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

01.15.09

Patents Roundup: Software Patents vs. Microsoft, Novell (And Others)

Posted in Africa, Europe, Free/Libre Software, IBM, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Standard, Videos at 1:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest in India

Software Patents vs. Microsoft, Novell

IN A CASE that we mentioned at the end of last week, Novell and Microsoft were among those sued by a patent troll. There is lots more information about it out there and Ars Technica offers decent coverage.

Microsoft, Symantec, and 20 other companies have been sued by a small Texas firm for patent infringement. The firm was granted patents in the mid-’90s over systems for governing application and data permissions, as well as ensuring application integrity, and is now seeking to bar the companies from making use of the patents. And some monetary damages would be nice, too.

The firm, Information Protection and Authentication of Texas (IPAT), owns two patents cited in its complaint, the latest of which is US patent 5,412,717, which was filed in May 1992 and granted on May 2, 1995. This is a continuation of a previous patent, US number 5,311,591, granted in May, 1994.

Here is some more information.

A Texas company has filed a patent infringement suit against 22 companies for violating patents issued in the mid-1990s regarding application integrity and security.

Two more cases of patent litigation have just cropped up:

1. Backup firm sues Intel, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Acer…

A computer backup recovery firm claims Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, and others have aped its patent for quickly restoring a PC after data corruption.

2. Yahoo’s Flickr.com Infringes Patent: IconFind

Law360, New York (January 14, 2009) — Yahoo Inc. is being sued for using technology in its online photo-sharing service that is allegedly protected by a patent belonging to IconFind Inc.

South Africa

An SA-based publication, ITWeb, has a series of articles on software patents and whether software should be patentable.

Application software, which is what most people think of first when the word software is mentioned, is commonly written using advanced programming software tools, which ease the task of converting a desired function into code. High-level human-readable code, whether produced in this way or written directly in a programming language, is known as source code and can be analysed by software programmers to understand the techniques used in the software. The source code must be compiled (converted to machine code) or interpreted to be run on a computer.

Microsoft is already breaking the (patent) law in South Africa. It’s similar to what it does in India [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] along with its embattled close partners. They besiege the local population, in this case by depriving them of access to knowledge and its application.

Europe

Digital Majority has found this older, yet valuable, pointer to the UK-IPO situation.

The Intellectual Property Office had previously recognized inventions that either solve technical problems external to a computer or solve “a technical problem within the computer” as potentially patentable inventions. The sea change of Symbian is that

“improving the operation of a computer by solving a problem arising from the way the computer was programmed – for example, a tendency to crash due to conflicting library program calls – can also be regarded as solving “a technical problem within the computer” if it leads to a more reliable computer. Thus, a program that results in a computer running faster or more reliably may be considered to provide a technical contribution even if the invention solely addresses a problem in the programming.”

This is a subject that we initially covered in [1, 2] and to a lesser extent also explored in [1, 2].

The Microsoft pressure group known as ACT [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] is meanwhile peddling a back door to software patents in Europe. The FFII’s president delivered the following public talk.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

The folks at OS/2 world are protesting against software patents in Europe and encouraging those who have not yet signed the petition to do so now.

All software patents I have read so far are worthless. Yet the government approved monopoly.
Especially when you live in Europe sign this petition:

http://stopsoftwarepatents.eu/

Yesterday we wrote about the complaints from TomTom's CEO. Here are some more.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

There was a lot more to see in this event. “The worst are the answer from the Commission and Alcatel people,” says Benjamin from FFII, who watched it quite closely.

In Re Bilski

It may seem like old news really [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14], but it’s not [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19]. This crucial court ruling is continuing to tear software patents apart. Here are several new examples from the Web:

1. Microsoft Seeks Pay-As-You-Go Computer Patent

I cannot see how this invention is one that ought to be patentable, particularly given the recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in In re Bilski, which dealt a significant blow to the patentability of software and computer processes. Those familiar with the Bilski decision will recall that the Federal Circuit has now required that in order to protect software and computer processes we revert to what was done before the State Street decision, which is to focus on the machine and treating software as if it is not the invention but to patent the machine itself that has unique functionality thanks to some black magic provided by the unpatentable product (i.e., software) whose name cannot be uttered. In truth, many patent practitioners were never quite comfortable with State Street and have been doing this all along to cover the bases, but for those clients who wanted cheap software patents rather than paying $25,000+ for an application, Bilski pretty much killed your patents and applications, but I digress.

