EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.26.08

Patent System Status in the United States, European Union

Posted in America, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patent on rise

North America (United States)

THE problems spawned by software patents affect not only Free software developers. They harm developers as a whole, but Free software is subjected to other (mis)treatment because of the way the software is distributed. Red Hat’s legal team has just published a post to explain the severity of this issue. [via Digital Majority]

There are now more than 200,000 software patents, and there is no practical way to be sure that a new program does not infringe one or more of them. A patent lawsuit can cost several million dollars in attorneys’ fees. The risk of patent litigation is one that the FOSS community has learned to live with. But it hardly seems likely that the risk is doing anything other than inhibiting software innovation.

This number, two hundred thousand at the least, is exceptionally high. It boils down to a human capacity issue and there is clearly a lot of overlap, i.e. duplicates. It’s not only problematic to developers but also to examiners who work at the patent office.

USPTOIs any developer bold enough to internalise all of that reading material and then engage in a task as simple as typing away on a computer keyboard, as opposed to a process more complicated such as designing and manufacturing a machine to perform a particular function? Software is not unsophisticated, but the barriers to entry are very different and the amount of software out there is vast. This imperils studies of prior art and planning of development that’s safe from patent violations.

“Software is not unsophisticated, but the barriers to entry are very different and the amount of software out there is vast.”The simplest fact is that barriers in the face of trivial tasks and creations only discourage more such creations. This was not the goal of the patent system, was it? This issue must be faced and recognised. Only then can it be properly addressed.

Microsoft is meanwhile obtaining some very trivial patents in order to brag about numbers (quantity over quality). In reality, the poorer the patent, the easier it is to invalidate, but at the same time, the poorer (broader and more trivial) the patent, the more companies and products it jeopardises. It causes unrest and Amazon’s one-click shopping is a good example of this.

The ‘bleeping patent’, which was previously summarised here, is making its appearance in The Times.

Microsoft patents web moderator robots

[...]

There’s a danger, though, that it could go too far. Who’s to say that an overzealous Microsoft employee might not accidentally on purpose blacklist the names of rivals such as Apple and Linux?

Worse, there are governments around the world that would probably go further still, suppressing dissent not with guns and clubs but by preventing people from even discussing concepts such as “protest” or “freedom”. And that, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a freaking scary idea.

Ethical issues aside, there is little merit to be found in this so-called ‘invention’. The PgUp/PgDn patent, which was previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], raised similar questions.

To show how trivial some of Microsoft’s patents can be, here is a slightly older one:

theodp writes “Microsoft was just granted U.S. Patent No. 7,392,326 for Text Entry in an Electronic Device. From the patent: ‘the invention may automatically add a ‘www.’ and a ‘.com’ to the text the user is entering and display this combined text’. To get the point across, Microsoft included an illustration showing the ‘invention’ in action, transforming ‘foo’ into ‘www.foo.com’. Sure it’s not sorcery we’re dealing with?”

How about…

  1. Transaction-safe FAT file system
  2. Method of swinging on a swing

This is innovation???

Europe

Alison Brimelow

A few days ago we wrote about the latest important development in Europe — an appeal regarding software patents. There are already some unhappy people who deserve to be heard.

[T]he questions seem like a school book example of avoiding clarifications by asking the wrong questions. Are the EPO just cowards, creating straw men or obstructing the clarity of law?

This was also covered in the EPO’s Web site and in some other patents-focused legal Web sites, whose bias is in their favour (more lawsuits and more patents help lawyers makes a living at developers’ expense):

Lastly, here is a quick word about OIN. In response to Roberto’s claim (covered some days ago) that “Keith Bergelt [...] won’t collaborate with FFII or similar organizations to fight against software patents in Europe,” PL Hayes wrote:

Then (assuming he is not a patent system economics illiterate) he certainly does not “care about Linux” – and innovation in general – and I assume OIN is some kind of risibly effete poor man’s version of Intellectual Ventures?

Software patents protest against EPO

In a follow-up post from Roberto, more details are given.

Keith says that in OIN’s vision there are “good” patents and “bad” patents, and they won’t take part in the European software patents debate. All in all OIN cares just about Linux, and middleware or application levels are not in OIN’s agenda for the time being. Google is proud to participate in OIN’s mission, as Di Bona made clear through the official google blog, and that is probably good for all (big) Linux end-users.

Will ever OIN go up in the open source software stack?

PL Hayes again replies by saying:

Right… so it’s just a patent pool with a misleadingly grandiose name (Open Invention Network), set up for the benefit of companies using “the Linux operating system or certain Linux-related applications”.

Some of those companies lobbied for codification of the EPO’s software patent granting practices so it’s not surprising OIN won’t take part in the debate and it is clearly no friend of FOSS and innovation in general, contrary to the impression it sometimes gives.

OIN is not the solution. It’s not harmful, but it’s not the solution.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

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

What Else is New


  1. António Campinos Still Needs to Hold Team Battistelli Accountable for Illegally Bringing Weapons to the EPO

    It is imperative that, in order to repair the reputation of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos should pursue accountability for the managers who brought Benalla and firearms to the Office (very serious breach of German law, jail sentence included)



  2. Links 17/2/2019: Compiz 0.9.14.0, Geary 0.13.0, GNU FreeDink 109.6, Debian 9.8, Texinfo 6.6

    Links for the day



  3. Amazon's Patent Policy Should be Enough of a Reason to Boycott Amazon and AWS

    There are many things to criticise Amazon and its founder for; but rarely does the mainstream media bring up the company's appalling patent policy



