11.22.08

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Latest Update on Microsoft’s Plans with Software Patents

Posted in Action, Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 5:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Yesterday we uncovered Nathan Myhrvold’s latest mischiefs as a patent troll in deep denial. Slashdot has some more details about it.

“Intellectual Ventures (IV) will be setting up shop at the top of a Four Seasons this week as Headline Sponsor of the Ready to Commercialize 2008 conference hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. It’s the patent firm’s 100th university deal, though some, such as Professor Michael Heller at Columbia University, warn against such deals. ‘… their individual profit comes at the cost of the public ability to innovate. The university’s larger mission is to serve the public interest, and some of these deals work against that public interest.’ It’s a follow-up to the conference IV sponsored last summer for technology transfer professionals entrusted with commercializing their universities’ intellectual property, and should help IV, a friend of Microsoft, snag even more exclusive deals (PDF).”

A couple of days ago we also mentioned the conference where Microsoft used Novell’s fork of OpenOffice.org (yes, it’s a fork [1, 2, 3, 4]) to market OOXML and align some of this with software patents, the chief focus of the conference. One of the attendants and bloggers from Oracle wrote about this.

I will soon publish my impression from a highly entertaining European Commission workshop on intellectual property rights and ICT standards on 19 November 2008 in Brussels, Belgium held at the Bedford Hotel, formerly a cotton mill. Since I attended yesterday at the Commission in Brussels, I am still patching up my notes. Here is a very first impression. These are soundbites from the workshop. Some caused laughter. Others were just strange. Others again did not necessarily have one clear interpretation. I will leave it to the readers to interpret them for now.

His quotes from Microsoft may not be precise, but these ones stands out:

“12. – Open Source is not a business model, Amy Morasco [of Microsoft].”

Remember who said exactly that?

The 451 Group: “Open source is not a business model”

It’s just a tad fishy because one blog linked to this post of ours when the study was first published.

“13. – OOXML is being implemented in Open Office products, Amy Morasco [of Microsoft].”

Thank you, Novell, for doing this for over 2 years now. Thanks for nothing.

Speaking of OOXML, Groklaw links to this report from an ISO plenary where OOXML is discussed. Pamela Jones adds: “here is my question: what do you implement? Microsoft isn’t implementing currently either OOXML or Ecma2. So where is the standard? Also, I am thinking if you can’t afford to pay ISO for the OOXML standard [it's not free] or don’t like the restrictions on free availability, you could just wait and get Ecma2 when it’s available from them without restrictions.”

The Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of intellectual monopolies at Red Hat has published the following article regarding the Bilski case and its impact.

In its new opinion, the court 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.

Future cases will shed further light on this issue. In the meantime, the holder of a poor quality software patent is likely to think more carefully about bringing a lawsuit, because the patent may be ruled invalid.

The FOSS community and its supporters need to explain to our friends, neighbors, and legislators the practical realities of software patents. We need to continue to challenge received wisdom about innovation in software, and to explain that patents do not always foster innovation.

Jeremy from IPKet has published this post to shed more light on the situation in EPO and UK-IPO.

Some people say that the referral of the questions is a feeble surrender to the demand of Lord Justice Jacob in Aerotel/Macrossan that the EPO resolve the contradictions in its earlier rulings — contradictions the existence of which the previous President of the EPO denied — or whether it is a resolute defence of the EPO’s resistance to such pressures that have led it to ask its own questions of the Enlarged Board rather than those articulated by Jacob LJ. The nature of the questions has itself given rise to plenty of speculation. Are they there simply to remove perceived inconsistencies in EPO practice, or are they posed in order to provide an excuse to send out answers that will seek to bind practice in national offices too?

Fortunately, this isn’t from David Pearce, whom we don’t appreciate for his disdain of software patents critics, but either way, it’s encouraging to see pro-patents Web sites admitting that the system is weakening. This isn’t the first [1, 2].

The OpenMoko analysis, which continues to receive coverage [1, 2], probably fails to identify the source of agitation and litigation. It’s not about the patent troll called Sisvel; trolls sometimes operate on behalf of larger companies that want competing products removed from the market. In this case, Sisvel is said to be a proxy of Philips, acting as a front much like the MAFIAA. And let’s never forget Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], which sued the market’s GNU/Linux leaders just shortly after hiring top-level employees from Microsoft.

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