12.10.08

Economics, Trolls, and Software Patentability Revisited

Posted in Finance, IBM, OIN, Patents at 1:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents Versus Economics or Patents Versus the Economy?

THIS is a continuing discussion about the patent crisis and what can be done to end it (end the broken system to end the crisis). Digital Majority found this new academic paper which explores the economic effects that patents in general may have, so it’s worth a look.

Today one of the most controversial issues in economic policy is that of patent law. Is a patent just an extension of property rights to the realm of ideas? Or is it an unwarranted interference by the government into the rights of individuals who have purchased goods and services to use them as they see fit? Should the Western system of patents be extended worldwide? Or should we get rid of patents entirely? Is the patent system responsible for modern miracle drugs? Or is it to blame for the millions dying of HIV in Africa? Do patents lead to greater innovation and economic growth? Or do they kill the goose that lays the golden egg?

[...]

Even the modern controversy over the current effort of the Free Software Foundation to limit software patents through the General Public License Version 3 finds reflection in the earlier Cornwall experience. Familiar with the negative impact of the Watt patents on innovation, Cornwall mine engineers were reluctant to patent their inventions. From 1781 to 1852 Cornish residents took out a grand total of 15 patents on steam technology—against 994 patents on steam technology in all of England during that period. Will it surprise you to learn that the area with the fewest patents also was the area that contributed the most to the innovation and development of steam technology?

Companies are clearly complaining about the patent system, which is increasingly abused. Even large companies like Cisco are among the complainers.

Later in the day, the chief judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over all patent appeals, said that neither Congress nor the executive branch should be actively involved in overhauling intellectual property.

[...]

Cisco Vice President Mallun Yen said that the number of patent lawsuits against the company has quadrupled over the past five years. “The patent system overvalues patents, particularly weak ones, and thereby suppresses innovation,” she said.

Yen disagreed with Peter N Detkin, founder and vice chairman of Intellectual Ventures, who attempted to recast the patent debate as one between big players, like Cisco and IBM, against individual inventors.

[...]

All panellists agreed, however, that the global patent marketplace had changed considerably since 2002-2003, in particular by the trend that Intellectual Ventures had pioneered by seeking to make the marketplace for patents more liquid. The panellists also agreed that more data about private licensing of intellectual property is necessary to help make the marketplace friction-free.

So Microsoft "pioneered" massive-scale trolling? Where can it pick up the trophy?

Linux Defenders Revisited

In this previous post about OIN and Linux Defenders (aka “let the little people play games and offer free labour to big corporations”), we covered some of the more glaring issues with the chosen approach. Here is the welcoming page and an associated page in OIN’s Web site.

OIN is actively seeking to address problems that arise from patent trolls and industrial companies whose business models and
behaviors are antagonistic to Linux and true innovation. If your company is being victimized by any entity seeking to assert its
patent portfolio against Linux, please contact us so that we can aid you in your battle with these dark forces.

Yes, it says “dark forces” and shows an image only to be associated with children’s cartoons. This is so corny that it’s hardly even funny. It also requires the proprietary Flash plug-in. They market this thing as an anti-Microsoft initiative [1, 2].

IBM could assist more effectively by fighting software patents as a whole, but it relies too heavily on imaginary property that keeps its investors hopeful yet deluded.

There is a page in FFII’s Web site which explains why IBM’s approach is flawed. Basically, patent trolls are the key issue, the question of software patentability to be left aside.

Microsoft can ‘proxify’ its patents (hand them over to an aggressor) and harass Linux via a this proxy. There is nothing that OIN can do about it other than to denounce the system or the legitimacy of patents, including its own (Novell, by the way, is among the members of OIN).

It is very surprising that the SFLC supports this initiative [3] because they should invest their money in building a coalition against software patents, not waste their time trying to “finding prior art” in binary code.

___
1. Consortium launches ‘LinuxDefenders’

“Our activities by their very nature are a deterrent to Microsoft or any other company to engage in hostile action or rhetoric,” he said. “We didn’t acquire our existing patent portfolio by accident.”

2. Linux, Open Source Get Patent Protection Program

“The open source community is getting an IP rights tool that will limit distractions created from organizations that like to play the FUD [fear, uncertainty, doubt] game,” he said. “We enthusiastically encourage the Linux and open source communities to contribute to Linux Defenders.”

3. Web site launched to safeguard against patent trolls

I guess the concern of patent trolling gives these companies a common enemy. The Linux Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center are co-sponsoring this as well.