2. Another bubble ready to burst!

Sadly most of our thinking around legal protection of knowledge has been “derivative” in nature, a shoddy cut and paste job from the “mature IP systems” of the West. However, as the Bilski case shows, even these “mature IP systems” are having second thoughts on how they treat knowledge, or in this specific case, software patents. As I have argued in my previous blog entry, “The Practical Problem with Software Patents,” the litigation-ridden path followed by US in granting software and business method patents is something we must avoid at all costs.

3. NPEs and Abstract Patents

For a process to be patentable, it must involve a physical transformation to a different state or thing, or must be tied to a particular machine.

What does that mean? The court gave examples indicating that software would be patentable if it represented physical objects undergoing physical transformation. However, it expressly reserved judgment on the alternative test: whether a general-purpose computer was “a particular machine.” If so, of course, all software processes would be patentable.

Not the brightest of lines, but the court didn’t flinch from trying to draw one, despite arguments that patent lawyers would manage to circumvent any court-imposed limitations. The Bilski decision leaves a lot up in the air, but it affirms that judges will draw limits, even around patentable subject matter, and it offers a modest deflating of the patent bubble. It eliminates some of the worst excesses spawned by State Street without provoking a backlash. And it has breathed new life into public debate of where the limits should be. For those who care about how and where the line should be drawn, some colleagues and I have organized a conference at the Brookings Institution on January 14, the Limits of Abstract Patents in an Intangible Economy.

Just as the debate has come alive in the U.S., it has also resurfaced in Europe three years after a proposed directive on software patents went down to defeat in the European Parliament. The President of the European Patent Office has asked the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeals to answer four questions about the patentability of computer programs. The European Patent Convention has always specifically precluded patents on certain abstract processes, including computer programs and business methods, but then in the next section it says that these exclusions only apply to computer programs, etc. “as such.” So decades have been spent trying to figure out what “as such” really means and what kind of “technical” contribution is needed to pass muster.

Although IBM deserves some credit for the Bilski ruling, it continues to support software patents. Rather than end this bubble, its employees continue to be its biggest feeder.

For the 16th year in a row, IBM has topped the annual list of patent-happy American tech companies. The list tanks high-tech vendors by the number of patents they were awarded in the United States over the previous year.

This is also covered here, here, and here

On the upside, IBM does not really intend to attack — neither by words nor action — Free software. This differentiates it from abrasive companies like Microsoft whose profitable products are rarely physical.

Gavin Baker offers some live blogging from a US-based event, TACD IP (Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue in Washington, DC), where patents are at times being criticised as well.

Rambus

The vicious company known as Rambus is responsible for patent ambush that got the wrath of the European Commission too. We covered the Rambus situation on several occasions last month [1, 2] and the company is losing it.

Rambus, a designer of high-speed memory chips, may not use 12 of its patents to demand royalties from Micron Technology, a federal judge ruled. Judge Sue L. Robinson of United States District Court in Wilmington, Del., said the patents were unenforceable because Rambus destroyed documents, and called Rambus’s conduct “obstructive at best, misleading at worst.”

The AAI filed amicus brief re: Rambus and here is another opinion on this matter.

Patent misuse (or abuse) does not always pay off.

Intellectual Monopolies in General

There are many more interesting stories that we haven’t the time to cover properly. Here are some of the better ones:

1. Keeping the Czechs in Check

[Via Google Translate: The Czech EU presidency has opted for the next six months also in the areas of ICT and Citizens' lot. As regards the protection of "intellectual property" and the reorganization of the EU telecommunications market to the Czechs on the preparatory work of the French build.

The EU has 2009 at the European Year of Creativity exclaimed. That it will also ensure the protection of "intellectual property" goes, goes without saying

Thus, the Czech EU presidency in their list of priorities for the coming six months, under the item "Removal of trade barriers", the controversial anti-Piratierie ACTA agreement, which is currently behind closed doors of the EU Commission, U.S. negotiators and representatives of other major industrialized countries will be negotiated.]

More on the ACTA in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18].

2. Can’t Compete? Sue For Patent Infringement!

It happens over and over again… if you can’t innovate to compete, why not litigate to compete? Broadband Reports points out that Charter Communications is now suing Verizon for patent infringement relating to Verizon’s FiOS fiber optic internet connections.

3. US ITC Initiates LCD Screen Patent Investigation

O2′s complaint accuses the five companies of importing products containing LCD (liquid crystal display) screens that violate a series of patents owned by the company, the ITC said in a news release.

4. Can You Trademark Awareness Of A Disease?

BoingBoing has the latest story of trademark insanity, where a “charity” focused on the rare, but apparently serious disease of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), is trying to trademark the phrase “Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness” and appears to be threatening other charities for using the phrase, and (according to this petition) has filed complaints to get fundraising stores shut down for using the phrase

The more “intellectual” human kind gets, the more insidious it seems.

“Let me make my position on the patentability of software clear. I believe that software per se should not be allowed patent protection. […] We take this position because it is the best policy for maintaining a healthy software industry, where innovation can prosper.” —Douglas Brotz, Adobe Systems, Inc.

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

What Else is New


  1. Links 19/2/2017: GParted 0.28.1, LibreOffice Donations Record

    Links for the day



  2. The EPO is Becoming an Embarrassment to Europe and a Growing Threat to the European Union

    The increasingly pathetic moves by Battistelli and the ever-declining image/status of the EPO (only 0% of polled stakeholders approve Battistelli's management) is causing damage to the reputation of the European Union, even if the EPO is not a European Union organ but an international one



  3. Patent Misconceptions Promoted by the Patent Meta-Industry

    Cherry-picking one's way into the perception of patent eligibility for software and the misguided belief that without patents there will be no innovation



  4. As the United States Shuts Its Door on Low-Quality Patents the Patent Trolls Move to Asia

    Disintegration of Intellectual Ventures (further shrinkage after losing software patents at CAFC), China's massive patent bubble, and Singapore's implicit invitation/facilitation of patent trolls (bubble economy)



  5. Links 17/2/2017: Wine 2.2, New Ubuntu LTS

    Links for the day



  6. Bad Advice From Mintz Levin and Bejin Bieneman PLC Would Have People Believe That Software Patents Are Still Worth Pursuing

    The latest examples of misleading articles which, in spite of the avalanche of software patents in the United States, continue to promote these



  7. Patents Are Not Property, They Are a Monopoly, and They Are Not Owned But Temporarily Granted

    Patent maximalism and distortion of concepts associated with patents tackled again, for terminology is being hijacked by those who turned patents into their "milking cows"



  8. SoftBank Group, New Owner of ARM, Could Potentially Become (in Part) a Patent Troll or an Aggressor Like Qualcomm

    SoftBank grabbed headlines (in the West at least) when it bought ARM, but will it soon grab headlines for going after practicing companies using a bunch of patents that it got from Inventergy, ARM, and beyond?



  9. Technicolor, Having Turned Into a Patent Troll, Attacks Android/Tizen/Linux With Patents in Europe

    Technicolor, which a lot of the media portrayed as a patent troll in previous years (especially after it had sued Apple, HTC and Samsung), is now taking action against Samsung in Europe (Paris, Dusseldorf and Mannheim)



  10. Michelle Lee is Still “in Charge” of the US Patent System

    Contrary to a malicious whispering campaign against Lee (a coup attempt, courtesy of patent maximalists who make a living from mass litigation), she is still in charge of the USPTO



  11. Our Assessment: EPO Wants a Lot of Low-Quality Patents and Low-Paid Staff With UPC (Prosecution Galore)

    The European Patent Office seems to be less interested in examination and more interested in facilitating overzealous prosecution all across Europe and beyond; The Administrative Council has shown no signs that it is interested in profound changes, except those proposed by Battistelli in the face of growing resistance from staff and from ordinary stakeholders



  12. Links 16/2/2017: HITMAN for GNU/Linux, Go 1.8

    Links for the day



  13. Yet More Complaints About the European Patent Office in the Bavarian Regional Government

    Some German politicians do care about the welfare of EPO staff, a lot more so than the EPO's management that is actively crushing this staff



  14. EPO Staff Representatives to Escalate Complaint About Severe Injustices to the EPO's Secretive Board 28

    In a new letter to President Benoît Battistelli it is made abundantly apparent -- however politely -- that Battistelli's gross abuses could further complicate things for Battistelli, who is already embroiled in a fight with his predecessor, Roland Grossenbacher



  15. New Survey Reveals That High Patent Quality, or Elimination of Bad Patents, is Desirable to Patent Holders

    A new survey from Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA reveals that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which still grows in prominence, is supported by people who have themselves gotten patents (not those who are in the bureaucracy of patents and self-serving politics)



  16. Open Patent Office is Not the Solution; Ending Software Patents is the Solution

    Our remarks about the goals and methods of the newly-established Open Patent Office and what is instead needed in order to combat the menace that threatens software development



  17. New Scholarly Paper Says “UK’s Withdrawal From the EU Could Mean That the Entire (Unitary Patent) System Will Not Go Into Effect”

    A paper from academics -- not from the patent microcosm (for a change) -- provides a more sobering interpretation, suggesting quite rightly that the UPC can't happen in the UK (or in Europe), or simply not endure if some front groups such as CIPA somehow managed to bamboozle politicians into it (ratification in haste, before the facts are known)



  18. Patent Trolls Update: Rodney Gilstrap Maintains His Support for Trolls, MPEG-LA Goes Hunting in China, and Blackberry Hits Nokia

    A roundup of the latest news about patent trolls and what they are up to in the United States, Europe, and Asia



  19. Guest Post: EPO, an Idyllic Place to Work

    The true face of the EPO as explained by an insider, recalling the history that led to the negative image and toxic work atmosphere



  20. Links 15/2/2017: Linux 4.9.10 and Linux 4.4.49

    Links for the day



  21. Claude Rouiller (ILOAT) and ILO Rulings Effectively Disregarded by the European Patent Office

    The compositions of kangaroo courts at the EPO continue to be absurd, in spite of a ruling from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which insisted that change must be made following a lot of mistrials



  22. National Law Journal Believes That Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice Would be Opponent of Patent Reform

    Whispering campaign surrounds Neil Gorsuch's alleged or perceived views on patents, and in particular the America Invents Act (AIA) which brought the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a serial invalidator of software patents, owing to Alice (a Supreme Court decision)



  23. Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) is a Lobby Group for Software Patents and Patent Maximalism

    An introduction to what the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding really is, what it is for, and who is behind it



  24. The European Patent Office Looks More and More Like the Sicilian Mafia Every Day

    Battistelli has constructed or pulled together a Mafia-like family inside the EPO, where all those who protect the 'King' (or Don) are rewarded and the rest are removed with prejudice



  25. EPO-Connected Writers Are Using Alternative Facts or Fake News to Promote the Unitary Patent in British Media

    The misuse of publications for the purpose of lobbying by Battistelli and Team UPC (a small group of opportunists looking to exploit change that they themselves introduce) is worth noting, for its frequency is on the rise again



  26. Microsoft Has Not Managed to Blackmail Huawei Over Android and GNU/Linux, But Its Trolls/Satellites Are Trying

    The story of Huawei gets more complicated, even though software patents are losing their teeth and notorious patent trolls are altogether losing their patents



  27. IBM Has Become an Enemy of GNU/Linux and a Loud Proponent of Software Patents

    IBM's poisonous policy on patents, which has long been incompatible with Free/Libre software, has gotten even worse and the company now takes the lead in lobbying for patenting of software



  28. Leaked: European Patent Office a Fire Hazard Waiting to Cause Tragedy (Possible Deaths)

    The EPO has known for a while that is was not in compliance with regulations, but as usual -- flaunting immunity and impunity -- nothing happened



  29. For Valentine's Day, Battistelli Learns to Stop Worrying and Love to Lie

    Battistelli lies about patent quality once again, incidentally on the very same day that serious leaks regarding patent quality got published (and need distracting from)



  30. India Cites Public Interest in Patent Case Where Embargo Attempted Against Local Drugmaker

    India turns away a foreign corporation that attempts to use patents to shut down (or destroy the business model of) an Indian company


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts