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

12.27.08

The End of an Era (SCO), The Beginning of Another (Microsoft & Patents)

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, SCO, Standard at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents Roundup: Microsoft’s Plan Foiled; News from US, UK and EU

“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO

So, yet another year ends. After almost 5 years in the courtroom, down goes SCO, whose legal death is now being tidied up in Groklaw (that’s why there are no new posts over there). Here are the latest filings.

PJ is obviously having a well deserved break. While she is resting, Groklaw’s timelines are still maintained. To keep you up-to-date, here is a raw summary on the recent filings.

No matter how much money Microsoft allegedly threw at SCO [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], Linux kept growing and the monopolist is now clinging onto software patents, which are softer than copyrights and are incidentally blowing up (c.f. In Re Bilski [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]).

Sadly for Microsoft, almost nothing seems to work for it these days; not much in terms of tangible assets, debt lurking around the corner, and even layoffs, assuming the corroborating rumours are true.

US

Software patents are similar to all that imaginary property which torments the economy at the moment. The ongoing demise of the US economy, mostly due to corruption (aided by deregulation) and greed, affects everyone because nations are more interconnected than they were back in 1929.

“…[E]ven in the United States, software patents have become a tad iffy.”Where do we stand on the issue of patents post the ‘Bilski era’? Well, even in the United States, software patents have become a tad iffy [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19]. They can more easily be challenged or altogether blocked.

Regarding patents-encumbered ‘standards’ like OOXML, to exemplify the problem we last wrote about Rambus in [ref 5586 this post] where Andy Updegrove was referenced. He currently has an update on the subject.

19 Standards Orgs. – and Over 13,300 Members – Support Rambus Brief

Yesterday I filed a pro bono amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Federal Trade Commission’s petition for writ of certiorari in its suit against Rambus Technologies. I’m pleased to report that 19 standard setting organizations (SSOs), representing over 13,300 members, joined as amici curiae supporting this brief; the list of participants appears later in this blog entry. As noted in the brief itself, these SSOs:

…represent a broad range of SSOs that participate in the standard setting process, and each is greatly concerned by the adverse effects that it anticipates will result from the [lower court reversal of the FTC's sanctions of Rambus]. Those effects will reach virtually all aspects of modern society, commerce, education and government, because all of these interests rely heavily upon the efficient development and broad adoption of standards by the private sector.

[...]

More specifically, amici curiae wish to acquaint the Court with the following facts, as developed in greater detail in the arguments that follow:

[...]

4. SSOs adopt IPR policies that are intended to identify patent claims that would be “necessarily infringed” by an implementation of a standard under development, and to ensure that such “necessary claims” will be made available to all would-be implementers under at least RAND terms. Absent such knowledge and commitments, a patent owner may gain a degree of monopoly power over the implementation of a standard that can be greatly abused, to the detrime

According to the wording, IBM is against patent ambushes in standards, but the Linux Foundation, which employs Updegrove, uses “RAND” in this letter. They ought to put forth an open letter saying, “please define RAND”. Jim Zemlin (also of the Linux Foundation) gave an interesting answer in this very recent interview:

Q10 — So is there nothing that can stop the Tux juggernaut? No legal threat or other doomsday scenario lurking in the wings?

A10 — [Jim Zemlin:] I don’t think there’s anything to slow it in the near future. Certainly, it could slow over a long period of time if Linux was unable to innovate, but there’s no sign of that. The other potential problem is the lack of skilled labor. That’s why we’re trying to run LF events that offer training programs. Labor is going to be the big bottleneck for these companies using Linux. If you are an engineer who was recently laid off, I would go learn Linux. There is no shortage of jobs for Linux developers.

What to make of it? He does not talk about patents. We need to research this a little bit further, as we already have to an extent. “So it probably means that he does not clearly see it as a threat. Maybe because IBM is behind Linux Foundation software patent policy. Look for all patent related stuff on Linux Foundation, you will quickly understand,” said one of our readers and informants.