Piggy bank OIN

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6 Comments

  1. G. Michaels said,

    December 10, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, it says “dark forces” and shows an image only to be associated with children’s cartoons. This is so corny that it’s hardly even funny.

    I’m sorry – did you just criticize another website for using over the top terminology and corny images?

    Have you read or looked at your own blog lately?

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

  2. mike said,

    December 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Gravatar

    That linux defenders thing just seems pointless – you can’t beat the system one at a time.

    All patents are really the issue, software patents are just more visible (more people understand software), easier to get, and more over-valued, but all patenting adds costs to consumers and reduces innovation. But unfortunately the law-makers are controlled by money, and `IP’ is big business for the US, so nothing will change – if not get worse as the US tries to shore up and protect itself from it’s own corruption.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 10, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Gravatar

    One reasonable theory is that the United States will accumulate “IP” and then trade this with other countries that are exploitable. For example, a scenario might go like this:

    Give us your oil and minerals and in return you shall have access to our protected “IP”, which means you can implement and use the progress bar [1], the tabbed browser, and receive life-saving drugs that cost just a penny to make.
    ___
    [1] http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18524911.200-bar-to-progress.html

  4. oiaohm said,

    December 10, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Gravatar

    “Defensive Publishing” has a major difference to prior art. Defensive Publishing in most IP systems must be searched before taking out a patent. Failing to search it you can be fined even force to pay back all legal costs in any attempt to enforce your patent. It is as bad as overlapping with another patent. Reason “Defensive Publishing” is exactly the same as an expired patent legally.

    Prior art you can simply claim that you did not know of it and walk way never paying costs. This could be years of court time. Proxy want to cause havoc is going to love fighting over if or if not Prior art is valid questioning time stamps anything to delay it if they don’t care about there own death. Look at the SCO case.

    Defensive Publishing has at least 1 date in solid stone. The date it was Published. So if a patent was issues latter than that the patent holder is screwed. Problem with prior art fight to remove patents they end up in Defensive Publishing storage anyhow without good descriptions.

    At min a full blown Defensive Publishing document should be produced every time prior art is used to destroy a patent. So that prior art is on the recorded correctly.

    Proxify patents is an really dangerous thing. If it ever gets linked up you are dead.

    If you read the Linux Defenders leads point of view he will help Open Source developers to take out Patents and Defensive Publishing.

    If Linux Defenders forms into Linux Patent arm really it could become a large problem.

    Trolls will always exist in the patent system Defensive Publishing slows them down.

    Trolls are not Linux’s only issue Mpeg patents and others are also an major issue.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 10, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Gravatar

    The patenter makes a huge difference. To attack Free software is to anger many people and the holder(s) of MPEG patents does not suffer from GNU/Linux as much as some company in the northwest of the U.S. of [A]lmighty Software Patents.

    By the way, is that you? Regardless, welcome to the site.

  6. oiaohm said,

    December 10, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Gravatar

    I forgot to mention the evil trap of Defensive Publishing IBM uses. And I do mean evil if someone thinks about putting a patent on top of them.

    Number 1 a Defensive Publishing does not have to be like a patent that says all patents that it is based from.

    So IBM registers a patent then registers 30 Defensive Publishings.

    If you make the bad mistake of using one of IBM Defensive Publishings as a base to a new patent you have just screwed up you patent application by not including the prior patent. Also lot of cases not having an license to use the IBM patent either. It the IBM barbwire patent method.

    Defensive Publishing with hidden patents really does cause trolls head aches. Idea that Defensive documents are wise to check is really foolish particularly if IBM starts doing there normal Defensive Publishings threw the Linux Defenders what one is a land mine. IBM head of IP transfered to the project kinda suggests traps will be placed for trolls trying to make new patents.

    Yes lots of cases the is a IBM SUN or someone else patent that an open source Defensive document will be sitting on top of.

    Yes same oiaohm. There is only one of me. Yes he found my real name I don’t hide it. I just like my handle more. Yes it does have meaning. I am not Linux Hater or Linux Hater Redux. More a person who has pulled them apart both there ideas. I have started my own battle ground because I am sick of the Myths around IT. I class Linux Hater Redux as left the building because his blog is locked from posting any new posts.

    Dyslexia has kept me out the document writing game. If you follow my real world name you will see I have been around the open source world in different mailing lists and forums since 1995. oiaohm is my handle since 2001. First handle I found that is unique and I am sticking to it.

    Reason I class Linux Hater Redux as left the building the blog is no longer taking new posts.

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