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

11.07.08

Patents Roundup: Microsoft, India, Bilski and Some More Cronies

Posted in Asia, Courtroom, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 3:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

THIS POST summarises the latest developments and analyses involving software patents.

Microsoft

Avistar’s legal battles with Microsoft were previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. The company seems to have just scooped up some more ammunition with which to harass Microsoft.

Avistar Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: AVSR), a leading provider of unified visual communications solutions, today announced that it has been granted five new U.S. patents this month, including its 92nd patent, U.S. 7,441,001, covering services involving two or more real-time communications services such as text instant message (IM), video IM and Voice over IP (VoIP).

Avistar–by continuing its lawsuits against Microsoft–can hopefully change Microsoft’s mind regarding sofwtare patents.

India

The software patents situation in India was last mention in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. We still track the progression of dreadful lobbying by Microsoft, its partners and other cronies with vested interests. They try to change the law and they break it in the process.

The latest update from the news there indicates that Microsoft’s pursuit for changes in the law has not ended.

Thankfully, Indian judges need not venture down such a circuitous path. That a Bilski sort of invention is not patentable in India is crystal clear from section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, which prohibits a “business method” from patentability.

Section 3(k) also excludes “computer programs” per se and algorithms from patentability. In order to clarify the ambit of this exclusion, the government is currently evolving guidelines via a patent office manual; a process has spurred a fierce battle between proprietary software firms such as Microsoft Corp. and open-source evangelists such as Red Hat, which claim that the government is attempting to introduce software patents through the back door.

Software patents protest in India

Bilski

From prior coverage of the decision [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] it could almost be concluded that software patents were affected too. They were badly hurt. Concludes Peter Judge:

The open source community will be resting a bit easier – “abstract” patents, for business processes have been ruled out by the US authorities, at least for now.

From Gardner:

Gardner explains that the Patent Bar should stand-up and explain to the PTO and courts that “the application of novel and nonobvious software to otherwise computer hardware is neither ‘routine’ nor ‘typical.’”

Linux Magazine has this summary on the effects (specifically where software patents are concerned).

FOSS lawyers see the decision as a good basis for changes to patent laws. They caution, however, that the software world will have to figure on increasing lobbying efforts from past patent seekers and “beneficiaries of the status quo.” The Red Hat press release ends on a positive note with “We have a battle before us, but it is a battle we can win.”

Here is the formal reaction from the SFLC.

Of course, patent applications for many software systems will meet this test, and we have only minimal guidance from Bilski on how the test should be applied. However, SFLC believes that this decision takes us one step further toward freeing the United States from “software patents”. The SFLC hopes and expects that this case will lead to fewer patent grants that stand in the way of advancing software freedom.

The formal press response from Red Hat says:

Last week the Federal Circuit issued a major decision, In re Bilski, concerning the subject matter limits of patent law. The case presented questions relating to software patents, an issue of great significance to the free and open source software community, and so Red Hat filed a brief in Bilski to educate the appeals court about FOSS and its problems with the software patents. In the new opinion, the court cited Red Hat’s brief, but declined to settle the issue of when, if ever, software based inventions should be patentable. Even so, the new test in Bilski will probably limit the patentability of software. The war is not over, but the odds of success for FOSS just got better.

An interpretation from Groklaw, regarding Red Hat in part, states in its second part:

There probably isn’t a single judge on this court who grew up with computers in his or her life. But look at their backgrounds a little more carefully, and you’ll see that while they may not know what you know about tech, they are certainly highly educated and highly accomplished individuals in their area of expertise, namely patent law. Let’s focus on those who wrote opinions, now.

Therein lies a very important issue, which was covered here before.

Cronyism

Related to the above, not all legal treatment is objective. It may not be founded on impartial judgment, so trust is lacking. In fact, based on this new report, Barack Obama is already overwhelmed by lobbyists for imaginary property.

The intellectual property community has been quick to begin the anticipation of a Barack Obama presidency in the United States following his election on Tuesday.

[...]

“Obama’s regime is more likely to take the feedback from civil society into consideration and similarly more sceptical towards the pure business interests presented by Big Pharma, etcetera,” he said. “In the end, much will depend on what kind of persons Obama chooses to his cabinet for the key positions pertaining IP policy and global trade.”

Andrew Updegrove, an attorney at technology law firm Gesmer Updegrove in Boston who runs the open-standards blog consortiuminfo.org, said administration changes have little effect on US technical standards policy, since this sector is largely driven by industry – not government.

There is a very timely example of such manipulation. The OpenParliament meeting in Europe saw the intrusion by Microsoft lobbyists.

Note that Mr Lueders is a well-know[n] Microsoft & Software Patents lobbyist, who wants to raise a patent tax on every EU citizen who wants to access gover[n]mental documents via discriminatory patented standards.

The OpenParliament has also drawn the attention of other Microsoft drones ea[r]lier on.

In short, it emerged that CompTIA, a notorious Microsoft pressure group [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], was lobbying the secretariat of the PETI committee in order to sneak into the panel. The OpenParliament OFE people met the PETI secretariat two days ago, and one guy had apparently been lobbied by CompTIA before, saying he needed a balanced (i.e. distorted) and opposite point of view.

So, eventually, even Microsoft managed to sneak in, as usual. There is nothing they don’t intrude, including ODF [1, 2, 3, 4], which they mocked (well, they had to pretend otherwise later, in order to gain access to it).

Recordings of the talks are up at the FFII Web site now. Hugo Lueders was pretty bad as he did not have any strong point. If anyone could transcribe the audio, it would be splendid.

In Conclusion

Mark Taylor from Sirius Corporation wrote an article for ZDNet UK. It explains rather bluntly, yet correctly, what the software patents fascination really is about.

Free software acknowledges that truth. Proprietary software does not. Instead, like the banks, proprietary-software vendors have had to justify the cost of their wares by constructing complex arguments about value.

Again, lipstick terms such as ‘software patents’ and ‘intellectual property’ have been applied so successfully they have entered the vernacular. Yet even a cursory examination of their real meaning shows them to be spurious. They exist only to perpetuate the dominance of monopolists.

Yes, we are living in a proprietary-software bubble and, like the bursting of the easy-credit bubble, this one is about to burst too — it’s a matter of survival.

One current danger is Microsoft’s (among others’) attempt to define or redefine "open source" to suit their conveniences. Free software is pervasive, but there are those who try to ‘dilute’ it. This was foreseen a year ago [1, 2, 3].

“That would be because we believe in Free Software and doing the right thing (a practice you appear to have given up on). Maybe it is time the term ‘open source’ also did the decent thing and died out with you.”

Alan Cox to Eric Raymond

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. Links 21/5/2019: China's GAFAM Exit, DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3

    Links for the day



  2. Links 20/5/2019: Linux 5.2 RC1, LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha, DXVK 1.2.1, Bison 3.4 Released

    Links for the day



  3. South Korea's Government Will Show If Microsoft Loves Linux or Just Attacks It Very Viciously Like It Did in Munich

    Microsoft's hatred of all things GNU/Linux is always put to the test when someone 'dares' use it outside Microsoft's control and cash cows (e.g. Azure and Vista 10/WSL); will Microsoft combat its longstanding urge to corrupt or oust officials with the courage to say "no" to Microsoft?



  4. Links 19/5/2019: KDE Applications 19.04.1 in FlatHub and GNU/Linux Adoption

    Links for the day



  5. The War on Patent Quality

    A look at the EPO's reluctance to admit errors and resistance to the EPC, which is its very founding document



  6. Watchtroll, Composed by Patent Trolls, Calls the American Patent System “Corrupt”

    Another very fine piece from Watchtroll comes from very fine patent trolls who cheer for Donald Trump as if he's the one who tackles corruption rather than spreading it



  7. Unified Patent Court Won't Happen Just Because the Litigation Microcosm Wants It

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) hopefuls are quote-mining and cherry-picking to manufacture the false impression that the UPC is just around the corner when in reality the UPC is pretty much dead (but not buried yet)



  8. Links 17/5/2019: South Korea's GNU/Linux Pivot, Linux 5.1.3

    Links for the day



  9. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 4: Happy Birthday to the Kötter Group?

    This year the Kötter Group commemorates the 85th anniversary of its existence. But is it really a cause for celebration or would a less self-congratulatory approach be more fitting? And does it create the risk that a routine tendering exercise at the EPO will turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot?



  10. Links 16/5/2019: Cockpit 194, VMware Acquires Bitnami, Another Wine Announcement and Krita 4.2.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  11. The EPO's Key Function -- Like the UPC's Vision -- Has Virtually Collapsed

    The EPO no longer issues good patents and staff is extremely unhappy; but the Office tries to create an alternate (false) reality and issues intentionally misleading statements



  12. Stanford's NPE Litigation Database Makes a Nice Addition in the Fight Against Software Patent Trolls

    As the United States of America becomes less trolls- and software patents-friendly (often conflated with plaintiff (un)friendliness) it's important to have accurate data which documents the numbers and motivates better policy; The NPE (troll) Litigation Database is a move towards that and it's free to access/use



  13. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 3: “Ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”

    A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi



  14. EPO Had a Leakage Problem and Privacy of Stakeholders Was Compromised, Affecting at Least 100 Cases

    The confidentiality principle was compromised at the EPO and stakeholders weren't told about it (there was a coverup)



  15. Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

    Links for the day



  16. False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

    Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions



  17. The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

    The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)



  18. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

    An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO



  19. Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

    Links for the day



  20. Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

    Links for the day



  21. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 1: Urgent Shitstorm Alert

    Experts at the European Patent Office's (EPO) weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon



  22. Patents That Were Gleefully Granted by the EPO Continue to Perish in Courts

    The decreasing quality of granted European Patents already becomes a growing problem if not a crisis of uncertainty



  23. Links 13/5/2019: ExTiX 19.5 and GNU Radio Conference 2019

    Links for the day



  24. The Microsoft Guide to the Open Source Galaxy

    Thou shalt not...



  25. Microsoft Would Kill the Goose for Money

    Microsoft is just 'monetising' Open Source by using it as 'bait' for Microsoft's proprietary software; those who we might expect to antagonise this have effectively been bribed by Microsoft



  26. Links 13/5/2019: Nanonote 1.2.0, OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 RC, and GNUnet 0.11.4

    Links for the day



  27. Professionally Incompetent EPO Management

    The EPO remains an awful employer, with top-level management largely responsible for the loss of talent and even money



  28. Links 12/5/2019: Linux 5.1.1, GDB 8.3, KStars 3.2.2 Released

    Links for the day



  29. Did Battistelli 'Steal' ~$100,000,000 Euros From the EPO?

    While enjoying diplomatic immunity the thug from CEIPI (who is back at the EPO as a jurist) passed millions if not billions (over the long run) in liabilities; this was done with total and inexcusable impunity, no effective oversight



  30. The Biased EPO Does Not Want to Hear From Anyone Except Those Who Pay the EPO

    The EPO's corruption and violations of the law are a threat to everyone in the world; the EPO only ever listens to those who pay for "access" or those who embrace the "religion" of the EPO


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