Software Patents Turn Against Microsoft, United States
ONE week ago we showed two things: 1) Microsoft’s apparent disregard for prior art; and 2) the lawsuit that hit Windows Vista. It did not bode well for Microsoft, whose policy on patent is — quite frankly — becoming somewhat of a joke in the blogosphere and even some media circles. It makes patents as a whole look like a circus.
Microsoft Employee Admits That Patent Disclosure Is A Myth
Defenders of the patent system quite frequently point out that one of the main benefits (some claim the only benefit) of the patent system is “disclosure.” That is, because the patent system requires you to disclose your patent, the patent system is quite helpful in spreading ideas. This is a myth that’s easily debunked on a few points.
This Microsoft employee has ironically enough been the person to get the myth dismissed. It has always been said that disclosure seems better on paper than in practice and here we have a testimonial.
The patent lawsuit that came from China is now being covered by The Inquirer.
A CHINESE Internet company has sued Microsoft for patent infringement over its use of RSS* in Windows Vista.
What goes around comes around… and bites those who are greedy in the rear. Glyn Moody goes a step further and suggests that this intellectual monopolies regime might have an effect at an international level.
In the 19th century, America was a by-word for piracy of British ideas. In the 20th century, as its industry developed, it embraced intellectual monopolies, and became the most fervent advocate of maximalist legal regimes.
In the 20th century, China was a by-word for piracy of American ideas. In the 21st century, as its industry developed, it embraced intellectual monopolies, and became their stoutest defender. The news story above is but the trickle that presages the torrent.
Soon, America will be deluged with such suits, as China tries to leverage its huge industrial power. The consequence? America will become one of the most fervent advocates for *minimalist* intellectual property regimes. Yes, you read that correctly: just wait.
Microsoft’s (or Bill Gates’) participatory role and investment in a massive patent-trolling firm seems to be confirmed by one publication which suggests Microsoft is among the funding sources, not just Bill Gates (at a personal capacity). Here is an interesting observation from Matt Asay.
Of more concern was the TechFlash’s news that Bill Gates, Craig Mundie, and other top current and past Microsoft officials make a regular pilgrimage to the patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, to feed it ideas which it turns into patents. Regardless of what one thinks about patents, shouldn’t Microsoft be feeding itself with patents, not another company? In other words, shouldn’t it be the patent troll?
Microsoft is better off feeding shells, which cannot be counter-sued. The system is structured such that it permits trolls to exploit it endlessly (unless or until the system gets mended). An old myth spread by Bill Gates is that patents are alright because all the large companies can cross-license and live happily (never mind small businesses and the waste of time that patent applications are). Well, it doesn’t compute anymore, does it? Further, says Asay:
Patents are short-term monopolies (20 years) designed to give inventors sufficient time in which to recoup their R&D costs and turn a profit. Open source turns the 20-year patent term into two years, if that. As a relentless, ever-growing competitior, open source keeps the proprietary world in check and on its toes to a degree that the industry has never before seen.
Reform: The Sooner the, Better
BusinessWeek, a somewhat notorious ‘Wintel’ publication that forbids linking to it (!!), is now entertaining an article that accuses the Patent Office of stifling innovation rather than promoting it.
Patent Office Stifles Innovation
Information Age innovators need not apply. At least that’s the implied message being stretched like police tape across the door of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). The agency seems fixated on eliminating the last, true, sustainable American advantage: our capacity to innovate.
Sign of unrest, no?
Regarding business methods patents, even Microsoft resisted them, but much like IBM, it wanted to keep software patents in tact. Groklaw tells the story.
The Microsoft brief was filed along with Dell and Symantec, and it’s an attempt to get the court to deny the Bilski claims while at the same time trying to keep the court from going all the way and deciding software should not be patentable. There are some logic bumps along the way, as you will see. The court diverged from Microsoft’s argument about three-quarters of the way through, and it didn’t directly address software patents, except in one footnote, mainly because Bilski wasn’t about software. So it left unaddressed Microsoft’s chief argument about why software should patentable, namely because of what it does to a computer.
The FSF has just put forth a press release celebrating what it calls “a victory”.
As opinions form about the extent to which the Court ruling impacts the patenting of software, one thing is clear. The State Street ruling that in 1998 opened the flood gates to the patenting of business methods and software has been gutted, if not technically overturned.
Could re Bilski help the permanent burial of software patents in India, where multi-national companies continue to rely on loopholes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]?
Why, you may well ask, is the denial of patent to Bernie Bilski for a method of managing weather-related risk in commodities making the software open source community jump up in joy? A particularly happy lot is the lobby campaigning against software patents in India.
Analysis continues to arrive and it’s very important as it may be used extensively as a reference in future cases. From Digital Majority and Groklaw we have:
1. Patent decision: New Roadblock to Software/Tech Patents
On October 30th a leading U.S. federal court decided the major case of In re Bernard L. Bilski. This 100+ page court case could have a major impact on software and technology companies, especially those trying to obtain or enforce software patents in the U.S.
2. United States: Long-Awaited “Bilski” Decision Restricts Patentability Of Software, Business Methods
The Bilski decision is significant because it may affect a patentee’s ability to enforce existing patents, the prospects for pending patent applications and the decision whether to file new patent applications directed to so-called “business methods” and software-related innovations….
It has meanwhile come to our attention that Amazon is appealing the 1-click patent rejection. Is this not close to impossible given the re Bilski ruling?
For some background, see this old page
EPO rules for full revocation after a hearing in the opposition of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII e.V.) against Amazon.com’s infamous patent on the online purchase of gifts. The patent EP927945 is a descendant of the controversial One-Click Patent, which was granted to Amazon in the USA but was partially revoked there due to lack of novelty in October 2007.
The patent seems to be somewhere in between software and business methods. The USPTO should reject the appeal, citing the Bernard Bilski case at the very least. Prior art is another strong argument and so is obviousness. █
In the Amazon, parroting is inventing
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“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”
–Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO
NOVELL prefers to ‘cannibalise’ GNU/Linux than to further the agenda of Free software. What does that say about Novell?
“Novell is trying to steal Red Hat’s business (revenue source) while the servers still run Red Hat’s product.”Novell wants to replace free Linux with a Linux that’s encumbered by Microsoft’s ‘patent tax’. What does that say about Novell?
Novell is trying to steal Red Hat’s business (revenue source) while the servers still run Red Hat’s product. What does that say about Novell?
Novell’s Web site hardly advertises migrations from Microsoft/Windows to SUSE/Linux. What does that say about Novell?
We wrote about this subject earlier in the week [1, 2] and we shall revisit it soon.
Why doesn’t Novell announce (e.g. in a press release) a Novell-sponsored migration from Windows to SUSE?
Novell is building bridges between its Suse Linux OS and that of Red Hat in an effort to make it easier for Red Hat users to migrate across to Suse Linux Enterprise Server.
To Novell, the enemy of the enemy is a friend, i.e. Red Hat’s enemy is Novell’s friend. As Sean Michael Kerner puts it, ““Novell Goes After Red Hat Linux Users,” but not Windows users.
There are a plenty of ways to grow a business, including the old-fashioned approach of stealing customers from your competition. The latest entrant is Novell, which is pitching customers of Red Hat’s Linux to migrate over to Novell.
Has Novell made any progress at all? That’s in doubt.
Novell Attacks Red Hat With Linux Migration Offer
So, did Novell really steal market share from Red Hat last year? And can the company really hope to take 3 to 5 percent market share from Red Hat over the next 12 months?
Alfresco’s extensive survey indicated last year that the Microsoft/Novell deal may have actually driven customers away from Novell.
Over at Groklaw, Pamela described this latest move from Novell as “another Oracle-like move”. She added: “Now do you get deeper insight into the Novell-Microsoft deal? Everybody hates Red Hat’s success, which Red Hat achieved without violating the GPL’s terms or selling out to Microsoft, and so they all try to figure out ways to try to bleed them to death for profit. It’s like how everybody wants to sue Google all of a sudden. Well. There’s a sucker born every minute, they say, so somebody will pay thousands per server for this, I suppose. But you know what the song says: Ain’t nothing like the real thing. And Red Hat is the real thing.”
Those who wish to help GNU/Linux should boycott Novell. The last thing the world needs is a Linux which is ‘tainted’ by Microsoft tax and Microsoft APIs (control). █
“Every time you use Google, you’re using a machine running the Linux kernel.”
–Chris DiBona, Google
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WE last wrote about LG about a week ago. LG exploited and then “sold the soul,” so to speak, of the Free software community. Much like Samsung [1, 2], LG turns out to be a corrupt company. It conspired against consumers.
LG Display, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges for participating in a liquid crystal display price-fixing conspiracy and pay $585 million in fines, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
We gradually find a commonality shared among companies that exploit and betray GNU/Linux. Several of them seem to be inherently corrupt [1, 2]. █
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A few days ago we showed why (and how) Microsoft relies on illegal tenders. BECTA seems to be a good example of secret arrangements where the taxpayer — the one picking up the tab — is not allowed to know how much got paid and what for [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. All the taxpayer knows is that a lot of money got passed to a multiple-times convicted monopolist that resides abroad and obtains controls over (a lock-in on) the public and private sectors.
The problem is actually broader than this:
Open standards: the European Council refused to supply the contracts concluded with Microsoft
Marco Cappato MEP asked the Council to provide him the contract concluded by the Council and Microsoft, and the Study on the Open Source realized by the interinstitutional committee on informatics in 2005. The Council refused to supply these documents. As the Council quoted these documents in an answer given to Cappato’s written question on the adoption of open source facilities as support to the institution’s work, Cappato claimed for these records.
Opinions on this vary from “There is no such thing as a fully democratic government” to:
Got that? “Protection of Microsoft’s commercial interests … prevails on the divulgation for the public interest.” Microsoft’s profits are more important to the European Council than the public interest of 300 million EU citizens….
Now we know the similarities between Microsoft and the ACTA, whose story bears a resemblance. █
“DRM is nearly always the result of a conspiracy of companies to restrict the technology available to the public. Such conspiracy should be a crime, and the executives responsible for it should be sentenced to prison.”
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THE original page is in Spanish, but here is corresponding message in English.
The short story is that we are in a protracted battle with some patent
trolls. Google for Sisvel.
In order to get ourselves in a stronger position, we want to make sure
no copies/instances/whatever of patent-infested technologies like MP2
and MP3 exist on our servers.
Sisvel is a front for Philips [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. In other words, Sisvel is to Philips what the RIAA/MPAA is to Universal Studios and what Acacia/Intellectual Ventures can be to Microsoft. █
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REGULAR HECKLERS who argue that this site is run by “a bunch of 2-year-olds” might not be far off. Well, in a certain sense, there’s substance to claims about the age of the site, but not its contributors. This site began two years ago.
Shane and I have composed over 4,500 posts and on we move. █
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