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

11.09.08

Big Step in the Right Direction for Software Patenting in the US

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, IBM, Intellectual Monopoly, Kernel, Law, Patents at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Invention in dictionary

JupiterMedia is rerunning a story from the former Managing Editor of LinuxToday. It explains very clearly why so-called ‘innovation’ is nothing but an accumulation of knowledge that we already have and therefore the idea of software patenting is rather ludicrous.

All technology, computer or otherwise, is based on something that came before it. It doesn’t just come out of thin air. Did Windows magically appear in the mind of some Microsoft engineer from the ether? Not hardly! They based the interface on work done by prior developers and slapped the whole thing on top of the DOS operating system that itself was a copy of CP/M. Microsoft didn’t even make DOS themselves: it was built by a third-party development house and bought by Microsoft when the House of Bill made a deal with IBM.

Oh yeah, that’s innovative.

The whole scientific method, the current fad of looking at the universe, is based on this philosophy. Take the work of others and refine it to better fit the way we perceive the universe to work. Technology is the same way: it took 100,000 years for human beings to figure out how to build the microwave oven.

Politics

The patent question is one which makes it difficult to totally escape a dose of politics. Here, for example, is a video accusing the USPTO of fraud and corruption. There’s always need for vigilance and appropriate response. As Carla put it yesterday:

Free/Libre software itself is political. The GPL is called a copyleft license, which is wordplay on copyright. It is a clever use of existing copyright laws to protect software freedom, and copyleft has expanded to include a number of creative works, such as books, articles, photos and other images, movies, and music. Which is in direct opposition to the fierce attacks on existing copyright law, especially the insanely over-the-top attempts at exterminating fair use, and turning minor copyright violations into crimes of the century.

[...]

So there are a few examples of important political issues that Linux/FOSS users can address and influence knowledgably. It doesn’t matter who is in whatever elected office, or what party they belong to, because these issues affect everyone. Our elected persons are hearing mostly one side of the story, and that is the side that gets rich off corruption and abuse. They need to hear from the good guys, too.

The encouraging news is that the new administration of the United States seems determined to address the patent problem — one that has become a catastrophe which Republicans seemed unwilling to ultimately tackle [1, 2, 3, 4], perhaps because it favours 'generous' monopolies.

The new US-President wants to improve “predictability and clarity” in the patent system as well as “patent quality”. His reforms would “reduce the uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation”

Here is some more related information.

What an Obama Presidency Means for Technology

[...]

Begin Intellectual Property Reform: rather than just the usual extension of copyright terms, Obama’s staff recognizes the “need to update and reform our copyright and patent systems to promote civic discourse, innovation and investment while ensuring that intellectual property owners are fairly treated.” That includes “opening up the patent process to citizen review [to] reduce the uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation.”

Obama’s running mate has been criticized for supporting current policy on copyright, but an exposure of government policy to sources of light outside of the lobbyists currently illuminating the dark caves of Washington is likely to change things dramatically.

In other news, this newly-announced FTC hearing which involves Intellectual Monopolies drew some attention because, as Groklaw put it, “Note that the keynote will be given by Paul Michel, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the judge who wrote the recent Bilski decision.” The FTC has an abysmal reputation when it comes to regulation, especially in recent years.

Patent Abuse Resumes

To demonstrate the problem at hand, consider claims that Halliburton is now trying to patent a form of patent-trolling, much like IBM and its darnest of patents, e.g.:

  1. IBM Wants Patent On Finding Areas Lacking Patents
  2. The IBM ‘Patent Troll’ Patent

From Masnick:

We see all sorts of ridiculous patent applications and patents, but my favorites tend to be the patents that have to do with patents themselves (such as the patent app on a method for filing a patent). However, the folks over at Patently-O have highlighted a fascinating patent application from an attorney at Halliburton, which appears to be an attempt to patent the process of patent trolling.

For vivid illustration of the impact, witness this new $3-billion lawsuit against Google. It’s about software patents.

Profy reports that a Russian company is suing Google for $3 billion over Google’s contextual ad program, AdSense.

Masnick responded to this too.

The concept of contextual advertising was hardly a new idea. In fact, from the early days of web advertising, it was always a target. Plenty of other companies tried to do it, but what made Google so successful was that it actually implemented the process in a way that worked. It was about putting it into practice, not the grand scheme that ended up in a patent somewhere. This seems like nothing more than a company trying to shakedown Google.

The Maginot of Linux

Linux too is susceptible and sensitive to patent-trolling, but some people find comfort in the existence of OIN. Here is a new article about this patent pool, which the likes of Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] render futile.

The OIN is refining the traditional IP model by acquiring strategic software patents and making them available royalty-free, for any use, to any organization that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux system. This frees organizations to make significant corporate and capital expenditure investments in Linux — helping to fuel economic growth and technological innovation.

The proliferation of open source hardware and software platforms is an irreversible trend, Bergelt added. As open source continues to accelerate beyond the enterprise to mobile devices and the desktop, the OIN would continue to work for the common good, creating a Linux IP “No-Fly Zone” that ensures the Linux ecosystem will not be impaired by intellectual property rights issues.

As pointed out repeatedly by the folks at FFII, OIN is a replication of a Maginot Line, which arguably makes it a big mistake.

The opensource folks have mirrored the French in WW II. Basically they have created a Maginot Line called the Open Invention Network (OIN). The OIN have been amassing patents so they could counter-sue any tech company that sued open source. But like the French, the OIN has been prepping for the wrong war. IP Innovation is not a tech company, they make nothing, they are not infringing on any patents. OIN is sidelined with their pants down while the battle moves elsewhere.

We wrote about this problem quite recently. OIN is not to be trusted much, at least until IBM changes its ways and OIN’s strategy along with it.

Bilski

Analyses of the re Bilski decision we have thus far accumulated in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Here are some newer clarifications that shed light on updated scope of patenting:

1. In re Bilski and Business Method Patents

Under the new standard, a process must either be tied to the use of a machine or be a transformation of something physical to be patentable, which would include a transformation of data that represents something physical.

2. Patent-Eligible Subject Matter in the United States – The Court of Appeals Decision in In re Bilski

Since the claims before it did not relate to any particular machine, the court did not address further what was required to meet the first of these options and in particular did not consider whether a general purpose computer when programmed could become “a particular machine or apparatus”.

On the second option, the majority did attempt some guidance as to what it meant by “articles” that were to be the subject of transformation.

This is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s better for the economy, according to this new article, but elimination of software patents as a whole would not be better for IBM. It is, after all, still a software company, not a business methods company (despite the name which contains “Business Machines”). They also vend hardware, so it’s unlikely that they will push for broader elimination and reduction of scope.

It’s what everyone has been talking about lately. No, not the election—software patent reform. (Bear with me, non-IP folks.) Last Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected a patent application from a company called WeatherWise for a method of managing the risk involved with energy costs. The court ruled that in order to be patentable, a process must be tied to a “machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing.” That means abstract processes known as “business methods” can no longer be patented. A classic example of a patented software business method is Amazon’s one-click process for online purchases.

So how will this ruling impact software innovation, particularly for startups and investors? The news has caused quite a stir in the Seattle tech community (and elsewhere), with some entrepreneurs worrying about their ability to protect their fledgling intellectual property. Meanwhile, some venture capitalists view the ruling in a positive light, as protection against “patent trolls” that acquire business method patents and then sue software startups for infringement. As Fred Wilson of New York-based Union Square Ventures puts it in a blog post, “It’s a huge tax on the startup/technology ecosystem and it’s hurting innovation.”

The huge efforts to stop software patents are finally paying off and the action taken by the United States government is an important one to watch. In the next post, we will turn our attention to Europe.

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. EPO Brain Drain (Even Directors Fed Up With Team Battistelli) and Rumours About Battistelli Becoming President of the UPC

    Words heard through the grapevine of the European Patent Office (EPO), where staff is overwhelmingly against the managers and some people, including high-profile staff, add to the exodus



  2. More Than 20 Years in the Line: European Patent Office and Claims of European Convention on Human Rights Infringement Against Applicants/Stakeholders

    Gross incompetence and potentially an infringement of the European Convention on Human Rights at the European Patent Office (EPO), this time impacting an applicant (one of many in a similar position)



  3. UPC Nepotism, Political Abuses, and UPC Involvement From the Legal Firm That EPO Hired to Bully Techrights

    The Unitary Patent Court (UPC), a rigged system that is being rammed down Europe's throat by the EPO, its big clients (even foreign), and their patent lawyers laid bear for people to see



  4. Member of European Parliament Brings Up “Ongoing Violations of the Fundamental and Employment Rights of the Staff of EPO”

    Question to the European Commission from Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes, as published in the site of the European Parliament



  5. La Oficina Europea de Patentes Pretende que No Pasa Nada y Prepara una Feria de Vanidad

    La estrategia de relaciones públicas de la OEP cuya destructiva estrategia de patentes continua sin disminución (por ahora), se engancha en Colombia y se esfuerza en manufacturar el mito donde el público, examinadores de patentes, y aplicantes de patentes todos estan muy felices con la OEP.



  6. La ‘Internacional’ Commisión de Comercio Impone/Reenfuerza Patentes de Software para Establecer Otro Embargo

    La Comisión Internacional (sic) de Comercio se esta entrometiendo en competición de nuevo permitiendo a un gigante de los Estados Unidos Ciso en este caso, a potencialmente bloquear rivales (no importaciones del extranjero) usando patentes de software.



  7. Links 9/2/2016: Linux in Robotics, Hyperledger Project

    Links for the day



  8. Besieged Benoît Battistelli Mimics 'Damage Control' Tactics of FIFA or Blatter as More Judges Start Getting Involved in EPO Scandals

    Rumours and a new rant from Battistelli reinforce suspicions that actions are being organised behind the scenes, possibly as part of an upcoming, high-level campaign to unseat/dethrone Battistelli, who has become a reputational disaster to the European Patent Office (EPO), much like Sepp Blatter at FIFA



  9. Several Political Parties Directly Challenge the European Patent Office for Ignoring the Law, Not Obeying Court Orders

    Politicians make it crystal clear that the EPO, despite its unique status, cannot just raise its nose at the rulings of courts of law, definitely not in Dutch territory where the EPO operates



  10. Even the Legal Community is Upset at Benoît Battistelli for the Damage He Did to the EPO

    A recent article from lawyers' media (in German) speaks of the great damage (or mess) left by its current president, who has become somewhat of a laughing stock and growingly synonymous with farcical trials even in the circles of stakeholders, not just his own staff



  11. EPO Union (SUEPO) Getting Busted: “More and More People are Joining the Union, but Fewer and Fewer People Dare to Take on Leading Positions There.”

    The union-busting actions taken by EPO management in collaboration with Control Risks (for weak accusations against staff representatives) and FTI Consulting (for 'damage control') as described in a recent article, in the words of SUEPO lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld



  12. Microsoft's Copyrights- and Patents-Based Attacks on GNU/Linux Carry on

    The SCO case is still going on and Microsoft has just signed a patent deal with GoPro over its FOSS-based software, relating to “certain file storage and other system technologies”



  13. The EPO's Benoît Battistelli is the Dictator Who Can No Longer Dictate Like He Used to

    The European Patent Office's mechanism of oversight is starting to work just a little because, based on a new report from Juve, Battistelli is now reluctant to make proposals that would prove unpopular among delegates



  14. La Más Detallada Explicación (hasta ahora) de ¿Qué esta mal con la OEP?

    La insistencia de la OEP que permanece arriba de la ley no sólo est bajo fuego en los medios pero también esta siendo desafiada basado en personas familiares con la aplicabilidad de la ley a organizaciones internacionales.



  15. Links 8/2/2016: Vista 10 Nags Help GNU/Linux, Nautilus Updated

    Links for the day



  16. The European Patent Office “is Acting as Though the Law Does Not Apply to It.”

    An article from Nieuwsuur which provides the words of Liesbeth Zegveld (for SUEPO) and Guillaume Minnoye (for the European Patent Office), reaffirming the EPO's bizarre notion that it is above the law, even in the face of human rights violations and a court ruling against the EPO



  17. Microsoft-Connected FRAND Lobbying (Software Patents Against Free/Open Source Software) in Brussels

    Anti-Free/Open Source software (FOSS) talking points and FRAND (anti-FOSS) lobbying groups in Brussels as seen by proponents of FRAND, who also worked for Microsoft



  18. Latest Propaganda From the EPO's Management an Effort to Make the EPO the Tool of Megacorporations

    A quick roundup of some of the latest spin and paid-for (bought) coverage that helps introduce a distorted patent system whose beneficiaries are not European (or even people)



  19. 'Aversion to Change' Propaganda From the EPO Echoes or Parrots Lenin and Stalin

    The out-of-control EPO management is trying to fool the media by blaming staff representatives for getting fired, simply because they stood up to a highly abusive and megalomaniacal dictator



  20. The Gates Foundation Subjected to Criticism, But Over a Decade Too Late

    Reckoning and accepting the fact that even some in the media now openly speak about Bill Gates' corrupting influence in everything, including politics



  21. Links 8/2/2016: Zenwalk 8.0 Beta 2, Q4OS 1.4.7

    Links for the day



  22. SIPO (China's Patent Office) Taken Over by Patent Maximalists

    A look at China's race to the bottom (decline in quality) when it comes to patents, assuming quite wrongly that quantity is more important than quality and severe penalties for perceived infringement will spur innovation



  23. The Alice Case Continues to Smash Software Patents (This Time OpenTV's); Will the EPO Ever Pay Attention?

    The potency or the grip of software patents in the United States is quickly eroding, but the EPO continues to act as though software patents are legitimate



  24. EPO Staff Responds to Team Battistelli's Expansion to Include French Economic Propagandist on the Payroll

    With strings attached (like string puppets of Battistelli in various units including the Investigative Unit), can the new Chief Economist, who is French and paid by Battistelli, ever be trusted?



  25. UPC: To Understand Who Would Benefit From It Just Look at Who's Promoting It (Like TPP)

    The UPC, which is designed to aid patent trolls and aggressors (and their lawyers), is still being advanced by the EPO and some misinformed (but loyal to these former groups) politicians



  26. Trolls Molestos: Rovi (del famoso Angry Birds) Ayuda al Más Largo Troll de Patentes de Microsoft Intellectual Ventures (Corregido)

    Alguna vez conocido como hacedor de juegos y más tarde como vigilancia en masa en jugadores, Rovi ahora se ESTA ALIANDO CON EL MÁS GRANDE TROLL DE PATENTES



  27. Estadísticas de Invalidación de Patentes y Costos de Litigación de Patentes (incluso si son falsas) Muestran que la Esfera de Patentes y los Estándares de Examinación son un Probleman, No Sólo en Los Estados Unidos

    Demasiadas falsas patentes que no deberían haber sido otorgadas en primer lugar y fraudulentes jucios de patentes que terminan en favor del acusado sirve para mostrar el costo externo (o externalidad) cuando set trata de un bajisímo sistema de patentes que se esfuerza en otorgar muchas patentes irrespectivamente de su mérito.



  28. The 'Offenses' of EPO Staff Representatives Boil Down to Truth-Telling

    Dutch television examined the documents of the mock 'trials' against SUEPO leaders and concluded that whistle-blowing (i.e. exposing abuses by EPO management), not misconduct, is the reason for overzealous dismissals



  29. Rumours About Dismissal of Benoît Battistelli and New Letter From Union Syndicale Federale Blasting Battistelli's Behaviour

    hings have been heating up since the dismissal of staff representatives at the European Patent Office (EPO) and some even spread rumours about withdrawal/dismissal of the EPO's President



  30. VirnetX Case Against Apple Shows Not the Problem With Patent Trolls But With Software Patents

    What the media really ought to be talking about after the high-profile VirnetX case, rather than obsess about the status of Apple or patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas


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