  4. Don't Use Cloudflare Because You Impose This on People Who Least Want It

    Reasons to stop making the World Wide Web so heavily dependent on some dubious companies like Cloudflare, which already has a worrisome track record



  5. How Many/Most EPO Examiners View 'President' António Campinos

    Based on what readers/insiders have told us, there’s a prevalent perception that António Campinos is afraid of (thus controlled/directed by) Bergot, who is still doing Battistelli’s biddings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  6. Techrights' Priorities Over the Years

    An old priority of ours, eliminating software patents in the United States, is no longer quite so relevant because such patents are perishing in US courts, with or without outside intervention such as activism



  7. Courts in Disagreement: Warning on Wrongly-Granted European Patents and the Looming Collapse of All Software Patents in Europe

    By devaluing patents and reducing their perceived worth (as is happening in China and Europe) patent offices risk decreasing participation in the very system they fundamentally depend on



  8. Computing Will Not Necessarily Make the World a Better Place

    The vision of "happy world" (because each person has a so-called 'smart' 'phone') is a yuppie delusion that overlooks business models and corporate interests



  9. EPO Grants Fake European Patents -- Including Software Patents -- and European Courts Keep Rejecting These

    The demise of the legitimacy or perceived validity of European Patents is measurable and the system isn't the same anymore; the EPO makes no effort to change this for the better, either



  10. Nobody But Patent Trolls and Litigators Will Benefit From the Corruption of the European Patent Office

    IAM, EPO leadership, Iancu and the rest of these raiders are enabling corruption and facilitating or supporting a racket; that money they collect comes at the expense of future victims of their "clients" or "customers" (that's what they call applicants, to whom they grant dubious monopolies as a matter of urgency)



  11. WSL is a Misleading Acronym/Name Because There's No Linux in It, It's Just Windows

    When Microsoft says "Linux" (as in "Microsoft loves Linux") what it actually means is Windows and/or Azure



  12. Links 16/2/2019: Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, PyCharm 2019.1 EAP 4

    Links for the day



  13. Outline/Index of the Alexandre Benalla/Battistelli Scandal

    Our writings about the scandals implicating Benalla and the European Patent Office (EPO)



  14. Reading Techrights on a Mobile Device Running Android

    A new Android app for reading this site is being tested



  15. Links 14/2/2019: “I Love Free Software Day” and Mesa 19.0 RC4 Released

    Links for the day



  16. “EPO Lawlessness Again”

    Blackberry uses bogus European Patents (on software) for lawsuits; "all of them pure software patents. Patents on programs for computers as such," as Müller puts it



  17. Unitary Patent (UPC) is All About Imposing Patent Maximalists' Ideology of Greed and Self Interest on Courts in the Name of 'Unification' or 'Consistency' or 'Community'

    Pushers of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) are upset that they don’t always get their way when independent judges get to decide; as it turns out, many European Patents are just fake patents, more so under António Campinos



  18. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part V: Mediapart Explains the 'Raid' Attempt, Reporters Without Borders Involved

    Mediapart, an investigative site that unearths a lot of incriminating things about Battistelli's former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, was the target of a raid attempt some weeks ago



  19. Links 13/2/2019: Tails 3.12.1, MongoDB Being Dumped

    Links for the day



  20. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part IV: Suspected Offenses of Forgery and Possible Falsification

    In a very underworld fashion, Benalla continues to break the law and create yet more scandals



  21. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part III: Mars, France Close Protection (Benalla's Family), and Russian Oligarchy

    An article which examines the business background of Benalla, the outrageous salaries, the severance indemnity pay, and contract with a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin



  22. Links 13/2/2019: Plasma 5.15.0 and a Look at Linux Mint Debian Edition Cindy

    Links for the day



  23. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part II: Fishing Expedition for Sources in the Alexandre Benalla 'Underworld' Scandal

    An utter lack of respect for the privacy of the media and of its sources, in the name of protecting the privacy of those convicted of crimes, as seen in France just like the European Patent Office



  24. Innovating the Idea That Software Patents (Monopolies on Algorithms) Are Covering 'Artificial' 'Intelligence' (AI and ML as Loopholes)

    Patent law firms around the world love this new trick, which is framing software that makes decisions as "AI" (magically rendering it patent-eligible only in offices but not in courts, which the EPO hopes to replace/override anyway)



  25. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part I: Destruction of Evidence by Alexandre Benalla

    The Alexandre Benalla scandal carries on, deepening even further than before and causing raids of the media; will the EPO be implicated and held accountable too?



  26. Links 12/2/2019: PyPy 7.0.0, HHVM 4.0.0 and CVE-2019-5736

    Links for the day



  27. USPTO Director Iancu Works for Anti-SCOTUS (Against Section 101) Lobbyists

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu is becoming to the patent system what Ajit Pai is to the FCC or to the broadband industry; there appears to be intentional vandalism and total disregard for the rule of law



  28. Gross Violations of the EPC at the European Patent Office as Principal Priority Turns Against Science and Technology

    What good is the law if violation of the European Patent Convention (EPC) is so routine at today’s European Patent Office (EPO), which exploits its immunity to operate outside the rule of law and pursue nothing but cash (selling patents/monopolies that are invalid in courts)?



  29. European Patent Office's Exploitation of the 'AI' Catchphrase/Buzzword to Grant Patents on Algorithms in Defiance of the Rules, the Law, and Common Sense

    In clear violation of the EPC (i.e. more of the same from the EPO) software patents are being actively promoted and law being bypassed or worked around



  30. Microsoft's Patent Trolls Are Still Suing Microsoft's Rivals to Help Sell Microsoft

    The ‘new’ Microsoft boils down to the patent equivalent of the copyright case of SCO (funded by Microsoft)


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts