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


Memo to IBM: Enough with Software Patents, Please

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 2:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In summary, to IBM, please join the fight against intellectual monopolies

IBM has begun marketing its GNU/Linux solutions (running proprietary Lotus) as “Microsoft-free”, but not as “Free” because they are not. They try to ‘outMicrosoft’ Microsoft the Microsoft way.

IBM also builds its Maginot Line inside OIN, which is a software patents pool. It actively participates in this patents vs. patents cold war instead of just eliminating the weapon called software patents for the sake of everyone else (not just the large companies in possession of extensive portfolios). As we showed recently, even the man who drove IBM into Linux is still defending software patents.


IBM just won’t join the cause against software patents. Fortune, the same magazine that ushered Microsoft's patent attack on GNU/Linux with its seminal report, sports a new post that seems as though it’s almost ghostwritten by IBM et al.

Roger Parloff, who provoked opposers of SCO, has just published a very unhelpful thing. This informal article of his mostly echoes OIN’s chief Keith Bergelt [1, 2, 3], the successor of IBMer Jerry Rosenthal (first OIN leader).

The idea is to create a defensive patent shield or no-fly zone around Linux,” says Keith Bergelt, the chief executive officer of Open Invention Network, the consortium launching the site. The core members of that group, formed in 2005, are IBM, NEC, Novell (NOVL), Philips, Red Hat (RHT) and Sony.


Although some factions of the free- and open-source community are ideologically opposed to the whole notion of software patents — most notably and passionately Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation (which is a client of Linux-Defenders co-sponsor Software Freedom Law Center, which, in turn, supports the End Software Patents organization) — neither Bergelt nor OIN fall into that camp.

“We’re not anti-patent by any stretch of the imagination,” says Bergelt. “More patents is fine with me, as long as they’re high quality. Quality is the drum we beat.

The comment from Benjamin Henrion hits the nail on the head. It says:

It won’t work against patent trolls. Competitors of the Linux-based OSes can put some patents in a troll company, and this kind of patent pooling won’t work, because you cannot countersue.

And what Mr Bergelt is dangerous, since a patent troll with a high quality software patent is much more complicated to invalidate:

“More patents is fine with me, as long as they’re high quality.”

Software cannot be protected by patents, as you always need someone’s else patent to sell or distribute your product. As a software producer, you are always subject to blackmail.

If IBM wants to help more effectively (OIN is not so helpful), then it should empower people’s battle against software patents in the US and Europe, as opposed to giving credence to such patents. We wrote about this before. As this new article suggests, elimination of software patents is a high priority.

[T]he community has to help set a tone of ‘openness’ when working with companies and governments, and encourage these to adopt the same approach. In addition, the community must push for a stable legal system for software – and this includes standing firm against the idea of software patents.

Here is some text which was extracted from the comprehensive new report about Free software [PDF]:

The main threat to FLOSS currently in the area of legislation is software patentability. Software patents make innovation more rigid, reinforce dominant positions, and work against the four freedoms. In the United States, where the principle of software patentability was validated in 1998 by the software law, software patents have generated many costly procedures and trials, and the system actually turns out to be prejudicial to the software industry.

Europe Needs Help

There is a lot of work to be done in Europe. Digital Majority continues to identify new places where the Community patent rears its ugly head. The latest examples are the following four articles:

  1. Pharmaceutical Sector: EC Competition Rules ./. Patent System?
  2. Ministers give green light to Small Business Act
  3. The Small Business Act: a crucial element of Europe’s economic recovery
  4. Commissioner Fígel’: EU must unlock its ‘innovative capacity’

The Community patent is also seeing another window of opportunity, which is dangerous. Here are a couple of new articles about this:

1. EU seen edging towards deal on patents in 2009

A deal on a so-called community patent has long eluded the 27 European Union governments, due to spats over which languages to use and what sort of legal framework was needed.

2. French IP chief confident of European patent breakthrough in 2009, but we’ve heard it all before

As we all now know, the hoped for breakthrough under the French presidency did not happen. The reasons for this are basically those that I have already explained in previous blogs: problems over language and money for the national patent offices. However, Battistelli declared that, although there were still major difficulties to resolve in these two areas, as well as a number of specific technical problems to overcome with regard to the court, the glass was now 80% to 90% full. “I am optimistic that the forthcoming [Czech and Swedish] presidencies can build on this and that there will be good news in 2009,” he said.

One thing that can be tackled is the legitimacy of the reign at the EPO [PDF].

Why do you allow the European Patent Office to control the patent inflation and innovation of the EU, being a foreign institution to the EU?

A few months ago, Richard Stallman wrote that “staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Alison Brimelow

Patent Abusers

In absence of careful quality control and supervision of standards, the world might end up with another Rambus-like ambush, which leads to embargoes. This is neither healthy to development nor to consumers.

Rambus Inc. (RMBS: News ), which develops and licenses chip interface technologies and architectures used in digital electronics products, said Thursday that the U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to its request and instituted a probe regarding alleged infringement of nine of the company’s patents by graphics chip maker NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) and others whose products incorporate the disputed NVIDIA products.

The IEEE continues to mess things up by facilitating patents inside standards. Just in: “IEEE to Set up Patent Pools to Simplify Standards Adoption”

Would it not be better to deny patents in standards altogether, so as to accommodate free (as in Freedom) products? These two things — patents and Freedom — mix together like water and sand [1, 2] and Microsoft, for example, is exploiting this (along with the BSA).

It’s pointed out by the Microsoft-friendly press (Seattle Times) that Microsoft continues hogging and hoarding monopolies on algorithms.

Microsoft received 1,649 U.S. patents in 2007, the most by far of any software company, according to the Patents Scorecard produced by IEEE Spectrum and released this week.

Microsoft wants to fight using patents, but it does not target giants like IBM. It targets smaller companies like Red Hat, Mandriva, and Canonical. IBM is able to change its way if so it desires. It’s time to pick a side.

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

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


  1. G. Michaels said,

    December 8, 2008 at 8:36 pm


    Can you please provide proof that Microsoft has abused a patent?

    I’m not saying they haven’t, but since you included them in the “Patent abusers” section, I figure you have something more meaningful than just your claims of “hoarding”, which AFAIK is mostly for defensive purposes.

    And offtopic (plus to merit my scarlet letter), here’s a comment posted in reply to your nymshifter friend over on Slashdot. I thought it would be nice to share – I doubt he’s going to paste it into your IRC conversation tonight. Food for thought? Personally I think it’s a waste of time but maybe you can convince him to stay on the right track this time and stop disrupting other communities like you claim yours is… although with all these accounts maybe the temptation is too great. Who knows.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  2. andre said,

    December 9, 2008 at 9:34 am


    About the SMB2 licensing: “Microsoft has patents that may cover your implementations of the protocols. Neither this notice nor Microsoft’s delivery of the documentation grants any licenses under those or any other Microsoft patents. However, the protocols may be covered by Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise (available here: http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp). If you would prefer a written license, or if the protocols are not covered by the OSP, patent licenses are available by contacting protocol@microsoft.com.” While the company may not have abused its patents and may inform the public properly about potential problems that may arise if you may want to implement their interoperability portfolio, it clearly has abused the good will of European competition authorities with its insistance on trade secrets covering interface information. Many European competitors still feel ripped off by the American company and the inability of the authorities to enforce their sanctions against a rogue plaintiff that attempts to “outspent” foreign governments. There is a simple solution to the software patent mess and this is reform of substantive patent law including an interoperability priviledge as found 100% consensus in the CII directive.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 9, 2008 at 9:38 am


    Microsoft has already been aiming at embargo (product removal) using their patents.

  4. Gentoo User said,

    December 9, 2008 at 1:10 pm


    “I doubt he’s going to paste it into your IRC conversation tonight. ”

    He did, but he called it an “M$ threat”. A threat.

    Oh, I forget. I’m not supposed to talk about Schestowitz friends, no matter how disruptive they are to other communities. He on the other hand, does not tolerate that and appends red text to my comments because I’m not posting from a Gentoo box. Right.

    Note: comment arrived from a witch hunter that does not even use GNU/Linux.

  5. andre said,

    December 9, 2008 at 7:27 pm


    I use Vista and all ordinary people tell me that I shouldn’t. My operating system is firefox anyway. Move the trash out, install your essential free software portfolio, OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Vuze, VLC, notepad++, pidgin etc and so on… Sorry, I am just to lazy to install another operating system or bios because operating systems are obsolete anyway. Kill the patents and we don’t need the hypocrisy to use alternative installation sources.

  6. G. Michaels said,

    December 9, 2008 at 8:50 pm


    @Andre: Shortly, a few people will descend on here to tell you that you are:

    - Terminally retarded
    - Lying
    - Employed by Microsoft (or “M$”)
    - Not employed by Microsoft, but terminally retarded
    - Lying and retarded.
    - Employed by Microsoft, and lying.
    - Stalking people.
    - A Slashdot user.

    Don’t worry, this is just the way people here advocate free software. If you do ever decide to try Linux, make sure you use other venues, like the Ubuntu mailing lists, which are much friendlier than sites who claim to advocate but spend 99% of their time and bandwidth bashing.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  7. G. Michaels said,

    December 9, 2008 at 8:51 pm


    @Roy, so the answer is no, then. Thanks.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  8. G. Michaels said,

    December 9, 2008 at 8:53 pm


    He did, but he called it an “M$ threat”. A threat.

    And he was probably warned about it so he could post it in IRC.

    Wrap your brain around the mental processes of someone who calls that a threat. Go ahead, I dare you.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  9. stevetheFLY said,

    December 10, 2008 at 3:38 am


    I can see the day when ALL of Roy’s visitors here will have red lines tagging their posts… Well, it’s on honor to be marked out like that on the site of a self-referencing smear-campaigner.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

What Else is New

  1. Links 2/10/2015: Qubes 3.0, Linux.Wifatch

    Links for the day

  2. Microsoft-Connected Firm Net Applications Used to Mislead About Vista 10 Share and Mock GNU/Linux

    People who are connected to Microsoft (some being former staff) link to a firm that is connected to Microsoft in order to create the illusion that Vista 10 market share grew to 6.63%

  3. Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) and EPO Vice-President of DG3 Suspiciously on Unlimited Sick Leave After Benoît Battistelli's Unprecedented Attacks on Other EBoA Staff

    Rumours suggest that Benoît Battistelli's affairs at the EPO may have something to do with Wim Van der Eijk's longterm absence

  4. Microsoft's Secret Special Relationship With EPO Illustrates Serious Corruption at Microsoft and the EPO

    A big story about the EPO and Microsoft working in a sort of collusion-type setup so as to serve Microsoft's patent agenda, which involves aggression, even against European software that is Free (as in freedom)

  5. Links 1/10/2015: LFS 7.8, Calculate Linux 15 Released

    Links for the day

  6. The 'Microsoft Loves Linux' Baloney is Still Being Floated in the Media While Microsoft Attacks Linux With Patents, New Lawsuits Reported

    Despite Microsoft's continued assault on Linux and on Android (using software patents, which it still discreetly lobbies for), some figures in the media are perpetually peddling the Microsoft-serving lie that 'Microsoft loves Linux'

  7. The Microsoft Botnet Goes Bonkers and ATMs Running Windows Spew Out Cash

    The terrible security (by design) of Microsoft Windows is causing all sorts of very serious and collectively expensive issues

  8. Black Duck Continues to Pile FUD on Free/Libre Software

    Having spent nearly a decade promoting the fear of Free software licensing, Black Duck now does the same regarding Free software security<

  9. Links 30/9/2015: New Kernels, Nexus Devices

    Links for the day

  10. Links 28/9/2015: Last News Catchup Before Resumption

    Links for the day

  11. Links 25/9/2015: GNU/Linux in Indian Government, NeoKylin in China

    Links for the day

  12. Süddeutsche Zeitung Explains Imminent Federal Scrutiny Against Battistelli's EPO in Germany

    The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals that actions by the German government may be imminent against the EPO's cliquish management, including its ringleader Benoît Battistelli

  13. EPO Managers, Patent Lawyers, Commissioners and Other Non-Technical Personnel Tackle Democracy, Alter Laws in Bulk and in Secret

    The reckless assault on European democracies and long-established laws across Europe are now lucidly demonstrated when it comes to patents

  14. Europe's Acceptance of and Resistance to Software Patents, Courtesy of Corporate Front Groups and Courtrooms Respectively

    A snapshot of recent developments and upcoming developments in Europe, regarding software patents in particular

  15. German Press Explains EPO Investigation Unit (I.U.), Struggles to Openly Speak to the Secretive EPO

    The secretive Investigation/Investigative Unit (I.U.) of the European Patent Office (EPO) is further studied/explored by a recent article from junge Welt, an old and well-established German newspaper (since 1947)

  16. Links 24/9/2015: GNOME 3.18, Fedora 23 Beta, New Firefox

    Links for the day

  17. Translation Needed of Article About EPO Threats Against SUEPO's Elizabeth Hardon

    A call for translation of an important article that may help shed light on the modus operandi of the Investigation/Investigative Unit of the EPO, which works with Control Risks Group (CRG), the 'British Blackwater'

  18. Media Filled With Spin and Lies Amid Microsoft's Admission of Internal Usage (and Modification) of GNU/Linux

    Further analysis of Microsoft's admission that it uses Linux internally and the media's poorly-researched response to that

  19. EPO Management Justifies Censorship (Even of Journalists) Using Its Vice-President Željko Topić

    The Topić connection to EPO-imposed and universally-induced censorship not just of news sites but also sites which speak about the censorship itself, or dare question the integrity of the EPO's management

  20. Changes at Techrights

    A few short notes on how we are going to re-align the site with disruptive trends, notably patents-related

  21. EPO President Benoît Battistelli Compared to Famous Criminals on European Television

    The Belgian TV network featured a show which was making fun of Battistelli earlier this month

  22. Dutch Politician John Kerstens Says EPO Investigative Unit is Called ‘the Gestapo’

    The infamous Investigation Unit (I.U.), which secretly bullies staff of the EPO with notorious interrogation techniques under virtually no oversight, is described on Dutch radio

  23. The European Patent Office's Autocracy Has Proven the Streisand Effect, Amplifying Its Opposition's Messages

    The management of the European Patent Office (EPO) is still trying to suppress negative messages about managerial failures, violations and abuses, thereby serving to only increase media coverage (newspapers, radio, television) of increasingly well-known and widely-covered scandals

  24. IBM is Again Attacking Free/Libre Open Source Software by Pushing for Patents on Software

    A timely reminder that Big Blue is no true friend of GNU/Linux and other Free software projects, just an opportunist that uses the Linux brand and wants to make the platform a commodity (for servers that run IBM's proprietary software and use IBM-branded hardware)

  25. Windows is Dying, Based on my Conversations With Microsoft Windows Staff

    The arrival of Vista 10 heralds the continuation of a trend that Vista 8 cemented, namely an inevitable demise of Microsoft's common carrier (and formerly cash cow), Windows

  26. Microsoft Claims to Have Built 'Windows' on Top of Linux, But Where is the Source Code (GPL)?

    Microsoft cannot rely on Windows anymore, so it takes GNU/Linux code and puts its own brand on it, without even releasing the changes (as per the GPL's requirements)

  27. Dutch Report: EPO Suicides Possibly Caused by Working Conditions Imposed by EPO's Management

    More press coverage about the terrible situation at the European Patent Office

  28. Links 21/9/2015: Tizen 3.0, Red Hat's Results Coming

    Links for the day

  29. European Patent Office Expands Censorship and Intimidation Against Staff as Pressure Mounts

    The management of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to increase its repressive assaults on EPO staff, essentially blocking access to additional sites which explain what the EPO is really doing and why this is wrong

  30. Patents Roundup: Europe's and India's Software Patents Affair, US Continues to Demote Software Patents With Alice Case

    A roundup of news of interest regarding patents, especially software patents whose impact on Free/Open Source software is exceptionally profound


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