we had heard before they confirmed it (and they foresaw this effect of the takeover, hence the lies about "loving" Linux).



  30. Social Control Media is a Passing Fad, We Should All Go Back to Blogging and Subscribing to RSS Feeds

    The whole "social control media" phenomenon has been oversold or promoted using lies; in reality, as a mountain of evidence serves to show, it's a way to manage society at a macro scale


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