Well, we already know that they are not exactly a foe of intellectual monopolies. The Linux Foundation’s policy on patents is similar to IBM’s, but they rarely say this out publicly. Their funding sources, after all, are big fans of this monopolistic agenda, never mind if it’s contradictory to notions of freedom and equality. This does not embody the principles of Free software either, but they consistently say “open source” to distance themselves from GNU.

“This idea of self-centered paths harms programmers, who already have copyrights.”Speaking of IBM, we’re almost pleased to see that former IBMer Irving Wladawsky-Berger will be advising the new administration because he stood behind GNU/Linux, but we truthfully hope that he has changed his mind about software patents since 2005 when he wrote about it [1, 2]. This idea of self-centered paths harms programmers, who already have copyrights.

OIN mailed me, offering the opportunity to do an interview with their CEO. They happily accepted the questions, which were bold enough to dig down into the challenges rather than blindly praise OIN. The interviewees typically do not like this. They prefer ‘promotional’ interviews (Glyn Moody opposes such conformist passivity). Anyway, for future reference, here are those questions that OIN decided it could not address:

1. OIN has already attracted some fairly large companies that contributed their patent portfolios. Do you foresee more large companies joining?

2. What is OIN’s interpretation of the decision reached in the re Bilski case and how does it apply to software patents?

3. What do you consider to be a high quality software patent and how is it different from any other business method patent? How many of the world’s software patents are high quality?

4. Do you believe that software patents should be extended or limited in terms of scope?

5. Is it fair to say that OIN’s aspiration is not to have software patents eliminated altogether?

6. Richard Stallman once said, “fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria.” What is your take on such point of view?

7. How would OIN respond to companies which choose litigation or licensing but do not have any products that require them to cross-license?

8. The firm Intellectual Ventures was founded by a former Microsoft executive with Microsoft assistance. How can OIN respond to threat from Intellectual Ventures, given that the company has no concrete products and is hostile to GNU/Linux?

9. OIN stepped up to the defence when Microsoft threatened GNU/Linux in May 2007. Jim Zemlin of the Linux foundations explicitly mentioned OIN’s role in a memorable article that he published in Business Week. A year and half later the threats remain, as they were never retracted. Can OIN respond proactively as opposed to defensibly in order to reduce the effect of fear, uncertainty and doubt that still linger?

10. If a situation arises where a project that OIN covers get forked, will the protection be extended to this fork?

11. One common criticism of OIN is that it legitimises software patents whereas other groups challenge the validity of this class of patent. How do you respond to critics who insist on the latter route to challenging threats?

12. The cost associated with acquiring patents is too high for some small businesses to afford and OIN does not protect Free/open source software projects beyond Linux. Is it possible that scope of protection will change in the future?

13. Do you think the new US administration will change anything regarding patents and enforcement?

Just for the record, we were never huge fans of OIN’s “Linux Defenders” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], so it makes OIN view us as slightly hostile.

UK

As mentioned the other day, although with less certainty, the UK-IPO is not really moved by what happened with Symbian a few months back, so it will continue to reject software patents as a matter of policy (practice is an entirely different matter).

We kick off this week with the news from Out-law that the UK IPO has announced it will not be revising its approach on software patents in the light of the findings of the Symbian case. The announcement comes after UK IPO’s decision to deny a patent to Symbian was overturned on appeal back in October in a judgment many took to be critical of the UK IPO’s approach. The decision has drawn criticism from the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, who claim the current guidance creates uncertainty for patent applicants.

There is also this report from South Africa, where Microsoft is violating patent laws.

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will still use a previously formulated test on software patents despite a court ruling which many took to be critical of its approach.

[...]

The judge in the case, Lord Neuberger, did not follow the process set out by the IPO, which was derived from cases involving Aerotel and Neal Macrossan, but the process set out in an earlier judgment, in a case involving Vicom. Many observers saw the ruling as a rejection of the IPO’s previous methods of judging software patent claims.

The petition to prevent software patents from invading Europe is gaining new traction, whereas in the UK there is still this disproportional obsession with intellectual monopolies, which are enforced quite unnecessarily using taxpayers’ money.

Software copyright inspection powers used for first time

[...]

The Government pledged £5 million of new money to help the existing 4,500 Trading Standards officers to undertake their new duties.

Free software would be a better and more economic solution. It ‘solves’ this problem.

EU

Software patents are not the only menace to be reckoned with. The ACTA, which we wrote about quite extensively [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17], is becoming a little less secretive right now, so FFII has obtained a copy of this video where the ACTA is being discussed (in Europe). “The problem is that each time they talk about “counterfeiting” and “piracy”, it applies to patent infringements,” says Benjamin from FFII. Maybe they long for some more Sisvel combatants [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], who will be running around with guns to ‘fight’ blokes who sell portable music players.

What type of ‘precious’ patents are they talking about (or ‘protecting’) anyway? Let us turn to the news and find this one-man company — possibly a patent troll/opportunist — suing and extorting money out of giants

Mangosoft Inc. has settled a patent lawsuit for $2.3 million with Skype Software and eBay.

The settlement, while sizable for a one man company down to its last $500,000 in assets, is a small percentage of its accumulated deficit – the $90 million stockholders have invested in the Nashua company.

[...]

It has invested most of its resources on litigation with software giants.

The company originally filed suit in Concord against Oracle in 2002 for patent infringement, but it was thrown out by the U.S. District Court in March 2007. That decision was upheld in the Court of Appeals on May 14.

There are similar new examples.

Will a meltdown be needed to make people realise that software patents are a bubble created by mankind?

“There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.” —Bertrand Russell

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

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. Why We Care About (Mis)Use of Language in Technology

    Software development communities are being divided over issues that would likely not tackle actual racism in any meaningful and profound way (just a symbolic way)



  2. Links 12/7/2020: KF6 Progress Report, GNUnet 0.13.1, Nano Becomes Default Terminal Text Editor in Fedora

    Links for the day



  3. They Always Worked for Microsoft (Directly and Indirectly) and Were Financially Rewarded for That

    Nat and Miguel, now put in charge of new weapons against software freedom (e.g. GitHub and NPM), have long worked for Microsoft (Nat was also an intern there); Techrights was right all along about this pair



  4. Red Hat Betrayed the Free Software Community With Its Software Patents' Stockpiling Drive and Then a Sale to the Biggest Software Patents Lobbyist

    In 2020 Red Hat is little but a shadow of IBM, whose patent policy continues to threaten software freedom and whose lobbying for software patents (under the guise of "HEY HI") persists uninterrupted; this growing problem oughtn't be unspeakable



  5. Politically Correct Tech

    This new video entitled “Politically Correct Tech” covers a topic we’ve spoken a great deal about



  6. [Humour/Meme] High on Production, Stoned on Pseudoscience

    All-time high ‘production’ levels at the European Patent Office (EPO) do not mean what they want people to think and what they try hard to hide



  7. Missing From EPO Management: Actual Scientists

    Political figures and opportunists with connections occupy top positions at top European agencies; this assures self-destructive policies that diminish progress and cushion corruption



  8. All Software Should Come With a Cheat Mode

    Cheat modes are useful for developers because they enable debugging, and are sometimes called "Debug mode"



  9. Linus Torvalds Checks If It's Still Inclusive Enough to 'Bash' Bad Technology (of the Company Whose TPM Pusher Has Just Successfully Pushed to Remove Many Words)

    In the age of endless control of language (e.g. large corporations pushing for "inclusive" language whilst earning billions from bombing of 'inferior' countries) we see that it is still possible to condemn corporations on technical grounds (at least if you’re Linus Torvalds)



  10. Even Before Microsoft Paid ('Joined') the Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin Had a Preference for Microsofters

    Even years before the Linux Foundation was receiving money from Microsoft it had a tendency to hire Microsoft’s people for key positions (a lot of people no longer remember that, but it’s still in the public record; it was Jim Zemlin who approached if not chased Mr. Ramji to offer him the job and the colleagues saw no problem with that)



  11. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 11, 2020

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 11, 2020



  12. Links 12/7/2020: KDE Plasma 5.20 Preview and Elive 3.8.14 Beta

    Links for the day



  13. [Humour] The 'Orange One' Does Not Respect Judges Either

    More than two years after taking over the European Patent Office (EPO) António Campinos has done absolutely nothing to restore judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO



  14. The Systemd Song

    Speak out about IBM's strategy before we're all using GNU/Linux distros 'barcoded' with systemd



  15. Monopoly (or Vendor Lock-in) is Not Modularity

    IBM cannot totally control the kernel, Linux; IBM's control over GNU/Linux may be worth even more than what it paid for Red Hat as that's the key to overpriced support contracts and the general direction of development (important trends such as file systems and various low-level stacks)



  16. The Internet Archive Doesn't Forget, Whereas the Internet and the Web Forget Very Fast

    World Wide Web history is grossly undervalued and preservation of such history (e.g. by the Wayback Machine) is taken for granted by far too many people; the robber barons of today benefit the most from erosion of collective memory as they get to rewrite the past to suit their present and future interests



  17. Environmentalism and Free Software Can be Viewed as Closely Connected and Help One Another

    Modest lifestyles are an overlapping pattern in the Free software community and green activists; there's room for alliances and collaboration, bettering society by reducing consumption and discouraging voyeurism



  18. Free (as in Freedom) Software + Social Control Media ≠ Free Speech

    Speaking through middlemen and private platforms is bad enough (that gives others unjust power over speech); to claim that because the underlying platform is free/libre software it therefore becomes a non-issue is also dishonest



  19. António Campinos: President or Quasi-Autocratic Corporate Puppet?

    The culture of oppression — and censorship of evidence of oppression — is what today’s EPO is all about; the EPO learned how to better avoid (or block) negative publicity without actually changing its ways; and due to unprecedented speech restrictions you won’t hear that from SUEPO



  20. The Media Continues to Ignore Corruption of António Campinos

    António Campinos has Croatian scandals on his lap; the obedient media, however, refuses to even talk about it (or uses COVID as an excuse to write nothing on the subject, as some journalists have told us)



  21. A Call for Patent Sanity

    The public's call for reform is motivated by improved understanding of today's debased patent system and how out-of-order (detached from its original mission statement) it has gotten; patent maximalism, if it does not completely unravel this whole system, severely discredits it



  22. Declassified US Army Field Manuals Explain Microsoft's Public Relations Strategy (Similar to Selling Imperialism to the Occupied)

    The misuse of public broadcast to brainwash the public is well understood and thoroughly exploited by both Microsoft and the Gates Foundation (which sells this ridiculous lie that the world’s richest people speak for and fight for the poorest, i.e. those impoverished by endless greed)



  23. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 10, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, July 10, 2020



  24. Links 11/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Openbox, Kiwi TCMS 8.5, Librem 5 Dogwood Update 3

    Links for the day



  25. Education Without Free Software is Training or Indoctrination

    Kids need to decide for themselves what they want to do and what they wish to use when they grow up; schools need to provide general tools and the mental capacity to make good decisions (rather than make these decisions for the kids, sometimes at the behest of foreign monopolists)



  26. Links 10/7/2020: Wayland-Info, diffoscope 151 and Tor 0.4.4.2-alpha

    Links for the day



  27. European FRAND (Related to SEP) Proponent and Famed Programmer Comes to Realise That It's Actually a “Scam”

    Even people who have long promoted the practice of mandatory "licensing" (in effect patent tax one is unable to work around) are apparently changing their minds and their tune



  28. Not Even a Single Corporate Journalist Has Written Anything About These Very Important Bits of News (Updated)

    Constant propaganda from patent maximalists has long infested the media, which is sometimes controlled and even bribed to set the tone and the agenda; important developments are being tucked away and require very deep digging for ordinary citizens to find



  29. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 09, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, July 09, 2020



  30. Racism in Technology (and Who Typically Lectures Us About the Subject)

    Racism is a real problem; some approaches to tackling racism, however, can also be problematic and those who take the lead 'on behalf' of victims tend to be opportunistic and privileged few (piggybacking others' grievances to further advance their financial agenda)


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